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Mike Stevens | Mar 19, 2009

When Lexus launched its first generation IS sedan, it had BMW’s 3 Series firmly in its sights. I don’t suppose it is any accident then that BMW is still being closely tailed as the IS range is expanded.

To prove the point, Lexus has just released details of the IS250 C, a folding hardtop version of the now familiar sedan. Does a six-cylinder engine, rear wheel drive and a folding metal roof sound familiar? It might to the Bavarians.

luxus-is250-c

Australians were teased with the IS250 C at last year's Sydney Motor Show, in Europe the IS250 C will launch in July. It offers seating for four and a roof that opens or closes in just 20 seconds: faster than any rival.

Despite shared underpinnings with the sedan, most of the body panels are unique to the drop top and designed around accommodating the roof. The IS250 C shares only its bonnet, headlights, door handles and mirrors with the exterior of the sedan.

The front of the car is extended by 15mm to improve aerodynamics with the roof down, while the doors grow 30cm in length to assist entry and egress. The rear features its own LED tail lamps.

lexus-is250-c-interior

Inside, the sedan’s dash carries over but instruments have been revised to improve visibility in bright sunlight. Extra heating pads at shoulder height are included in the front seats which also feature a one-touch walk-in button for entry to the rear.

In the rear, occupants will enjoy two separate buckets which are 30mm closer together (than the sedan) to assist rear headroom with the roof up.

Lexus claims that with the roof down the IS250 C is the only car in its class capable of fitting the all-important golf bag. In other words, the boot is less-compromised than its competitors.

The 2.5 litre V6 carries over unchanged which for the European market means 152kW (204hp) and a 0-100 km sprint in 9.0 seconds on its way to 209 km/h (130 mph) top whack.

Pricing in the UK will start from around £30,000 (AUD $63,140). Lexus will be hoping it wins more hearts than the slabby SC 430 convertible.

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