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Car reviews - Lexus - IS - 250C coupe-convertible range

Launch Story

Lexus logo24 Jul 2009

By LUCIANO PAOLINO

THE first four-seat convertible from Lexus in eight years, the IS250C, will follow in the wheel tracks of the piping-hot IS F sedan by being a sell-out success – at least initially.

Having attracted more than 100 pre-orders, the Toyota luxury brand’s second folding-hardtop model – after the aged SC430 – is sold out for up to three months.

Launched this week at a starting price of $79,900 – making it at least $16,000 more affordable than its most direct six-cylinder German rivals in the Audi TT, BMW 3 Series Convertible and Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet – the IS250C is forecast to average 25 sales a month.

As the second body style derivative of the IS four-door sedan, the IS250C coupe-convertible will be available in three specification grades, opening as reported two weeks ago with the sub-$80,000 Prestige and also including the mid-range Sports ($84,900) and Sports Luxury ($99,900) variants.

All three rear-drive IS250Cs are powered by the same 153kW/252Nm 2.5-litre DOHC petrol V6 and six-speed automatic transmission combination found in the IS250 sedan. The convertible is 50mm longer overall at 4635mm long, but shares the sedan’s 2730mm wheelbase and 1800mm width and 1415mm height.

In the 100kg-heavier IS250C, which ranges between 1730kg and 1750kg, the direct-injection V6 returns official combined ADR81/02 fuel economy of 9.3 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 219g/km. The IS250 sedan, which was launched here in November 2005 before being upgraded last year, returns 9.1L/100km as an auto (9.8L/100km manual).

Of course, the topless IS is also a little slower than the sedan, with a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of nine seconds dead (compared with 8.8 seconds for the sedan) and a top speed of 210km/h.

Differentiating the open-top IS sufficiently to attract what’s claimed to be a whole new group of buyers is a Lexus-designed three-piece electrically folding aluminium hardtop roof with a 3.1mm-thick reinforced glass rear window. The roof opens and closes in a claimed 20 seconds and was durability tested in the Australian Outback.

Lexus says the IS250C is the only vehicle in its class to accommodate a full-size (nine-inch) golf bag with the hardtop stowed. Roof-down luggage space is listed at 205 litres, extending to a massive 553 litres with the roof up – up a big 175 litres over the sedan’s boot, which accommodates just 378 litres, and is said to be spacious enough to swallow two golf bags or two 77-litre suit cases.

Lexus says the IS250C maintains the IS sedan’s aerodynamic performance by achieving an overall coefficient of drag of 0.29Cd.



“The launch of the IS convertible marks the first body derivative of the IS line for Lexus in Australia,” said Lexus Australia chief executive John Roca.



“IS250C combines the best traits of a sedan and a convertible, delivering a vehicle that is just as enjoyable to drive as it is to look at.



“With IS250C, we continue to forge ahead with growing our product offerings locally, while growing our brand's reach and appeal,” said Mr Roca, adding that, in contrast to its rivals, the IS250C’s one-engine, three-variant line-up with no options was deliberately designed to be simple.



“Unlike our rivals, we’ve long believed that customers need simplicity in their ownership and purchase experience.



“Lexus achieves this by offering vehicles that are highly specified as standard, which in turn further benefits the customer as we have the ability to offer sharp pricing due to the reduced complexity of our model line-up.



“Customers, after all, are the key here, and IS250C will bring new customers to the brand, but it’s the long term experience that ensures they stay with us.



“Sometimes it’s what you take away that moves you forward and that's exactly what this coupe-convertible has done to the IS line and the Lexus brand. We’ve taken away the roof, but grown IS’s appeal across the luxury market.”

According to Lexus, the IS250C will appeal to “a new array of customers” who might otherwise have bought a rival luxury convertible, who are more likely not to have children and who “will be either young professionals or empty-nesters who wish to purchase their long-term ‘goal’ vehicle”.



“They may not have previously considered a Lexus, they are not necessarily drawn to any one badge and are not concerned about mass trends,” says Lexus, which will promote the IS250C in a dedicated TV, digital and outdoor advertising campaign starting in August.

Standard equipment across the IS250C range includes six airbags (two fewer than the sedan, comprising twin front, front-side and side curtains), VDIM electronic traction/stability control, a four-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, LED tail-lights, front foglights, rain-sensing wipers, puddle lights, heated front seats and a reversing camera with ‘guide assist’.

Standard interior features include leather seat trim, touch-screen satellite-navigation and an seven-inch multi-information display, heated seats, electro-chromatic rear-view mirrors, parking sensors, climate-control air-conditioning, an eight-speaker premium Lexus sound system with six-CD changer and USB/auxiliary inputs, power windows/mirrors and a space-saver spare wheel/tyre.

The base Prestige version runs 10-spoke 17x8.0-inch alloy wheels with Bridgestone 225/45 R17 front and 245/45 R17 rear tyres, while the premium grades come with five-spoke ‘shadow chrome’ 18x8.0-inch front wheels with Dunlop 225/40 R18 tyres and 18x8.5-inch rear wheels with 255/40 R18 tyres.

The Sports and Sports Luxury models also gain radar-controlled Active Cruise Control (ACC) and the Lexus Pre-Collision System (PCS), while the flagship Sports Luxury variant gains adaptive high intensity discharge (HID) headlights, a 12-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, electro-chromatic side mirrors, keyless entry/starting, unique interior trim and front-seat cooling function.

Two interior trim colours (three for Sports Luxury customers) are matched to nine exterior colours, including Mellow White and Black for all three grades plus Silver Pearl for Sports Luxury models, in which Dark Brown and Grey Wood interior trims can be specified in addition to the silver-accented interior trim package that is standard in the Prestige and Sports grades. The deep-purple Cattleya Metallic Mica joins the existing IS exterior paint colour palette.

Based on the IS250 sedan, the topless two-door IS250C comprises A-pillars reinforced by 150kg-grade hot-pressed steel. Other unique construction elements include high-strength steel side cross-members, seven floor reinforcement measures including four lateral braces under the front seats and stronger rear sections for the main chassis members.

The IS250C also features an additional rear floor cross-member next to the rear axle, a large gusset on the rear quarter section of cabin perimeter, rocker panels that are 29mm wider and 61mm higher in section than the sedan’s, and unique suspension calibration – including revised bushes, spring rates, dampers and anti-roll bars.

Finally, while the front brakes are unchanged from the sedan’s (296mm x 28mm ventilated discs with two-piston aluminium callipers), the IS250C’s rear brake discs are larger at 310mm x 18mm.

All IS250Cs offer a 10.2-metre turning circle, power tilt and telescopic steering column adjustment with memory, and 3.16 turns lock-to-lock from the same electric power steering (EPS) system as the IS sedan.

The 2+2-seater IS250C’s front seats have arched seatbacks to increase rear legroom by 20mm to 542mm. They also move forward up to 240mm and fold an extra eight degrees to assist with rear passenger entry. A unique combination handle, belt guide and seat controller complete the changes.

Lexus says that at a respective 974mm and 918mm, the IS250C offers “comparable” front and rear headroom to the IS sedan. The lower twin rear seats were moved 30mm inboard to maximise headroom below the car’s scalloped, full-fabric roof lining.

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