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]



  1. I also love the operation of the IS C’s retractable hardtop. The A5 is pretty slow for a ragtop when you compare it to the IS C.

    The IS C was a good effort by Lexus, especially since the convertible model wasn’t a big priority initially, unlike the other three featured models.

    btw, I think Americans overrate the looks of the Infiniti G37 convertible. I think it’s pretty bland for a car with all the compliments it gets.

  2. Yeah ! Toyota Doesn’t Let Me Down !

  3. Didn’t Car and Driver just do the exact same comparison? Except they placed the IS C last, another example of everybody’s anti-Lexus bias. I don’t even like reading articles like this anymore. It all ends up the same, the boring Lexus loses to the magnificent BMW. I hate Motor Trend, Car and Driver, and almost every other car publication out there. All they do is praise certain brands and bash the others. Like that one article by Car and Driver reviewing the utterly hideous Lincoln MKT. The feature they loved the most was the Active Park Assist, which they called “Unlike the system on the Lexus LS, since this actually works”. I can only imagine how agravated Lexus-engineers are, Ford copied their system and now Lexus is getting bashed, as usual. And I don’t see why every body puts down the Advanced Parking Guidance System, I know several people who have an LS460 and it works just fine.

    @WorldofLuxury: I do think the looks of the G37 are overated, but the most overated car in this comparison was the BMW. That’s the only car in the comparison that I didn’t find at least some-what attractive.

  4. @James: The MKT would actually look pretty nice if it were more like the concept; the reflector that is part of the headlight cluster ruins everything. There are a lot of other details to like about the MKT raspberry A lot of Lexus vehicles also have cheap-looking reflectors from the Toyota parts bin that intrude the looks a bit.

  5. @WorldofLuxury: I’m talking about the whole look of the MKT. Everything from that hideous buck-toothed grill to the weird looking tailights. I hate it.

    I understand that there are a few things to like about the MKT, but overall it’s a terrible failure. Plus, Lincoln will never be able to sell to younger buyers. Lexus does at least have a few youth-inspired models like the IS line. And most Lexus vehicles are some-what sporty looking, even the LS460 has a sporty yet elegant design. In other words, people in their 20’s and 30’s still buy Lexus, but nobody in their 20’s would even consider a Lincoln.

  6. @James: What do you think of the front of the facelifted MKX?

    P.S.: My Mercedes-Benz-obsessed friend just bought an RX!!! and he likes it LOL

  7. @WorldofLuxury: I like the back of the new MKX a lot better than the outgoing model, I wasn’t a fan of those wrap around tail lights. The grill, however, looks too large for a vehicle this size. Overall, I think it’s an improvement over last years model. I still don’t think that Lexus, Mercedes, or BMW need to be worried though.

    I’m glad to hear that a Mercedes obessed person could like something else. It’s always fun to see some one change their mind about Lexus. Have they always liked Lexus or did they only recently gain interest? Either way it’s good. And If you don’t mind me asking, what did they have before the RX?

  8. @James: He HATED Lexus. He and his family have or had an S-class, E-class, Z4, 5-series, Honda Accord, and Acura MDX.

  9. @James: The RX just happened to be the perfect car, but he purchased it well above the MSRP… and the salesperson supposedly wouldn’t accept a full payment… yeah, I don’t understand my best friend sometimes.

  10. I must be getting old, but what MT calls boring, I think of as a supreme accomplishment.  A convertible of any kind that is actually as quiet and serene to drive as a Lexus sounds delicious considering I had two rag tops with “character” as a young man (an AH Sprite and Triumph TR-4) and found that they were fun to drive for about 15 minutes.  That’s the trouble with these comparos—they don’t get to drive the cars long enough to actually appreciate what makes them great.  And so they concentrate on the sorts of ridiculous stuff you always do when you first drive a sports car.

    The folks that actually have to spend real money for a car seem to know the difference—anyone willing to bet the Lexus becomes the top-selling model in this group?

  11. @techno: Yeah, I wouldn’t be surpised if the IS C ends up out selling the others. The people who are considering these cars will look at the things that matter rather than worrying about how well the car performs on the track. I could see a few people wanting something thats a little more fun to drive though, which theres nothing wrong with that.

    Comparisons like this don’t paint the true picture of these cars. They only care about performance, which is exactly why Lexus always seems to lose in things like this. If they were to rank these cars based on the things that matter, like comfort, ride quality, etc, Lexus would win without a doubt. If BMW still one, someone’s getting paid off or theres some serious bias. smile Every BMW I’ve ever ridden in was rough and uncomortable, compared to that of a Lexus that is.

  12. Javion Foster-Patterson

    I’ve always found Infiniti’s luxury endeavors to be somewhat subpar, and this latest G37 coupe is no exception. I would choose between the IS coupe and Audi.