Interview: Suspension Upgrades Make Lexus RC F Razor Sharp
In our most recent RC F owner interview, we spoke to Josh, the owner of a Lexus RC F, about how and why he modified an already incredible road and track car.
Tell us a bit about yourself Josh.
When I was a kid, my mom balanced the books at a garage. I was always running around in the shop and looking at car magazines. I learned to drive on my father’s lap around parking lots at the ripe age of 5 in a 300ZX and my driving improved from older friends who let me drive and loved to go fast. By 15, I had learned to drive stick and discovered my driving passion. This love for speed caused my parents a lot of money growing up for many different reasons!
How did you come to be an RC F owner? Did you have premium performance cars in the past?
My first show car was a 200sx SER with a wide body kit and all the supporting mods ( coils, 3000w stereo, racing clutch, short shift, intake, exhaust, headers, etc.). Later, I found a used 2004.5 VW Jetta GLI turbo with a six-speed, Brembo brakes, Recaro seats, 18” wheels, and a body kit. Truly a solid foundation for a great mod-car. With that, I became a Euro-lover and followed the VW scene. After owning a VW for seven years, and learning every nut and bolt on the car, I had the car maxed out with mods.
The build of the VW had me wanting more in a new car. I wanted a foundation in a luxury platform, and I wanted a car with a performance soul yet with a grown-up appearance. Thus, my first Lexus, a 2014 IS-350 F SPORT AWD. It Lexus IS350 F-Sport had the look and the performance I wanted. In addition to insane audio and appearance mods, I added an intake and exhaust, and further looked to bump the acceleration with an Apexi SMART ACCEL throttle controller. The car was fun, nimble, and an all-weather monster ( great in the snow).
- Read Our Comparison of the IS F to the RC F On Track
After enjoying my IS, I started to crave more speed and began to eye the F Series BMW M3/4’s. With a fully loaded car, the cost of an M3/4 would be just shy of 90k. At the time, there was a national shortage of the M autos in the US, so at my 30k service interval for my IS, I test-drove the RC F.
- Read and Watch Video of the Lexus RC F vs. the BMW M4 On Track
What elements of the RC F attracted you most?
I was impressed with the overall feel of the RC F and, of course, the naturally aspirated 470 hp V8. The RC F mirrored my IS 350 with the interior, and Lexus added some key upgrades like the Alcantara suede, F-Sport racing seats with heavy bolsters, carbon fiber accents, and the super crisp Mark Levinson sound system. From a driver’s aspect, the car was very responsive with the throttle and almost left you with an adrenaline rush after each drive. The new RC F 8 speed drivetrain was nothing short of amazing. The styling of the IS350 F-Sport car carried over with the wide, in your face front fascia, on the RC F and the speed sensing spoiler was more than intriguing to me. At first glance, I wanted the carbon roof and the TVD ( torque vectoring differential ) track package, but a car with those features was unavailable from my local dealer stock.
I was unsure if I would get a good deal on my relatively new IS, but the dealer, Darcars Lexus / Lexus of Silver Spring, Maryland, made the process a painless transition. Andreas Tsirikos and his management team arranged a great deal. The red carpet treatment at Lexus and the availability of a car that was close to what I wanted were key reasons why I stayed loyal to the Lexus brand.
Tell us about the modifications you have made to the car and about the company that did them.
For the RC F, I wanted a build that was OEM +. Having matured a bit, I am not a fan of “stance” or anything that is not functional. I only wanted to modify this car with aftermarket parts worthy of the RC F to create balance and harmony. The goal was to make the driving experience more enjoyable. I’m active on Instagram, ClubLexus, and other groups, but I found Rafi Raban, Chief Development Officer of RR Racing at the Lexus RC Club Page on Facebook.
RR Racing has an emphasis on research and development for Lexus performance cars, and Rafi was in search of an RC F to be the test case for RR-Racing’s Penske Coilover system. I personally worked with Rafi on the install of the suspension due to my inquisitive nature of autos, thus learning from a master. That build was a focus on Club Lexus.
Next we added the RR-Racing – USRS – Ultimate Steering Response System. This is essentially a control arm bushing upgrade. One of the design elements of the Lexus RC F’s front suspension is a soft control arm bushing. The bushing is designed to deflect laterally under load, and fore/aft under braking. The design has its upside, but I wanted to eliminate any imprecise and sometimes "wandering" steering feel caused by movement of the effective contact patch of the tire. The USRS gave me exactly the feel I wanted. Making the change, I improved steering response and feel during hard cornering, without the excessive vibration and harshness associated with “race-only” hard spherical bearings.
How does the car feel different after the modifications?
The RCF came alive with this new suspension install. The coils came dyno tested ( yes, a shock dyno ) and dialed in. Each shock has its own test sheet. Full rebound and dampening, along with height, can be adjusted with this setup. With the addition of the USRS and the coils, the car felt like a hot razor cutting through butter in the curves. We pushed the car hard in accelerating and cornering on some very bumpy PA backroads. The suspension ate up the bumps, and the overall feeling was not jarring at all. Turn in is more crisp. You now have a better sense of where the car is going, and the car feels very planted to the road. Rafi demonstrated some epic driving by whipping around turns at high speed to show the full capability of the setup. There was nothing this car couldn't take. The car handles like it’s on rails. It's not choppy. You don't bounce in corners, and the weight distribution is on point. This is how one would want a car of the caliber of an RCF to come. Overall, I'm very happy with the outcome.
Have you done any engine mods? Do you plan future mods?
Yes. In fact, I already added an RR oil-air separator and Titanium intake paired with a high flow filter. I also moved over the Apexi SMART ACCEL throttle controller from my old IS 350. RR-Racing is currently developing an RC F supercharger/tune setup to be released mid-summer ’16. I am highly interested in the setup. RR’s overall setup will net somewhere in the 600 whp range. I am also considering a new exhaust, PPE headers, and soon to be released RR-Racing tune. Eventually, I will change to three-piece wheels and at some point, I may wrap the vehicle.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Josh.
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