Lexus is proud of its latest retractable hardtop, and for good reason. The three-piece unit performs a ballet of mechanical wizardry in about 20 seconds—a feat that makes this top the fastest three-piece in the land, according to Lexus.
The company completely reconstructed the IS architecture to accommodate that top, stretching the car by 2.25 inches and creating convertible-specific body panels. Despite the aesthetic similarities, the only thing the IS Cs actually share with their four-door brethren is a hood.
Body panels aren’t the only things that separate the convertibles from the more common sedans. Despite having half the doors of their more reserved counterparts, the IS Cs reportedly weigh around 380 pounds more.
And all those extra pounds have seemingly congregated in the rear of the car, causing it to suffer from the kind of bulbous tail that competitors like the Infiniti G Convertible have somehow managed to avoid. Fortunately, the front of the IS C is still as sexy as the rest of the Lexus lineup.
The IS convertible is powered by the same pair of direct-injection V6s found in its fixed-roof counterpart: a 2.5-liter producing 204 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.5-liter with a far healthier 305 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque.
For the one or two buyers who will want one, there is a six-speed manual available on the 250, but the automatic will account for the majority of sales—especially as it’s the only option on the IS 350C. Paddle shifters inside are happy to lend the illusion of a quick-shifting speed machine, but without the rev-matched trickery of the IS F.
Inside, both cars benefit from an array of technological wonders to keep the cabin comfortable, whether the top’s up or down. Both the audio and the A/C adjust automatically to handle temperature and wind noise variations.
There’s a surprising amount of room in the back seat. Lexus has also offered up its array of F-Sport goodies for the IS Cs, though we have trouble imagining Lexus buyers installing accessories like the “track-day brake package.”
With a 0-60 stroll of 8.4 seconds, the 250’s 2.5-liter V6 has a tough time creating any real “oomph,” especially compared with the competition. Even uphill stretches left the 250 winded, and us wondering if the decision to keep the 2.5-liter engine underhood was a good one.
Fortunately, the same is not true for the IS 350C. The additional 100 hp slingshots the convertible forward with ease at any speed—it’s worth the extra coin. But even with the larger engine and brakes, the weight does creep its way back into the picture, with a rear end that has a slight tendency to bob and require above-average brake effort during hard stops. Initial steering input is quick, but lacks feedback once you’ve settled into the corners.
Both the 2010 Lexus IS 250C and the IS 350C will be available in June of this year. With prices at around $38,490 for the 250C and $43,940 for the 350C (plus $875 destination), it’s clear Lexus is gunning for the likes of the Infiniti G Convertible and BMW’s 3 Series.