2013 Acura ILX puts its bland CSX predecessor to rest
The new entry-level vehicle in the Acura lineup goes about its business in a smooth and quiet manner.
Finishing school is the place where one is supposed to become socially refined, the place where correct etiquette with regard to things like proper dress and table manners are taught so that one might be able to carry oneself with poise and sophistication.
In a move designed to established expectations, executives at upmarket Acura Canada recently staged a finishing school featuring the all-new Acura ILX, which went on sale earlier this year across North America as a 2013 model. In Canada, it replaces the CSX, built in Alliston, Ont., at the entry-level vehicle in the Acura lineup.
The finishing school, staged at the Arta Gallery in downtown Toronto’s Distillery District, featured fashion-forward advice from GotStyle menswear founder Melissa Austria and table manners from Linda Allan, an etiquette coach who has taught a number of high-powered executives how to properly break bread.
Just as eating a meal with proper etiquette is largely about the execution of fine details, so too is building a quality luxury car, a category that’s driven by refinement.
After a few hours of taking notes on how to improve my overall refinement level, it was time to discover what effect Acura’s finishing school has had on the ILX.
Built exclusively for North America in Honda’s plant in Greensburg, Ind. (which also builds the Civic), the ILX comes to market in Canada in a choice of five trim levels, three engines and three transmissions.
Like its CSX predecessor, the ILX is Civic-based; its engines, transmissions and chassis underpinnings are shared with its corporate cousin.
Dimensions, therefore, are similar. The ILX is slightly longer (46 mm) and wider (42 mm) than the Civic but they have an identical wheelbase (2,670 mm). The ILX is also slightly heavier, with a curb weight that ranges from 1,330 to 1,356 kg. The heaviest Civic (Si) tips the scales at 1,323 kg.
Passenger volume is greater in the Civic (by 77 and 147 litres, depending on model), while cargo space differs by only a few litres (the ILX is 350 across the board, but the Civic ranges from 344 to 353 depending on the model).
Acura set me up with an upper-level Tech tester ($32,290 MSRP), finished in ubiquitous silver with a black leather-trimmed cabin.
From the outside, the ILX cuts a handsome if somewhat conservative profile. Its lines are clean yet not too creased. A sweeping shoulder line running from the front wheel well, rising up across the rear doors and into the trunk provides some extra character to the design and distinguishes it further from the Civic.
Inside, the ILX features a very comfortable, sumptuous and roomy cabin. The black leather seating surfaces seemed rich to the touch and provided plenty of comfort.
Because my tester was a Tech model, it was loaded with electronic gadgetry, including a navigation system with voice recognition and an 8-inch LED screen and a 365-watt premium audio system with 10 speakers and a hard drive for media storage. Other goodies included a power moonroof, eight-way power (and heated) seats, 17-inch alloy wheels and high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights.
Under the hood, most of the ILX line (ILX, Premium and Tech) is powered by a 2.0 L i-VTEC four-cylinder that produces 150 hp and 140 lb.-ft. of torque, which is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission complete with paddle shifters.
On the road, the ILX goes about its business in a smooth and quiet manner. Wind and tire noise have been commendably suppressed, and the car feels stable and firmly planted to the tarmac. The MacPherson front strut, multi-link rear suspension setup borrowed from the Civic made for a good ride that felt neither too firm nor soft and handled most road imperfections with ease.
The electric power steering wasn’t the most precise I’ve experienced but overall feedback was acceptable. Whenever I drive compact or subcompact cars, I’m usually a little nervous about taking them on the highway, where crosswinds often push them all over the place. I’m pleased to report it wasn’t an issue when I drove the ILX.
The one quibble I have with the ILX is the power output of the 2.0L engine. At just 150 hp and 140 lb.-ft. of torque, it feels underpowered. Passing often required a great deal of momentum and room to pull off safely. The Dynamic, with its 2.4 L engine, 201 hp and 170 lb.-ft. of torque (and a $3,000 smaller price tag), seems like the best option here for performance, although I draw that conclusion based on time spent behind the wheel of a Civic Si, not an ILX.
That said, the ILX represents still good value overall and is a worthy addition to Acura’s lineup.
2013 Acura ILX
PRICE: $27,790- $34,990
ENGINE: 1.5 L i-VTEC 4-cylinder (Hybrid); 2.0 litre i-VTEC 4-cylinder (ILX, Premium, Tech); 2.4 L i-VTEC 4-cylinder (Dynamic)
POWER/TORQUE: horsepower / lb.-ft: 111 / 127 (Hybrid); 150 / 140 (ILX, Premium, Tech); 201 / 170 (Dynamic)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: city/highway L/100 km — 5.0 / 4.8 (Hybrid); 8.6 / 5.6 (ILX, Premium, Tech); 9.8 / 6.5 (Dynamic)
COMPETITION: Buick Verano, Audi A3
WHAT’S BEST: Successfully buries the bland and unremarkable CSX.
WHAT’S WORST: Modest power for the price.
WHAT’S INTERESTING: Tech and Premium models are available in six exterior colours, the most in the line.
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