It's hard out there for the Acura ILX. The Honda Civic-based sedan has faced stiff competition from the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3 in a fast-selling segment. So Acura had to up its game for 2016, and it's good and bad.
At the LA Auto Show today, Acura chief Mike Acavitti promised it's much more than just a mid-cycle refresh; it's a thorough re-working of the car's exterior, interior, technology and performance.
I'll start with the good. The weaksauce 2.0-liter, 150 horsepower four has been discontinued, so the high-revving
Civic SiTLX-sourced 2.4-liter i-VTEC four is the only engine available. It still has 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. They say it has the best power-to-weight ratio of any front-wheel drive sedan in its class.
(By the way, during the press conference, Acavitti boasted that they upped the ILX's output by a whole 51 horsepower. They didn't. They just killed off the old, less powerful base engine. See if you can find the number of stories that say it's "more powerful." It's a good way to determine who's an idiot and who isn't.)
The front and rear bumpers have also been restyled, and the customary Acura Eight Bazillion LED Headlamps are now standard. Also, the car now has the option of the Acura Watch safety assistance systems, which include lane keeping and auto collision-avoidance braking.
The next news is both good and bad. The ILX now gets the larger TLX's eight-speed dual clutch paddle shift gearbox, but it loses its six-speed manual. That's kind of a shame. The ILX was never great, but I liked the idea of a high-revving stick shift entry lux sedan. Maybe I'm stuck living in the Integra-past.
The rumors before the LA Auto Show indicated the ILX was going to get a lot more power and an all-wheel drive option. That didn't happen here, and I'm kind of bummed about it. With the latter, it lacks a major selling point its competitors have.
But here's the thing about Acura: for all the shit we enthusiasts disgruntled ex-Integra fans give them, their cars sell. Quite well, actually. Acura outsold Audi in 2013, and with the success of the TLX I wouldn't be at all surprised if they did it again.
Sales of the ILX, on the other hand, have not been spectacular. According to our sales tracking friend over at Good Car Bad Car, they sell between about 1,000 and 1,600 a month on average. The competing Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3 do considerably better than that.
Can the refreshed ILX help them steal the Germans' thunder? Probably, but I don't see it being the kind of thrill real enthusiasts are after.