Acura's hybrid replacement for the NSX might be getting all the headlines, but the ILX compact sports sedan arguably has a tougher job to do.

The ILX concept, as we previewed yesterday, is an all-new Acura compact sedan due for launch in Spring 2012. For many buyers it will be the first point of entry into the Acura brand, so it needs to be good.

The design is unmistakably Acura. A wide chrome strip sits above the grille, flanked by two sharply-styled headlights. The shape is compact and well proportioned on 19-inch, propeller-style alloy wheels. Equipment levels are high, with keyless entry, a pushbutton start, Pandora internet radio and a host of safety features.

You can decide for yourself whether you like the look from our live photos, but we're just wishing Acura's parent Honda had infused the 2012 Civic with a little of the ILX's sharp looks.

Under the hood, the ILX will get three different engines. An entry-level model will use a 2.0-liter inline-four, and a high-performance variant will get a 2.4-liter inline-four. Both will be equipped with a six-speed manual transmission.

Of more relevance here, the ILX will also give Acura its first hybrid model. The ILX hybrid will use a 1.5-liter gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain, likely similar to the Integrated Motor Assist system found in the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid. We achieved a real-world 44 mpg from that car, matching EPA figures, so expect something similar from the Acura.

As with the Civic, the production ILX will be built at Honda's plant in Greensburg, Indiana.

For all the latest news from the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, head over to our dedicated show page.


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