Stylish, well executed four-seat CC alternative to the usual Teutonic suspects

What is it?

This is the Lexus IS 250C convertible. Lexus has been late into the CC game, or so it would seem. While BMW, Audi, Merc and others churn out one open-topper after another, Lexus has been biding its time.

Some will recall the sleek LF-C concept as the inspiration for the IS 250C, but that was way back in 2005. Lexus certainly hasn’t rushed this one and, after a spirited afternoon’s drive through the mountains, we’d say the four-seat cabrio IS 250C has been worth the long wait.

The Laid-back Lexus IS 250C is no road burner, but it is seriously polished in the way it rides, steers, cruises and brakes. Visually, it also cuts the right kind of dash, especially top down.

The IS 250C has the same wheelbase as the recently made-over IS saloon, but all body panels aft of the reconfigured front screen are bespoke. The star act, of course, is that trick, three-stage, electrically-operated metal roof, which folds up and down in just 20 seconds.

Crucially, the conversion, which brings extensive underfloor bracing hasn’t impaired the packaging, so there is still genuine space to seat four normal-sized adults. It does add 160kg to the weight, though, and rear vision through the narrow rear glass isn’t great.

What’s it like?

The 2.5-litre V6 is refined and easy revving, but one that’s not overly endowed with bottom-end punch. Fact is, there’s not much below 3000rpm, but then pedal-to-the-metal pace is not what the Lexus IS 250C’s about. Like the Infiniti G37 Convertible, its nearest domestic rival, the IS 250C is in its element as a stylish, laid-back boulevardier.

Top up, the Lexus is as taut and snug as any normal coupe. Top down, it’s still impressively rigid and, if there’s the occasional mild front-end tremor when you hit a bump, it’s nothing serious and the car soon shrugs it off.

Lexus has done a particularly fine job on the steering, which is both well weighted and consistent. The IS 250C turns in eagerly, grips well and, while handling is biased towards stability, it’s still quite entertaining through fast S-bends, with roll and understeer kept well in check. There’s a choice of 18-in or 17 in tyres, but we’d go for the 17-inchers unless you want a bit more image and grip, as the 18-inchers make for a marginally more unsettled low speed ride.

Should I buy one?

It’s a highly polished product, the IS 250C – air-con and audio that automatically adjust to whether the top’s up or down are a typically thoughtful Lexus touch – but it’s joining a crowded marketplace, so it really needs to stand out. Still, there’s no denying that the IS 250C is well on the pace and feels like a quality piece of kit. While the 2.5 V6 doesn’t endow it with supercar pace, it nevertheless does a lot of the important cabrio stuff very well.

Peter Nunn

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TegTypeR 21 May 2009

Re: Lexus IS 250C

Scott B wrote:
the only occasions when we’ve heard of it leading directly to sales were all with SC 430. Three separate times, in fact.

How many SC430's have you actually sold in the UK?

I can see why TV appearances would sell it, it is a distinctive looking car. As for the rest of it, I don't doubt as with all Toyota's it is very reliable and the dealer service is second to none. But how many people actually desire the car? And for a car like the 430, that is quite an important factor considering the price and market placement.

The problem I have with it is - and please correct me if I am wrong - is that the car was designed (pretty much solely) for the US market. We effectively got a US product with non alterations, in right hand drive. And that's where it all went wrong. The UK just doesn't do (on the whole) US cars.

Just to add, by the way, the IS250C looks to be a far superior car in all aspects. This is a car that will appeal to the "3 Series" crowd who want a CC of this type without the image. For that you should be applauded.

Will it be a classic in years to come? Possibly, but only in the way something like the Datsun 280Z (or whatever it's called) is now. A very small cult following.

By the way, the IS250C appears to be a much better product, and for that you should be applauded.

Dave52 21 May 2009

Re: Lexus IS 250C

TegTypeR wrote:
What about the awful SC430

It had a nice dash. Ah... yep, that's damning with faint praise isn’t it. Okay, you’re dead right. Bloke round the corner who had one currently has a burnt orange metallic 911, which probably doesn’t help the 430’s case either.
Orangewheels 21 May 2009

Re: Lexus IS 250C

The Colonel wrote:
I was aiming more at the four seaters, the 30whatever and the Astra, Focus thing...even the Eos.

Yes but this Lexus is aimed at much richer hairdressers than the Astra twintop etc...