2010 Lexus IS 250C
2010 Lexus IS 250C. Click image to enlarge

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By Chris Chase; photos by Grant Yoxon

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2010 Lexus IS C

Prince Edward County, Ontario – It’s easy to forget that Lexus has a convertible in its lineup. After all, the $78,000 SC 430, which was the brand’s first convertible when it was launched in 2002, is hardly attainable for the majority of those aspiring to topless driving.

Its polarizing looks also scratch it off many shopping lists, and while its V8 engine is powerful, the SC is more boulevard cruiser than top-down sportster.

Enter the 2010 IS C, a new hardtop convertible in what Lexus calls the “luxury low” segment, where its key competitors will be cars like the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G37. The IS C, as its name suggests, is based on the same underpinnings as the entry-level IS sedan. While this makes it a more affordable convertible than the SC, the IS C’s starting price of $52,100 is hardly chump change. It is, however, notably less expensive than the 3 Series convertible ($55,600 for the 328i model) and the recently introduced G37 ($57,400).

Convertibles are low-volume sellers, so many carmakers opt to trim powertrain options when offering a droptop based on an existing sedan platform. This isn’t the case with the IS C, which is available with the same 2.5- and 3.5-litre engines (in the IS 250 C and 350 C, respectively) as the IS sedan. Transmission choices are the same, as well, with the IS 250 C getting a standard six-speed manual and optional six-speed automatic, and the IS 350 C getting only the automatic. The only drivetrain offering not carried over from the sedan lineup is the all-wheel drive system offered in the four-door IS 250.

2010 Lexus IS 250C
2010 Lexus IS 250C
2010 Lexus IS 250C. Click image to enlarge

As mentioned, the IS 250 C sells for $52,100, while the IS 350 C starts at $60,400.

The IS C’s top was designed in-house by Lexus engineers. Folding hardtops are old hat now, with Lexus’ own SC having a metal top since its last redesign in 2002. The IS C’s claim to fame, according to Lexus, is that its roof’s 20-second fold-away makes it the fastest folding hardtop in what Lexus calls the “luxury low” segment, which presumably includes the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G37 convertibles, two of the IS’ closest competitors. While the IS C is generally a great-looking car, it’s clear it was designed to look best with the roof stowed.

I wouldn’t call the IS C a particularly sporty car – best to go with the IS sedan if that’s what you’re after – but it was still fun to toss it around during a short drive on the scenic roads of Prince Edward County in southeastern Ontario. No doubt, drivers after nothing more than a healthy dose of Vitamin D while driving a stylish car will find little to complain about in the IS C.

As is common with convertibles derived from sedan platforms, the IS C received a number of structural upgrades to help make up for the body rigidity lost with the sedan’s fixed roof. The result is a car that does feel quite solid, though some “cowl shake” and shuddering is noticeable when driving rough roads with the top down.

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