New Car Review: 2013 Lexus IS350 C

Front 3/4 view of the 2013 Lexus IS350C

If you want proof positive that Lexus is serious about building more exciting, involving automobiles for enthusiasts, this is a good place to start.  See the picture above? That's the 2013 Lexus IS350C, a retractable hardtop.

What's so great about it? Well, Lexus chose to make its retractable hardtop using perhaps its best drivers' car...the IS.  And that's an improvement because last time around, Lexus gave us the SC430.  Go ahead, click that link. You'll get a visual reminder of the car that found its way onto Top Gear's "Worst Car In The World DVD", along with a list of the areas in which the long-running SC missed just about every target.

No such worries for the IS, though.  A car that already is so good that non-believers say "This is a Lexus?", the ability to take the top down and enjoy some open-air motoring is just icing on the cake.

Rear 3/4 view of 2013 Lexus IS 350 C

$46,790, while not cheap, is a reasonable starting price for a four-seat convertible from a premium manufacturer. Especially when you factor in the 306 horsepower 3.5 liter V6, six-speed transmission, 17-inch wheels...oh, and rear-wheel drive.  

The engine/tranny combo not only delivers some sport, it keeps the fuel economy in good shape too, with the EPA estimateing 19 city, 27 highway, numbers that seem right in line with what we saw in our week with one.

Interior view of 2013 Lexus IS350 C

The interior is beautifully done....with perforated leather trim, 10-way power adjustable driver and front passenger seats, dual-zone climate control, a three-spoke leather-trimmed steering wheel, a premium audio system and power everything.

No one would blame you for just taking one stock, but Lexus, as with most manufacturers, is more than happy to upsell.  Our tester added the F-Sport package, getting us 18-inch wheels and summer tires, a revised suspension, heated and ventilated front seats, and some nifty cosmetics ($2,550). High intensity headlamps with LED DRLs added $875. Headlamp washers were another $100, Intuitive Parking Assist $500, satellite navigation with an upgraded audio system $3,520, plus $105 for a trunk mat and $64 for a cargo net. With delivery fee ($895), the bottom line comes to $55,399.

Regular TireKicker readers know I often advise ditching unnecessary options and, again, the IS350 C is great stone cold stock. But...F-Sport makes a sweet ride sweeter. If nothing else, popping the extra $2,550 for that is a good idea.  And if you bought one loaded like our tester, you'd get no arguments from me.  There's nothing in that $7800 worth of options that strikes me as money wasted.

Bravo, Lexus for making the leap from SC to IS for your retractable.