The new ad campaign for the 2010 Lexus IS C might try and convince you that the Lexus IS C is a sports convertible (not that anyone’s really sure what the 15-second spots are trying to convey), but don’t be fooled—as TheCarConnection.com’s editors point out, this is no BMW.
The two variants of the Lexus IS C are distinguished first and foremost by their unique powertrains. Car and Driver says “the engine choices—a 204-hp, 2.5-liter V-6 and a 306-hp, 3.5-liter V-6-are identical to the IS sedan’s,” but the added weight of the Lexus IS C makes them somewhat less exciting in this application. In the Lexus IS 250C, Autoblog reports that 0-60 mph “arrives in an estimated 8.4 seconds—only a half second slower than the sedan…but from the driver’s seat, it feels far slower than Lexus’ claimed five-tenths.” The 3.5-liter in the 2010 Lexus IS 350C is somewhat more capable, however, as Motor Trend notes that “Lexus claims 0-60 in 5.8 sec, which feels right.” Regardless of which option you choose, Autoblog feels that “this convertible is made for the boulevard” and not the drag strip.
The Lexus IS C lineup can claim an enthusiast-oriented manual transmission, but it's only available with the Lexus IS 250C. Autoblog reviewers state that the less-powerful model “is available with either a six-speed manual or automatic, and [the] IS 350C is packaged exclusively...with the self-shifting six-speed.” The automatics do come with paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but Jalopnik says they are more or less unnecessary, since “the canned programming does an admirable job of predicting your intentions.” The manual isn’t quite so well received; Edmunds feels “the sloppy linkage makes you think of a Mustang V6 rental car from the 1990s,” and many reviewers recommend opting for the automatic.
One area where the 2010 Lexus IS C remains competitive with its German counterparts is in terms of fuel economy, especially in Lexus IS 250C trim. According to the official EPA estimates, the 2010 Lexus IS 250C should get 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with the manual transmission, while the automatic boasts a 21/29 rating. The 2010 Lexus IS 350C, meanwhile, delivers a respectable 18 mpg city and 25 mpg on the open road.
The Lexus IS C can’t quite hang with most sports convertibles in the acceleration department, but it really begins to fall behind when it comes to handling. Autoblog reviewers feel it's pretty easy to tell that Lexus’s tuning “emphasized luxury over sport,” as “both the steering and handling felt like they were set on ‘shopping.’” Car and Driver agrees the Lexus IS C isn’t a canyon carver, claiming you feel the convertible’s extra weight “in corners where this weighty ship rolls and porpoises a bit more than the sedan.” The flip side of the less aggressive suspension tuning is that the Lexus IS C offers a soft and supple ride, with Motor Trend labeling the car “supple without being mushy.” When it comes time to stop, Jalopnik reports that the optional F-Sport brakes provide “snappy stops” thanks to the “giant cross drilled brakes” included with the package.