You remember, the smaller Euro-size version of the last generation Accord that carried a high-revving, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and was available with a six-speed manual transmission. The 2004-2008 TSX wasnt really that much smaller or lighter than the TSX were driving now, but it sure felt smaller and lighter when you were behind the wheel.
And the 2013 Acura ILX 2.4L gives me the very same feeling.
The ILX in general has been tuned to deliver a controlled, European-style driving experience just like the first-gen TSX. This car has a suspension thats trick (and expensive, the Acura guys tell me), with low-friction bushings for a supple ride over stutter bumps, rebound springs to quickly control body roll, and high quality dampers that make the suspension feel like its controlled by hydraulics rather than simply stiff springs.
When you choose the 2.4L and its 201-hp, 2.4-liter inline-4 engine, you get the six-speed manual transmission, and the light-effort, shortthrow shift linkage makes it enjoyable to keep this typical light-flywheel Honda engine on the boil. The 2.4 has far more authority than the 150-hp 2.0-liter inline-4, which does business through an automatic transmission.
By good fortune I had the opportunity to thrash this car through the Santa Monica Mountains for a morning and had a great time. Sure, its a creased and folded Civic, but the 2.4L responds like something completely different. You cant throw the car around (which always makes you slow anyway), but you can go very quickly in a sort of press-on European style, which is how I remember the original TSX.
Even Bill Visnic, our Detroit editor, likes this car, and tells me, You know, youre right. Maybe the manual-trans version of the car is the new interpretation of the TSX. Cars pretty entertaining. Engine revs great, and sounds great, too. That shifter is pretty good. They needed some chassis tweaks, though, and couldve called it the ILX Type R.
Probably I just had a way better time here in California than Senior Editor Erin Riches had in Nevada when she went through all the ILX models for our First Drive. Its hard for me to admit, but personally I even like the way this car looks. Its the first interpretation of Acura design director Jon Ikedas Keen Edge Dynamic design language that doesnt look like an overheated sketch from high-school study hall.
Sadly, the Acura ILX 2.4L is likely to remain pretty much a secret just like the first-gen TSX, as the manual transmission just about guarantees that the car will reach only 5 percent of ILX buyers, just as Acura predicts. Also, as Visnic (hes the smart one) reminds me, ILX 2.4L pricing starts at $ 30,095 and navigation isnt even available. Hmmm. You could get a multitude of higher-performing cars at that price, never mind the used-car market.
My only hope is that people will quickly discover that the secret version of the Acura ILX is the ILX 2.4L, the one with the manual transmission. Im told that theres a good chance that Acura will build up a couple of leftover ILX 2.4L prototype cars for the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill in December, and if the cars run at the sharp end of the field as HPDs street-stock efforts generally do, then the right people will hear about it.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com
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