The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Lexus IS C may be a rare site on UK roads but it offers good looks, luxurious specification and refinement, all with the added bonus of wind-in-your-hair motoring.
Reasons to buy:
- Impressive reliability
- Comfortable cruiser
- Spacious boot
How good does it look?
The Lexus IS 250C does for the standard car what the Audi A5 did for the Audi A4 – it has injected some sex appeal into a car that is rather too conventional. It’s immediately identifiable as the roofless brother of the saloon, but only the bonnet, headlamps, doorhandles and mirrors are shared. There’s an understated charm with the roof up, but it really turns heads when it’s in open top mode. The Lexus IS C is very well proportioned, with a long bonnet and boot with a swooping roofline in between.
What's the interior like?
Following the conservative restraint of the exterior, the cabin of the Lexus IS C is suitably sober and cannot match a BMW 3-series convertible for prestige. The dials glow with a crisp white light and an illuminated Lexus logo greets the occupants from the door sills. The plastics are tactile, although the grey trim in the centre console felt a little low rent compared to the rest of the dash. A wood trim lower in the centre console seems on our SE-L model a little old fashioned in a car that’s likely to be bought by image-conscious drivers (there’s a metal trim in the SE-I).
How practical is it?
Lexus says the IS 250C’s 583 litre boot is the biggest in its class, and even with the roof down there’s still 235 litres of space. There’s plenty of space up front, but room in the rear is limited to two children or adults travelling short distances and the sloping angle of the door frame means access to the rear is inhibited. Visibility out front is very good, although the high rear window means its less good rearwards, while the rakish exterior makes for poor rear three-quarters visibility.
What's it like to drive?
In some areas the Lexus IS 250C can lay claim to being a genuine rival to the BMW 3 Series Cabriolet, but its driving dynamics can’t match those of the German car. Roof up, the IS feels soft, more tuned to comfort than handling, with light steering that lacks the feedback of some of its rivals. The ride is first rate, however with only the roughest of surfaces upsetting the car. Fold the roof and some of the chassis rigidity is lost, with detectable flex on the move. But being built for comfort, there’s little difference in its handling.
How powerful is it?
One engine and transmission configuration is available in the Lexus IS 250C – a 2.5-litre V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles. But despite the engine’s 205bhp and 185lb/ft of pulling power, the IS feels lethargic and heavy. The result is a 9 second 0-62mph time with a top speed of 130mph. The engine is smooth and very refined however, which suits its more laid back nature.
How much will it cost me?
Surprisingly the Lexus IS 250C is marginally more expensive than the equivalent BMW 3 Series and in three years, it will depreciate slightly more than the Beemer, too. It’ll consume a gallon of fuel every 30.4 miles and emissions of 219g/km mean tax aren’t particularly competitive either. Insurance group 15 is about average for this sort of car.
How reliable is it?
Only a mysterious rattle from inside the car blotted the copybook on an otherwise perfectly built car. Anecdotal evidence points to the Lexus IS 250 saloon being well built and the folding roof mechanism appears well engineered.
How safe is it?
There is no data available from Euro NCAP on the performance of the convertible IS in the event of a crash, but the saloon scored the full five stars. There’s no difference in safety kit between the two models the IS C is available in. That means all models come with front, side and knee airbags for the front occupants; ABS, EBD and brake assist; ESP, traction control and a host of other bits.
How much equipment do I get?
There are two models available – SE-I and SE-L. Both models come with a comprehensive security system, an eight-speaker audio system with 6-CD changer, automatic lights and wipers, keyless entry, cruise control, climate control, electric seats, folding mirrors and 18-inch alloys. The SE-L adds sat-nav with Bluetooth and rear park camera, heated and cooled seats and adaptive HID headlights with washers.
It’s the sexiest Lexus yet with some genuine head-turning abilities. It’s well built and more exclusive than other more established options, too.