In-depth Reviews

Lexus IS C cabriolet (2009-2012)

    "The Lexus IS C is a stylish, well-built. and comfortable convertible but it lacks a diesel option."

Carbuyer Rating

2.0 out of 5


  • Capable cruiser
  • Enough space for four
  • Great reliability and dealers


  • Only one engine, and it feels slow
  • Fuel economy not great
  • More expensive than premium rivals

The Lexus IS C only offers one engine choice - a 2.5-litre V6 petrol with 205bhp. That means the Lexus can’t compete with the fuel economy of diesel-powered convertible rivals. It’s not cheap either; so while its three equipment levels are loaded with standard kit, the entry price for the IS 250 C is higher than that of both the BMW 3-Series Convertible and Audi A5 Cabriolet. Performance from the Lexus is adequate at best, although the car is comfortable, will fit four adults and looks great. The boot is big too.

MPG, running costs & CO2

The IS 250 C isn't that cheap to run

Running costs aren’t the IS 250 C’s strength, with its 2.5-litre V6 engine returning poor fuel economy - just 30.4mpg on the combined cycle. Add £215 annual Road Tax to that and relatively expensive servicing costs - although the Lexus dealer network and customer service are rated as the very best in the business.

Engines, drive & performance

Convertible offers comfortable cruising

Whereas the BMW 3 Series Convertible and Audi A5 Cabriolet feel like they’re made with some driving fun in mind, the Lexus IS 250 C feels built for comfort. The car glides over rough roads, while the steering is light and the standard automatic gearbox (there’s no manual choice) makes driving easy. It’s not a car that likes to be driven fast, however, and if anything feels slightly underpowered because it’s significantly heavier than the IS 250 saloon. The nine seconds it takes to cover the 0-62mph benchmark is, by luxury convertible standards, slow.

Interior & comfort

With the roof down, the cabin keeps draughts at bay

The IS 250 C’s soft, comfortable suspension is great for cruising at both town and motorway speeds. Wind and tyre noise are kept well out of the cabin when the roof is up, so it’s nice and relaxing. The Lexus also keeps wind buffeting to a minimum when the top is down.

Practicality & boot space

Saloon-beating boot offers reasonable space

The four seat cabin offers space for children in the rear. With the roof up the boot seems massive, its 583-litre capacity absolutely dwarfing that of the IS saloon. Of course, with the electric folding roof stowed inside, capacity shrinks markedly - by more than half. The big opening makes for easy loading, but it’s an unusual shape because the rear suspension encroaches into it. Cabin storage is as per the saloon, with a fairly sizeable glove compartment and handy central storage box.

Reliability & safety

Faultless build quality and reliability

In terms of quality and reliability, the Lexus exceeds its peers. It doesn’t have the most charismatic cabin in terms of design, but the materials and build quality are top drawer - Lexus constantly leads reliability and customer satisfaction surveys. The hard roof makes it more secure than a cloth-roofed convertible, and it has a host of airbags and electronic stability aids as standard.

Price, value for money & options

Cars are well equipped, but expensive

Value for money is relative, and while the IS 250 C is well equipped, it’s also expensive to buy - whichever of the three trim levels you choose. The basic SE-I model features leather seats, alloy wheels, parking sensors and cruise control - a proper luxury equipment list. However, it misses out on satellite navigation, which is only offered as an expensive option.

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