Holding your dog in one hand and a half-caf soy latte in the other while “hiking” pretty much whispers Los Angeles. Wearing sunglasses inside, at night, says Los Angeles. Having a $50,000 nuclear-blue, drop-top with butter-soft white leather screams Los Angeles.
So, what better place to test the all new 2010 Lexus IS350C than in the city built on flash and cash. Yup, L.A. First, I must admit that of all the Lexus automobiles available, I’m pretty keen on the IS250/350. I appreciate the body design, the ride is smooth but not squishy (in typical Lexus fashion), and the performance isn’t shabby. No, it’s not a hot rod, nor is designed to be one; so, you can imagine we were pretty excited to get our hands on the topless model (pun intended). That is, until we drove it (read on).
Gear Patrol was provided a 2010 “ultrasonic blue mica” IS350C with beautiful white perforated leather, dark gray bird’s-eye maple wood trim, special wheels, navigation, 6-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, light blue environment lighting, and all the other wonderful things that come with a luxury automobile. Like cache.
Getting in the car was easy (unlike the 2010 Miata driven previously) thanks to generously proportioned doors and an abundance of legroom. Pressing the start button (kind of miss turning the keys), the driver is greeted with a bevy of lights dancing across the dashboard and sonically caressed by the engine with its seductive purring notes.
Let’s start with the engine. The 3.5 liter V-6 has a linear supply of power, which, on the interstate, is ready and eager to explore. Around town, it functions smoothly (as you’d expect in a Lexus), with a fine shifting automatic and paddle shifters for more aggressive control. We wouldn’t define the powertrain as quick or agile, but rather abundant in power with deep reserves of available torque.
The catch: having a convertible, in “ultrasonic blue mica” can be a catch-22. That feeling of freedom at high speeds with nothing above you but the skies pulls at the primordial heartstrings of your soul. That sentiment comes in spades with the 2010 Lexus IS350C, but having a convertible adds weight and sacrifices structural stability. That’s something the IS350C tries hard to subdue, but inevitably cannot overcome. The IS350C is heavy (though not bulky), and you get the feeling that the rear end is bloated. Of course, Lexus did have to change the latter 75% of the car’s body to accommodate the massive drop roof, and have done an admirable job, but in the process lost some of the IS350’s athleticism. L.A. gym maven to PTA chair in Des Moines, perhaps.
When you turn to the interior though, the Lexus IS350C is divine – sumptuous materials that make you reconsider living in your apartment and heaps of head, shoulder, knees and toes (knees and toes) room. The navigation system feels a bit last generation with somewhat slow operation, and the iPod integration lacks something to be desired (side note: it was programmed to play the first song in each playlist as you scrolled causing me to hear songs I wasn’t interested in while the song I had just picked was no longer playing. I got very frustrated and yelled at it. It didn’t talk back.).
The IS350C garners quite a few neck twists, even here in Los Angeles. Watch out Beverly Hills jogging club. Over the course of our time with the IS350C, three conversations were struck up about the car, and though the attention is nice, it can be off-putting for those that prefer their cars not exacerbate their narcissism. At the end of the day, however, we’re fully aware that the IS350C is not a sport-tuned racecar. It makes no effort to be and does what it’s intended to do well: provide flash (for cash), the joy of having a convertible, and a comfortable grand tourer. If you’re seeking out an automobile that does that in a price range of $45-$52k, then the 2010 Lexus IS350C should certainly make be on your list of test drives.