Lexus IS 350C: Garage or drive a convertible in winter?
As snowpocalypse 2015 continues here in the Northeast, a spotless, fully fueled, ready to roll Lexus IS 350C mocks me from its berth. As any Lexus enthusiast knows the IS convertible has two things going for it that indicate it might just be a car that can handle winter.
The first is a button under the steering column that says simply “ECT Snow.” Lexus would not put that button there if the company thought the car couldn't handle a little precipitation. Use that button, and first gear disappears and the throttle is hobbled. Indeed, the car does magically become much better at getting started in the snow.
The second winter accessory that the Lexus IS convertible has is a hard-top roof. The aluminum lid sure makes the car seem safer. Whether it does or not is anyone’s guess. For sure the wind and elements are sealed out entirely. The Lexus IS C has a full roof liner, and the car is “Lexus quiet” when the top is up.
Working against the IS 350C are its huge, wide, low profile tires and rear-wheel drive. Although I have all-season performance rubber on mine, the car is not exactly confidence inspiring in the snow. Also working against the Lexus is its specialness. It just feels wrong to be driving along behind a DPW salt truck in a drop-top. The car deserves better.
When I traded my Miata and a fat stack of Benjamins for the Lexus convertible, part of the way I justified parting with a perfect convertible that had never been rained upon was the promise that the IS 350C might be a true 4-season car. Perhaps it is, and maybe the better question is, am I a 4-season convertible driver?