Lexus is throwing another dart at the blue-and-white bull’s-eye that is BMW. Toyota’s luxury division knows that 30 percent of BMW 3-series sales are coupes and convertibles, and it wants a seat at that buffet. Introduced nine years ago and well into its second generation—Toyota doesn’t act without exhaustive study, apparently—the entry-luxury IS sedan finally gets an additional body style: a hardtop convertible.
In dealerships by the end of May, the two-door, four-seat IS250C and IS350C feature an aluminum hardtop roof that relies on 15 electric motors and 37 sensors to crack into two panels and seamlessly belly-flop into the waiting trunk. The process takes 20 seconds.
In most other respects, the IS convertible varies not a nanometer from the established Lexus path. Although every exterior panel and molding on the IS C is unique to the convertible (except the hood), it looks to untrained eyes like a sedan that has met a hacksaw. The engine choices—a 204-hp, 2.5-liter V-6 and a 306-hp, 3.5-liter V-6—are identical to the IS sedan’s. So are the transmission choices, which mean a six-speed manual is available in the IS250C and a six-speed automatic in both models. As expected, the IS convertible features Lexus fit and finish and, somewhat less appealingly, Lexus dynamics.
More on that shortly. Lexus customers tend to be more about the “what’s it come with?” than the “what’ll she do?”