Lexus IS 250C review

Read our review of the Lexus IS 250C - the car with the fastest folding three-piece hardtop on sale today. Fact.

"Lexus replacement for the horrid SC430 is here"

What is it?The IS250C is Lexus’s attempt at building a BMW 3 Series CC or an Audi A5 Cabriolet. And in true Lexus style, creating a new cabriolet has required minute attention to detail and an obsession with getting the engineering spot on.

Take the three-piece aluminium roof - it has 15 motors and 37 sensors to ensure it opens or closes in just 21 seconds. The roof even slows down as it’s being raised so that it doesn’t clunk onto the windscreen’s top and upsetting the ambience. Told you the engineering is obsessive.

What does it look like?The IS250C shares just the bonnet, door handles, headlights and mirrors with the standard IS saloon. The redesign is to make sure the IS’s rear end doesn’t look enormous while still providing enough space for the roof to fold down and a decent sized boot.

The IS250C isn’t exactly pretty, and the gaps in the roof look a bit clunky when the top’s up. But it’s not a bad looker even if it does look under-wheeled on the standard fit 18-inch alloys. It does have a big bum though.

What’s it like inside?The IS250C’s interior mega well built, but why Lexus chose to make the dash top out of squodgy plastic which shines like a shell suit is a mystery. The heated and ventilated seats are good though – they even heat your shoulders as well as your back and bum – and there’s even a surprising amount of rear seat room.

Continuing the nerdy engineering theme, the optional Mark Levinson stereo automatically adjusts depending on whether the top is up or down so your tunes always sound great. The air conditioning’s output takes the top’s position into account too, and both systems actually do the job pretty well.

What’s it like to drive?The IS’s ride and refinement are truly first class. With the top up, the cabin is virtually silent at motorway speeds, and the IS feels precise and quite agile. Top down, wind buffeting is kept to a minimum, but there’s a bit more steering wheel wobble when you drive over poorly surfaced roads.

The IS250C’s 208hp 2.5-litre V6 is the low point though. Granted the IS was never built to be a sharp to drive as a 325 CC, but the engine really struggles to move the 1,730kg Lexus with any sort of verve - it’s a shame that we only get this engine/transmission combo, and can’t opt for the 306hp 3.5-litre V6 offered in The States. That powerplant would ensure that the Lexus really did offer a class leading cruising experience.

VerdictThe Lexus IS250C isn’t cheap. The car I drove was a top spec SE-L which retails at £43,250. And while it has way more standard kit than the BMW 3 Series CC or an Audi A5 Cabriolet, the IS250C is more expensive than its rivals. But Lexus has designed this car to appeal to around 800 50-something-year-old buyers per year in the UK, and providing that driving thrills aren’t as important as toys, mega refinement and comfort, then the IS250C does have limited appeal.

Car Specs - Lexus IS 250C SE-L

Engine:2.5-litre V6 petrol, 208hp
0-62mph:9.0 seconds
Top speed:130mph
Economy/emissions:30.4mpg/219g/km CO2
Price/On sale £43,250/Now

We rate:Folding roof is impressive... As is the amazing refinement

We slate:Engine a real disappointment Top-spec car not cheap

Rating: Image removed.

by Tom Phillips

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