The Lexus IS series has been around since 2000 as was Lexus’ attempt at making a proper sports sedan. The Japanese automaker did a respectable job with the IS, as it produced 217 horsepower and 218 pound-feet of torque form its 3.0-liter V-6. A five-speed automatic sent that power rearward. The IS’ design was a striking one, even propelling the aftermarket and a few other automakers into the whole clear-lens taillight fad. Things changed in 2006, as the IS lineup received an updated look and a slew of V-style engines. Lexus offered two levels of power in the IS 250 and IS 350 versions. Then in 2007, Lexus gave us the IS F ; the 5.0-liter, V-8-powered BMW M3 rival. Though the IS lineup has moved to a new design theme for 2015, the IS C — Lexus’ hardtop convertible — remains looking as it did for 2013.
A redesigned ‘organ-type’ accelerator pedal, the addition of Slacker Radio to the Lexus Enform system, and updates to iHeartRadio 4.0 are all that’s new with the IS C for 2015. While it is disappointing Lexus hasn’t updated the car’s internal and external appearance, it’s also disappointing that the powertrain remains unchanged as well.
However, if a luxury hardtop convertible is on your wish list, the IS C still offers plenty to love, including a 20-second fold time for the top operation and plenty of power for motivation down the road.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Lexus IS C.
F-Sport models come with upgraded grille mesh and a more aggressive lower chin splitter.
A quick look at the old second-generation IS sedan will familiarize you with the 2015 IS C. A more diminished front grille and lower air intake are found under a sloping hood. The more traditional headlights create body lines that run rearward, matching up with the taillights. F-Sport models come with upgraded mesh grille and a more aggressive lower chin splitter. From the A-Pillar forward, the IS C looks like the standard IS sedan. Rearward of that, things get very different.
The hardtop has an almost bubble-like shape to it. Divided into three sections, the top slips into the elongated trunk area then lowered. For that reason, the area behind the doors towards rear of the car is much longer-looking that the IS sedan.
A leather-wrapped tonneau cover ensures a tight seal behind the rear two seats.
Standard 17-inch wheels and optional 18-inch units come wrapped in either all-season or sport rubber. LED brake, tail, and license plate bulbs keep the rear illuminated at night, while projector-beam headlights light the way up front.
With the hardtop down, the IS C looks like a proper convertible. The top neatly hides below the rear decklid and is unseen. A leather-wrapped tonneau cover ensures a tight seal behind the rear two seats. Wind noise and buffeting inside the cockpit are kept to a minimum even while driving topless down the interstate.
There is an oddly large gap between the front wheel and the fender well, even with the 18-inch wheels. Ground clearance is also interestingly high for such a sporty sedan. Neither of those design elements show through during casual glances, though. It takes getting down low in order for the gaps to become noticeable.
2015 Lexus IS C - Exterior Dimensions
|Overall Length||182.5 Inches|
|Overall Width||70.9 Inches|
|Overall Height (unloaded)||55.7 Inches (17-in. wheels), 55.9 Inches (18-in. wheels)|
|Tread Width Front||60.4 Inches (all wheels sizes)|
|Tread Width Rear||60.4 Inches (17-in. wheels), 60.0 Inches (18-in. wheels)|
2015 Lexus IS C - Standard Exterior Features
- 17-inch wheels with liquid graphite finish
- Color coordinated front airdam with low grille
- Color-keyed outside rearview mirrors
- Dual polished stainless steel exhaust pipes
- LED brake, tail and license plate lamps
- Projector bulb headlamps
- Shark fin antenna for SiriusXM Satellite Radio (complimentary 90-day trial subscription)
- Side mirrors with integrated puddle lamps and turn signals
- Top shade/tinted glass on front windshield
- Ultraviolet and infrared ray reducing glass on all windows
No less than five interior leather colors are available, including alabaster, black, light gray, saddle, and red leather.
The interior of the 2014 IS C is again a familiar place. A more conventional dashboard, steering wheel, and center console are present rather than the updated and futuristic interior of the IS sedan lineup. Generous room greets the front two occupants, while the rear two seats are best left for emergencies.
Materials, along with fit and finish, are on par with Lexus’ normal offerings. The IS C’s dash is covered in soft-touch plastic that feels premium, while several choices of trim color and style are available. No less than five interior leather colors are available, including alabaster, black, light gray, saddle, and red leather.
The Enform system works well enough, but is starting to look outdated
The Lexus Enform system is at home in the center console and includes a good-sized touchscreen. Navigation, Bluetooth, SiriusXM, and the Lexus Enform app suite are all available. The app suite includes Bing, Pandora, Yelp, and iHeartRadio, among other things. The Enform system works well enough, but is starting to look outdated. The voice recognition software is also becoming rather difficult to use, especially while entering an address into the navigation system.
Also a little out of place in the IS C is the lack of decent cup holders. There is one main cup holder in the center console, while a second one hides under the armrest. Sure, two cup holders exist, but using the second one almost eliminates the use of the center armrest.
2015 Lexus IS C - Interior Dimensions
|Headroom||38.3 Inches||36.1 Inches|
|Legroom||44.1 Inches||25.9 Inches|
|Shoulder Room||54.2 Inches||44.7 Inches|
|Hip Room||54.3 Inches||43.3 Inches|
2015 Lexus IS C - Standard Interior Features
- Black Metallic accent trim
- Dark Gray Bird’s-Eye Maple wood with Red, Light Gray and Black interior color
- Espresso Bird’s-Eye Maple wood with Alabaster and Saddle interior color
- Fabric sun visors and headliner
- Floor mats
- Interior colors: Alabaster, Black, Light Gray, Saddle, Red leather
- Silver finished trim on steering wheel and above glove box
Two engines are available in the IS C. Powering the IS 250C is a 2.5-liter V-6 that produces 204 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 185 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm
Two engines are available in the IS C. Powering the IS 250C is a 2.5-liter V-6 that produces 204 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 185 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. The more powerful IS 350C comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 making 306 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 277 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. Paddle shifters allow for extra levels of fun.
The 3.5-liter V-6 makes use of an interesting fuel delivery technique. It has both port- and direct-fuel-injection to achieve both good fuel economy and stout amounts of power. A dual-exhaust system helps reduce backpressure, while sounding pretty good too.
For those looking for a little extra sport, Lexus offers the F-Sport package. It includes five-spoke, 18-inch wheels wrapped in either all-season or summer performance rubber sized in 225/40YR18 up front and 255/40YR18 out back. A retuned suspension system also offers better handling and more grip in the corners.
2015 Lexus IS C - Drivetrain/Specifications
|ENGINE||IS 250C||IS 350C|
|Type, Materials||V6 with aluminum block and cylinder heads||V6 with aluminum block and cylinder heads|
|Valvetrain||DOHC 24-valve with dual continuously Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i)||DOHC 24-valve with dual continuously Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i)|
|Displacement||2.5 liters||3.5 liters|
|Bore x Stroke||3.27 in. x 3.03 in.||3.70 in. x 3.27 in.|
|Horsepower (SAE)||204 HP @ 6,400 RPM||306 HP @ 6,400 RPM|
|Torque||185 LB-FT @ 4,800 RPM||277 LB-FT @ 4,800 RPM|
|Maximum Engine Speed (redline)||6,600 rpm||6,600 rpm|
Pricing for the IS C is considered reasonable for the level or luxury, refinement, power, and posh associated with the car. The main selling point is definitely the convertible hardtop and that does command a premium. Comparatively priced, BMW 4 Series convertible starts at $49,675. Similarly, the 2014 Infiniti Q60 convertible starts at $48,550. Even better, the Infiniti offers a manual transmission, though it commands a $5,000 premium over the automatic.
|Model||IS 250C||IS 350C|
|F Sport MSRP||$45,410||$49,690|
Based on the new 3 Series platform but just missing a couple of doors and a roof, the 4 Series Convertible is a solid competitor the Lexus IS 350C. The BMW BMW also has a 2+2 configuration and comes with a swanky folding hardtop. Also like the Lexus, the BMW comes in two engine trims; the 428i and the 435i.
For this comparison, the 435i is the one to choose. It’s powered by a turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder that makes 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, which is sent to the rear wheels. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. If an all-season convertible is what you’re after, the four-cylinder-powered 428i is available with BMW xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
Pricing for the BMW 4 Series starts at $49,675 for the 428i and rises to $55,825 for the 435i.
Gallery BMW 4 Series Convertible
Infiniti is also in the hardtop convertible business with its Q60 offering. Powered by a 3.7-liter V-6 making a respectable 325 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, the Q60 is the performer of the bunch. It’s also available with a six-speed manual transmission, making it possibly the most fun of the pack. Rated at 18 mpg city and 26 mph highway with the seven-speed automatic, the Q60 still gets decent gas mileage for those long-distance cruises. And like the others, the rear wheels are the ones putting rubber to the road.
Pricing for the Infiniti Q60 starts at $48,550 for the automatic and $53,400 for the six-speed manual.
Gallery Infiniti Q60 Convertible
The Lexus IS C lineup offers plenty of luxury and comfort, while giving a no-compromise option between a two-door coupe and a drop-top convertible. What it lacks in an updated design, it makes up for in a curious one. The top is a fascinating aspect to the car and really brings a unique selling point to the IS lineup. For those looking for a smaller car with a luxurious badge and feel, who also want to let their hair down on the weekends, the IS C makes a solid choice.
- Combines a coupe and convertible into one
- Four versions offered
- Quick operation of the hardtop
- A decent amount of sport with F Sport versions
- Must be stopped in order to operate the top
- Cramped accommodations for rear seat passengers
- Missing the updates the IS lineup got for 2014
Gallery Lexus IS C
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 2015 include a new, organ-type accelerator pedal and, expanding music options, upgrading to the Lexus App Suite with iHeartRadio 4.0 and adding Slacker.
The 2015 Lexus IS C comes in four flavors: IS 250 with a 204 hp 2.5-liter V6 engine; IS 250 F SPORT with track-tuned handling upgrades; IS 350 with the potent 306 hp 3.5-liter V6, and the IS 350 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 430. 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 0.29 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 18-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 8.0-in wheels have 225/40YR18 tires, and the wider 18 x 8.5-in rear wheels wear 255/40YR18 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 10-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 14-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 90-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 2015, 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, 365 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 2014
Redesigned organ-type accelerator pedal.
Lexus Enform App Suite adds Slacker and upgrades to iHeartRadio 4.0.
The IS 250C’s 2.5-liter V6 engine delivers 204 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 185 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,800 rpm.
The IS 350C’s 3.5-liter V6 offers 306 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 277 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm.
The 3.5-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 10-spoke 17-inch wheels with a clean liquid-graphite finish and optional split five-spoke or five-spoke 18-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 12-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio system that features discrete 5.1 multi-channel playback, nine amplifier channels providing 270 watts total output at 0.1 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.
48-month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles.
72 months/70,000 miles powertrain and restraint system coverage.
72 months corrosion perforation protection coverage, regardless of mileage.