What is it?
The first time Lexus has offered a convertible version of its entry-level saloon. With two doors, four seats and a folding metal roof, the IS250C follows pretty much the same template as BMW’s 3-Series Convertible.
If that sounds like a tempting proposition, choosing which IS-C to buy should be easy, as trim level aside, there is no choice. Only the 2.5-litre V6 petrol mated to a six speed-automatic.
What’s it like?
Very relaxed. Lexus anticipate shifting just 2000 units each year in Europe (800 in the UK) compared to 15,000 in the United States, and there’s no prizes for guessing in which particular states most will end up finding homes. This is car designed for California cruising. If that’s what you are looking for from a convertible (even if you’re not in California) the IS250C fits the bill nicely.
General refinement levels, either roof up or down, are very good. The airflow is well managed and for the most part the engine is quiet. The ride is soft and generally composed, although in common with all droptops converted from fixed roof platforms, there is a degree of flex and vibration over poor surfaces. But not so much to detract from what is a comfortable car to waft around in.
Try anything more pressing than wafting though and the IS250C isn’t remotely interested. Despite a capacity of 2.5-litres the V6 produces just 205bhp and a feeble 186 lb ft of torque, and then only at 4800rpm. Couple that with a kerb weight of 1735kg (some 100kg more than the equivalent saloon) and the IS250C feels a lot slower than a 0-62mph time of 9.0seconds suggests. In its standard mode the automatic gearbox is programmed to avoid kicking down unless absolutely necessary, which does help to keep the engine noise down, but reveals woeful in-gear performance. Switching to Sport does improve the situation, but only slightly.
Find a series of bends with a sufficiently long preceding straight and the IS250C reveals a competent but remote feeling chassis. Despite the soft set-up it grips well and keeps body movements in check, but there is very little enthusiasm or satisfaction on offer.