2010 Lexus IS 250C convertible – Test drive and new car review – 2010…

27 Feb 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
LEXUS IS250C/350C

You should go topless more often

The IS-C is the new hardtop convertible version of Lexus’ IS sedan. Like the sedan, the IS convertible is available in 204 hp IS 250C and 306 hp IS 350C versions. I’ll be honest — the IS sedan isn’t exactly my favorite luxury car. Is the convertible version any better? Read on. $39,365 base, $43,915 as tested, EPA fuel economy estimates 18-21 MPG city, 25-29 MPG highway.

First Glance: Amputation suits you

It’s amazing what a little amputation can do. Case in point: The new-for-2010 Lexus IS C convertible. The sedan version of the IS is my least-favorite Lexus; I find it cramped and allergic to fun. But taking a hacksaw to the IS has done wonders. Forget about the IS sedan; the IS-C convertible is another ball of string. Or is that another ball of wax? Another ball of. oh, never mind the balls — my point is that the Lexus IS makes a fantastic convertible.

Let’s start with the styling. With the top up. the Lexus IS-C looks like a proper coupe, and a darn handsome one at that (provided you can ignore the wide gaps between the trunk lid and the rest of the body). Top down. it looks even better — there’s barely any visual evidence that it has any top whatsoever.

Even the roof itself is a thing of beauty. A single switch (link goes to photo) operates the two-piece top. which raises and lowers in record time — it takes less than 20 seconds for the IS C to get topless, almost as fast as a Mazda Miata. (I bet you were expecting me to say . as fast as my college girlfriend, right? Please.) The top also goes back on in 20 seconds, which, come to think of it, is like my college girlfriend. The important part is that IS’ top does its thing in about two-thirds the time of most hardtop convertibles, which may not seem like much — but when you’ve got the engine idling, the transmission in gear, and you’re ready to zoom off to your next whatever, those few seconds make all the difference in the world.

In the Driver’s Seat: Leave your baggage behind

2010 Lexus IS 250C dashboard

Photo © Aaron Gold

I talked extensively about the interior in my IS sedan test drive. so I’ll give you just the highlights: The controls are a bit complex, but the buttons and gauges are big and clearly labeled. The optional navigation system is no longer the best in the biz, but it’s still pretty good. The front seats are comfy and roomy; the back seat is very tight on legroom, but the seat itself is better than most convertibles.

Visibility with the roof up isn’t great; the back window is tiny and the sides of the interior sweep upwards, covering a good portion of the rear-side windows. Things don’t get much better with the top down, especially if the rear seat headrests are in place, although you can drop them by yanking a lever at the base of the rear seats. (Check out the view in the rear view mirror: Headrests up. headrests down .)

Like most hard-top convertibles, trunk space is a problem. Top up, the trunk stows a paltry 10.8 cubic feet. To lower the top, you have to deploy a fiddly windowshade-style divider. which leaves just 2.4 cubic feet of space. Yep, you read that right — two-point-four. That’s enough for a weekend getaway, provided you leave your suitcase at home and just stuff your clothes in wherever they fit. Some convertibles, like the BMW 3-series and Volkswagen Eos, have storage space under the top; the IS-C has none. That said, the IS can be had with a proper spare tire, while many of its rivals rely on run-flat tires or a repair kit.

On the Road: It’s no BMW

Perhaps you’ve seen those TV commercials showing Lexus ISes speeding and sliding all over the place like extras from Fast and Furious XIV: Successful, Mature, and Otherwise Sensible People Drive Like Hormonal Twenty-Year-Olds . Please, get that image out of your head right now. The IS-C is a perfectly enjoyable car, but for the 5% of the population who regularly use phrases like oversteer, four-wheel-drift and My blood type is. , the IS-C is not the car you are looking for.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s an enjoyable cruiser with a nice taut ride and good grip. The IS-C feels like it wants to be a BMW — but if you actually try to drive it like a BMW, it throws its arms over its head and turns into a Toyota. A big part of the problem is the schizophrenic electronic stability control system. During my drive on the About.com Cars Top Secret Curvy Test Road, it would jump in with a phantom stab of the brakes when it wasn’t needed, yet remain dormant when I tried to tempt it with a ham-fisted yank of the wheel. The IS-C is fine if you don’t push too hard, and it’s stable and sure-footed in panic swerves. But if you’re looking for fun, be aware that the IS-C isn’t.

I did like the powertrain, though. My tester had the smaller of the IS’ two V6s (2.5 liters, 204 hp) coupled to a 6-speed automatic. Power was more than adequate, as was fuel economy; I averaged 24.3 miles per gallon of premium. The IS350’s 306 hp 3.5 liter engine is nice, but not worth the extra $5,500, if you ask me. Oh, and skip the manual-transmission version of the IS 250 — it shifts like a moving truck.


Journey’s End: The best? Depends on what you like

2010 Lexus IS 250C

Photo © Aaron Gold

I still haven’t talked about my favorite aspect of this car, which is how quiet it is. Top down, windows up, and with the optional mesh wind blocker installed, my IS 250C was quieter than many sedans I’ve driven, and wind turbulence was virtually non-existent. Even without the wind blocker, the IS is much more peaceful that most convertibles. With the top up, it’s like a tomb, but without the unpleasant smell.

Is the IS-C the best hardtop convertible you can buy? That depends on your priorities. As someone who loves to drive, I prefer the BMW 3-series, which also has enough room for two small suitcases in the trunk, even with the top down. It’s a lot more fun in the curves and yet its ride is just as comfortable (though not as quiet) as the Lexus. That said, the IS C’s price undercuts the Bimmer’s by about six grand.

Infiniti has a new convertible version of the G37 ; it’s sportier and more fun to drive than the IS, but has even less trunk space and a serious problem with chassis flex. It’s simply not as well engineered as the IS. Other rivals include the Volkswagen Eos. which is smaller but much less expensive, and the Chrysler Sebring. which I would only suggest to someone I didn’t like.

If you’re looking for a quiet, luxurious convertible — and if you don’t plan to travel with more than one passenger — the IS C is the best choice. If you prefer something sportier, then it isn’t. Regardless, it’s a brilliant convertible — and an amazing transformation from the IS sedan. — Aaron Gold

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