2015 Lexus IS C

Starting MSRP: $43,360 - $50,190

Estimated MPG: 21 city / 30 hwy

2015 Lexus IS C Review

The 2015 Lexus IS C is the two-door, hardtop convertible version of the Lexus IS sedan. It has an older body style than the current sedans, one that offers a coupe-like look and fuses it with drop-top fun.

By Matt Keegan
Last Updated 05/03/2016

Lexus quality and sportiness is evident in the 2015 IS C, a hardtop convertible sold in IS 250 and IS 350 editions with special F Sport trim levels also available. With two V6 engines to choose from, customers have much to consider when examining this athletic model.

Exterior

Exterior
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At first glance, the IS C has the styling characteristics of a sport coupe. That design choice was intentional to give this model a unique look that carefully fuses coupe and convertible attributes.

The 2015 Lexus IS C has an athletic stance with a deeply scalloped front fascia housing its fog lights. Projector bulb headlamps are standard or upgradeable to Bi-Xenon high intensity definition headlamps with LED daytime running lights. Moreover, that upgrade brings in headlamp washers.

The profile of the IS C flows seamlessly from bumper to bumper, ending in a raised rear deck with wraparound tail lamps and dual exhaust tips. All models come with 17-inch wheels with a liquid graphite finish.

Activate the three-part roof and it will carefully fold into the trunk within 20 seconds, transforming this hardtop coupe into a convertible. Some preparation work must be accomplished first with an instrument panel readout instructing you through the steps you must take.

Interior

Interior
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Step into the interior and the space is tight with very good seating for two up front and restricted quarters for two more in the rear. That rear seat may seem like an afterthought, but it can hold two children with ease. And with the roof down, two adults may fit and endure a short trip.

The driver and front passenger are treated to comfortable and supportive seats, although desirable seat extenders are not present. In the F Sport, Lexus embellishes this model with aluminum pedals.

You also have access to a tilt and telescopic steering column with a sport instrument panel featuring analog tachometer and speedometer dials. A small, digital driver’s information display is centered between the two.

The center stack and console is simply arranged with a color screen and attendant switches and knobs to control it. Leather touches on the steering wheel and transmission shifter match the leather seating surfaces. Lexus makes good use of twin-stitching to give this cabin a refined look. Under the front arm rest is a small storage compartment. Other storage areas include in-door pockets and front seat back pockets. In addition, this model comes with two cup holders up front and two to the rear.

One of the strengths of the IS C is its relatively quiet interior, a feat that usually escapes convertibles. Its carefully crafted and engineered three-part roof helps to mitigate exterior sound, with tight seals at the windshield line and windows evident.

Performance

Performance
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Lexus offers two engine choices with the 2015 IS C. Each one corresponds to the name of the two model lines.

A 2.5-liter V6 engine making 204 horsepower powers the IS 250 C. A 3.5-liter V6 engine making 306 horsepower powers the IS 350 C. Both engines are normally aspirated and are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are included for those who prefer spirited driving.

As tested, the IS 350 C F Sport offered very good power off the start as well as on the road. Its compact proportions, available sport-tuned suspension (standard on the F Sport) and electric power steering combine to deliver a pleasurable driving experience.

Drop the roof, switch the transmission to manual mode and step on the accelerator and you will take on the raw power of this potent V6. Indeed, steering is crisp and this rear-wheel drive convertible handles twists and turns with competence.

Technology

Technology
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Every 2015 Lexus IS C is equipped with Bluetooth wireless phone technology. A pre-collision system with dynamic radar cruise control is available.

To gain the full benefit of the technologies offered, an upgrade to one of two navigation system packages is warranted. The first package offers a symphonic 12-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system and a navigation system. The second package combines the navigation system with a backup camera, HD radio and a Lexus Enform App Suite to provide Internet access via Bing and to deliver such services as movie ticket ordering and restaurant reservations. A trial satellite radio subscription with weather and traffic information is included.

Safety

Safety
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The 2015 Lexus IS C is based on a design similar to the previous generation IS 250 and 350 sedans. No separate crash testing of this convertible was completed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Based on IIHS testing of the earlier model, the IS sedan received the highest grades for moderate overlap front and side impact crashes. It received acceptable scores for roof strength and head restraints & seats. However, this model scored poorly in a small overlap front test, one of the toughest tests conducted by the IIHS.

Every IS C comes equipped with a variety of safety equipment. Traction control, stability control with a cut-off switch and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard. This model also comes with 10 air bags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The Lexus IS C is sold in IS 250 C and IS 350 C editions as well as in F Sport variants. The base IS 250 C is priced from $43,360 and the standard IS 350 C costs $47,640. F Sport variants cost $45,910 for the IS 250 C and $50,190 for the IS 350 C F Sport.

If you are looking for the best fusion of power and performance, start with the IS 350 models. The base engine associated with the IS 250 line is underpowered and not sufficiently matched to this car. In any case, expect to pay about $50,000 for a generously equipped IS 350.

Overall

Overall
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There are only a few convertible models in this segment, including the Audi A5 and the Infiniti Q60. The Volkswagen EOS might also be considered. Against the competition, the IS C holds its own, especially with the IS 350 C. However, the F Sport editions possess a certain panache that adds flair and distinction to the model line. To “go all in” comes at a price, one that parallels what Audi and Infiniti charge.