2016 Acura ILX A-Spec
2.4L 16-valve I4 DOHC i-VTEC®
201 hp @ 6800 rpm
180 lb.-ft. @ 3600 rpm
8-Speed Dual-Clutch Auto
The “EarthDreams” in-line 4-cylinder engine has landed under the hood of the updated 2016 Acura ILX and luckily, the firm didn’t stop there as many more updates and improvements also came along. As sad as the discontinued manual transmission makes us, reality was that the market for it was just not there. As such, the second best option was selected and it is the new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission straight from the TLX.
The new fascia is the inherited trademark Acura face with the latest “jewel” LED headlights and the updated dynamic design continues with cues found all around the vehicle. The newly introduced A-Spec trim level looks very sporty and with the very tasteful 18” rims, curb appeal has gone through the roof versus the outgoing model.
The good news continues to the interior, where despite having the same dimensions as before, better utilization of the available space brought a slight improvement to the room available in the cabin. It is also much better in terms of quality and noise suppression making the interior score higher up the premium board. Just as before, three adults will hardly fit in the back seat, but two fairly sized people will sit with reasonable comfort. The driving position can now go lower than before and is a better match to the sportiness of the car. Visibility remains good and ergonomically, once you get used to the dial style controls, everything should be alright. The trunk, at 348L is on par with the class average and has a good sized opening.
Equipment is pretty good even on the base model starting at $29,490. The top of the line A-Spec, at $34,890, gets leather/suede heated seats, metal racing pedals, 18” alloys, navigation with voice recognition, a premium ELS audio system, fog lights, black headliner, side skirts and deck lid spoiler, auto wipers, HomeLink remote system, dual zone climate control, blind spot monitors, collision mitigation system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, stability control and an army of airbags.
The new EarthDreams 2.4L i-VTEC engine pumps out 201 HP and 180 lb-ft, and mated to the edgy dual-clutch gearbox, the car can reach 100km/h in 8.7 seconds in a regular – uncontrolled environment . Performance is brisk, even on the go, the gearbox can send the engine revving to the reds in no time, making quick run and gun sprints easier than in direct competitors. The engine note remains on the sportier side when the pedal is on the metal, but it is not as loud as before, so it does not spoil the matured fun attitude of the new ILX. The gearbox itself is good, it shifts through gears quickly and it is not too jerky in traffic. Being a dual-clutch unit, it is not as smooth as the conventional auto-box it replaced but it is still very good. Fuel economy seems to have benefited from the extra gears, as our weekly heavy-footed average was 10.4lt/100km.
On the highway, the ILX is much stabler than before, thanks to the stiffer and steadier steering, while on the twisty back roads (if only we had some over here…) it is fun and light on its feet. It turns in sharply, feeds the steering with information needed to control understeer and it grips as well as it can, reminding the driver of its Civic Si roots. It is not really playful, it enjoys proper lines and precision steering, but it is quick and dynamic. Handling is never surprising and if you over do it, the nannies will kick in and save you from the ditch.
The brake pedal has the ideal travel and feel and the brakes are quite strong. From 100km/h, it came to a complete stop in a marginal 50m, mainly due to brake fade after several attempts.
Any complaints we had with the 2015 model seem to have found an answer this time round, and there is not much to dislike about this ILX. It is fun to drive, comfortable, handsome and reasonably priced. If you don’t mind the tight back seat, make sure you put it on your must drive list.