The first 75 seconds of Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" are awesome and must be played at full volume, but after the first breakdown the song becomes a bit repetitive and tiresome. We're reminded of "Stranglehold" and the Motor City Madman every time we get into our Acura ILX. Why? Its inline-four sounds so sultry for the first few minutes, when you're driving like a buffoon, coaxing the engine to wail a bit more. But while you can turn the volume down on a song, you, unfortunately, can't hush this engine.
Even when you settle into a cruise, the thing won't shut up. Our ILX 2.4 is really loud, particularly for a compact sedan with luxury aspirations. We questioned whether our ears were simply too delicate, until the new Buick Verano Turbo showed up at the office. "The Verano Turbo is a better small luxury sedan -- it's quieter, smoother, and rides better," says associate editor David Zenlea. The fact that the ILX growls while the Verano whispers makes the Buick the superior choice for those downsizing from larger luxury car.
"But I think the ILX will satisfy those upgrading from a sport compact," Zenlea continues. "It is much, much more fun. Its normally aspirated engine is throaty but it's also very eager. It's the better driver's car by far." Managing editor Amy Skogstrom took that a step further, pitting the ILX against our Bimmer instead of the Buick. "I drove the ILX not long after our Four Seasons 328i, and is it sacrilege to say that I find the ILX more enjoyable? Its manual transmission seems better to me in every way -- the throws are more precise, the slim shifter feels better in my hand, and engagement is more predictable. I also love that it doesn't take much speed to get the revs up and have a little fun."
The ILX is fun, it's nimble, and, even though engine noise can be overbearing at times, it's refined. Acura did a good job creating a cohesive package for younger buyers to upgrade to without depriving them of all the flavor of a sport sedan. "No other automaker offers a four-cylinder and manual transmission as entertaining as Honda, and I credit the company for offering it in a car that's nicer and more refined than the Civic Si," says Zenlea, "but the truth is it needs to be nicer still." Other than sound deadening, what are some other areas that could use improvement? Find out more in next month's update.