Road Test Review – 2014 Lexus IS250C F Sport Is Sexy, Top-Down Summer Cruiser



 

Written By Special Contributor By Ken Glassman

2014 Lexus IS250C F Sport

Lexus IS250C F Sport header GIF1

After suffering through a horrendous winter in Chicago, I was really psyched to get to drive a Lexus IS 250 C convertible for a week this spring. The only thing I enjoy more than cruising down the road in an open air car is doing it on my motorcycle.

For 2014, the Lexus IS sedans got a major makeover, but the convertible versions are basically the same as the 2013 models, leaving some to believe that the metal retractable roof model won’t be continued for next year. Time will tell, because Lexus isn’t.

The 250C is powered by a 2.5 liter V-6 that puts out a modest 204 hp @ 6400rpm, and 185 ft. lbs. of torque at 4800 rpm. With the power coming on at the higher end of the rev range, zero to 60 times clock in at a leisurely 8.4 seconds. It is a 3800 lb car after all, and without much grunt at low revs, the car doesn’t feel very sporty. Even using the 6-speed paddle shifters to try to coax more excitement out of the car doesn’t help much.

Each up or down shift comes at a lazy pace, unlike the European competitors from Audi or BMW, or even Infiniti’s G37 drop top. Fuel economy is a decent 21 City/ 30 Highway. And don’t expect any sporty exhaust note from the little V-6.

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Adding to my frustration is that my tester was equipped with the $2,550 optional F-Sport Package.   The F Sport package contains unique 18-inch alloy wheels with a dark graphite superchrome finish, and a sport tuned suspension. It also adds some eye candy, with a different grille design, front lip spoiler, aluminum scuff plates, drilled brake and accelerator pedals, a sport steering wheel & shift knob, and leather heated and cooled seats.

While the cosmetic additions look cool, the sport tuned suspension left me wanting more. There’s still too much lean in turns and you don’t get much road feel coming through the chassis. So the F-Sport is more of a sheep in wolf’s clothing. I’d pass on that option.

Perhaps if you move up to the optional IS 350C with the 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 306 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 277 lb-ft of torque 4,800 rpm, and zero to 60 times in the 5.8 second range, the F-Sport package makes more sense.

Resigned to the fact that the IS 250 isn’t a sports car, it was time to enjoy it for what it is – a boulevard cruiser with a comfortable ride quality, which feels sturdy, looks stylish and offers an enjoyable open air driving experience.

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The cabin is handsome, if not opulent, with plenty of amenities, and is very quiet with the top up. And you’ll have to have the top up to take any luggage along with you, since the trunk space is a tight 10.8 cu. ft. of cargo room, which shrinks to 2.8 cubes when the top is down.

You can fit a small golf bag, or a soft duffle or two, but that’s all. But that is the trade-off all hardtop convertibles have to make instead of fitting a cloth top. So the rear seats will have to carry the luggage load, which is OK since despite the car being listed as a 4 place car, rear passenger room is very tight for adults.

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Storage inside the cabin is decent with the center console doing double duty as a place for your stuff, and the second cupholder for front seat passengers. If you remove the phone book size owner’s manual, there’s decent space for storing other items. Door pockets offer a bit more space, too.

Two large electroluminescent dials dominate the driver’s side dash, with a small info screen between them for some basic readouts. The test car had the $3,500 Nav package with a large NAV screen and Lexus' voice activated Enform infotainment system.

Enform provides access to Lexus Enform to Bing search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora, Yelp and Facebook Places through compatible smart phones. So connectivity freaks will enjoy this system. The package also includes an outstanding Mark Levinson 12-speaker sound system. If you like you tunes while toodling down the road, you’ll really enjoy this concert room sound system.

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There are lots of soft touch materials in the right places like the door pull armrests, door sills, and center console. The leather seats are very comfortable with enough bolstering. The heated seats worked well, but the cooling feature was totally ineffective, even when turned up to high.

A friend who owns the same car actually took his to the dealership to see if they were working, and was told that they were, but that’s all you can expect from them. I find that unacceptable for a car with a Lexus badge. I’ve tested many other cars with cooled seats that were fantastic.

Another quirk with this car is that only the passenger side seat has a button to move the seat forward electrically, to allow a passenger into the rear. The driver’s seat has a manual lever.

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With precious few convertibles available in the marketplace, and even fewer that can be considered affordable, I hope the IS 250 convertible remains in the Lexus lineup. It is a good car with the usual Lexus excellence in fit and finish, and overall quality. But you’ll have to move up to the IS 350 C to get a more exciting sports car performance experience.

The base price of my test car came in at $42,710. The F-Sport added $2,550, the Nav package added, $3,520, HID headlights cost $875, and $169 for a cargo net and trunk mat brought the price up to $49,824, and with delivery, the bottom line hit $50,734.

STANDARD EXTERIOR FEATURES

Overall Exterior Styling/Body Design

-- 17-inch wheels with liquid graphite finish

-- Color coordinated front airdam with low grille

-- Color-keyed outside rearview mirrors

-- Dual polished stainless steel exhaust pipes

-- Foglamps

-- LED brake, tail and license plate lamps

-- Projector bulb headlamps

-- Shark fin antenna for SiriusXM Satellite Radio (complimentary 90-day trial subscription)

-- Side mirrors with integratedpuddle lamps and turn signals

-- Top shade/tinted glass on front windshield

-- Ultraviolet and infrared ray reducing glass on all windows

Body Structure and Paint

-- Anti-chip paint on lower body panels

-- Exterior colors (8): Starfire Pearl, Obsidian, Silver Lining Metallic, Nebula Gray Pearl, Matador Red Mica,

Deep Sea Mica, and for F SPORT package models, Ultra White, and Ultrasonic Blue Mica

-- Flush surface body panel and glass

-- Galvanized steel used in all areas of the body except the passenger compartment and the roof

-- Narrow and precise body panel gaps

-- One-piece color-keyed Super Olefin Polymer front and rear bumpers

-- PVC sealer and undercoating

-- Stainless steel exhaust system

-- Use of sound dampening asphalt sheets in roof and floor pan

 

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STANDARD INTERIOR FEATURES

Interior Trim

-- Black Metallic accent trim

-- Dark Gray Bird’s-Eye Maple wood with Red, Light Gray and Black interior color

-- Espresso Bird’s-Eye Maple wood with Alabaster and Saddle interior color

-- Fabric sun visors and headliner

-- Floor mats

-- Interior colors: Alabaster, Black, Light Gray, Saddle, Red

-- Silver finished trim on steering wheel and above glove box

Seats

-- Front seatback pockets

Instrumentation and Controls

-- Automatic climate control display: speed and air flow indicators

-- Battery, oil level, seat belt, brake, airbag SRS, side airbags SRS, engine, oil pressure, low fuel, tire

pressure and tire slippage (with TRAC) warning lights

-- Door open, TRAC off, high beam, hazard and cruise control indicator lights

-- Electronic digital quartz clock, exterior temperature gauge

-- Foglamp indicator

-- Headlights-on indicator in instrument panel

-- Illuminated “TEMP” label on center cluster

-- LCD-type electronic digital twin trip meters and odometer display

-- Optitron gauges featuring a 160-mph speedometer, 8,000-rpm tachometer, fuel and coolant temperature

gauges

-- Scheduled maintenance indicator light

-- USB jack, DC outlet and AUX jack positions in console box

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STANDARD INTERIOR FEATURES - CONT.

Convenience Features

-- Automatic dual zone air conditioner control

-- Bluetooth wireless phone technology

-- Cigarette lighter, front ashtray

-- Console mounted dual rear cup holders

-- Covered center console storage box

-- Cruise control with available Dynamic Radar Cruise Control

-- Cup holders - behind the shift lever (1) and in the center console (1)

-- Dust/pollen interior air filter

-- Easy entry rear seat access with power passenger seat slide

-- Electrochromic rearview mirror with compass (without Navigation)

-- First aid kit

-- Front center armrest

-- Heated outside rearview mirrors

-- Heavy duty rear window defogger with timer

-- HomeLink programmable garage door opener

-- Illuminated fuel filler and trunk releases

-- Illuminated outside mirror button controls and roof open switch

-- Inside auto-dimming electrochromic rearview mirror with compass

-- Lexus Personalized Settings (LPS) to allow certain electronic settings to be tailored to owner preference

(programmable by Lexus dealers)

-- Lights - door courtesy, glove box and trunk

-- Power door locks with anti lock-out

-- Power tilt and telescoping adjustable steering wheel

-- Power windows with auto up/down and pinch protection

-- Remote trunk lid and fuel-filler door releases

-- Retained accessory power for operation of power windows

-- Speed-sensitive, shift-linked automatic door lock/unlock

-- Tool kit

-- Variable intermittent wipers with mist cycle

STANDARD AUDIO SYSTEM

Lexus Premium Audio system

-- 194-watts

-- AM/FM ETR and six-disc in-dash CD changer

-- Digital signal processing with Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL)

-- Electronic crossover network

-- Eight speakers

-- Integrated SiriusXM Satellite Radio receiver(complimentary 90-day trial subscription)

-- MP3/WMA and iPod® /USBaudio input plugs

-- Theft-deterrent design

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STANDARD SAFETY AND SECURITY

Safety

-- Daytime Running Lights (DRL)

-- Door side impact beams

-- Driver’s and front passenger’s airbag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)

-- Energy-managing crumple zones

-- Front and rear ventilated disc brakes with tandem brake booster and four-sensor, four-channel Anti-lock

Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA)

-- Front head and torso seat-mounted side airbag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)

-- Impact absorbing door and body construction

-- Three-point belts for all seating positions, including, front and outboard rear with force-limiting

pretensioners; height adjustable front shoulder belt anchors

-- Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

-- Traction Control (TRAC)

-- Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) with cut-off switch

-- Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with cut-off switch

Security

-- Automatic Locking Retractor (ALR) and Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) function for all positions

except driver (driver's only equipped with ELR)

-- Entry system with lock, two-stage unlock, trunk open and “panic” features, volume-adjustable confirmation

tone and rolling code technology

-- Headlight-off delay feature (after locking vehicle,headlights remain illuminated for approximately 30

seconds before automatically shutting off)

-- Multifunction in-key remote

-- Remote-activated, SmartAccess-linked illuminated entry (dome-light ring illuminates when doors are

unlocked, remains illuminated for 15 seconds or until door is opened)

-- Safety Connect with Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assist Button,

and Enhanced Roadside Assistance (complimentary one-year trial subscription included)

-- Vehicle theft-deterrent system with engine immobilizer

STANDARD MECHANICAL FEATURE

-- Smart Stop Technology

 

FACTORY OPTIONS

-- Bi-Xenon HID headlamps with LED daytime running lamps

-- Headlamp washers (requires HID)

-- Intuitive Park Assist

-- Perforated heated and ventilated front seats and wood trim

-- Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control

-- Luxury Package

-- Bi-Xenon HID headlamps with LED daytime running lamps

-- Dark Gray Bird's-Eye Maple wood trim withLight Gray or Black interior, or Espresso

Bird’s-Eye Maple wood trim with Saddle interior

-- Driver’s and front passenger’sseat memory (three-position)

-- Heated/ventilated front seats

-- Illuminated scuff plates

-- One-touch easy entry driver and passenger power seats with tilt and slide

-- Outside rear-view mirror functions (electrochromic, memory, reverse tilt-down)

-- Perforated semi-aniline leather-trimmed seats

-- Rain-sensing windshield wipers

-- Steering column with memory

-- Mark Levinson ® with HDD Navigation

-- HDD Navigation System

-- Mark Levinson ® Premium Surround Sound system (12 speakers, advanced discrete

amplifier design with 300 watts continuous power at less than 0.1% THD, 7.1-channel

speaker architecture)

-- HDD Navigation System

-- Bluetooth ® hands free phone andautomaticphonebook download capabilities

-- HD Radio™ with iTunes tagging

-- Lexus Enform ® with Safety Connect ®

: Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location,

Emergency Assist Button (SOS), Enhanced RoadsideAssistance, Destination Assist, eDestination,

and subscription-free App Suite (complimentary one-year trial subscription)

-- Lexus Insider™

-- NavTraffic, NavWeather, Sports, Stocks and Fuel Prices (complimentary one-year trial

data subscription)

-- Rear back-up camera

-- Voice command casual-language voice recognition system

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FACTORY OPTIONS – CONT.

--  F SPORT Package

-- F SPORT 18-inch wheels with dark superchrome finish

-- F SPORT badging on steering wheel and exterior

-- F SPORT front upper and lower grille insert

-- F SPORT leather-trimmed sport seats with ornamentation, steering wheel/shift knob,

scuff plate

-- Front lip spoiler

-- Heated and ventilated front seats

--  Silver metallic interior trim revised

-- Sport-tuned suspension

F SPORT PERFORMANCE ACCESSORIES

-- 19-inch forged wheels (setof four), with hardware

-- Brake upgrades

-- Front axle set

-- Rear axle set

-- Carbon fiber engine cover

-- Carbon fiber leather shift knob

-- Floor mats (four-piece set)

-- Lowering spring set

-- Performance air intake

-- Performance dual exhaust

-- Shock set (set of four)

-- Sway bar

Find out more about the Lexus IS Convertible at Lexus.com

http://www.lexus.com/models/ISC

 

 

Written By Special Contributor By Ken Glassman

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About The Author

Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman has been a motor journalist for over 30 years, reviewing automobile, as well as motorcycle ride reviews and accessory reviews.

His car articles have appeared in Robb Report Magazine, Autoguide.com, Car-Revs-Daily.com and other media. His work has also appeared in Road Bike Magazine, Motorcycle Tour and Cruiser, SpeedTV.com, MotorcycleUSA.com and others.

As motorcycle columnist for The Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, the paper became the only major circulation newspaper in the country to have a separate weekly section devoted to motorcycles. Later he wrote a weekly column for Cyclefocus Magazine.