Gunning straight for it’s share of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Saab 9-3 Convertible market, Lexus have launched their IS250C at the Paris Motor Show. The new car has been a big project for the Toyota owned brand as it shares few components with it’s saloon stablemate. Although the convertible shares the IS250’s 205bhp 2.5-litre V6 and automatic transmission only the bonnet, headlamps, door handles and mirrors are retained from the saloon’s body panels, the rest being redesigned to ensure they ‘harmonise perfectly’ with the folding roof.

Lexus are proud to boast that it has the world’s fastest folding three-piece hard-top that disappears under the bodywork in just 20 seconds. The roof design has seen particular attention to keep it as compact as possible. When folded there is still a good size luggage space – plenty of room for a set of golf clubs, so vital in this segment.

The roof is made entirely of lightweight aluminium and aims to give an unparalleled smooth, seamless and silent operation. It is raised and lowered by means of a dashboard button and features a unique “roof brake” mechanism, which slows the closing of the hard top as it approaches the top edge of the windscreen. Unlike other systems in which the weight of the roof causes the closing speed to increase just before the point of closure, it descends smoothly into place.

The Lexus IS250C will be available in the US in Spring 2009 and aims to arrive in Europe in the Summer.