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2014 Lexus IS 350C F Sport Quick Take

By Matt Degen on April 8, 2014 5:09 PM
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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.

Also: Your Guide to the 2014 Small Luxury Sport Sedans

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.

Quick Conclusion

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.   

More 2014 Lexus IS...

See full review and pricing information for the 2014 Lexus IS lineup or build and price your own to unlock its Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own and more.

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