Review: Lexus IS 250C (2009 – 2013)

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Incredibly refined. Barely any top-down turbulence. Metal-folding roof retracts smoothly. Effortless performance.

Thirsty and expensive to run. Soft handling means it's no sports car. Lacks the feelgood factor you'd expect of a convertible.

Lexus IS 250C (2009 – 2013): At A Glance

When I first read the price of the Lexus IS250C, I have to confess my jaw dropped a bit. I was expecting an entry level of £28,000 to £30,000. So £34,550 came as a bit of a shock. And that doesn't even include satnav. For the Navigator version you are asked to hand over a cool £36,750.

Lexus justifies this with a list of standard equipment as long as your arm (see below). Enough to pull the price of its closest competitor, the BMW 325i coupe convertible, way south of £40,000. So it's actually quite brave of Lexus to quote an all-in price rather then tempt buyers with a low list price, then keep adding to it to put you into the specification you really want.

Lexus IS250C 2009 Road Test and Video


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What does a Lexus IS 250C (2009 – 2013) cost?

List Price from £33,260
Buy new from £30,032
Contract hire from £318.74 per month

Lexus IS 250C (2009 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4635 mm
Width 1800 mm
Height 1415 mm
Wheelbase 2730 mm

Full specifications

The Japanese design and engineering team, lead by Keiichi Yonada seems to have thought of everything. For example, with the top up the cavernous trunk can take up to 583 litre of luggage. And with the top down, instead of leaving a letterbox through which to post a slim briefcase, they have left a broad 235 litre expanse right at the rear of the compartment, still capable of taking two golf bags laid across.

Instead of rear seats suitable only for legless dwarfs, 5' 9" of me could happily sit behind myself.A huge difficulty in creating a four-seater convertible is preventing top down turbulence. Most manufacturers, including Audi, BMW and Peugeot, counter this with windbreak arrangements that fit over the back seats and prevent anyone from sitting there. But that wasn't good enough for Keiichi Yonada's team. Instead they have used a windtunnel to refine the shape of the screen and body, so the airflow passes smoothly over the top. As a consequence, very little external noise feeds into the car and there is no buffeting at all, even for rear seat passengers.

As well as that the engineers organised the aircon so you can be cooled while the sun is on your face. The SE-L version even has built in seat coolers. Conversely, if you choose to drop the top in mid winter, seat warmers that extend all the way up your back to keep you nice and snug even if it's below zero outside.

Child seats that fit a Lexus IS 250C (2009 – 2013)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Lexus IS 250C (2009 – 2013) like to drive?

Where the Lexus scores highest is in refinement. From the seamless 6-speed automatic transmission that cushions gearchanges beautifully, whether left to its own devices or summoned by the steering wheel paddles, to the astonishing lack of wind noise and buffeting with the top down, this is a seriously smooth convertible.

Even on 18" wheels with 225/40 and 255/40 tyres front and rear, the ride quality was fine. Steering feedback was good, handling surefooted. The rigid body has extra strengthening underneath so none of the dreaded scuttle shake.

And, the car has a pleasant, relaxed nature, making it the perfect open-topped cruiser. It's smooth, sweet and undemanding, yet powerful enough when you need it to be. Driving normally on normal roads, you simply leave it in auto. Ascending or descending the Col de Vence, you use the paddles. But even if you don't, that excellent transmission makes sensible decisions, rarely dropping a cog half way round a bend or getting flustered on an uphill hairpin.

It isn't an economy car. Combined economy is a mere 30mpg. But neither is it a car that encourages you to rag it, so I suspect that many owners will at least equal and probably better that combined figure.

And economy is still not bad for a car that makes you feel so good.

The Lexus IS250C is a true all year round car. It's exceptionally refined. It's a genuine four-seater. And it has an enormous boot. It's a summer car that doesn't need a winter car as back-up.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
250C 31 mpg 9.0 s 213 g/km

Real MPG average for a Lexus IS 250C (2009 – 2013)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

29–36 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Lexus IS 250C (2009 – 2013)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Should I buy a Lexus IS 250C to accompany my Mercedes-Benz SLK and Chrysler 300C?

I have three cars: a 2008 Chrysler 300C estate with a Webasto electric roof, unique stitched Nappa heated leather, fantastic Classic FM and Radio 3 Boston audio upgrade and Parrot, tinted glass, 57,000 miles, FSH, no faults, value £8500k. It's a whispering Mafia staff car with a Mercedes-Benz diesel engine averaging 31mpg and 5-speed automatic transmission, assembled by Steyr of Austria with fake wood interior, Bentley grille and which is ultra-relaxing to drive. I love it. My second car is a 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK280 with 77,000 miles, indispensable air-scarf, valuable and ultra-safe Xenons, in obsidian black with heated cream leather and DAB radio. I can buy one of the last of Lexus IS250C's, the Advance with the special engine, one of the last made with full UK and European postcode satnav and 22,000 miles, at £23,000 privately against Lexus £27,500 for precisely that car. It's a nice margin as they'll buy at £22,000, except the widow will NOT sell her recently late husband's very loved car to them. I can have all three or a combination of any one or two. I do 9000 miles a year and have been driving for 50 years. My instinct is to buy the Lexus and keep all three.
I like the IS250C because of its refinement. You don't need the air-scarf because the clever design means no buffeting. We don't have any information about an engine upgrade for the last of the Advance models. Power and torque of the 2.5 V6 engine are exactly the same for the new IS 250 as they were for the old model, at 205PS and 252Nm. It's not as quick as an SLK280, but it is much smoother and more refined. So if you're going to dump anything, dump the SLK. Keep the 300C.
Answered by Honest John
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