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July 27, 2012

Acura ILX All Access Ride and Drive Event

IMG_3669On a sunny July weekend, Acura and Autoweek set up a closed course and a group of tents in a parking lot in the shadow of the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles, added a DJ, a photo booth, and some gourmet chefs, and invited consumers to check out the 2013 Acura ILX

Attendees to the event were given the opportunity to drive the brand-spanking-new ILX - test models were reportedly only a week old, according to an Autoweek representative who checked me in and verified my driver’s license.  In addition to the closed course, I could choose a 10-15 minute drive on the mean streets of L.A.  Or both.  Naturally, I went with both.

IMG_3667The ILX, which is available in three models — ILX, ILX 6-Speed Manual Transmission, and Hybrid - is a small sports car targeting younger drivers who want to upgrade from their first post-college vehicle.  Sort of a two-steps-up from the beaters they drove around during school.  With a compact, sleek design, a modest 201-horsepower 4 cylinder engine, and the requisite “technology package” option that all the kids love, the ILX might appeal to the driver who wants a bit more class, a bit more oomph, and all the options of a luxury vehicle.  But at a much smaller sticker price - stripped down, the manual transmission model starts at $25,900.

IMG_3668But for just a few thousand more you can get the hybrid, which is the part of the presentation where my ears perked up.  I was about to take the hybrid model onto the cross-town course with a professional racecar driver by my side and my pal in the backseat to experience the suspension.  He explained the way the hybrid engine works.  By now, I should probably know that, but having not driven a hybrid more than that one time I rented a Prius, I still get confused about how the car knows to switch between gasoline and electric engines. Anyway, Tom the Racecar Driver explained that the Acura ILX Hybrid is a great example of how hybrid engines are “turning the corner from economy to performance.”  In other words, people will buy hybrid cars not just for the savings at the gas pump, but for the speed and power the engines will be able to deliver.

The Acura ILX Hybrid that I drove had a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which creates a smooth transition between “gears” so that you can’t even feel it when the car revs up to handle higher speeds or varying power loads, like when you’re heading up or down a steep hill.  With the electric engine kicking in and the CVT at work, the ride in the ILX was the smoothest I have ever experienced.  My backseat wingwoman said there was little turbulence from where she sat, even when I hit one or seven of LA’s infamous potholes.
Kim Tracy Prince


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