2012 Lexus LFA: Suspension Walkaround


We had this plan, you see. Had it all figured out in advance.

After the 2012 Lexus LFA was finished with its date with the dyno at MD Automotive, we'd put it up on one of Mark's gen-u-ine 2-post lifts and have a good long look at the suspension. We'd get great access and you, the readers, would not have to suffer the indignity of seeing a $375,000 Lexus LFA in a compromising position on mere $10 jack stands.

Funny things, plans. They don't always pan out.

Turns out the LFA sits far too low for the lifting pads on Mark's lifts. There's also a brittle-looking carbon sill extension all around the LFA's edges and its underside is masked with a full carbon belly pan that's held on with like a jillion Torx-head fasteners. I thought we were sunk.

And then I spotted what looked like non-skid skateboard deck tape on the main carbon frame rails, four squares of it, just about where you'd expect to find...jack points!

But the LFA wasn't giving up that easy. It was still far too low for Mark's "experienced" floor jack. We ended up driving the left side tires of the LFA onto 2x6 planks to raise the car high enough to slip the jack underneath, at which point we placed a perfect-sized spacer atop the jack to distribute the load across the skateboard tape of one of the reinforced jack points.

Slowly, carefully, we raised it up, listening for creaking, watching for the tiniest of deflections. Nothing. We're good. Time for photographs and arrows.

We can't see much here except bitchin' brakes and an utter lack of wheel studs. Yes, the Lexus LFA uses wheel bolts like the Germans. Could this be a remnant of the engineering influence exerted by Toyota's now-defunct German-headquartered F1 team?

After the shock and awe of all that forged aluminum has worn off, the Lexus LFA appears to use a double wishbone front suspension. Close, but no cigar.

Yes, an A-shaped wishbone (yellow) does locate the upper ball joint. Interestingly, its inner pivots (green) and the upper shock mount all appear to use "pillow ball" ball-and-socket joints instead of rubber bushings. Nice-looking aluminum front subframe, too.

But there's no wishbone down below. Instead there are two forged aluminum links, each with their own ball joint. Such a dual pivot setup improves the scrub radius by moving the virtual steering axis outboard to where these two lines intersect. The effect is more pronounced at straight ahead than it is here at full lock.

This view shows how the two lower links (white) bolt into the knuckle; one from below and one from above. The stabilizer link (yellow) bolts to another pillow ball that has been press-fit into the rearmost lower link.

Meanwhile, the KYB aluminum bodied monotube shocks have threaded spring perches (orange) to facilitate vehicle height and weight distribution adjustments.

Here we can see the remote reservoir (yellow) for the KYB shocks. As expected, the LFA's steering tie rods (orange) act at the front of the knuckle. The stabilizer bar (white) loops over the top to meet the stubby drop link we almost saw in the previous photo.

Note also how the forward lower link is partially sheathed in a protective rubber facing.

Even though they say Lexus on them, these are Brembo-made 6-piston brake calipers and two-piece carbon-ceramic rotors. Brembo will put your name on the side if you pay them enough cash.

Easy pad changes are facilitated by the open window caliper design once you remove the bridge bolt (white). A pad wear sensor (yellow) will tell you when it's time. Let's hope one of you out there is lucky enough to see that warning lamp come on someday on the dash of your own LFA.

One of the LFA's grille openings feeds air to those big Brembos. From here it looks like the remote reservoirs of the KYB shocks enjoy the breeze, too.

We can't yet see the multilink rear suspension, but we can see two brake calipers. The smaller one is the parking brake.

A pair of upper links emulates an upper wishbone. A toe link (green) operates from behind to keep the wheel pointed straight ahead.

Another view of the upper links.

Two lower links (yellow) hold the lower end of the knuckle in position. Back here the remote-reservoir KYB monotube shocks are steeply reclined to fit in the tightly packaged space.

The barely-visible lower link (green) in the last shot is fully visible here. It bulges wide in the middle to carry the coil spring. The toe-link (yellow) we've seen before in another shot.

Finally, our first peek at the LFA's carbon-fiber frame (yellow). Here we can see a blob of adhesive where the aluminum upper spring perch (adjustable, like the front) is bonded to the structure. There may be other fasteners hidden from view, but we didn't disassemble anything to find out.

All of the suspension links mount to one massive rear aluminum subframe, These bolts (yellow) represent two of the places where it is bolted to the carbon fiber frame (white).

Another view of the rear subframe shows us a bit of the 6-speed automated manual transaxle, some exhaust heat shielding and the carbon fiber belly pan which has made it difficult for us to get the camera just where we want it.

Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers do the dirty work at the rear axle. Incidentally, that nick was there when we took delivery. No, really.

Bridgestone Potenza S001 tires are mounted on 20-inch rims all around. The 265/35ZR20 front tires are mounted on 9.5-inch rims and the 305/30ZR20 tires in back are mated to 11.5-inch wheels. In case you're curious, Tirerack sells the front tires for $362 and the rears for $441 -- each.

All of this is good for 75.1 mph in the slalom and 1.02 g on the skidpad, with limits that are relatively easy to approach and maintain. This car just flat works.

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