Lexus pulled off another successful launch as it unveiled the IS300C on August 19. The ‘C’ in its name stands for convertible. And like all convertibles in its class and price segment, the roof folds neatly, quietly, and with an impressive display of mechanical expertise. Lexus claims the IS300C’s roof can retract in 20 seconds, making it the fastest in its class. By class, in the local market this is limited to the BMW 3-Series convertibles and the Volvo C70. I was lucky enough to borrow the 335i Convertible a few months ago. It was nothing short of amazing. It was powered by a twin-turbo inline-6 that gave it more than 300hp of thrust. It completely laid to rest my doubts about convertibles, especially in our country’s climate. The 335i felt solid whether the roof was up or down. Drop the top and open sky combined with the 300 horses motivating the rear wheels will want to make you yell “Freedom!” Yes it drinks gas like your alcoholic uncle, but what price can you put on this sensation of liberty?
While I was sipping mango juice at the IS 300C launch I looked the car over. It looks good in the sense that the IS model looks good. I always thought the IS is what the current Altis should have looked like. But that was with four doors and a roof. With the IS 300C, the rear seems to be its weak design point. The challenge of any convertible roof is how to compress all the mechanicals into a neat package, and hide it properly. In the IS 300C I can see a hump where the trunk stores the folding roof. It reminds me of the Peugeot 206CC. If only the sheet metal looked as good as the interior. The IS 300C at the launch had blue and white semi aniline leather seats. It definitely looks good, even though I’m worried that it’s easy to soil. The cockpit looks Lexus-perfect, with all the functions and buttons within easy and legible reach.
I hope I’m lucky enough to test this in the future. I’ve come to appreciate the appeal of convertibles, thanks to modern technology that gives them the stability and comfort of a closed roof car and the fun of driving under the open sky.