2011 Lexus IS 350C F-Sport Review & Test Drive


The F Sport Special Edition builds on the IS 350C and takes the fun of driving the luxurious hard-top convertible up a notch.  The racing inspired F Sport accessories on this car were precision engineered specifically for the car allowing Lexus to provide performance without compromise.

This 2011 IS 350C Special Edition was designed to engage driving enthusiasts with the performance and styling enhancements from the F Sport accessories line.  Only 175 limited-edition units with the full package will be produced and will be available in only two colors, Starfire Pearl white or Obsidian black, and the interior will come with black and red semi-aniline leather-trimmed seats with sporty red stitching.

I tested and photographed the first IS 350C F Sport that was used as the original test vehicle with all of the engine, transmission, suspension, exhaust, brake, wheels and body enhancements for the 175 limited-edition units that will be available.  My test IS 350C F-Sport was painted Deep Sea Mica, and an interior with white semi aniline leather trimmed seats and interior.

Lexus has set a price of $55,120 for the 2011 IS 350C F-Sport Special Edition but you can also order just the parts that you want and have them installed before you pick up your car from your Lexus dealer.

Besides all of the mechanical upgrades and the choice of two paint schemes and the special interior, the 175 F-Sport Special Editions will have LED running lights below the HID lamps, F-Sport badges on the front fenders a carbon fiber F-Sport stick shifter, and a special dash plaque on the center console that completes the uniqueness of this limited-edition vehicle.

My test IS 350C F-Sport came with these mechanical upgrades that all 175 units will have included: a custom TRD cold air-intake system that increases horsepower about 10hp, a carbon fiber engine cover with F-Sport logo, a TRD designed and manufactured axle-back, 60mm free-flowing stainless steel dual exhaust system that further increases horsepower about 8hp, which is important since the F-Sport Special Edition is a hardtop convertible and weights 800lbs. more than the IS 350 sedan of which it is based on.  At the drag strip the IS 350C F-Sport does reach 60mph from a standstill in just 5.9 seconds which is respectful for a V6 powered luxury hardtop convertible.

One drawback on the driving side is the 6-speed automatic transmission which I found a little sluggish finding the right gears when I pushed my foot hard on the throttle.  Even with the paddle shifters the car drove at 40mph in 6th gear automatically.  For quicker acceleration I had to downshift to 4th gear at 40mph.

The TRD derived free-flowing dual exhaust system gives a much throatier growl when at speed and when you mash you foot down on the throttle it howls.  Those are pleasant sounds for any high-performance enthusiast.  If the growl gets annoying you can always close the top which makes the interior very quiet.

What really turned me on about the F-Sport upgrade is the special suspension system that is a cooperation design between TRD and Bilstein.  You get custom monotube gas-charged shocks from Bilstein that increase your adhesion and rebound on the road, custom lowering springs that reduces ride height 1 inch front and rear, thus resulting in a more aggressive stance and lower center of gravity enhancing the car’s razor-sharp cornering ability, and finally a custom sway bar set that helps reduce body roll thus giving it much flatter cornering characteristics.  You can really feel the difference when attacking steep curving mountain roads, the car maintains it flat stance and you can slice through the curve with confidence.

Guiding the car is Lexus’s electric-assist-speed proportional rack & pinion steering system that was excellent in quickly responding to my steering inputs.  Just a little tug on the wheel moved the car where I wanted it to go.  On-center feel was spot on and the feel for the road was excellent.

Probably the best part of the package is the brake, wheel and tire upgrade that comes with the F-Sport Special Edition or you can have your Lexus dealer install it for you.

Developed by StopTech Brakes, the kit includes 14 inch vented front, and 13.6 inch vented rear, cross-drilled rotors with the front rotors grabbed by 6-piston calipers and the rear rotors grabbed by four-piston calipers.  The calipers feature high-friction brake pads that really grab those big rotors.  These great custom brakes slow the F-Sport Special Edition down from 60mph to 0mph in just 112 feet.  Not bad for a 3,880 pound luxury hardtop convertible.

Next are the stunning wheels that are custom forged alloy, dark graphite finished, 19X8 inch front, and 19X9 inch rear wheels.  These great looking lightweight wheels are wrapped with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 225/35ZR19 front, and 255/35ZR19 inch rear, low-profile, high-performance tires that add grip and a compliant ride when you are piloting your F-Sport Special Edition IS 350C.

Besides the custom interior mentioned above, every one of the 175 Special Editions come standard with heated and ventilated front seats with wood trim and Lexus Navigation.  The hard disk drive (HDD) navigation system has a seven-inch VGA touch screen, Bluetooth phonebook download capabilities, a rear backup camera, Voice Command casual-language voice recognition system, Lexus Inform, XM NavTraffic, XM NavWeather, and XM Sports and Stocks.  It also features the new telematics system Lexus Enform with Safety Connect.

The new IS 350C F Sport Special Edition is a unique package of style and excitement.  With only 175 units available nationwide, that is less than one per dealer, they will sell out fast to customers who want power, performance and a little more fun under the sun.

As I mentioned above, if you don’t want the total package, your Lexus dealer will be happy to install only upgrades that you want from the F-Sport Accessories catalog.




  • Price: Base IS 350C $46,640 As-Tested IS 350C F-Sport $55,120
  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6 306 horsepower @ 6400 rpm / 277 ft-lbs. torque @ 4800 rpm
  • Total length: 182.5in.
  • Total width: 70.9in.
  • Total height: 54.7in.
  • Track: f/r-60.4/60.4in.
  • Weight distribution: f/r-49/51%
  • Curb weight: 3,880lbs.
  • Headroom: f/r-38.3/36.1in.
  • Legroom: f/r-44.1/25.9in.
  • Cargo volume: 10.4 cu.ft. top down
  • 0-60 mph: 5.9 seconds
  • EPA fuel economy: 20 mph city / 27 mph highway