Autoreview by Veeno Dewan

The sports oriented Lexus IS250 series comprises IS250 and IS350, in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive; the ISF, in rear-wheel drive; and the IS250C and IS350C convertibles, in rear-wheel drive, a sedan and the IS250C hard top convertible as tested.

Highlight have been the compact size and tight, sporty, defined handling with luxury touches. Our jet black convertible IS250C looked like a missile with its sleek profile, low roofline and aggressive front fascia. It certainly is a dramatic, desirable looking car.

The IS250 uses a 2.5-litre V6; it comes with a six-speed manual in rear-wheel drive that can be optioned to a six-speed automatic that is the only choice in all-wheel drive. The IS350 uses a 3.5-litre V6 with six-speed automatic. The IS250C also uses the 2.5-litre V6 with six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic,

Features on the IS250C and IS350C include 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and USB, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, heated and ventilated eight-way power leather seats with memory, keyless entry with pushbutton start, outside temperature gauge, multi-information display, auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, auto up/down front windows, three-spoke power tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel, woodgrain trim, aluminum sport pedals, floor mats, rear passenger one-touch walk-in function, cruise control, garage door opener, cargo net, driver and passenger knee airbags, heated auto-dimming mirrors with integrated turn signals, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights, headlamp washers, fog lamps and windshield wiper de-icer.

Our tester was the Special Edition model that came with the following options including the six -speed Super Electronically Controlled Transmission with paddle shifters priced at $1,600. The Special Edition also featured attractive looking 18- inch alloy wheels, clearance and backup sensors, backup camera in the navigation display, voice –activated HDD Navigation System and the awesome red leather interior seat and door trim. Price of the Special Edition added $3,400 to the price. Total price including options came to $54,100.

Standard safety equipment is very comprehensive includes airbags, traction and stability control in addition to anti-lock brakes, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution. Eight airbags as well as a tire-pressure monitoring system are part of all IS 250s as well. Comfort touches include a 13-speaker Lexus Premium Sound System with a six-disc in-dash changer with auxiliary iPod/MP3/WMA port.

The list of optional equipment is even longer, and includes sport tuned suspension, aluminum trim on the interior, a different front fascia, 18-inch wheels, leather interior with heated and ventilated seats, a voice-activated navigation system with rear parking assist and Bluetooth, a radar-enforced Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise control, parking assist, moonroof and more. The well designed solid hardtop roof glides under its tonneau at the push of button leaving a seamless sporty looking profile.

On the road the IS250C performs flawlessly with its responsive silky engine and its slick six- speed transmission. Acceleration is rapid and the kickdown between gears is very smooth. For more fun on more challenging roads the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters allow you to choose gears yourself. The sport tuned suspension offers entertaining handling and good grip even when pushed to the limits.

The IS250C feels more solid and rigid than other soft top convertibles probably thanks to its solid retracting hardtop. The ISC is also exhilarating to drive with top up or down. A few cold, but bright sunny days in Vancouver had me with top down and enjoying some wind in the hair (what little remains of!) motoring.

Downsides are few, the ISC250 is a strict four seater thanks to the rear center console and it is tight in that rear cabin. The black hard plastic upper door caps and dash should really be soft touch materials at this price and the center front arm rest could be higher. Still minor quibbles. The solid performance, sensual lines, retracting hardtop and almost feline grace make the IS250C a desirable sports orientated convertible with class and pedigree.

2012 Lexus IS250C based priced from $49,000.

Price as tested $54,100 plus fees, tax, freight and PDI.

Total price $56,185.

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