Lexus IS250C review
By Tim Saunders, 27th July 2012
What felt like three months of continuous rain stopped just before I stepped inside the striking Mesa Red Lexus IS 250C SE-L Premier.
That was just as well because I‘m a firm believer that you can‘t drive a cabriolet with the roof up, although if the heavens open it can actually rise shut in just 21 seconds (the same to open), the fastest three part roof on the market, Lexus claims. The roof only goes back up if there‘s enough room for the boot lid to move. If you park too close to a wall, it won‘t work, as I found out.
Its purposeful, angular exterior has an American flavour and it is certainly distinctive. The luxury division of Toyota is a byword for quality and it is no surprise to find a particularly comfortable interior with ivory leather upholstery. The eight-way electrically adjusted front seats are also heated and cooled.
Parkers, the car experts, say: “With the popularity of upmarket four-seat convertibles like the Audi A5 and BMW 3-Series convertible, it‘s no surprise that Lexus has its own version - the IS 250C. It‘s based on the standard IS saloon but the majority of the exterior is unique to the convertible - including the excellent aluminium folding roof. Like all Lexus cars, the IS 250C is superbly built and refined, but it seems this has come at the expense of driving enjoyment and it lacks that ’fun‘ factor you‘d expect to find in any convertible. On the plus side, all versions come incredibly generously equipped and the metal roof means it can be as secure and as comfortable as a coupe.”
I take issue with the Parkers comment about driving enjoyment as I find it provides an engaging experience. It’s not the fastest from 0 to 60mph but it is a happy motorway cruiser that doesn’t buffet at high speeds and it is happy to be thrown round corners. It feels rigid and competent contrary to earlier reports of body roll and a lack of grip. A firm ride helps the sporty feel and the 2.5-litre engine coupled to the six-speed auto provides a decent driving experience. The suspension is firm and overall the Lexus is a supremely refined vehicle.
The cruise control on the IS 250C operates at speeds of 29mph and above and automatically keeps the car at a safe distance behind the vehicle in front. However, there is no option to adjust the distance as can be found on other vehicles from Volvo or Mercedes, for instance. As is the case with all such systems it can be guilty of accelerating and braking too forcefully at times with no extra power for overtaking unless the driver overrides the controls. This could be improved.
Using sport mode on the auto box is a disappointment as it doesn’t seem to make any difference in power but using the manual gear shift paddles either side of the steering wheel gives more control.
As is the case with many a cabriolet, the boot is barely large enough for a briefcase and laptop. When locked, the wing mirrors automatically fold to protect them from any parking damage.
Many criticise the IS 250C, slating its price and flawed handling but there is the fact that Lexus consistently comes top of the What Car? reliability survey.
Lexus IS 250C SE-L Premier MY11
0-60mph: 9 secs
Top speed: 130mph
Combined economy: 30.7mpg