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Lexus IS 250C (2009) review

Published:25 June 2009

Lexus IS 250C (2009) review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

Depending on your point of view, the new Lexus IS 250C is either very slinky and attractive and full of lovely designer-speak ‘arrowhead’ shapes – or it is an absolute ug. And we mean this literally. It’s quite telling that all the press shots for the IS 250C are shot from low-down; the point where the new car’s larger backside is hidden beneath the darty, sloping beltline.

At least anyone over three-foot tall (and we presume this means those damn pesky ‘customers’) will fail to notice the big butt – a consequence of a folding hard-top roof mechanism that takes the IS250 C from coupe to cabrio in under 21 seconds.

So if I'm not sold on the looks of the Lexus IS 250C, what else will float my boat?

Subjective looks aside, the Lexus IS 250C appeals on many levels. It’s a Lexus – so you can expect royal butler-levels of care and attentiveness from the dealer – and it is extremely refined and comfortable.

It’ll be rare too – just 2000 will make their way to Europe and of those a scant 800 will find brave British summers. However, the IS 250C is up against two of the finest convertibles, folding hard- or soft-top, in any class. That’ll be the 3-series and the Audi A5 convertibles then.

I presume it's absolutely loaded with kit?

In true Lexus tradition, the IS 250C uses its considerable standard equipment specification to take the fight to the Germans. Two model grades are available – SE-I and SE-L – of which the cheaper SE-I is expected to be the biggest seller. Well, we say ‘cheaper’: the IS 250C SE-I costs a wallet-popping £34,500.

Lexus argue that a similarly specced BMW 325i SE costs over £40K, but then the BMW starts at £33,780 and you can decide if you want Lexus-levels of spec or not.

>> Click 'Add your comment' below to read more of our Lexus IS 250C first drive

What's this new Lexus like inside?

Lexus make great claims about the boot being 'biggest-in-class' – and it is indeed rather voluminous at 584 litres with the roof up. However, roof down yet again the folding hardtop nightmare of squished luggage comes into play: boot volume is reduced to 235 litres, or about two medium sized holdalls. That aluminium roof has to go somewhere, I suppose.

Technical highlights include clever climate and audio systems that automatically adjust to open and closed roof situations and one-touch fold and return seats. These eight-way adjustable electric memory (deep breath) front seats are also heated and ventilated and feature a neat shoulder warming function too.

In the rear, access isn’t easy despite the one-touch folding front chairs. The two rear seats are also very upright and with the roof up, back-seat passengers will find the narrow rear and side window apertures conspire to form a claustrophobic environment. Roof-down, it’s comparable with other cars in its class, but in terms of packaging it doesn’t improve the coupe/convertible breed.

How does the IS 250C drive?

On the road the IS 250C feels like… an IS 250. It handles in a competent and neutral manner but it doesn’t feel sporty like a front-engined V6-powered rear-wheel drive car should.

It’s not a car to hurry – or indeed a car you can hurry. The 24-valve, 205bhp 2500cc V6 petrol unit (the only engine option) plays a musical, high-pitched note but it’s fighting a losing battle again the IS 250C’s lardy 1730kg kerbweight.

The IS 250C would perform better with a cloth roof, but customers (those pesky customers again) prefer steel over their heads when cruising roof-up.

Verdict

Lexus has relatively low targets for the IS 250C, and that’s not a bad thing. ‘Managing expectations’ is a term that comes to mind. It will appeal to Lexus owners who fancy something a bit different but it doesn’t appeal to us. It’s just too damn average.

>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of the new Lexus IS 250C

Specs

Price when new: £43,250
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 2500cc V6 24v, 205bhp @ 6400rpm, 185b ft @ 4800rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 9.0sec 0-62mph, 130mph, 30.4mpg, 219g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1730-50kg/steel, aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4635/1800/1415 £35,550-£43,250

Rivals

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  • Lexus IS 250C (2009) review
  • Lexus IS 250C (2009) review
  • Lexus IS 250C (2009) review
  • Lexus IS 250C (2009) review
  • Lexus IS 250C (2009) review
  • Lexus IS 250C (2009) review
  • Lexus IS 250C (2009) review
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