Paris Auto Show: Lexus Reveals IS Convertible

Written by The Wire

Lexus revealed the IS retractable hard-top convertible at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. Both the IS luxury sport sedans -- the IS 250C and IS 350C -- will come to the U.S. in the late spring of 2009. Featuring a three-panel roof that opens in 21 seconds, the new IS 250C and IS 350C provide the sophistication of a convertible and the sporty styling of a coupe. While the hood, headlamps, door handles and mirrors are common to the exterior of the IS sedans, all other body panels have been designed to blend seamlessly with the new three-panel aluminum folding roof.

Powered by the same powertrain as the IS sedans, the IS 250C features a 2.5-liter, 204-hp V6 mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission; the IS 350C contains a 3.5-liter, 306-hp with a six-speed automatic. Revisions to the body structure and suspension provide torsional stiffness and ride comfort with the top down, and low Lexus-like Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) on par with the IS sedan when in coupe configuration.

The three-panel roof structure is completely constructed of lightweight aluminum that helps achieve smooth, quiet retraction. Unlike many retractable-roof mechanisms that increase in speed due to the weight of the structure, a unique roof-brake mechanism slows the closing roof-panels as they approach the windscreen area, ensuring easy retraction just before closure. In addition, the top completely retracts with no elements remaining in view. The three-panel folding aluminum roof also helps provide compact packaging and convenient luggage space.

A new fog-lamp design is integrated in the revised front air dam. The rear overhang increases by two inches to improve luggage space, providing storage for two golf bags in coupe configuration and one in a convertible. New combination tail-lamp clusters feature LED lights; a LED brake light is integrated within the standard rear spoiler.

The interior maintains the innovation and luxury touch points associated with the IS sport sedans, while new comfort and entertainment features provide a consistent atmosphere regardless of top configuration. Instrument gauges have been revised to help increase visibility during top-down driving, and the climate-control system has a speed-sensitive control feature that automatically increases air flow when the top is down while also automatically adjusting to vehicle speed.

The sound system has an equalizer-tuning feature that provides consistent audio whether the top is up or down, and it also automatically adapts to the natural loss of bass when the top is down. With a four-seat configuration, the IS 250C and IS 350C’s rear seats feature a center console with built-in cup holders. In addition to front doors that are 11.8 inches longer than the IS sedans, a new one-touch automatic mechanism provides easier egress and ingress through quick-acting, front-seat fold-and-slide activation. Rear-seat comfort is enhanced by shifting seat position inboard, providing improved headroom. The front seat backs are configured to also provide better rear-seat legroom.