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2015 Lexus IS 250 C REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/4/2017

Con: Minuscule trunk space with the top down; cramped backseat; poor rear visibility; subpar acceleration; all-wheel drive isn't available.

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Interior: Decked in quality materials, the cabin of the 2015 Lexus IS 250 C is rich with style, and this is especially true for models that feature the available Luxury package's premium leather and wood trim. Gauges and controls are clear and intuitive, though navigation-equipped models make it a little harder to access touchscreen-controlled audio and climate functions while the nav system is in use. This nav system's smartphone integration features include Internet radio stations like Pandora and iHeartRadio, as well as Yelp reviews for restaurants.

While the IS 250 C's front seats offer good comfort, the two-passenger backseat is a tight fit for all but the smallest kids. Trunk space is a mixed bag as well. There's a passable 10.8 cubic feet of cargo room when the top is up, but it drops to a minuscule 2.4 cubic feet with the roof down. Oddly enough, it's still possible to squeeze in a golf bag with the top dropped.

Body: The four-passenger 2015 Lexus IS 250 C is a luxury convertible with a retractable hardtop that's offered in a single well-equipped trim level. There is also an IS 350 C convertible with a larger engine that's reviewed separately.

Standard equipment on the IS 250 C includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, eight-way power front seats (with two-way lumbar control), a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio and display controls, cruise control, a center console with a sliding armrest and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are Safety Connect emergency-services telematics, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, auxiliary audio input jack and iPod/USB interface.

The optional Luxury package includes bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, upgraded leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, genuine wood trim, driver and front passenger seat memory settings, illuminated door sills and one-touch power slide/fold/return fronts seats for easier rear-seat access.

The Navigation package adds a navigation system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth automatic phonebook downloading, voice commands, HD radio and Lexus Enform enhanced telematics features (which include functions like emergency roadside assistance and smartphone app integration). A 12-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system can be added to the navigation system.

Other options include parking sensors and adaptive cruise control bundled with a frontal collision warning system. An F Sport option package is also available. It comes with 18-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension and steering, heated and ventilated front sport seats, a unique steering wheel and shift knob, door-sill scuff plates and unique exterior and interior trim. This package is available with either all-season or summer tires.

Driving: Whether you're cruising along cocooned with the roof up or enjoying a little al fresco motoring with it down, the 2015 Lexus IS 250 C's stiff body structure and supple suspension tuning make for a solid, smooth ride, even over rough roads. Handling and steering feel are fine for casual drives, but the optional F Sport performance equipment is worth considering if you want the car to have a more sporting driving character.

The 2.5-liter V6 engine provides smooth and acceptable acceleration for daily driving, but nothing more. Buyers looking for more gusto should move up to the considerably more powerful IS 350 C.

What’s New: Apart from minor upgrades to its Lexus Enform App Suite, the 2015 Lexus IS 250 C is unchanged.

The 2015 Lexus IS 250 C comes with a 2.5-liter V6 engine that produces 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission that allows for manual shift control.

Lexus estimates that the IS 250 C will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. The EPA estimates the IS 250 C will get 24 mpg combined (21 city/30 highway).

Safety: The IS 250 C comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, front seat knee airbags, hill start assist and Lexus Safety Connect emergency telematics.

Included with the optional adaptive cruise control is a forward collision warning/preparation system. This system immediately tightens front seatbelts and activates brake assist when the driver presses the brake pedal if sensors detect an impending collision. Parking sensors and a rearview camera are also optional.

Pro: High-quality interior; smooth ride quality; all-weather hardtop; golfer-friendly trunk.

Edmunds Say: The 2015 Lexus IS 250 C delivers high levels of comfort and refinement in a four-seat hardtop convertible, but not without a few significant compromises.

Introduction: The Lexus brand is synonymous with coddling luxury, and with the IS 250 C, buyers can enjoy that Lexus hallmark packaged in the form of a convertible. High-end from top to bottom, the 2015 Lexus IS 250 C quickly facilitates carefree top-down cruising whenever the mood strikes. At the first hint of rain, its hardtop can be raised to protect against the elements, essentially transforming the car from a convertible to a coupe.

Luxury is all about finessing the details, and the IS 250 C certainly gets many of them right. Distinguished by high-quality materials and eye-catching design, the car's cabin looks and feels plush and expensive. It's also pretty quiet with the hardtop raised, and the roof takes a mere 20 seconds to stow. Ride quality is smooth and stable, and the car remains unruffled even on rough pavement. Furthermore, its list of standard features is extensive and eclipses those of similarly priced rival luxury-brand convertibles.

However, while the IS 250 C has sumptuousness in its favor, it falls short in handling, performance and utility. Its standard 2.5-liter V6 engine is behind the times and doesn't deliver the performance we expect of entry-level luxury cars these days. The IS 350 C (reviewed separately) solves this problem with a more powerful engine, but as you'd expect, this model is costlier than its sibling. Handling capabilities are pretty mediocre, too, even with the available F Sport suspension and tire upgrades. Finally, cramped rear seating creates a tight squeeze for passengers in back, and with the roof lowered, there's a notable lack of trunk space (though there's still room for a set of golf clubs).

Although the IS 250 C is part of a relatively small segment, there are still a couple of strong alternatives to consider. With the 2015 BMW 4 Series convertible you get engaging performance and a more spacious backseat. It's a similar story with the Audi A5, and, like the BMW, it can be had with all-wheel drive. We also like the often-overlooked and relatively affordable 2015 Volkswagen Eos. Overall, the IS 250 C is likable enough, but we certainly recommend checking out the competition first.

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