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When you first glance at the spec sheet for the ILX Hybrid you think: “Oh my gawd! This car has only 111 horsepower; it is going to be slow as molasses.” In fact, Paul Williams wrote that the Hybrid was snail-like in his first drive of the ILX. Perhaps when pressed for time and during a press event where the 2.4-litre version is also available, the hybrid does feel snail-like, but in the real world I feel different.
The combination of the “dreaded” CVT, electric assist (which adds a considerable amount of extra torque) and the vehicle’s overall smoothness, makes it feel like much more than 111 horsepower. When you stomp on the accelerator, there certainly is a lot of noise, and the 1.5-litre engine does sound as smooth as your typical Honda engine, but it does move.
Drive more sanely, though, and the ILX Hybrid feels perfectly adequate. Hit a few corners, and it feels quick again, as the chassis feels light, nimble and fun to toss around — akin to the first generation Acura TSX, really.
Out on the open highway, engine revs stay low enough, and although they will climb on hills, the engine is not noticeable. The suspension is smooth but firm enough to feel sporty and composed.
The electric assist, which, as previously mentioned, aids in acceleration, is barely noticeable otherwise. The engine will only shut off once you drop below 10 km/h coming to a stop but will immediately re-fire if you let off the brake pedal. If you put the car in park, the engine again comes back to life; I’ve mentioned this before regarding other Honda hybrids, and I find it very odd. Most of the time, while stopped, the engine will be also, but do not attempt to creep forward at lights as that will negate some fuel savings as the engine will come back on.