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2010 Lexus IS C: Entry-level Luxury Goes Topless

In the ever competitive auto business, manufacturers can't afford to ignore possible revenue streams. Take the Lexus IS for example. Besides a slow-selling and ultimately cancelled wagon body style, the IS has been offered only as a sedan, in essence yielding the coupe and convertible market to the long-dominant BMW 3-Series. No longer. For 2010, Lexus has introduced the IS C, a convertible two-door version of Lexus' sporty entry-level IS Sedan.

On our drive, we noted that the sharp reactions of the IS Sedan were somewhat dulled in the convertible IS C, likely due to the added weight of the retractable hard top (400 pounds) and the structural compromises that come with cutting a car's roof off. No worries, as the IS 250C, and especially the sportier IS 350C, are still a fun drive, at least for those in the front seats, since the rearmost quarters are a little cozy for some tastes. Thanks to electrical -- rather than hydraulic -- retraction mechanisms, the IS C's transformation from hard-top to open-air funmobile occurs quickly and with a level of refinement that rivals the best convertibles out there.

It may seem odd to call Lexus' new convertible a bargain, but compared to the manufacturer's only other drop-top offered until now -- the nearly $68,000 SC 430 -- the new IS C's sub-$40,000 starting price seems darn approachable. By combining a solid value, sporty dynamics and a sun-loving nature, we think the IS C will do a fine job providing Lexus with a properly diversified range of revenue streams.

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