When coupes lose their tops and become convertibles, several sacrifices need to be made that change the nature of the vehicle. The IS 350 coupe and its convertible brother don’t just look stunning; this is a convertible that’s just as quiet and well composed as any coupe in the segment.
This second generation IS platform launched in 2006. F-Sport is the premier package and includes graphite 18” wheels along with aesthetic upgrades to the interior. Motivation comes from the 3.5L V6 found in almost every other Lexus/Toyota car. This V6 is a smooth operator, but we would trade a bit of civility for a smidge more power. 306 HP and 277 lb-ft are adequate, but also very close to the output of turbocharged four cylinders from Mercedes and Cadillac. When provoked, the six speed automatic transmission can downshift multiple gears to provide smooth and linear acceleration.
We spent a week trying to replicate the common convertible annoyance: Cowl Shake, the unsettling rattle or shake caused when the dashboard flexes. Convertibles developed from coupes are very prone to this because, usually, the roof and windshield structure help keep the dashboard in one place over bumps.
(See Also: 2014 Lexus GX 460 Review)
We tried every trick in the book to unsettle the car. Evasive lane changes provided a solid baseline, so the volume was increased. Speed bumps, highway reflectors, driveway connectors and washed out Florida limestone back roads weren’t able to make this car lose its composure. Braking is solid with a firm pedal and quick ABS intervention. Steering is numb and vague, but very pacifying while navigating the urban sprawl. With the top up or down, this is a very quiet and peaceful experience.
The quick folding hardtop takes 20 seconds to transform, and offers great visibility thanks to the vertical nature of the rear pillars. Rear visibility is among the best we have experienced lately in coupes or convertibles. If you didn’t see the top button, you’d swear this was a hardtop. Our car didn’t have the Mark Levinson audio system, which has been amazing in other models, but the eight speaker base system was all we needed for top-down motoring. Lexus Enform App Suite provides up to date traffic, weather and gas prices and a live stock ticker. Other apps include Facebook Places, iHeartRadio, Yelp, OpenTable and MovieTickets.com. Much thought has been given to the logical placement of the most important controls. The console is finished in a metallic grey that provides a brilliant contrast to the electroluminescent gauges. Other amenities include heated/ventilated 10-way front seats, a powered steering column and steering wheel controls.
Pricing starts at $47,140 without any options, and our tester came in at $53,850. There are more affordable convertibles on the market, but none with the solid build quality or standard features of the IS 350.