The 2014 Lexus IS C is a reminder that sometimes you can't always have it all. Or in this case, when you try to make one car good at two things, the result can be a compromise.
To get you up to speed, the Lexus IS C is the convertible version of Lexus' popular 4-door small luxury sedan. In this iteration it has two doors, but the IS C's most distinguishing feature is its roof. Rather than having a soft top, it boasts an aluminum-alloy lid. When the hardtop is up, the Lexus is for all intents and purposes a 2-door coupe. With the push of a button, though, the big top tucks away into the trunk, turning this Lexus into a convertible ready for sun and the requisite fun.
Where it Hits the Right Buttons
* As a coupe, the Lexus IS C feels like, well, a Lexus. Quiet. Solid. Comfortable -- even in this firmer, performance-oriented F Sport form. Compared to the Infiniti Q60 hardtop convertible, the Lexus feels more buttoned-up.
* Where the base IS 250C uses a 204-horsepower 2.5-liter V6 that provides only adequate acceleration and passing power, the IS 350C ups the ante significantly with a 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6. This engine gives and gives, providing blasts onto the freeway (0-60 mph arrives in 5.8 seconds) and beyond.
* Though the 2014 IS C lacks the freshness of its sedan siblings (see the reason below), it still offers plenty of creature comforts such as climate-controlled seats and a Mark Levinson audiophile entertainment system that make driving a pleasure.
The Price to be Paid
* The biggest tradeoff when using the Lexus IS C as a convertible is its lack of cargo space. With the roof up, the Lexus has a decent 10.8 cubic feet of cargo space. Lowered, the roof eats up nearly 80 percent of that, leaving an almost-comical 2.4 cubic feet. That's half of what a Miata offers.
* Like other 4-seat coupes and convertibles, the rear seats in this Lexus are very tight. Legroom for adults is almost non-existent. Best to just consider them parcel shelves, which can at least alleviate the critical issue above.
* While the majority of the Lexus IS sedan lineup is new for 2014, the IS C is a carryover model, meaning it does not get the updated interior and exterior, tech-licious infotainment system or 8-speed automatic transmission found in its newer siblings.
Because it's a hardtop convertible, the 2014 Lexus IS C delivers year-round drivability and Lexus' trademark comfort. But at roughly $50,000, the 350C F Sport's price begins to look like a big ask considering its prior-gen platform and cargo limitations.
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