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Quick-Spin Test Drive: 2013 Acura ILX

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This 2013 Acura ILX sedan shares a platform with the compact Honda Civic (Acura is Honda’s luxury arm), but is otherwise nothing like it. It replaces the long-running TSX as Acura’s entry-level car, and competes with the front-wheel-drive Buick Verano, Audi A3 and Lexus CT200h hybrid—a short list to which we would add the more expensive Audi A4 and the rear-drive Infiniti G25, BMW 3 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

It’s offered in three distinct flavors: standard 150-hp 2.0-liter four with a five-speed automatic good for 24/35/28 EPA mpg; 201-horse 2.4-liter four with a six-speed manual (22/31/25); and (Acura’s first) hybrid with a 23-hp electric motor married to a 111-hp 1.5-liter gasoline 4-cylinder through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) at 39/38/38. The higher-performance 2.4-liter ILX is essentially Honda’s fun-to-drive Civic Si in four-door formal attire, while the hybrid’s fuel-efficient drive system is borrowed from its Civic hybrid cousin.

This 2013 ILX may be the brand’s best-looking vehicle in some time, largely because the overdone chrome potato-peeler beak found on the fronts of most recent Acuras has been toned way down. Inside is a well-designed blend of upscale features and amenities, including soft-touch materials and satin metal finishes, with a high level of fit and finish.

The base ILX is well equipped, and Premium and Technology packages are offered. The Premium package adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat and seven-speaker audio with XM Radio. The Technology package combines 10-speaker, 365-watt Acura/ELS premium surround-sound audio and GPS navigation with voice recognition and real-time weather and traffic. Both include a multi-view rear camera (selectable to normal, wide or top view) and (except on the Hybrid) Active Noise Control.

Safety features include Acura’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure (nearly 60 percent high-strength steel) and six airbags, plus accident-avoidance technologies such as Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with new Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering (EPS) and electronic traction control (TCS), four-channel Anti-lock Braking (ABS), and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) with Brake Assist.

It figures that the 201-pony 2.4-liter ILX, with its crisp, precise six-speed manual, is quick and agile, since it’s essentially a hoot-to-drive Civic Si underneath. It gets up and goes, steers, stops and handles like the sport sedan it’s meant to be. On the other hand, we found the hybrid painfully slow and soft in normal operating mode. Selecting “ECO” mode makes it even lazier, though it does have steering wheel paddles that let you select specific CVT ratios.

With prices starting at about $27K, the 2013 Acura ILX slots neatly between Buick’s Verano and Audi’s A4 front-drive luxury-compact sedans. If something in this emerging class might suit your wants and needs, you might give this one a serious look.

Quick-Spin Test Drive: 2013 Acura ILX

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