"The Acura ILX perhaps isn’t the “hybrid” most people think of when they see the badge on the decklid - it’s not one of those hybrids that cruise along silently."
Do hybrids have to infiltrate every segment including the compact sport sedan segment starting to grow with cars like the 2013 Acura ILX?
I know the hybrid is the wave of the (near) future and I agree it makes sense in some segments, but it doesn’t make sense the model in question is a car that’s supposed to draw a younger audience into a “performance” luxury car.
Then again, maybe today’s entry-level luxury consumer has a whole different set of needs, which includes better fuel economy and less performance.
Not that the Hybrid version of the new ILX is a slug when it comes to performance. It does just fine, but the two mind-sets are so diametrically opposed – on the one hand you have quick acceleration and rapid braking; on the other, you have leisurely getaways and energy capturing.
Having said all that, the ILX perhaps isn’t the “hybrid” most people think of when they see the badge on the decklid. It’s not one of those hybrids that cruise along silently, sneaking up on unsuspecting pedestrians or sending dogs scurrying with their generated whistles. The Honda system assists the 1.5-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine – meaning the integrated electric motor takes on some of the power needs to ease the burden on the gasoline engine. It also boosts the power delivery when needed, so you get a bit more oomph for a little less slurp.
The engine does cut out on a couple occasions – when the ILX coasts to a stop, the engine “stalls” out until the brake pedal is released, at which time it starts up immediately. Also, at steady cruising speeds, it will go off line in a not-unobtrusive way – you can actually feel the thunk from the drivetrain, though the reconnection doesn’t seem quite as harsh.
It’s all meant, of course, to save you fuel as you go about your everyday driving and the Hybrid’s continuously variable transmission delivers all the peakless and valleyless performance characteristic of such transmissions. However, the ILX does have simulated gears, allowing the driver to experience driving a manual without all the planetary cogs. It’s ok. I much rather let automatics do their stuff with my interference, and the CVT is naturally smooth and silent to enhance the driving experience intended for the ILX Hybrid – uneventful.
Handling wise, the ILX is a sport sedan with good manners when the road begins to wind and the weather is nice and calm. The steering is actually quite direct, meaning a driver always finds precise changes in direction as needed. Parking lot speeds are easy on the arms, too.
The harshness of the drivetrain is perhaps exacerbated by the general quiet demeanour of the ILX. Unlike most other compact sport sedans, the ILX goes through life pretty quietly, allowing occupants to revel in the upscale sound system and conversation between them.
The seats are supportive from shoulder to shin, with decent bolstering along the ribs and outer thighs. Upper backs are nicely supported from shoulder to shoulder, as well. Rear legroom is actually quite nice for this size of vehicle even for the centre occupant, thanks to the absence of a hump. However, the cushion is really a wide separation between the bucket-like outboard seats, and the back features the hardness of the pull-down armrest (which features no pass-through to the trunk due to the location of the battery for electricity storage.
Still, there’s enough room in there for all the things that have to go along, whether you’re getting away for a weekend or bringing home a weekend BBQ’s worth of food and drink.
And I guess it’s a lot easier to find money for those things when you’re saving about $650 a year, over the regular 2.0-litre engined ILX.
2013 Acura ILX
Trim level: Hybrid
Price as tested (before taxes): $34,990
Options on test vehicle: none.
Configuration: front engine/ front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 1.5L 4-cyl. with electric assist/ continuously variable
Power/torque: Net 111 hp/ 127 lb.-ft.
Fuel (capacity): Premium recommended (50L)
Fuel economy ratings: 5.0 L/100km city; 4.8 L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy: 5.3 L/100km over 634 km
Warranties: 4 years/80,000 km (basic); 5 years/ 100,000 km (powertrain); 8 years/ 160,000 km (hybrid components)
Competitors: BMW ActiveHybrid3; Buick Regal eAssist; Lexus CT 200h;
Strengths: roomy and comfortable cabin; economy plus; nice looks; handling manners
Weaknesses: harsh drivetrain switches; like premium fuel