Motor Trend Comparison: Lexus IS 350C vs. BMW 335i vs. Audi A5 vs. Infiniti G37

Motor Trend Comparison: Lexus IS 350C vs. BMW 335i vs. Audi A5 vs. Infiniti G37

Motor Trend has joined the recent spate of luxury convertible comparisons, pitting Audi, BMW, Lexus and Infiniti against one another in this March 2010 drop-top test. From their IS 350C review:

If you’re in search of a hardtop cabrio as unfailingly civilized as high tea at Claridge’s Mayfair, stop right now. The Lexus IS 350 will whisk you here and there in relentless calm—and with nary a wrinkle in its tails.

The 24-valve, 3.5-liter V-6 is a gem, revving sonorously with 306 horsepower (at 6400 rpm) and rushing the IS to 60 mph in a second-best 5.3 seconds. The six-speed automatic shifts as if trying not to wake the Mister and Missus. Ride quality is superb, top-down wind noise is subdued, fit and materials are exemplary, and the power hard roof glides up or down with Rolex-like precision. Though lavishly equipped (premium audio, heated and cooled front seats, 18-inch alloys, and navigation with XM NavTraffic), the Lexus checked in with the lowest as-tested price, $50,490. It also posted the best observed fuel economy, 19 mpg.

Despite praise for the IS 350C’s luxury and engineering, Motor Trend placed it third, above the Infiniti G37 but behind the Audi A5 and top-ranked BMW 335i.  Their reason?  Styling and performance, with the reviewers subjectively wanting something “prettier” with more engaging steering.

In testing, the IS 350C did however come closest to the 335i’s 0-60 and 0-100 times, matched its quarter mile results, offered more interior room, and had the lightest overall curb weight and the most trunk space by far in the entire group. It was on the enthusiast-craving areas of grip, steering, and braking where the 335i shone above the group, to the tune of nearly $6,000 in higher price than the IS 350C (and incidentally near the cost of an IS 350C equipped with F-Sport upgrades).

Motor Trend also produced a dramatized ‘topless drag race’ video, conducted at the decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Southern California, highlighting the drop-top mechanisms of each model tested.  The IS 350C’s in-house designed retractable hardtop was demonstrated to good effect here:

[Source: Motor Trend]