Mike Stevens | Jul 28, 2009

LEXUS HAS LAUNCHED its first convertible in eight years into the Australian market with its new IS 250C promising wind-in-your-hair motoring in an attractive two-door metal-roofed package.

Lexus Australia CEO John Roca says the IS 250C brings a new look and approach to its segment, which Lexus believes will strike a chord with buyers.

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The base Prestige model will retail at $79,900, while the Sports model and range-topping Sports Luxury will sell for $84,900 and $99,900 respectively.

"In this market segment, price is less imperative - IS 250C will be purchased for emotional and personal reasons," Mr Roca said.

"Lexus however, also adds an element of rationality to that decision - offering a vehicle that is unmatched for its quality, reliability and specification."

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The IS 250C will be available only with the 153kW 2.5 litre V6 and six-speed paddle-shifted automatic gearbox. The more powerful 3.5 litre engine of foreign-market IS convertibles is not on the cards for our market.

As a result, and also thanks to convertible's 1750kg kerb weight, performance is blunted: the IS 250C needing nine seconds to hit 100km/h from rest.

But performance is irrelevant: the IS 250C, after all, is all about good looks and that folding roof.

The conversion from four doors to two has paid dividends for the IS's aesthetics; that rump doesn't look as bloated as some folding hard-tops on the market, assisting the overall styling balance of the svelte two-door.

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Every exterior panel bar the bonnet and front quarter panels is new, and the car looks just as fetching with the roof up as it does withthe roof down. Down below, 17-inch alloys are standard on the Prestige model, while the Sport and Sports Luxury get 18-inch wheels.

Nine exterior colours are on offer, with two interior colour schemes available for the Prestige and Sports models and three for the Sports Luxury.

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A 2+2, the IS 250C promises ample accomodation for four people. The rear of the cabin is designed to maximise headroom with the roof up, while the front seatbacks are contoured to improve rear legroom.

The front seats feature more heating elements than regular heated seats as well as improved ventilation, two measures aimed at increasing comfort during hot or cold weather motoring with the hardtop retracted.

The climate control system also automatically adjusts itself according to the position of the roof.

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The audio system on all models also compensates for when the roof is dropped, with an eight-speaker system in the Prestige and Sports and a 12-speaker Mark Levinson system in the Sports Luxury modifying their acoustic characteristics automatically.

An auxillary input for MP3 players and iPods is also standard on all models.

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The boot can accomodate 553 litres of cargo when the roof is in the 'up' position, however that drops to just 205 litres with the roof stowed.

Safety is taken care of by a reinforced chassis, dual front, side, head and knee airbags, stability control, traction control, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist - all standard features across the IS 250C range.

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The IS 250C Sports and Sports Luxury variants also receive Lexus's Pre-Collision System, which pretensions the seatbelts when either the active cruise control's radar system detects a collision is unavoidable, or the stability control system intervenes, full braking force is applied or if the car is detected to be otherwise out of control.

Lexus Australia says it will continue to sell the venerable SC 430 after the IS 250C arrives, until the model is officially retired or replaced.

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