Manual transmission vehicles may be going the way of the dinosaur, but some drivers still want the visceral feel of manning the gearbox. For those types of drivers, Acura’s new entry-level compact luxury car, the ILX, should fit perfectly. Acura is rolling out two models, a 2.0-liter five-speed automatic with paddle shifters and a 2.4-liter six-speed manual, clearly the choice for the thrill-seeking driver. The manual transmission is incredibly smooth shifting and responsive, the suspension and steering feel dialed in and there’s plenty of power when the right foot goes down.
The ILX energizes the Honda Civic platform with a bold, head-turning design, sporty vehicle dynamics and an upgraded interior that’s sophisticated and comfortable. And even at its swankest trim levels, the ILX still barely breaks the $30,000 barrier. The ILX really steps up in class inside, with a first-class cabin. Decked out with the premium interior package, the ILX comes with leather-trimmed sport seats, a sound system that would make Diddy proud, rearview camera and an intuitive audio interface.
Under the hood, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder cranks out 201 horsepower. You won’t run a Dodge Charger SRT off the road in your ILX, but Mini Coopers are well within the wheelhouse. The ILX handles beautifully for a front-wheel drive car, with minimal torque steer noticeable, and braking is crisp and confidence-inspiring. But the ILX’s true driving pleasure comes from the sweet-shifting stick, weighted so perfectly the ILX feels like the four-wheel extension of the driver’s right arm. Even stop-and-go city traffic didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for this gear box.
In one odd absence from an otherwise on-point interior, the ILX didn’t come with navigation. While most drivers’ phones will suffice, it’s an oversight considering that many vehicles at 10 grand less include a well-thought-out nav system. Still, with its extensive creature comforts, slick styling and capable performance, the ILX overcomes any technological shortcomings to be a strong contender for the aspiring luxury buyer. And definitely get it in a stick.
Manual 6-Speed starting at $29, 200. Check it out: HERE