Lexus IS 250 / IS 250C / IS 300C / IS 350C


Jan 22nd, 2020

Lexus IS 250 / IS 250C / IS 300C / IS 350C

Lexus offered the second-generation IS-series in numerous variants and engine combinations. This series brought the Lexus to its home market Japan and retired the Altezza, its domestic alter-ego for the past generations.

The second-generation IS-series cars are now a proper Lexus and true to its brand in providing luxury sports compact sedans. The coupe-like-silhouette IS sedan produces a drag coefficient of 0.28, which is significant in a 2005 model car. To put this figure in the right perspective, the 2014 BMW I8 has a Cd=0.26 and the 2012 Tesla Model S Cd=0.24.

This generation saw the introduction of the convertible models for the IS-series. In their lineup was the IS250c initially and then in later years, the IS300c and IS350c. The IS300c and IS350c were not sold directly in Australia, and the only available convertibles through the Lexus dealerships were the IS250c.

Lexus IS 250

The second-generation IS250 (GSE20) was sold in Australia in 2005 and was offered in several trims, such as the IS250 Prestige, IS250 Sports and IS250 Sports Luxury, with an IS250 X being offered in 2007. Between 2006 and 2009, the IS250 was the only IS model sold in Australia before the IS F and IS250C were introduced in 2009.

The IS250 was powered by a 2.5L 4GR-FSE V6 that produced 153 kW of power at 6,400 rpm and 252 Nm of torque at 4,800 rpm. The powertrain came with either a 6-speed sequential automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox depending on the trim chosen. 

The IS250 AWD (GSE25) was the all-wheel-drive version also introduced during its worldwide release but was only sold in select countries. The IS250 was now the base model, which directly replaced the first-generation IS200.

For the 2014 model year, the third-generation IS250 was released and featured the design changes brought about by the development and influence of the LF-LC concept and the Lexus LFA. This new generation IS250 was only sold until 2015 and was eventually replaced by the IS300 as the base model.

The third-generation IS250 (GSE30) was still powered by the 4GR-FSE but was now only available in Australia with a 6-speed automatic. The trim variants now included the F Sport, Luxury and Sports Luxury. The F Sport models came with aggressive body styling and included better suspension tuning and performance upgrades that made these models handle better.

Lexus IS 250c

The first convertible model for the IS-series was the IS250c (GSE20). Introduced in 2009 and was derived from the second generation, the IS250c only shared the bonnet, headlamps, door handles and wing mirrors with the IS250 with everything else changed externally. The internal systems were also modified for open-top cruising with enhancements done on the audio and air-conditioning systems.

The drivetrain remained similar to the IS250 with the 4GR-FSE but was only available with a 6-speed automatic for Australia. Trim variants available were the F Sport, Prestige, Sports and Sports Luxury.

The convertible top mechanism was completely designed and built in-house. The body received significant bracing that gave the IS250c a better and stiffer reinforcement that resulted in better handling than that of its sedan counterpart. The IS250c, however, suffered in its baseline performance being 150 kg heavier than the IS250 without any power increase. Its can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 9 seconds.

The IS250c came with so many features in a luxury convertible. It was priced very competitively against the German equivalent that it became one of the most sought models during its release. The IS250c was only sold up to the 2015 model year and was only available as a second-generation IS, with no plans for a third-generation convertible in the offing.

Lexus IS 300c and IS 350c

The IS300c (GSE22) and IS350c (GSE21) were offered from 2009-2015 in many select countries but not in Australia. It was designed and built primarily for the US market to take on its competition, the BMW 3-series, which was available in both coupe and convertibles.

The IS300c came with the 3.0L 3GR-FE V6 (170 kW/ 300 Nm), while the IS350c was powered by the 3.5L 2GR-FSE V6 (228 kW/ 375 Nm). Both variants were only available with a 6-speed automatic. Numerous options through the F-Sport performance accessories are offered to increase performance. A few of them are the cold-air intake, cut-back exhaust, lowering springs and shocks and 19-inch forged wheels.

Like their lesser-powered sibling, the IS300c and IS350c had the same drivetrain as the sedans and also suffered from the additional weight brought about by the new components. The IS350c, though, had enough power to compensate for the extra load weight and did not suffer as much impact as did the IS300c.

The IS Convertibles

The IS-series convertibles are now a thing of the past and there are no plans for this receiving a newer variant soon. With a new convertible from the LC series, it looks like an entry-level convertible is not being considered.

The IS convertibles are not the best compact luxury convertibles on the road today. Still, it surely is one of the most affordable with the reliability and durability of a Lexus brand. If you are looking to buy an IS convertible or its parts, or would like to sell one, visit us at, Australia's premier automotive website!

Fred Cajulis