When the Lexus IS300 entered the scene in 2001, it was a significant change in form for the Japanese company. With their prior focus being almost exclusively on the luxury segment, the IS300 would go on to prove that Lexus had some serious performance aspirations hidden up their sleeve.
Powered by the 2JZ-GE, the Lexus IS300 can be considered a second cousin of the 4th gen Toyota Supra. Despite not receiving the beefy turbocharged 2JZ-GTE that the Supra received, the 2JZ-GE in combination with Nobuaki Katayama’s engineering prowess made the IS300 a serious competitor for the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class.
Over the years, the first-generation Lexus IS300 has developed somewhat of a cult following. With its widespread popularity and low second-hand prices, the IS300 has become an attainable and desirable Japanese sedan with lots of aftermarket support.
IS300 coilovers are perhaps the most common modification done to the Lexus. While the factory suspension is certainly comfortable, it is lacking in the performance department. The addition of coilovers on your IS300 can allow for better cornering performance and a more desirable aesthetic appearance. In this guide, we cover Lexus IS300 coilover suspension and some of the considerations that you should take into account before pulling the trigger on a set.
Lexus IS300 Coilovers: Benefits
Outside of the performance benefits and lowering capabilities, coilovers are also one of the best upgrades over old IS300 factory suspension. With these cars being nearly 20 years old at this point, you will notice a huge difference over the factory suspension if you’ve never replaced it before. Also, if you need to replace your factory suspension, coilovers are about the same cost as all the OEM components which makes them a great choice.
For stance, daily driving, track days, suspension refreshes, etc. coilovers are the way to go to improve ride quality and handling.
- Ride height adjustability up to 4” lower than stock
- Better handling and cornering control, less body roll
- More comfortable ride quality than stock suspension and lowering springs
- Dampening adjustability (with more expensive setups)
- Best replacement for worn factory suspension
Lexus IS300 Coilovers: Considerations
It would be much easier if coilovers were a one-size-fits-all modification. Unfortunately, that really isn’t the case. When shopping for a set of Lexus IS300 coilovers, there are a number of considerations that you’ll need to take into account. Externally, it seems like IS300 coilovers have one simple purpose, to lower the ride height of your car. While ride height adjustability is unquestionably the main reason that people choose to run coilovers, other factors like damping adjustment, camber control, ride quality, build quality, and spring rates all play a part in how your Lexus IS300 will handle and look.
Lexus IS300 coilovers can vary a significant amount in price and how they are designed. Typically, the best IS300 coilovers feature additions such as multi-way damping adjustment, a monotube design, and adjustable camber plates. Budget IS300 coilovers tend to lack many of these features which might limit your performance-driving needs. With that being said, there are budget options out there that strike a good balance between build quality and affordability.
Damping control is one of the most common and useful adjustable settings present on most mid-high-end IS300 coilovers. Shocks control the compression and rebound of the coil springs. In basic terms, they control how far the springs will compress and how much “rebound” they will have after compression. Stiffer dampening will have less compression and less rebound. Softer dampening will allow more compression and rebound which provides a smoother ride.
Adjustable damping allows you to be able to control the level of stiffness that your Lexus IS300 coilovers provide. There are a couple benefits to adjustable damping. For example, if you install coilovers on your daily-driven IS300 that you also take to occasional track days, you won’t want your coilovers in track mode all of the time. If your coilovers have adjustable damping, you can simply put them in a softer setting for everyday use and stiffen them if you are headed to the track.
Most IS300 coilover setups that do not come with adjustable damping are tuned from the factory to fall centrally between performance and comfort. They won’t be the most comfortable, but they won’t be the stiffest either. It is important to assess your needs and make a decision based on how you use your IS300. If you do a lot of performance driving and also daily drive your IS300, adjustable damping is almost a requirement. However, if you are simply looking for the aesthetic benefits of a coilover setup and don’t care as much about the performance, a non-adjustable set should work just fine.
Spring rates are unquestionably one of the most important aspects of any coilover kit that shouldn’t be ignored. While spring rates might seem confusing at first glance, the overall concept is pretty simple. As with most types of suspension, coilover springs are responsible for supporting the weight of your Lexus IS300. As such, coilovers need to have springs that are strong enough to withstand the demands of your build.
Spring rates are measured in lbs per inch. A 500lbs/in spring rate means it requires 500lbs of force to compress the spring 1 inch. Therefore, the higher the spring rate the stiffer the ride experience will be. Stiffer spring rates have a few benefits over softer ones. Extremely high spring rates are important on stance builds, as soft springs will cause your IS300 to bottom out. Stiffer springs also reduce body roll by keeping both sides of the car level through corners. This improves handling dramatically, as it allows for better contact with the pavement at all four corners.
On the other end of the spectrum, softer springs have their own benefits as well. Perhaps the most important benefit of softer springs is an increase in overall ride comfort. Due to the fact that softer springs have more give, they are able to absorb bumps and road imperfections better than stiffer springs. That typically makes softer springs more ideal for daily driven IS300s, as you won’t shatter your spine going over potholes and rough asphalt. While softer springs are unquestionably more comfortable, they also allow for more body roll which is detrimental to performance handling.
Twin Tube vs Monotube Coilover Design
At this point, it should be obvious that not all coilovers are built the same. Whether that be through differences in adjustability or standard spring rates, most IS300 coilover packages have something different to offer. Coilovers can also differ in terms of their fundamental construction as well. In general, there are two types of coilovers that are commonly offered for the Lexus IS300. Those include twin-tube and monotube coilovers.
While both use a similar spring/shock design, the difference between the two comes down to how that design is packaged. Twin-tube coilovers are the more common type as they are less expensive to manufacture. As a result, most lower-end coilover options employ a twin-tube design. Twin-tube coilovers utilize two cylinders, with one acting as a housing cylinder and another interior cylinder that contains the piston valve. As a result, there is no barrier between the oil and gas chambers.
In contrast, monotube IS300 coilovers only use a single tube for both the outside casing and the functioning structure. Monotube coilovers have an internal piston that separates the oil and gas chambers. There are a couple of benefits to this design. With a piston separating the chambers, more pressure can be utilized, making the ride both stiffer and more adjustable. The monotube system also provides more precise damping characteristics, making it the more predictable option.
Best IS300 Coilover Options
As always with a list like this, the term “best” is entirely subjective and hinges on many factors. Of course, someone looking for a coilover set for an IS300 track build has significantly different needs than someone building a stance/show-oriented IS300. Luckily, the IS300 is a car that has a ton of aftermarket support and a coilover option for every application.
In the list below, we outline our picks for the best IS300 coilover kits based on price and performance. We’ll start with the best budget option and work our way up to some more expensive and performance-oriented options. While quality certainly does scale with price as far as IS300 coilover options are concerned, none of the options on this list are poor quality. Entry-level coilovers will be fine for most IS300 drivers looking for a slight drop and some added performance around corners.
1) Raceland Lexus IS300 Coilovers
Tier: Budget-friendly, Entry level street/stance
Purchase Here: Raceland.com
Chances are that if you have been in the car scene for any amount of time, Raceland has come up in conversation at least a few times. While Raceland coilovers aren’t at the top of the pile in terms of performance, they are unquestionably the best bang-for-your-buck Lexus IS300 coilover option. With most IS300 coilovers costing well beyond the $1,000 mark, it is refreshing to see an entry-level set for less than half the price. Raceland IS300 coilovers are a perfect option to replace your worn-out stock IS300 suspension while also getting the aesthetic and performance benefits of coilovers all without breaking the bank.
While the low price point might seem concerning for some, Raceland is able to reduce the price of their products without sacrificing quality by cutting out middleman distributors. Their direct-to-door ordering system keeps prices low by eliminating the price hike usually caused by distributor greed. With that being said, the price also limits the number of features that can be included in the IS300 Raceland coilover set. As such, the kit does not have adjustable damping or camber adjustment.
While the Raceland IS300 coilover kit might be missing some of the higher-end options that typically come with more expensive kits, the Raceland coilovers come with everything that you need to drop your IS300 on a budget. With 1-3” height adjustability, you’ll receive the aesthetic benefits of a coilover system while also lowering the center of gravity, leading to better cornering performance. Progressive front and rear spring rates allow the Raceland IS300 coilover kit to be both comfortable and sport-oriented.
2) Lexus IS300 BC Racing Coilovers
Tier: Mid-range, Customizable spring rates, 30-way damping, Factory camber plates
Purchase Here: BCRacing.com
If you are willing to shell out a bit more dough for a set of IS300 coilovers, BC Racing is perhaps the best mid-range coilover manufacturer for a number of cars, including the Lexus IS300. Where Raceland lacks in customization, BC offers a pretty endless array of personalized options. From the factory, IS300 BC coilovers are dialed in through extensive factory testing.
If you decide to order an off-the-shelf kit, you’ll get a well-rounded set of Lexus IS300 coilovers that bridge comfort and performance. However, if you have specific suspension aspirations or needs from your coilovers, BC Racing offers a multitude of different front and rear spring rates and different spring types to suit your build’s needs.
A large reason for the IS300 BC coilover kit’s superiority in performance boils down to the design of the coilovers themselves. Unlike the IS300 Raceland coilovers listed above, the BCs feature a monotube design. That allows for more precise damping forces, giving you better control in a track setting. The IS300 BC coilovers also feature 30-way adjustable damping, making them one of the most adjustable IS300 coilovers on the market. It also makes them a versatile option, as you aren’t confined to a set stiffness. To add even further to the customization, the BC IS300 coilovers also come with factory-installed camber plates, allowing for perfect fitment and track performance from the get-go.
BC Racing has a fantastic reputation in the aftermarket community and it’s easy to see why. While they might be slightly more expensive than the Raceland IS300 coilover set, you’re paying for a significant jump in quality and adjustability.
3) HKS Hipermax S Coilovers
Tier: Mid/Upper-range, Track-oriented, Advanced damping technology
Lowering: Front: 1-2.6” Rear: 1-3.7”
Purchase Here: Evasivemotorsports.com
HKS is a brand that needs no introduction, especially in the JDM scene. As one of the premier parts manufacturers that has been providing quality JDM aftermarket parts since 1973, HKS is a company that knows what they are doing. Prior to the HKS Hipermax S series of coilovers, the HKS HipermaxIV lineup was a favorite among JDM owners who wanted a solid coilover system that blended comfort and performance. In 2021, HKS revealed the Hipermax S lineup, which took the place of the HipermaxIV while also introducing some new coilover technology.
Some of the standout features of the Hipermax S include a monotube design, an advanced dual pre-load valve system, and inverted shock absorbers. The dual pre-load valve system suppresses unnecessary damping force under high piston speeds, increasing high-speed stability and comfort. The HKS IS300 Hipermax S kit’s use of an inverted shock absorber is another unique addition. Not only does the inverted design disperse lateral forces over a larger area, it also reduces unsprung weight. The result of both is increased handling predictability.
All of the above features make the IS300 HKS Hipermax S kit one of the best IS300 coilover options on the market currently. Despite being a track-oriented suspension kit, HKS worked extremely hard to make the Hipermax S kit as versatile as possible. If you are looking for an IS300 coilover kit that will give you the best of both worlds in terms of comfort and performance, the HKS Hipermax S kit is a good route to take.
Lexus IS300 Coilovers Summary
The Lexus IS300 is one of the most beloved cars that has ever been released by the Japanese marque. Powered by the famous 2JZ-GE in a small and chuck-able chassis, the Lexus IS300 has the perfect underpinnings for a great track toy or weekend warrior. While the foundation is certainly there, the IS300 gets bogged down by its luxury pedigree which hinders its performance in a few notable ways. Perhaps most significantly, the stock IS300 suspension is clearly more oriented toward comfort rather than performance. A good set of IS300 coilovers can solve that issue relatively inexpensively.
IS300 coilovers have the potential to transform your Lexus IS300 in more ways than one. By lowering the ride height you simultaneously lower your IS300’s center of gravity, improving its overall handling characteristics. That is exceedingly noticeable if the tired 20+-year-old factory suspension has never been replaced in your Lexus. In addition to the performance benefits, IS300 coilovers also provide aesthetic benefits as well. With a 1-3″ drop, IS300 coilovers have the potential to close your wheel gap for a sportier appearance.
Whether you are planning on cutting a few seconds off of your lap time or winning best in show at a Lexus meet, there is a coilover set for you. While there is a lot of variety to be found in IS300 coilovers, it is crucial that you take your needs into consideration. Factors like spring rates, damping adjustment, and camber adjustment all play a part in how your IS300 will ultimately handle and look.
If you enjoyed this article and are looking for more Lexus IS300 content, check out our 6 Best Lexus IS300 Performance Modifications Guide. As always, safe driving!