A Proper Sports Sedan
Many try, and most fail. But in the case of the spirited Acura ILX sports sedan, this may just thee car that truly puts its money where its mouth is. And in addition to its affordable price tag, the ILX surprisingly holds all the quality traits that makes up an Acura – lavish styling, light weight, performance and quality. Though a rare commodity, the ILX is not the only successful player on the market. When strictly speaking of a proper mid-range sports sedan, the Lexus IS250/350 series, BMW 3 series, and Subaru Legacy and Impreza series generally come to mind.
First debuted in 2013, the ILX is not new to market territory, but the 2016 model certainly’s got some significant upgrades namely sharpened exterior styling, technology features, and especially, the exciting all-new direct-injection engine combined with a snappy 8-speed dual clutch transmission.
Seductive Styling Inside Out
Perhaps one of the major selling points, the ILX is simply a good looking car. Its combination of a short wheelbase and overhang embraces performance in both realms of form and functionality. Up front lies the signature Acura V-bar front grille accompanied by an asymmetric diamond shaped cavity for its lower bumper fog lights, and Acura’s signature cube-stacked Jewel Eye LED head lights. Its side panels remain subtle governed by its simplistic lines while its heightened trunk visually entices sports capability.
Moving up to the highest A-Spec trim model comes equipped with tweaked out exterior styling including enhanced side sill garnishes, enlarged 18″ wheels, 10-spoke machined alloy wheels trunk spoiler, and fog lights.
There were no shortcuts taken in the interior. As a relatively small car, the ILX interior cabin space is well thought out. Overall interior is made up of premium black interior color scheme with perforated Lux Suede leather seats that are both comfortable with sufficient padding and lateral support. The dual infotainment screen also proves itself to be a control interface that is both compact and pleasant to use thanks to its subtle green and gray color combination and well structured graphical layout design.
Unfortunately, the party ends in the back seats as leg room is diminished due to dimensional constraints compromised for performance. But the rear seats do fold down for added trunk space for expanded cargo and versatility.
Despite its naturally aspirated V4, make no mistake that the ILX A-Spec got some serious grunt. Under the hood lies Acura’s all new Direct Injection 2.4 L DOHC i-VTEC V4 producing 201 horsepower and 180 ft.lbs of torque. These are not actually big numbers per-se, but coupled with the variable vale timing control of the VTEC system, the ILX is able to sustain high engine output for a longer period of time. And on that note, it’s got a serious engine tone in the cabin space as well when breaching the upper 5-6000 RPM range.
What’s really makes the ILX the center spot light is its new 8-speed dual clutch transmission capable of delivering ultra fast and crisp shifts operated by its steering-mounted paddle shifters. This is made possible by dedicating one clutch to an odd gear and the other to an even gear. Steering is light and responsive as well thanks to its sophisticated motion-adaptive power assist steering capable of correcting over and understeer conditions dynamically.
Handling is also superb and made possible by its McPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspensions. Unique to the Aucra ILX is the Amplitude Reactive Damping system comprised of two separate damping profiles for smooth surface and rough surfaces or harsh cornering. This design intention was to enable a good balance between comfort and performance.
Hard to get right the First Time
Although the Amplitude Reactive Damping system promised to deliver a good balance between performance and comfort, the overall ride quality of the ILX is stiff and bouncy on regular day driving and is still no where near the capability of a true dynamic suspension damping employed in higher end vehicles. And the 8-speed dual clutch transmission still has some polishing to do. The default expectation of instantaneous gear shift with a dual clutch transmission is simply an assumption made fantasy with the ILX unfortunately. Delays between gear shifts are still noticeable and the gear shifts are pretty violent.
There’s a substantial amount of technology baked into the ILX from inside out. And let’s face it, engineering design is a process of iterative improvements. When you throw that many new toys into a car, it’s certainly not going to be perfect on the first try. Nevertheless, the ILX still passes with flying colors. It’s got great looks inside out, serious acceleration and cornering capability. Priced in at only $34,890 for the top A-Spec model, this is just about the best bang for the buck you can get for a luxury grade vehicle that can deliver expected quality and performance.
- Vehicle : 2015 Acura ILX
- Model : Aucra ILX A-Spec
- Price as Tested : $34,890
- Vehicle Type : 5 Passenger Sedan
- Seating Capacity : 2+3
- Powertrain Configuration : FWD
- Engine : 2.4L V4 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC®
- Transmission : 8 Speed Dual Clutch Transmission
- Fuel Economy: 9.3/6.6/8.11 L/100km city/hwy/combined.
- Performance inspired
- Luxurious cabin space
- Exotic Styling
- Excellent bang for the buck
- Harsh ride due to stiff-tuned suspension
- Violent gear shift and noticeable delay with dual clutch transmission
- Limited leg room due to compact chassis size
Written by: Rae Borci