- A Hardtop Coupe That Transforms Into A Convertible In 20 Seconds
- Choice Of hp Or hp V6 Engines
- Available F SPORT Package Boosts Handling And Luxury
- Versatile Lexus Enform Multimedia
Lexus ISC Product Information
Some find the choice between coupe and convertible difficult to make. The Lexus IS C eliminates that dilemma. Its retractable hardtop provides the snugness of a closed coupe when up, and, at the push of a button, lowers in just 20 seconds when you want the unique feeling of top-down driving.
Enhancements to the IS C for include a new, organ-type accelerator pedal and, expanding music options, upgrading to the Lexus App Suite with iHeartRadio and adding Slacker.
The Lexus IS C comes in four flavors: IS with a hp liter V6 engine; IS F SPORT with track-tuned handling upgrades; IS with the potent hp liter V6, and the IS F SPORT. All come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The IS C also comes with a pedigree. More than 20 years ago, Lexus became the first brand to offer a retractable hardtop convertible in the premium-luxury segment, the SC Lexus refined technology from that car for the IS C, bringing it to a more accessible segment.
Leave it to Lexus to ensure coupe-like quiet and comfort in a convertible. The IS C makes effective use of an acoustic glass windshield, along with special seals on the roof, door and window panels. The rear window is made from reinforced glass. The design looks sleek to the eye and is also slippery in the wind tunnel. An impressively low coefficient of drag (Cd) helps to minimize wind buffeting in the cabin when the top is down.
The available F SPORT package brings out the IS C models’ inner road athlete. The F SPORT grille and lip spoiler and aerodynamic body elements accentuate the car’s already sporty stance. The sport-tuned suspension sharpens the car’s moves without harshening the ride.
The Dark Superchrome finish?on the inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels gives the IS C F SPORT models an almost sinister look, and the wheels apply a trick from racing, called a “staggered” tire array. The front 18 x in wheels have /40YR18 tires, and the wider 18 x in rear wheels wear /40YR18 tires (choice of all-season or summer performance tires).
Inside, the F SPORT treats the driver and front passenger luxuriously with leather-appointed, heated and ventilated sport seats. Unique features include the F SPORT steering wheel and shift knob, Silver Metallic interior trim, aluminum sport pedals, and aluminum doorsill scuff plates.
High-Tech Roof With Many Talents
There’s much more to the IS C’s clever roof design than meets the eye. Behind the scenes, 13 electric motors and 33 sensors control the three-panel aluminum roof. When it’s lowered, the roof hides beneath a locking panel that automatically closes. Unlike with a soft-top, there’s no need to secure an awkward tonneau cover or hold-down snaps. With the top raised, the trunk is roomy enough to carry two golf bags, or one golf bag with the top lowered.
Lexus applied its penchant for quiet operation to the roof, using a lightweight aluminum four-link design and a roof-speed brake system that slows the roof as it approaches the end of the closing operation.
When the IS C is equipped with the available Intuitive Park Assist (IPA), roof operation will stop if an obstacle that might interfere is detected behind the car. The driver will get an audible warning, and a warning light illuminates in the instrument panel.
Lexus designed the IS C as a strictly four-seat car, with a high level of luxury as standard. The leather-trimmed way power-adjustable front seats have power lumbar support. On the available heated/ventilated front seats, the heating range includes the shoulder areas.
The two rear seats are positioned slightly inboard to maximize room and comfort, and Lexus ensured easy ingress/egress with a one-touch feature that automatically folds a front seat and moves it forward. The rear-seat console includes cup holders and storage.
The Lexus IS C knows when it’s a coupe, and when it’s a convertible. When the top is lowered, the climate control system automatically adjusts the temperature and airflow to compensate. The system takes into account vehicle speed and even the amount of sunlight reaching the interior.
What good is a high-end sound system like the speaker Mark Levinson® Premium Surround Sound Audio System available for the Lexus IS C if you can’t hear its full potential when the top is down? Here, too, the IS C responds to its environment by automatically adjusting the sound equalization – particularly bass response to compensate, and then changing back when the top is raised.
The Lexus IS C connects you to music, information and destinations, through onboard systems and your smartphone. Standard equipment includes a SiriusXM® Satellite Radio receiver (complimentary day trial subscription included), Bluetooth® hands free phone capability with automatic phonebook download, Bluetooth music streaming, and USB/iPod® connectivity.
The available hard disc drive (HDD) navigation system also comes with Lexus Enform Destination Services, which includes Destination Assist, eDestination and the subscription-free Lexus Enform App Suite. Its voice-enabled apps let you search the Internet through Bing™, make restaurant reservations through OpenTable®, get movie tickets via MovieTickets.com™, listen to Pandora®, iHeartRadio™ and, new for , Slacker. You can also search business reviews on Yelp®, and check in on Facebook Places™.
Lexus Enform Safety Connect is standard on all vehicles, while Lexus Enform Destination Services is on all vehicles equipped with the optional Navigation system and includes a complimentary one-year trial subscription. The Lexus Enform response centers operate 24 hours a day, days a year.
The optional Pre-Collision System (PCS) is packaged with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which uses millimeter-wave radar to measure and help maintain a pre-set following distance from a vehicle traveling ahead.
What’s New for
- Redesigned organ-type accelerator pedal.
- Lexus Enform App Suite adds Slacker and upgrades to iHeartRadio
- The IS C’s liter V6 engine delivers horsepower at 6, rpm and lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4, rpm.
- The IS C’s liter V6 offers horsepower at 6, rpm and lb.-ft. of torque at 4, rpm.
- The liter V6 augments direct fuel injection with port fuel injectors. In light- and medium-load conditions, these additional injectors help produce a precise burn, optimizing power and efficiency.
- A dual exhaust system reduces backpressure.
- The body structure has excellent rigidity and strength, achieved by effective structural changes and additions to the rocker area, A and B pillar under structure, side collision crossmember, and upper and rear-floor crossmembers; underfloor braces were added in the front and rear.
- High-rigidity damping materials and asphalt sheets help minimize vibration effects.
- The IS C features standard spoke inch wheels with a clean liquid-graphite finish and optional split five-spoke or five-spoke inch wheels with a liquid-graphite finish and all-season tires.
- Standard Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management System (VDIM) interfaces with the electronic throttle control system and governs all of the vehicle’s dynamic handling systems – the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC) – employing them collectively and seamlessly to make corrections while helping provide higher dynamic capability.
Safety and Security Features
- Seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters are used for the front seats, while the rear seats adopt emergency locking retractor seatbelts.
- The Lexus Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) includes dual-front airbags, front-seat-mounted side curtain and torso side airbags, and knee airbags for both the driver and the front passenger.
- Two convenient fold-forward lock-release levers on both sides of the front seats make operation easier from any seat. In addition, the passenger seat features a power slide button on the top of the seatback to ease rear seat ingress/egress.
- An available automatic one-touch, easy-entry power-seat mechanism provides even easier egress and ingress through quick-acting, front-seat fold-and-slide activation.
- The doors feature three open-stopping positions (rather than the normal two) to add convenience in various parking situations.
- The standard SmartAccess keyless entry and push-button-start/stop allows the driver to keep the access key fob in a pocket or purse.
- Standard Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) helps prevent the vehicle from moving backward when the driver’s foot moves from the brake pedal to the accelerator.
- The available Hard-Disk Drive (HDD) Navigation System has a seven-inch VGA touch-screen, back-up camera, Voice Command casual-language voice recognition system, Bluetooth automatic phonebook download and music streaming, HD Radio™ with iTunes tagging.
- Available in conjunction with the optional navigation system is a speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio system that features discrete multi-channel playback, nine amplifier channels providing watts total output at percent total harmonic distortion (THD).
- Bi-Xenon HID headlamps with LED daytime running lamps (DRLs) are available.
- The optional Intuitive Park Assist (IPA) system uses ultrasonic sensors to detect objects close to the car's front and rear bumpers, alerting the driver and showing distance to objects in the multi-information display within the speedometer.
- month/50,mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles.
- 72 months/70, miles powertrain and restraint system coverage.
- 72 months corrosion perforation protection coverage, regardless of mileage.
The Lexus IS C is a decent looker, if you forgive its aging appearance. Yes, the car looks dated – I’ll get that out of the way. Besides that, the Lexus doesn’t look bad. In fact, I got an above average number of complements on the car, both from friends and strangers. It ranged from “Whoa, Lexus makes a convertible?” to “Man, these are great cars and I’ve really wanted one.”
The Lexus IS C is a decent looker, if you forgive its aging appearance
The IS C does have appealing looks, especially up front. The sloping hood dives into the pre-Spindle Grille grille, wrapping around the LED-encrusted headlights and down into the lower front fascia. A steeply raked windshield continues the rounded look, transferring it rearward onto the large deck lid. With the top in place, the entire car looks rounded, though with much more grace and styling than Lexus’ old SC Convertible.
The IS C takes a decidedly more angular appearance with the top down. Like most convertibles, the car looks best in this configuration. Transforming from one to the other takes roughly 15 seconds and one push of a button. The operation is fun to watch, but must be done with the car in park.
Once the top is peeled back, my tester’s peanut butter-brown leather seats shine like pearls in the otherwise dark abyss that is the black exterior paint and black interior trim. Matching peanut butter-colored stitching is found on the steering wheel, door panels, and center console. Not only do the seats look fantastic, but they feel just as good. They offer plenty of support, along with both heating and ventilation functions. Even the rear seats look great. The black seatbelts are mounted inboard, bringing even more visual appeal to rear bucket seats.
Not only do the seats look fantastic, but they feel just as good
Like the exterior, the dashboard carries over unchanged from the previous generation IS sedan. The instrument panel is made of a soft-touch material, but isn’t leather. The rubber-like material continues around, capping the door panels as well. The steering wheel feels good in-hand, but lacks visual appeal or drama. The wheel-mounted paddles are plastic and feel somewhat flimsy. The center stack is made of more plastics, as is the fake wood trim on the center console.
The Lexus Enform software powering the in-dash infotainment system is the same software found elsewhere in the Lexus lineup, but continues to look dated. It works well and is simple to figure out – even for non-computer people – but its visual interface doesn’t suggest it belongs in a $50, car from
The HVAC controls, on the other hand, are convoluted and non-intuitive. Small buttons on either side of the center stack operate the temperature controls for the driver and passenger, but the fan controls are relegated to “soft” keys inside the climate section of the Enform software.
As much grief as I give the IS C’s interior, it functions well, for the most part. It’s comfortable, roomy for two people, and accepts a car seat with ease. It also drives three-year-olds into fits of uncontrollable laughter and joy when driven as a convertible. My daughter always wanted the top down.
The familiar V-6 produces horsepower and pound-feet of torque
Open the hood and you’ll get an eye full of plastic covers. Somewhere buried underneath is the familiar liter V-6 that has powered other Lexus products for years. In this application, the naturally aspirated engine produces horsepower and pound-feet of torque. Mounted behind the engine is the carry-over six-speed automatic transmission from the previous IS generation. Thankfully, it routes power to the rear wheels, thought it would be great to have the eight-speed automatic found in the current IS lineup. Regardless, the drivetrain still offers a trip to 60 mph in seconds.
That eight-speed would surely help the IS C’s fuel economy, though I did best the EPA’s estimates for combined mpg. The EPA rates the car at 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined. I averaged mpg in equally mixed driving over miles.
The engine and transmission work well together, delivering smooth power and shifts. A gradual throttle tip-in allows for butter-soft take-offs, while the brakes have an immediate, yet linear travel. The IS C does offer driver-selectable drive modes that change a few aspects of the car’s performance, but it is mostly felt in the throttle’s sensitivity. Three modes are present: Power, Normal, and Snow.
It isn’t the fastest or most fun Lexus to drive, but it delivers on its luxury-smooth promise
Despite everything about its looks, the IS C continues to provide a memorable driving experience. Its steering is decently weighted with little on-center vagueness. Its power delivery is smooth and consistence. Shifts are more luxury oriented than sporty, but that matches the IS C’s character. In fact, the IS C is wholly more focused on luxury than performance. Sure, its engine produces more than horsepower, but it isn’t realized until higher in the power band. Torque is adequate, but not stump-pulling.
Behind the wheel, the IS C feels heavy. Body roll is more pronounced than in other Lexus products, particularly the new IS sedan and RC coupe. Visibility is good, however, lending to a more confident feeling when in traffic. Overall, the IS C is a decent driver that works well at its intended purpose. It isn’t the fastest or most fun Lexus to drive, but it delivers on its luxury-smooth promise.
The Lexus IS C carries a base price of $47, Opt for the less-powerful IS C, and the price falls to $42, My IS C tester came equipped with several options that inflated the price. The Luxury Package is the most pricey at $3,, but includes the Bi-Xenon HID headlights, LED DRLs, heated and vented front seats, wood interior trim, illuminated scuff plates, and rain-sensing wipers. The Navigation system costs an additional $2, and includes the backup camera and other Enform software features.
Front and rear parking sensors ($), the cargo netting in the truck ($), and the delivery and processing fees ($) bring the total to $54,
BMW 4 Series Convertible
The BMW 4 Series was born out of BMW’s recent renaming scheme, which solidified the 3 Series as only having four doors and necessitated the creation of the 4 Series, which plays the part of the two-door coupe and convertible. Like the Lexus IS C, the 4 Series comes in two trims: the i and i.
When compared with the IS C, the i is the appropriate choice. It comes powered by a turbocharged, liter inline-six that makes horsepower and pound-feet of torque. Its eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels. For those needing AWD, the 4 Series Convertible is available with BMW’s xDrive.
Prices for the i start at $56, and go north with any added options.
Read our full review on the BMW 4 Series Convertible here.
Infiniti Q60 Convertible
Did you know Infiniti still made a hardtop convertible? Yep, and it’s still based off the Q60 Coupe, which shares its bones with the Nissan Z. It’s certainly not the newest for flashiest of the current Infiniti lineup, but the Q60 Convertible continues to offer stiff competition for the Lexus IS C.
The Q60 Convertible is powered by the familiar liter V-6 that produces horsepower and pound-feet of torque in this application. It comes mated to your choice of seven-speed automatic or six-speed manual, making the only car of this trio available with a three pedals. Power is delivered to the rear wheels.
Prices start at $48, for the automatic and $53, for the six-speed manual.
Read our full review on the Infiniti Q60 Convertible here.
Despite its age, the IS C is still a fun car to drive – not so much for its driving dynamics or memorable drivetrain, but for the sheer fun of driving a convertible. Press the button, drop the top, and all those nit-picky issues seem to fly away in the breeze. In fact, I’d wager that is exactly what Lexus wants its customers to think. After all, the demographic for a convertible hardtop isn’t usually the same demographic who spends their weekends at the autocross course.
Nevertheless, issues still exist. Lexus would be wise to pad its lineup with a more modern and sophisticated hardtop convertible. While I tend to think that will come via a drop-top RC, however Lexus chooses to update the car would be warmly welcomed.
- Smooth top operation
- Comfortable front seats
- A decent driver
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from to Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a Ford Mainline and Corvette Stingray. Read full bio
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 ISC and ISC 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 hp, liter V-6 and a hp, 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 ISC 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?”
Luxurious to Start
The IS C is leather-equipped at base with a full palette of exterior and interior hues, wood or aluminized plastic trim, an optional two-tone blue-and-beige interior scheme (we’ve dubbed it the “Nautica edition”), and an optional wind blocker. There’s also a line of F-Sport performance accessories including forged inch wheels, a cold-air intake, a cat-back exhaust, a short-throw shifter for the six-speed manual, lowered springs and shocks, and a “track day” brake package that uses the six-piston calipers and cross-drilled rotors from the Lexus IS F.
Convertibles are always heavier than their sedan counterparts, owing to the need to shore up a roofless body with gussets and braces. The IS C is not exempt, swelling by some pounds to about for the base ISC. Several bolt-on trusses and V-braces underneath, as well as thicker rocker-panel box sections, two crossbeams under the rear seat, and a box-section beam under the windshield posts, are installed to stiffen the body both for driving and crashing.
We didn’t test its crashing ability, but the IS C’s body is fairly stiff for relaxed driving on good pavement, although even then we could feel some shudder through the steering column. Spring and shock tuning were changed from the sedan’s, as were some suspension bushings, to transmit less impact energy through the body. That’s a technical way of saying the ride is a little mushier so the body will flex less.
You feel it in corners where this weighty ship rolls and porpoises a bit more than the sedan. Acceleration in the ISC feels manly, although the open-air exhaust note is just a humdrum hum. Figure about six seconds to 60 mph for the C, adding perhaps two seconds, depending on the transmission, for the C. The electric-assist steering and brakes are unchanged from those of the sedan, which we’ve always considered an agile traffic hacker if a less enthusiastic apex duster than an Infiniti or BMW machine.
A Crowded Segment
Speaking of which, the IS convertible debuts at almost the same troubled moment for the auto industry as does the four-seat Infiniti G37 convertible, which is also targeted at BMW’s bread-buttering 3-series. Comparisons are inevitable. Let’s start with price, Lexus’s main hook. The ISC starts at $39,, about $ less than a BMW i convertible and about $ less than where Infiniti will likely price the G37 convertible.
Infiniti offers just the one muscled-up liter V-6 engine, whereas Lexus and BMW give you choices. Although Infiniti decided to preserve the G37’s shapely bod at the cost of trunk space, Lexus follows BMW’s pragmatic lead by stretching the rear outward and upward to create a usable trunk with the top dropped. The IS C is inches longer than the IS sedan, and the rear decklid hunchbacks upward, leaving room for golf bags and flat luggage. It’ll even hold one of the full-size tires with the top down if you happen to get a flat. It’s not as pretty as the Infiniti’s, but the Lexus’s rear seats offer decent leg space if the forward passengers are considerate and slide up.
As with the hp IS F, Lexus is chasing BMW with the IS C but doesn’t want to become BMW. That will be a relief to the Japanese brand’s many satisfied and loyal customers, some of whom might now take this opportunity to improve their tans.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door convertible
BASE PRICE: $39, (ISC)/$44, (ISC)
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection/DOHC valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection with secondary port injectors
Displacement: cu in, cc (ISC)/ cu in, cc (ISC)
Power: bhp @ rpm (ISC)/ bhp @ rpm (ISC)
Torque: lb-ft @ rpm (ISC)/ lb-ft @ rpm (ISC)
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed automatic with manumatic shifting, 6-speed manual
Width: in Height: in
Curb weight (C/D est): lb
PERFORMANCE (MFR'S EST):
Zero to 60 mph: sec
Standing ¼-mile: sec
FUEL ECONOMY (MFR'S EST):
EPA city/highway driving: / mpg (ISC)/ 18/25 mpg (ISC)
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