As Lexus adds a new coupe to its line-up, the classy IS 250C and sporty IS 350C convertibles will be retired by 2016. The coming RC 350 and RC 250 will become the new platform for the Lexus IS convertibles. This is Torque News’ prediction of the future of Lexus’ only convertible models.
Lexus IS 250C and IS 350C selling Well
Although 6 percent of sales might not sound very good, the Lexus IS convertibles add up to about 3,000 units per year. The lower-power IS 250C makes up about two-thirds of the overall convertible mix. Presently, the only convertibles made by the entire Toyota/Lexus/Scion family are the IS 250C and IS 350C. It is possible but unlikely that Lexus will move forward without them.
Transition From IS to RC Platform
The current 2014 IS 250C, and IS 350C convertibles on sale are not on the new IS platform introduced a year ago. Rather, they are cosmetically refreshed versions of the IS convertibles that first went on sale in the US in late 2009 as 2010 models. Just before these convertibles were introduced the IS line entered its second generation. There were a few years of IS 250 and IS 350 cars in the second generation before the IS convertibles appeared. That could happen again, but Lexus has no real reason to create a gap. It could simply make enough of the current style to sell through 2016.
The current IS 250C and IS 350C cars are coupes. They have two doors, and they are hard-tops. They also don’t share many body panels with the sedans. The front of the cars and the windshields are different. It just makes sense for Lexus to move the coupe convertibles to the RC family, which of course, are coupes. Will they have the hard-top convertible roofs? Hard to tell, but all prior Lexus convertibles have. The SC convertibles had the hard-tops as the IS models now do. The flip side of the obvious advantages to a hard-top convertible is packaging. A soft-top takes up less space. They are also less prone to rattling and are lighter. Although the current IS convertible top is made from aluminum to keep weight manageable.
The RC 200C and RC 350C
We predict that the RC 200C and RC 350C will launch in 2016. They will possibly be 2017 model year vehicles. By then the Lexus “250” engine will have been retired, and the new “200 turbo” will have become the base engine in the IS and RC line. It will quickly become the most popular engine as the 250 is now. Due to its torque, and because the IS 250C is the sale leader, Lexus might just go with that one engine. Hopefully, Lexus will add the larger brakes that the “350” models enjoy since they do make a big difference.
Lexus RC FC?
Lexus could even skip the 3.5-liter V6 and make just a ‘200 turbo" and RC FC. Lexus had a V8 convertible for sale for about 8 years (SC 430 from 2002 to about 2010). So anyone counting out a V8 RC convertible from Lexus may want to look back and reconsider. A convertible RC FC might be an attractive alternative to the BMW 335i convertible, and even the mighty M4 convertible. Truthfully, the M4 is a race car.
In the coming months, we should know more. Lexus needs either to announce the 2015 will continue on as the IS convertible or make some announcement that it is being discontinued.
2015 Lexus V8 RC F coupe will mean the end of the IS F sedan
Author’s Note: The author owns a 2010 IS 350C.
Main story photo by John Goreham