ROAD TEST: 2016 Acura ILX

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By Shari Prymak

The idea of a compact luxury sedan always had great appeal to me. You get the affordability and easy to drive nature of a compact car, combined with some of the prestige and affluence of a luxury car. The Audi A3 is an attractive option, as is the Mercedes CLA. The problem with those two though is that they are still European luxury rides, which means questionable reliability and high repair costs.

What you need then is the Acura ILX. An attractive, upscale sedan with a luxury badge, that shares its bones with one of the most reliable, cheap to run cars on the planet: the Honda Civic. And because everything you see on the outside is pure Acura, no one will ever know that your luxury ride, at its core, is really just a frugal, economy car. Sounds appealing doesn’t it?

The interior of the ILX shares most of its bits from more expensive Acura models, which means that it’s finished to a high standard. I especially enjoyed the extremely comfortable and supportive front seats. The base model can be disregarded as it doesn’t quite offer the expected luxury car amenities, but the next-up Premium model comes nicely equipped, with heated leather seats, multi-view back-up camera, and a blind-spot information system. All ILX’s come with “Jewel-Eye” LED headlights, smart entry with push-button start, and a comprehensive list of AcuraWatch safety systems.

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Out on the road, the ILX proved to be a very pleasant ride. It manages to pull off a nice compromise between feeling agile and planted, yet quiet and comfortable. And thanks to its relatively small dimensions and great back-up camera, it’s easy enough to manoeuver and park in situations that larger sedans would struggle with.

The real strength of the ILX though is its potent, 201 horsepower, 2.4L, 4-cylinder engine, and 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission borrowed from the larger TLX. The transmission is a real marvel, operating smoothly and seamlessly under normal driving conditions, yet still able to deliver sports car fast shifts in sport mode with a flick of the steering wheel paddles. It’s a fine match for the new 2.4L engine, which, despite being larger and significantly more powerful than the old 2.0L, returns comparable fuel economy with an average rating of 8.1L/100km.

The ILX has a starting MSRP of $29,490. The Premium and Tech models command $2500 and $4000 premiums respectively, and the largely cosmetic A-Spec model sits at the top of the range with an MSRP of $34,890. The more attractive and prestigious Audi A3 can be had for similar money, which is likely the most tempting competitor. I’d happily trade a bit of style, however, in exchange for the reliability and low running costs that the ILX can promise, thanks to its relationship with the indestructible Honda Civic. Who wouldn’t want an affordable, reliable, inexpensive to run luxury car? Nobody. So just go buy an ILX. It’s the sensible thing to do.