The ILX A-Spec holds an unusual place in the Acura lineup. It’s meant to capture the hearts of millennials, providing a more upclass, sportier alternative to the likes of the Honda, Mazda and Toyota. This was a realm Acura dominated for so long. Names like Integra, RSX and TSX were staples. Some of you may remember, if you wanted to standout you didn’t want a Civic, you wanted an Integra, you wanted an Acura.
The ILX A-Spec is meant to capture that nostalgia. To achieve this goal you have a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter inline-four good for a modest 201 bhp @ 6800 rpm and 180 lb.-ft. @ 3600 rpm. The joy comes from letting that engine breath to its fullest and squeezing every last drop of the 201 horses. Mated to a 8 speed dual clutch transmission, shifts are smooth and clean, but, not lightning quick. Switch it to sport mode and you get to enjoy the pleasure of driving with a relatively balanced chassis and with shift points that are slightly altered, allowing you to hold each gear a little longer or use the standard paddle shifters if you want to take control to a higher level.
Produced in four trim levels the ILX can be had in Base, Premium, Premium A-Spec or Tech A-Spec flavours. The latter two A-Spec sedans give you larger (18-inch) wheels, side skirts and revised front and rear facia and a rear deck spoiler. The most aggressive impact comes from dark Jewel Eye LED headlights flanking a grille finished with black chrome accents as well as matte graphite inserts. However, the sporty elements have no discernible impact on handling or performance and are cosmetic in nature. Safety features include standard features like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and active lane control and all, but, the base model also have blind-spot monitors. The interior is a comfortable clean setup. The front seats are well bolstered and highlighted by suede inserts with contrast stitching. In A-Spec, trim the seats are deep red, denoting the sporty DNA from which the ILX A-Spec is derived. Leg room up front is ample, but, if you are in excess of 6 feet in height, headroom may be an issue. Rear leg room is at a premium and cramped, but, would work well for a young family of four.
The ILX A-Spec has some mighty big shoes to fill. Its forefathers paved a glorious performance path for Acura. This is where the dilemma lies. The ILX A-Spec, however, falls short of that mark. You have other offerings from the Honda Motor Group providing higher levels of performance and thrill. However, they do not shine with the level of refinement that ILX A-Spec offers nor the Acura cache. Pitted against other luxury brand rivals from BMW (2 Series), Mercedes (A Class) or Audi (A3), the ILX’s value cannot be beat. With an as tested price just under $36,000.00 it blows the competition out of the water and ultimately this is what newcomers to the brand will be attracted by. That is the goal of the ILX exercise, to bring the buyers in and keep them there when the family SUV is needed or the executive sedan.