It’s top-down convertible weather. But only during the morning and evening hours when it’s not scorching hot. And what better unencumbered way to experience the blue skies and surroundings than in a hardtop convertible.
I say hardtop because soft-tops, I’m afraid, are a feature of the past. They’re hot in the summer, cold in the winter and thieves have a tendency to slash the tops giving fits to insurance companies who demand a premium for ragtops.
Lexus, among a few others, has a dandy offering in their IS350-C luxury hardtop convertible. It combines Lexus’ inherent luxury, comfort, smooth ride, quietness and top-rated quality, in a sporty package.
After pressing a button the top retracts in a quick 20 seconds and folds neatly into the trunk area. When it’s stowed, trunk space suffers. It goes from 10.8 to 2.4 cubic feet. But then most comparable hardtop convertibles share this problem.
Interior accommodations are first class and in my candy apple red test car, were form-fitting perforated leather seating accented with brushed aluminum and olive green wood trim on dash doors and console. All part of the $3,055 Luxury Package that includes heated/ventilated front seats and a myriad of other goodies.
Although the IS350-C is rated for four people, ingress/egress into the back seat is a tight squeeze with a center console that makes it a tighter fit, even for young teens. Another problem is that it takes nine seconds for the front passenger seat to power forward so if it’s raining, expect to get a little wet. A manual seat would be quicker.
Instrumentation is relatively easy to operate and the $2,465 hard- drive GPS nav system added such niceties as rearview camera, XM radio with Lexus Enform/Destination Assist/eDestination, Voice Command XM NavTraffic, XM NavWeather and XM Sports/Stocks (90 day trial). For another $252 you get Intuitive Parking (front-rear sensors) that includes a cargo net, trunk mat and wheel locks.
Power wise, the IS 350-C comes with a V8-like 3.5L, 308-hp V6 (277 lb/ft of torque) that is coupled to a smooth shifting 6-speed automatic transmission (w/paddle shifters). It carries EPA mileage figures of 19 city, 27-highway mpg. There’s also an IS 250-C with a smaller engine, but with the added weight of the hardtop and all it’s plumbing, the added horses makes a difference.
Riding on 17-inch wheels, the IS is smooth and hugs the road. A comfort-tuned suspension helps the cause. But if you’d like a touch more sport, order the F Sport package.
In the handling department, there is no shimmy or shake even over railroad crossings with the top up or down. It’s that solid.
With the top up or down, the $54,507 IS 350-C ($46,640 before options) is one of the more attractive hardtop convertibles on the market. It looks like a typical coupe, but has topless capabilities.
To test drive an IS 350-C or IS 250-C, stop by Lehigh Valley Lexus in Cetronia. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.