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2012 Lexus IS C 350 Convertible Review By John Heilig

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2012 Lexus IS C 350



Model: 2012 Lexus IS C 350
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 306 hp @ 6,400 rpm/277 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 107.5 in.
Length/Width/Height: 182.5 x 70.9 x 55.9 in.
Tires: P225/40R18
Cargo volume: 10.8/2.4 cu. ft. (top up/down)
Fuel economy: 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway/19.5 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 1701 gal.
Curb weight: 3,880 lbs.
Sticker: $54,507 (includes $875 delivery charge and $6,992 in options (luxury package and navigation package)

Top 5 Reasons to Buy This Car
1. Sporty
2. Beautiful
3. Powerful, yet quiet (with the top up)
4. Smooth ride
5. Luxury

The Bottom Line: In Lexus's ever-expanding product line, the Lexus IS C 350 (for Convertible) stands out, top up or down. Here's a sexy looking car that performs as well as it looks, and give the driver and front passenger (and two cramped passengers in the back) a fun ride on a beautiful day and a solid dry ride when the weather gets grunchy.

There aren't a lot of cars these days that can truly be classified as fun. With car prices soaring through the roof (ah, remember back in the day...?) buyers are sensibly going for utility, whether it's in an SUV or just good transportation that will do more than just get you from point A to point B.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

While the Lexus IS C 350 isn't cheap at $54,507 it does have a significant fun factor. Here is a car that, thanks to some magnificent spring weather, was fun to drive with the top down. When the weather became questionable, we simply pushed the right button and the top went up, keeping us snug and dry. With the top up, the noise factor was significantly reduced to almost zero. Top down, there's tire, exhaust and road noise.

We found it much easier to behave with regard to the speed limit when the top was down, rather than up. Wind noise was a problem.

This is also a Lexus through and through as well as an IS through and through. There's excellent power emanating from the 3.5-liter V6 under the hood and driving the rear wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. When I wanted power, it was there, but it wasn't intrusive. when I didn't need power, the car toodled along peacefully.

The front seats offered good side support. If there was any more side support you might be tempted to overdrive the car.

In the rear seats there was room for our two grandchildren. Their booster seats fit well. There are two roll bard permanently in place behind the rear seat headrests. These are a good safety touch in case of a roll-over, but they are almost invisible.

The Lexus IS C 350 also handles very well, although it really isn't in the true sports car class. The ride is on the soft side toward luxury, yet the IS corners well and seems to enjoy winding roads (it could have been the driver who enjoyed them).

The four wheel disc brakes are excellent and aren't sudden when you hit them.

Styling is very good. the trunk appears to be slightly too long, but it has to be to accommodate the top when it's stored. However, it isn't too long, as in the old Ford Sunliner.

And then there's the trunk. With the top up and the shield in place that shows you where the top will be when it's lowered, there are 10.8 cubic feet of cargo capacity. We were able to fit two 50-pound bags of bird seed, a bag of sunflower seed and a 40-pound bag of kitty litter back there.

With the top down, however, that shrinks to just 2.4 cubic feet and you really have to be creative in putting things like grocery bags back there. But you know, you learn to live with it because the car is such a ball to be in and drive.

The only problem I had with the IS350C was entering when the top was up and the door wasn't fully open, thanks to my gimpy knee. This probably isn't an old person's car, but we senior citizens sure enjoy driving it.

Also, with the top down, the navigation/audio screen is hard to see in broad daylight.

Overall though, the impression that lasts is that the Lexus IS C 350 is a car that's a lot of fun to drive.

2012 The Auto Page