Lexus IS250C Prestige (2009)

The IS250C is a great place to be when the sun's shining, the weather's mild and a serpentine road beckons. Whether those moments of pleasure are worth the ungainly looks is a question only you can answer.


8.1
CNET Rating
7.7
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Exterior design

We love the look of the Lexus IS250 sedan, it seamlessly blends aggression and beauty. With a nice set of 18-inch wheels, we believe that it's one of the best-looking sedans going around today. Alas, the same thing cannot be said about the IS's coupe-convertible sibling.

The two may share mechanical gear, not to mention clothing ahead of the windscreen, but the IS250C requires an aesthetically detrimental big butt to accommodate its folding hard roof. After you slide a luggage divider into place, the quiet electric motors can transform the closed coupe into a wind-in-the-hair joy machine in 21 seconds. Standard parking sensors can call a halt to the mechanical origami if a car or being gets in the way of proceedings.

Check out our video review or in-depth photo gallery to see the IS250C's roof in action.

With the roof up, the boot has a sedan-shaming capacity of 550 litres. Take it down and the volume not only shrinks to 200 litres, but the loading space precludes items wider than, say, an average backpack.

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Click through for an in-depth look at the IS250C's exterior.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

LED brake lights, 17-inch alloy wheels and projector headlamps are standard fare across the IS250C range, with steerable xenon headlights and 18-inch alloys only present on the top-of-the-range Sports Luxury model.

Interior design

There's a certain decadence to the IS250C's interior. Perhaps it's the prospect of al fresco motoring or the wonderfully textured leather seats and trim. Maybe it's the leather's white colour, which with its impossible-to-maintain looks had us dreaming of luxury condominiums with expansive water views.

Not all is perfect inside the small Lexus' cabin though. The pin-sharp white "optitron" instrument lighting contrasts quite severely with the muddy shades of Corolla-green lighting used on buttons and switches. Likewise, Lexus has juxtaposed numerous "classy" serif-lettered elements with sans serif bits nabbed from other Lexus and Toyota models.

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Click through for an in-depth look at the IS250C's interior.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

The front seats provide ample grip for a bit of enthusiastic driving while still providing a handy impersonation of a comfy sofa. Finding the correct seating position shouldn't be too difficult with both front pews, as well as the steering wheel, featuring electric adjustment. There's also seat heating should the weather turn sour.

We had no issues with the steeply angled windscreen, but drivers boasting frames taller than our 165 centimetres may find their view forward blocked by the windshield frame. Space up front is on par with the sedan, but the two rear passengers are considerably more cramped and forced to sit upright. Leg space is on the tight side for all but the most vertically challenged, and shoulder room is universally restricted as the rear of the cabin curves around tightly.

Features

For a fair whack less than the cheapest 3-Series convertible, IS250C buyers get keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, rear-seat vents, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, electric-folding wing mirrors, automatic headlights, front- and rear-parking sensors, cruise control, steering wheel audio controls, soft-touch dashboard and leather cladding for almost everything else.

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Click through for an in-depth look at the IS250C's features.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

Cabin storage spaces include a lined glovebox, four cup holders (including two in the rear), door bins and a sliding centre console bin. While on the safety front there are eight airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control and emergency brake assistance.

Entertainment and navigation

A touchscreen-driven entertainment and nav system is standard on all three IS250C trim levels, and it's a similar system to the one that's fitted to many other Lexus and Toyota models.

Sources of entertainment include an AM/FM radio tuner, a six-disc in-dash CD stacker can read both CD audio and data discs, an auxiliary jack and — can we hear angels singing in the background? — a USB port that supports both flash memory drives and iPods. iPod Touches and iPhones work too, so long as you don't have iOS 4 installed.

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Click through for an in-depth look at the IS250C's features.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

Scrolling through long lists of albums or artists is a frustrating task because the moment you move off the first screen of items, the system automatically highlights and plays the new item at the top of the list, interrupting any music that may already be on.

The interface has had some work done to it since our review of it last year, with revised graphics and a more logical menu structure that's more in line with the one used in the Remote Touch system. That said, it's annoying that changing some critical air-con settings, like fan speed and vent output, still require a dive into the touchscreen system.

Sound reproduction through the eight-speaker set-up is good, but not spectacular. Bluetooth hands-free works well, but the unit's voice-dialling feature is limited to five pre-recorded tags.

The nav system will get you to places unknown, eventually, but it's not exactly the most graceful at doing it. Niceties like 3D perspective, text-to-speech, lane guidance and traffic information are all absent, and the map screen is cluttered with a lot of hard-to-fathom icons.

On the road

Both sedan and convertible share a silky smooth 153kW/252Nm 2.5-litre V6 that's almost hybrid quiet at low speeds and standstill. Floor the accelerator and cultured sounds of mechanical fury utter forth from ahead of you, but progress is decent rather than spectacular.

That's because the folding roof, as well as the structural reinforcements a convertible requires, makes the IS250C 170kg heftier than its sedan sibling. Shift the smooth six-speed automatic — the only transmission available, by the way — into sport mode and things improve markedly.


While we never tired of winding the engine up, it did leave the environment and our wallet worse for wear to the tune of 14.9L/100km. By way of comparison, when we reviewed the IS250 sedan last year it drank just 12.1L/100km when driven with a similar level of fervour.

Like the sedan, the steering is well weighted, but blighted by a lack of feedback from the road and a horribly artificial feeling from the electric power-steering mechanism. Body roll is minimal, and cornering is flat and grin inducing, with the convertible's extra weight only apparent late in tight turns. All road scars are communicated via the suspension, but the ride is never crashy, although some large blemishes do elicit a creak from the roof when it's up.

Conclusion

The IS250C is a great place to be when the sun's shining, the weather's mild and a serpentine road beckons. Whether those moments of pleasure are worth the ungainly looks is a question only your priorities, aesthetics and chequebook can decide.



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wjr
9
Rating
 

wjr posted a review   

The Good:I bought the Lexus IS250c for my wife about 2 months ago and can't fault this vehicle. Pure luxury and value for money and back up service from Lexus is hard to beat. I hate driving it it's just too nice to drive and my wife is always on my back for racking up 6500km's in 2 months

The Bad:People never stop staring at the car when driving it around town I'm frighten that it will be stolen

After owning BMW's and Merc's Lexus has really won me over. Lexus's customer service is unbelievable the IS250 C is so quiet you can hardly hear the engine going and the leather seats are so comfortable you nearly fall asleep in them. Like I said above it is pure luxury and leaves the BM's and Merc's I've owned for dead.

 

dasher posted a comment   

The Good:for toyota

The Bad:for me

Donot waste monies on this car Lexus has been going thro' heavy quality problems in US

James Grey
9
Rating
 

James Grey posted a review   

Very pleased with car. Boot smallish when roof down, but then they all are not matter which brand. That is life. Roof silent and leak free.

 

Softy posted a comment   

Not the car I thought it was....paid top dollar for a Toyota....drives as good as my mums camry

MKK
5
Rating
 

MKK posted a review   

I just bought the Sports luxury model 2 weeks ago.

Nice car over all, however a little under powered at times.

After one week I am already noticing little problems, such as the roof making creaking noises when up, which is disappointing in a car that cost over 100K.

I would recommend waiting till the next series when Lexus irons out all the little problems like the roof.

 

RJT posted a comment   

I have waited a long time for this great IS250C. To those naysayers and negative journo's....What a fantastic car. I love it... So long BMW, Mx5, Merc's etc
Well done Lexus and a huge thank you.




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User Reviews / Comments  Lexus IS250C Prestige (2009)

  • wjr

    wjr

    Rating9

    "After owning BMW's and Merc's Lexus has really won me over. Lexus's customer service is unbelievable the IS250 C is so quiet you can hardly hear the engine going and the leather seats are so comfor..."

  • dasher

    dasher

    "Donot waste monies on this car Lexus has been going thro' heavy quality problems in US"

  • James Grey

    James Grey

    Rating9

    "Very pleased with car. Boot smallish when roof down, but then they all are not matter which brand. That is life. Roof silent and leak free."

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