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Lexus IS250C Prestige (2009) review:

Lexus IS250C Prestige (2009)

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Typical Price: $79,900.00
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The Good Handling puts a smile on our dial. Quiet roof folding mechanism. Lovely leather. Finally a USB port. Suave engine. Value.

The Bad Not terribly pretty. Weight causes it to drink. Occasional roof creak. Tight rear seats. Old-school nav system.

The Bottom Line 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.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.1 Overall

Review Sections

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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