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2012 Lexus IS C Overview

Introduced for 2010, Lexus's specially designed entry-level IS convertible continues into its third year with very minor changes. The coin holder has been dropped for 2012, as was the option for run-flat tires, replaced by the option for 18-inch five-spoke wheels with a liquid graphite finish. The stability control switch was moved to the left side of the dash, and two of the paint colors were swapped out for a pearlescent gray or red.

The tiny trunk in the IS C was touched up a bit for this year, too, but it's not what most drivers new to the class would hope. Instead of an ivory lining for those 11 cubic feet of cargo space, the trunk now receives a black carpet and no additional space. Stowing the top still leaves just enough room for a golf bag—about 2 cubic feet—but letting the sunshine in takes just 20 seconds with the click of a button.

Some drivers have noticed significant manufacturing inconsistencies and structural weaknesses, alongside a connectivity glitch for some iPhone users. Reviews are scarce, but it does appear that any shake, rattle or squeak is an isolated defect in that particular car and not typical of every IS C.

That said, such quirks are typical of a brand-new platform. Lexus redesigned its IS sedan from the ground up to provide the IS C with the structural integrity lost by removing the roof without adding a great deal of weight. Although there is definitely still some cowl shake over bumps, the IS C is only 800 pounds heavier than its sedan counterpart and admirably only a half-second slower on every benchmark.

BMW and Audi have the experience advantage in this department, but Lexus has done exceptionally well in developing a convertible with class, comfort and just the right amount of thrill. It's no sports car—the suspension is just too soft and the handling just a bit too slow to be mistaken for that. Rather, the IS C is meant to be a comfortable cruiser with all the amenities any accomplished sun worshipper can appreciate.

The IS C comes in 250 and 350 flavors. The 350 is gifted with a bigger engine and a couple of exclusive features, but it is available only with a smooth 6-speed automatic and paddle shifters, lacking the 250's option for a 6-speed manual. Powering the 250 is an able 2.5-liter V6 good for 204 horses and 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, all rating at 21 city mpg/30 highway. The 350's V6 is a full liter and 100 hp bigger, sacrificing just 3 mpg for the feat. Loaded up with the optional F Sport performance accessories, the 350 reaches 60 mph in a slightly slow 5.9 seconds.

If interior refinement and creature comforts are your pet peeve, then the well-appointed interior and standard features like 10-way powered front seats and heated mirrors are sure to impress. The IS C also includes rare safety features for its class, like a complete buffet of side curtain airbags and a pop-up rollover bar, so if beauty and comfort are your top priorities, you can't go wrong giving this one a test drive.


Your prototypical "Tom Girl" Patricia got her start digging into Ford engines before she aged into double digits. Gifted with a mechanical mind, her favorite pass-time in the summer is picking up a fixer-up'r at the local public auction and massaging its every ailment until it's primed for a new lover. From dirt bikes to land yachts, every partner offers something truly special in her love affair with the road - just don't tell her husband.

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