Road tests

Lexus IS 250C

Japanese firm raises the roof for style and quality with folding hard-top compact exec

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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The IS 250C is an impressive performer, offering a high standard of comfort and refinement. And with its sportier exterior and convertible roof, it’s sure to be a hit with current Lexus owners. It’s a shame the more powerful 305bhp 3.5-litre engine won’t be available in the UK any time soon – although Lexus never intended the drop-top to be a sports car.

With summer here, it’s open season on convertibles – and new to the party is Lexus. The firm has finally lifted the lid on its compact executive saloon to create this: the stylish IS 250C.

Apart from the bonnet, headlamps, mirrors and door handles, every other part of the car has been redesigned especially for the convertible.

With only two doors, and sharper angles and lines, the newcomer looks sportier than its sister models.

Inside, there’s Lexus’s usual high-quality finish, with leather seats and aluminium pedals. Standard in the top-spec SE-L we drove was an impressive 12-speaker stereo and sat-nav. But the brand’s main aim with the 250C is to make driving with the roof down as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.

On the road, the car delivers a smooth, secure ride, whether the top is folded or in place.

The steering feels light, yet it handles well, too. That’s impressive when you consider its 1,730kg kerbweight.

Lexus says the 250C is aimed at a slightly younger market than the rest of the IS range, but if you’re expecting a sporty engine to match the drop-top’s more youthful appearance, you will be left disappointed. Although the 2.5-litre V6 sounds good, long ratios and the car’s weight mean the convertible seems sluggish off the mark. And you never quite feel as if you’re in the right gear. This improves a little when you use the paddleshifters and select the manual mode.

It’s thirsty, too. Lexus claims the 250C will return 30mpg, but on our varied route, we managed closer to 22mpg.

However, the model does deliver supreme standards of refinement and comfort for a premium sports convertible. And while the price looks high – our car costs £43,250, and the range starts from £34,550 for the SE-I – generous kit across the line-up softens the blow.

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