In the early '90s, we had a long-term 1991 Acura Integra GS two-door. A couple of criticisms, like uncomfortable seats and lack of interior space, kept the staff from falling in love with the car, but there was unanimous adoration for two things: the engine and drivetrain. "The Integra really came alive on deserted Huron River Drive, and I made it home in nine minutes," said now deputy editor, then editorial assistant, Joe DeMatio. "It usually takes fifteen."
Twenty years on, DeMatio again drove an Acura compact luxury car home from the office. Only rather than a 130-hp two-door, this time he drove a 201-hp four-door. "I really like the ILX," he says. "Gearchanges are lovely, and the engine happily revs to 7000 rpm or lopes along at 6000 rpm in fourth gear at 85 mph." Yeah, he probably hit 85 mph on the same deserted stretch of Huron River Drive he's been piloting for decades, but everyone in the office is guilty of flatfooting in the ILX.
The 2.4-liter engine takes some blame for our hooligan driving, with its eagerness to rev and its smooth power delivery, but it's our desire to row the six-speed gearbox that keeps us accelerating. Senior editor Joe Lorio called the manual transmission "delightful." Associate web editor Jake Holmes is more loquacious: "The shifter is deliciously precise in the way it slips from gear to gear. Each gate is where you expect it to be, so there is no need to expend more than a microsecond of thought about changing gears. I believe this transmission and clutch could coax any automatic-lover to the manual transmission cult." Senior web editor Phil Floraday agreed, saying, "I absolutely love the engine, transmission, shifter, clutch, and how well they all work together." Managing editor of digital platforms Jennifer Misaros is also smitten by that synergy. "Whether you're commuting or attacking a back road, the car feels effortless, like an extension of your body. The impeccably weighted clutch and sublime shifter are exquisite."
Time, it seems, hasn't diminished our respect for Acura's peppy engines and user-friendly manual transmissions, but what about the rest of the ILX? You'll just have to wait until next month to find out.