Some dealers are unhappy about the programme, and one claims a demo Legend represents "an £8,000 hit".
Honda UK initially allowed its dealers to decide whether they wanted to sell the Legend, and most declined. Last summer, because of disappointing sales, the manufacturer insisted that each dealer stocked one, and offered 48-hour test drives. Stocking a Legend is now part of dealers’ standards.
Tom Gardner, head of car marketing at Honda UK, says: "The Legend has always been a low-volume car. We wanted everyone in the retail network to stock one, because the new model showcases technology that will be extended to other models later." A new Accord and Jazz are due this year.
Gardner says around a third of the network took a Legend when it was optional. Six months ago, Honda decided it needed more commitment to the model.
"We wanted better coverage around the UK, and did not meet with much resistance," he says. "But we recognise the Legend might be a difficult car to sell in some rural areas, even though it has all-wheel drive."
Gardner says that in 2007, the Legend recorded the 10th highest number of UK registrations in a group that includes models from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus. “We see that as a success in the first year of our flagship,” he says.
Richard Knipe, Honda operations manager across four Avonvale Honda dealerships operated by Listers of Coventry, says: "We decided to take a positive approach, and opted to stock the new Legend from the start. We have sold a total of eight."
Knipe, who this month became chairman of the Honda dealer council, said he had heard few grumbles from other dealers about the necessity to stock a Legend. He thought the claimed "£8,000 cost" was far too high.