Top up or down, the rear-wheel drive 2012 Lexus IS 250C turns heads.
A fiery red leather interior and a sexy black exterior have people ogling over this Japanese-made hardtop.
Summer wouldn't be complete without some drive time behind the wheel of a few hot convertibles. The 2012 Lexus IS 250C falls under the category of "hot" convertible, so the world is in order. Or at least for now it is!
For 2012, thanks to the addition of the Special Edition package, the IS 250C is that much more interesting. It builds on the already existing Navigation Package which, by its name, means you're getting a voice-activated HDD Navigation System. You also get clearance backup sensors and a backup camera. The backup camera is especially helpful when parking with the top up. Visibility out the rear is a little tricky, but is made more liveable because of this feature. Also added are a sleek set of 18" alloys and red leather seating.
Oh, Those Seats
There's no mistaking the interior of the IS 250C with the Special Edition package. They're red. Very red. And I love it. While I don't normally gravitate to a cardinal red hue, it looks really well positioned with the dash and centre console. Furthermore, the Obsidian exterior makes the leather-appointed seating surfaces pop even more. Kudos to Lexus for spicing this convertible up. Muy caliente.
There's no need for a map to navigate the 2012 Lexus IS 250C's interior. Buttons and gauges are very clearly marked and so are the controls on the touchscreen. Speaking of the touchscreen: if CSI ever needed to lift a print from the car, they wouldn't be hard to find since your finger markings are quite visible against the black screen. Keeping a special cleaning cloth in the glove compartment for the occasional wipe might be a good idea.
The black dashboard is then accompanied by a black leather steering wheel with a dash of red stitching. Furthermore, there are some metallic accents around the centre stack and then a faux woodgrain-like trim along the centre console area. Put together, it makes for pleasing cabin to look at.
In about 20 seconds, the Lexus IS 250C goes from a coupe-like form to a convertible. The three-piece, fully retractable hardtop is controlled by one button located to the left of the steering wheel. At first, it took me a few seconds to find its location. Normally, the top up/down button is located near the centre console or sometimes even inside the centre console. However, when I eventually found it, there was no stopping me from going topless when the weather permitted.
While stopped at a light, with the car's top down, a fellow commuter on my left rolled down his window, leaned over a bit and commented: "Nice car. But why didn't you get the 350?" My initial reaction was to give him the spiel about my job and why I had the Lexus. I decided against it for brevity purposes.
Instead, I thanked him for the compliment and answered his query with: "Because the 250 does the job and does it well." He accepted the answer, then the light turned green so off we went.
When I say the 250 does the job well, I meant that the 2.5L V6 under the hood with its 204 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque is just fine for everyday use. It still has a good punch to it and won't land me in trouble with the law as quickly! Being a fan of beefier engines, and having driven the 3.5L V6 variant in the past, the 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque is great to have, but price is one reason why people don't opt for the IS 350C (with a starting MSRP of $57,000 compared to $49,100 for the 250).
The 2012 Lexus IS 250C comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. Woohoo! Fortunately and unfortunately, the drop top I tested had the optional 6-speed, Super Electronically Controlled automatic transmission with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.
It's fortunate because braving city traffic is always a lot more bearable with an automatic tranny. Then again, there's something to be said for making your own shifts, complete with the third pedal. I just find a vehicle more engaging when you have more control over your gear selection. That said, up and downshifting can be done effectively through the paddle shifters or via the gearbox.
With the IS 250C, there's a good balance between Lexus' touring style suspension (meaning, it's nice for the long haul, but not always inspiring on a track) and a sporty infusion. Its driving dynamics are great for a long cruise, but it also has enough going on underneath its pretty sheet metal to not make you feel so relaxed that you want to take a nap. The lively engine combined with a stiffer suspension makes this four-seater convertible a capable and endearing package.
Room for Four
Inside the cabin there's room for four. There's also 306 litres (10.8 cubic feet) of trunk space. Drop the top and it's like having a bag of candy in front of me while I work. It gets consumed faster than I'd like to admit. Like most retractable hardtops, if you need room for stuff don't count on the trunk when the top is down. That is unless your items are small (i.e., tennis racquet small). Use the rear seats if possible, or get an RX 450h to do the trick!
The 2012 Lexus IS 250C has a starting MSRP of $49,100. With the Special Edition package ($3,400) and the optional 6-speed automatic ($1,600), the MSRP comes in at $54,100 (excluding taxes and destination charges).
This 2012 Lexus IS 250C review was originally published on Auto-Venus.com.
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