Flash Drive: 2010 Lexus IS 350C
This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2013.
By Staff of MSN Autos
For 2010, Lexus adds a folding-hardtop convertible to its popular IS lineup. Definitely the automaker's sportiest offering, the IS C adds the enjoyment of top-down driving without giving up the comfort and security of a hardtop. Powered by a strong 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine combined with a smooth 6-speed automatic transmission, the IS 350C is quick and fun to drive, but you won't mistake it for a sports car. Lexus has done a great job of maintaining the solid, shake-free platform of the IS — a real challenge when the top is removed. Essentially, this is a luxury car with a sporty edge. Inside, you'll find the luxury and quality materials you expect from Lexus. Front seat room is similar to the sedan, but the rear seats are tight for two adults, and getting in and out is difficult, even with the optional one-touch power sliding seats. –Mike Meredith
I've always liked the Lexus IS lineup, and this convertible is a nice addition to it. The hardtop folds neatly below the rear trunk lid for a clean look when down. However, the IS C's top is narrower in the rear than the one on the hardtop IS, so the IS C looks a bit odd when its top is up. This narrowing also begets a small rear window, which cuts down on visibility. The rear seat is actually usable for two, making this a true 4-seat convertible — a rarity on the market. Trunk space is plentiful when the top is up, but those folded panels need to go somewhere, so there's not much room left when the top is down. Our tester was the more powerful IS 350C. It delivered great acceleration with a nice sound to match. The IS handles well, but turning off the stability control didn't seem to have any effect — the system continued to interfere if wheel slippage occurred. The Lexus system also has an audible alert when the stability control is engaged — it is annoying, and I couldn't figure out how to turn the alert off. But overall, the Lexus makes a great choice for a high-end 4-seat convertible. –Perry Stern
The new Lexus IS C is a strong performer in the luxury convertible class. The car tested was the IS 350C, in which Lexus combines a sharp-looking car with an eager, 300-horsepower powerplant and adds a sleek-looking retractable hardtop. The quick-closing lid looks good and provides rear seat passengers with decent headroom and legroom. As expected with a convertible, trunk room is tight, and only a couple of duffle bags will fit. However, road noise is minimal and conversation is easier versus a soft-top convertible. On the road, the IS 350C feels reasonably fast and moves well with the additional weight due to the convertible top. Unfortunately, Lexus offers the manual transmission only in the anemic IS 250C, not the powerful IS 350C. –Joe Chulick
The modern Lexus IS is a convincing competitor in the niche first created by the BMW 3-Series. It's sporty, somewhat luxurious, affordable and versatile. The hardtop convertible model, the IS C, is all those things and a good summer, wind-in-your-hair joy as well. The blind spots are a little large because the rear headrests are intrusive. And trunk space is drastically cut when the convertible top is down. However, the IS emphasizes comfort and refinement over performance in exactly the way you would expect of any normal Lexus (i.e., the ones with names that don't end in "F"). The Lexus IS is perhaps a little more spacious than its competitors, and is certainly a far better car than the first Lexus IS was. Personally, I would like a little more performance in this class of car, but I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the IS C as much as I did. –Paul Hagger