The Lexus IS is a lineup of entry level luxury compact cars and convertibles produced by the Japanese auto manufacturer. Under Toyota’s ownership, the Lexus IS series was introduced in 1998, intended to compete in the upscale compact car category. The Lexus IS series was sold domestically as the Toyota Altezza. When the Lexus brand was introduced, the Altezza series began to carry the Lexus name instead of Toyota, and the series entered its second generation in 2006. The Lexus IS series is assembled at Lexus and Toyota production facilities in Tahara, Aichi, and in Miyawaka, Fukuoka, in Japan. The Lexus IS 350C is available in select markets worldwide, and is still available as of the 2014 model year.
The Lexus IS 350C is a four passenger, hardtop convertible variant of the Lexus IS series that made its debut in October of 2008 at the Paris Motor Show. The IS lineup was treated to a refresh for that model year, which included some exterior modifications as well as upgrades to the suspension and steering components to improve drivability characteristics such as control and stability. The Lexus IS 350C went on sale in North America and Europe in early 2009, alongside the Lexus IS 250C and a more limited version of the IS convertible, the IS 300C. Another refresh, in 2010, provided interior updates for the IS model lineup, to keep the IS series competitive against the other Japanese and European luxury auto manufacturers.
The drivetrain in the rear-wheel-drive Lexus IS 350C yields 306 horsepower, thanks to a 3.5-liter V6 engine. The engine is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift controls. The Environmental Protection Agency rated the Lexus IS 350C’s fuel economy at 19 miles per gallon city, 27 miles per gallon highway, and 22 miles per gallon combined. Lexus F Sport performance accessories are available as stand-alone options on the IS 350C, to help tune suspension, handling, braking and engine performance on the convertible, and there are also 18-inch and 19-inch wheel upgrades.
The Lexus IS 350C differs from the rest of the IS lineup thanks to its retractable hardtop, which goes from closed to open in just 20 seconds. The IS 350C is available in just one trim level. Inside, the car has seating for four occupants. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, fog lamps, keyless ignition and entry, dual zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats with two-way lumbar support, the Lexus Safety Connect communications system, Bluetooth wireless integration, and an audio system featuring eight speakers, a six-CD changer, auxiliary input, USB and iPod connectivity, and satellite radio. Safety features include anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, pop-up rollover bars, front knee airbags, front side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags. When the optional adaptive cruise control is added, the pre-collision safety system is included. The navigation package offers a touchscreen navigation system along with a rearview camera and voice commands. The luxury package upgrade features bi-xenon headlights, high end leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, wood trim, and a driver memory function. Other options include adaptive cruise control and parking sensors. In 2013, the IS 350C was updated with HD radio and the Lexus Enform communications and app integration system.