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The electronic throttle body (ETB) is a fundamental actuator for regulating the air mass coming into an internal combustion engine; hence, it is used to control the engine torque in any modern drive-by-wire configuration. To cope with the nonlinear and discontinuous dynamics of this automotive device, in this paper a novel discrete-time model reference adaptive control (MRAC) method is designed and experimentally tested on an ETB installed on a 2-L engine. The control strategy extends the class of the minimal control synthesis (MCS) algorithms for discrete-time systems by adding an explicit discrete-time adaptive integral action and an adaptive robust term. An in-depth experimental investigation shows that the proposed control method is a viable solution as it is robust with respect to nonlinear torques acting on the plant, and it guarantees better performance than those provided by other MRAC strategies especially for small reference signals around the limp-home position where plant nonlinearities strongly affect the ETB dynamics.