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2013 Lexus IS C Overview
At long last a Lexus IS redesign is finally on the horizon, but it's not in the works for 2013. Indeed, changes to the entire IS lineup amount to an infotainment software update, but the lucky 4-seat IS C cabriolet additionally gets a new red leather interior, and its F Sport options now include a front lip spoiler, 18-inch wheels and heated/ventilated front seats. The really good news is if you're just catching wind of Lexus's smooth-sailing hardtop, here's your last chance to get a tried-and-true sun worshipper's staple. The bad news is this review has the potential to put you to sleep, since, excepting the C's addition in 2010, the IS will again continue relatively unchanged for its eighth year—unless I tease you with what's to come.
Rumors about the future IS C leave a lot of questions so far, but at least Lexus should get plenty of opportunity to address driver concerns with a pair of perfectly peppy engines and otherwise excellent driving dynamics to build on. Drivers especially like the IS C's comfortable and quiet ride quality, which even allows occupants to maintain a conversation with the top down at a reasonable speed, and its supportive and cushy seats. Drivers love everything about the Lexus IS C since its 2010 debut except, in 2012, for tight button clusters, an awkward seatbelt, inconsistencies in the Enform communication system and other such admittedly minor quirks. The software update for 2013 should address intelligent control over the radio for more functions of its Enform communication system, and it's something worth noting for the test drive, but the rest won't likely change until the next generation debuts.
Speaking of the next generation, the only things left to perfect are the body and materials, the IS C having otherwise excellent mechanicals. The base 2.5-liter V6 good for 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque and its bigger 3.5-liter V6 putting out 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque still serve the line very well with a robust performance regardless. The latter blank spot of materials is still a big question, but if recent spy shots from a test track are any indication, it looks like Lexus might integrate the cabriolet and sedan into one platform—a move that could kill the sedan's performance advantage.
That eyesore of a rear spoiler (especially if you're trying to look out the back window) is probably reserved just for the sedan's F Sport trim, but chances are it will also get included with the F Sport suspension-and-cosmetic option package for the IS C, unless Lexus opts to make a cabriolet with the F Sport engine enhancements for a full trim of its own. Aside from that the IS C takes on a more Jaguar-like style with boldly rippling hood and flared quarter panels to emphasize its sporting rear-wheel drive.
If you prefer the present generation's more Audi-like appeal, you probably have a couple years left to get one with that new-car smell, but Lexus could surprise everyone and launch the new one for 2014. Sure, the IS has been around since 2008 without a refresh, and even counting just the now 4 years of IS C production, a refresh is well overdue, but the information available now just doesn't fit with a car ready to begin production as of this writing for market-readiness in 2014. Either Lexus is brushing up on such luxury-maker virtues as keeping secrets, or the sloppiness of its test-track model really means the design isn't done yet, since it doesn't completely agree with older computer renderings.
Until then the IS C is offered in 250 and 350 versions, named mainly for the power you'll find under the hood, with the 350 fetching just a couple additional features over the 250 primarily affecting ride quality. The 350 with its 6-speed paddle-shifter automatic is definitely the sportier of the two, reaching 60 mph from a standstill in an almost-competitive 5.9 seconds. The 250 is 3 mpg more efficient, though, and takes 8.4 seconds to 60 mph even with its optional 6-speed manual, sipping 21 mpg city/30 highway. Either way you get 11 cubic feet in the trunk and a blissful cabin with the top up, but it only takes 20 seconds to let in the great outdoors—and probably less to put on your great smile.
by Patricia Mayo
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