Staff Projects: The Magic of a Properly Tuned Suspension
If you’ve been following my Instagram account or seen me drive around town, you’ll know that a staff project update article for the Lexus IS has been long overdue. And yes, I apologize for the delay in writing about it. I wanted to wait until one final component arrived before I actually could finally say this phase of the build is somewhat complete for now.
First, let’s go over the new parts. As early as October last year, I already fitted had and pieces piled up. These include a set of Tein Flex Z coilovers, Cusco upper control arms, and TRD Sportivo rear swaybar. I also picked up a set of rare, discontinued Advan AVS Model 5 wheels in 17x9 with offset 35 from a friend for a period-correct setup. Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires in 225/45 size were the obvious choice, considering how everyone’s been raving about it.
While it would be fun to fit the pieces one by one, I had to wait until all parts arrived before putting them on the IS. If I didn’t wait, the car would have simply looked weird. I needed all the parts to get it sitting the way I wanted. It didn’t help suspension wizard Simple Racing Solutions PH was fully booked at the time too.
Regarding the coilovers, one of the main reasons I chose the Tein Flex Zs, even though they were a bit pricier, is because they’re made in Japan. For reference, any that Tein coilover below the Flex Z is built in China. Meanwhile, the Taiwan-spec coilovers I looked at were already near the price of the Flex Z. Possibly the biggest factor I choose the Flex Z is because they had good reviews. Remember, it’s one thing to buy coilovers because of the brand. It’s another to read up reviews on how they perform from user experience around the world. There’s also proper installation, but more on that later.
Since I wanted the IS to sit a bit low (inspired by the guys at Final Bout), I knew I would need adjustable upper arms to squeeze out every bit of functional camber available. The IS uses a double-wishbone suspension setup, which means no camber plates on the coilovers. Worse yet, the specs of the AVS won’t clear the stock fenders without any camber. Thankfully Buyee JP was there to save the day, and it didn’t take long before arriving here. They weren’t in the best shape so I had my uncle respray them before install.
Once all of the parts were complete, all I had to do was schedule a suspension tuning session with D Jay from SRS, PH. With everything I was fitting on, I expected installation alone would take nearly an entire day. And boy, was I right. It was around 6:00 PM when D Jay finally fit all the parts together, considering I arrived at 7:00 AM. Unfortunately, it wasn’t done. The settings D Jay made were only temporary, allowing me to bring the car home. I had to come back to complete the settings next time. A few weeks later, they were finally complete. They also replaced the tie-rod and rack ends as well while at it.
Despite sitting quite low and on coilovers, the IS was still very comfortable to drive around town. Heck, even before the settings were complete, the difference was already night and day the first time I drove it home. No doubt I was happy with hte outcome. I want to comment on how it handles a lot better, but I’ll reserve that when the car can go fast enough to test it.
The last part that didn’t make it to the suspension install was a set of front lower arm bushings. These are new old stock TRD bushings I bought off Up Garage. While polyurethane bushings are the sensible option, I heard that they’re not the best for street applications. Plus, a complete set of SuperPro bushings will easily set me back PHP 50,000 without shipping. (Double wishbone suspension isn’t always fun.) Instead, I opted for hardened rubber bushings like the TRD units. Yes, racecar is fun, but the IS is and will always be a streetcar that only will see occasional track use.
I’ll probably install the bushings once the infection rates drop, and it’s safer to go out. Alternatively, I could just wait until the next stage of the build is complete. That way, D Jay can fully bring out the magic handling of the IS. Hint: it involves giving the IS a bit more power.
Special thanks to Thutz Lozano, for bringing in the coilovers and D Jay Yarte of SRS PH, for tuning the suspension (even if it’s slow lol). For parts and suspension tuning, feel free to hit them up.
Words and Photos by Jose Altoveros