KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Since its introduction in 2001, the Lexus IS has emerged as a legitimate contender in the entry-level luxury market. However, with only a sedan body style, the Lexus IS yielded much of that market to, among others, the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. In an effort to address the issue, Lexus has introduced the 2010 Lexus IS C, a sporty two-door convertible with a retractable metal hard top that is hoped will appeal to both coupe and convertible buyers. With a focus on style, luxury, technology and value, the IS C is the latest element in what Lexus hopes will be a compelling and well-rounded lineup for the IS range.
You'll Like This Car If...
You might like the 2010 Lexus IS C if you're in the market for a sporty, luxurious convertible. Along with open-air fun, the IS C provides much of the refinement, security and style of a coupe, thanks to its retractable metal roof.
You May Not Like This Car If...
You may not like the Lexus IS C if you require enough room to seat four comfortably. While the rear seats are acceptable for short trips, normal-sized adults may find them too confining for longer journeys, a problem partly addressed with the roof stowed.
What's Significant About This Car?
The introduction of the IS C makes ownership of a convertible Lexus available to a wider audience than the brand's other convertible, the much more expensive SC430. The IS C also demonstrates the Lexus commitment to expand the IS range, which also includes the IS Sedan and high performance IS F.
Like any structure that has been compromised, the convertible Lexus IS C lacks some of the rigidity of its fixed-roof counterparts in the IS lineup. While ultimately not as sharp in handling response as the sedan, the IS C does manage to provide a good dose of exhilaration. The base IS 250C offers decent acceleration, a smooth ride and engaging handling, although passionate driving enthusiasts will prefer the quicker acceleration, harder edge and sharper handling of the IS 350C. With the top down, airflow is well controlled around the cabin. For those looking to preserve their hair styles, driving with the top down and windows up provides an ideal mix of sunshine and a calm cabin. Raise the roof and noise drops to sedan-like levels. Outward visibility is decent with the top raised and enhanced by rear headrests that flip down with the pull of a lever placed within reach of the driver.
Retractable Hard Top
Unlike many other retractable hard tops, the IS's uses electric motors instead of hydraulics, providing quick and exceptionally smooth operation. The system also automatically slows the roof as it nears the end of its movement, ensuring quiet non-jarring movement.
Mark Levinson Audio System
With 12 speakers and 270 watts, the Mark Levinson Surround Sound system delivers excellent audio enjoyment on the road. The system also alters the equalization for the top being up or down, delivering superior sound at all times.
The interior of the Lexus IS C has the soft, high-quality feel of a proper luxury car. The layout is modern and attractive, although the instrument panel features many similarly colored and shaped controls, which make the audio and climate systems more difficult to operate than should be necessary. Front-seat passengers enjoy roomy accommodations, while adults who find themselves relegated to the back seats will likely wish for more shoulder space and head room. Trunk space is good with the top in the raised position but, when it's lowered, available space shrinks to about 2.4 cubic feet.
The 2010 Lexus IS C clearly looks like a member of the IS family, yet, with the exception of the hood, none of its exterior panels are shared with the IS sedan. From its wedge-like nose, the IS C features a rising belt line that leads back to an elongated rear decklid. The long tail improves trunk space but results in a vehicle that is actually longer than its sedan counterpart. The IS C's roof employs a lightweight electric retraction mechanism providing smooth and controlled operation, while the use of aluminum in two of the three roof panels helps minimize weight.
Notable Standard Equipment
The 2010 Lexus IS C's standard equipment list includes automatic climate control, power tilt and telescope steering wheel, fog lamps, cruise control, Bluetooth phone connectivity and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. In terms of entertainment, the IS C features an eight-speaker audio system with six-disc CD changer, satellite radio and a USB interface for portable music players. Standard safety features include anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, front airbags and seat-mounted airbags that protect the head and torso of front-seat occupants.
Notable Optional Equipment
Many of the options offered for the Lexus IS C are bundled in the Luxury Package, which includes rain-sensing wipers, heated and ventilated front seats with memory, HID adaptive front lighting and semi-aniline leather trim. Those who enjoy music with strong bass and crisp highs will enjoy the optional 270-watt 12-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. Other options include a navigation system with back-up camera, front and rear parking sensors, headlamp washers and a Pre-Collision System that senses when a crash is imminent and automatically prepares the car for impact by pre-pressurizing the brakes and tightening the seatbelts.
Under the Hood
The rear-wheel drive 2010 Lexus IS C offers buyers the choice of either a 2.5-liter V6 or a 3.5-liter V6. Both engines offer the fuel economy and power benefits of direct injection and variable valve timing. The 2.5-liter engine comes paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, while the 3.5-liter engine is offered exclusively with a six-speed automatic made to handle its increased output. The automatic transmissions also feature paddle shifters, giving the driver manual control over shifts.
204 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
185 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 (manual), 21/29 (automatic)
306 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
277 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25
At close to $39,500, the base price for the Lexus IS 250C is several thousand dollars lower than its key competitors, including convertible versions of the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Infiniti G37. Move up to the sportier IS 350C and the price increases to just shy of $45,000. To get the best deal, be sure to take a look at the Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers in your area are currently paying for the Lexus IS C. Like most of Lexus' offerings, we expect the IS C to hold its value well over time, with some of the best resale numbers among entry-level luxury convertibles.