2012 Lexus IS 350C Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
December 11, 2011

A strong powertrain, usable backseat, and tight retractable hardtop make the 2012 Lexus IS 350C very enjoyable, even if it feels somewhat conservative.

The 2012 Lexus IS 350C is a performance-oriented convertible, with a little more practicslity than most drop-tops, thanks to its clever retractable-hardtop arrangement, reasonably spacious trunk, and good ride comfort—along with the superb interior appointments and extensive feature set you’d expect in a Lexus.

Powertrains are identical between the IS sedans and the IS C models, and in the IS 350C’s case that’s a good thing. The 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 adds a dash of excitement to what would otherwise be a pretty dull driving experience. It’s strong through the rev band, and the six-speed automatic (with paddle-shifters) is a willing companion, yielding impressive straight-line performance. Otherwise the IS 250C handles decently but is by no means in the same realm as dedicated roadsters such as the BMW Z4 or even the Mazda Miata.

If you want a convertible that’s good for cruising, yet with a sporty edge and enough practicality for year-round commuting, the IS 350C might actually fit the bill. The IS C’s four-link roof design is about as good as it gets among modern hardtop convertibles. It fully sealing out drafts and road noise when it’s up, and in its down position it completely stows away neatly under the decklid. What’s more, its panels are made of lightweight aluminum—as opposed to most rivals, including the Infiniti G37 Convertible, which come with steel folding hard tops; the net effect is that the IS C models are heftier the IS sedans, but not so much as rival four-seat convertibles.

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The IS C models can come with an impressive feature set, including supportive heated-and-ventilated leather seats, high-end Mark Levinson audio (with DVD audio/video playback), and XM NavTraffic, Nav Weather, Sports, and Stocks. Safety extras include Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, a Pre-Collision System, and Intuitive Park Assist, and the Lexus Enform subscription suite of concierge services is integrated. If you’re willing to spend a little extra, you can spice up your IS 350C with a host of appearance- or performance-enhancing F-Sport accessories available at the dealership.

For more about the IS 350C, see this full review, along with our full review pages on the 2012 Lexus IS sedans.

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