The IS C is a four-seat hardtop convertible based on Lexus' last-generation IS sedan. Although it isn't the sportiest or roomiest drop-top on the market, this comfortable cruiser does offer a well-trimmed interior, a smooth ride and an available 306-horsepower V6.
Unlike a traditional, cloth-roofed convertible, the IS C features a folding metal hardtop with excellent insulation from weather and highway noise. It can be raised or lowered in just 21 seconds. The setup's big drawback is limited trunk space - with the top up, there's 10.8 inches of cargo capacity, but only 2.8 cubes are available when the bulky roof is lowered. That's enough for a golf bag, but nothing more.
Aside from its two-door convertible configuration, the IS C is nearly identical to the outgoing IS sedan. That means it's underpinned by a rear-wheel-drive platform that offers capable - but not exactly fun - handling.
The cabin features a simple, elegant design constructed from upscale materials. For the latest model year, the optional navigation system has been updated with the latest version of Lexus' Enform infotainment system. Enform provides access to Lexus Enform to Bing search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora, Yelp and Facebook Places through compatible smart phones.
As with most "four-passenger" convertibles, the rear seats are extremely cramped for anyone larger than young children; most buyers will likely use them for extra luggage space.
Two models, each with a distinct engine, are on offer.
The IS 250C anchors the bottom of Lexus' convertible range and features 2.5-liter V6 that produces 204 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 185 lb-ft. at 4,800 rpm. That's enough to propel the drop-top from zero-to-60 mph in a somewhat leisurely 8.4 seconds. The previously available manual transmission has been purged from the options list for the latest model year, leaving a six-speed automatic as the only gearbox. Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg around town and 30 mpg on the highway.
The IS 350C boasts a 3.5-liter V6 that serves up 306 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 277 lb-ft of torque 4,800 rpm, all of which helps it accelerate to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds -- a reasonable figure for a 3,880 lb. convertible. Fuel economy is rated at 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
Standard and Optional Features
The IS C comes standard with leather upholstery, an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system with SiriusXM radio and USB/AUX input jacks, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Only a handful of options aside from the obligatory paint and upholstery shades are available to help personalize IS Cs. Heated and ventilated seats make an appearance on the options list, as does a power-sliding mechanism that helps the front seats return to their last positions when they are moved forward to allow access to the rear seat.
A navigation system comes packaged with a 12-speaker, 270-watt Mark Levinson-branded audio system. The navigation features XM Radio's NavTraffic, while the audio system is capable of playing DVD audio discs.
The Luxury Package pairs the heated and ventilated seats with rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview exterior mirrors, bi-xenon headlamps and unique dark-finish wood trim. The Luxury Package can be augmented with blue leather-trimmed seats with Alabaster inserts for an even more unique look.
F Sport Package
Those looking to add a bit of extra flash and performance to the IS C can spec the F Sport Package, which brings a sport-tuned suspension in addition to 18-inch wheels with a dark superchrome finish, a front lip spoiler, heated and ventilated front seats.
IS C safety features include dual front, side and knee airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Rivals to the IS C for the checkbooks of sun-loving car buyers comes from drop-top versions of the Infiniti G37, the BMW 3-Series and the Audi A5.