TUNED: Race Concepts Toyota Innova Suspension
“These are cars which are well engineered, but if you can’t use the car to its potential what’s the point?” asks Joel Joseph of Race Concepts. They’ve built a bespoke suspension package for the Toyota Innova, both the Crysta and the previous-gen model. The Innova isn’t exactly in the common list of cars that get worked on at Race Concepts, or any other tuner for that matter, but no matter where you are in the country, you will see some generation of the Innova ferrying as many people as you dare fit in. “But handling isn’t what the Innova is all about!” I hear you grumbling. Well, Race Concepts isn’t here to make your Innova set a lap record at the BIC. Rather it is meant to make the journey to the BIC more enjoyable.
A car’s suspension is carefully calibrated by coming to a compromise between stiffness for handling and softness for comfort. Now the Innova definitely leans toward the latter end of that scale. If you’ve ever tried driving an Innova in a spirited manner, chances are your passenger’s seating arrangement would have been shuffled. What Joel has come up with is a fantastic upgrade for Innova owners to make their cars handle better, and actually be more comfortable on longer journeys. They’ve replaced the entire OEM damper kit with custom coilovers which get progressive springs and an all-new damper unit with new mounts. This setup is also fully adjustable with independent preload and rebound adjustment of up to 30 clicks, adjustable damper rates (via a screw at the top) and the ability to change the ride height from 60mm lower than the stock setting, all the way to 10mm higher than stock. If you get it installed at Race Concepts in Bangalore, they’ll give you a baseline set up which is tuned for a balance of comfort and handling out of the box. Joel claims that overall, the entire setup is 15 per cent stiffer than the stock dampers. This Crysta that you see here, with the white wheels, rides 15mm lower than stock because Joel prefers it that way, and it also gives the tyres a slight negative camber which is better for handling and looks cooler.
Now there are a few factors as to how this stiffer suspension package makes the ride better. First and foremost is that the stiffer ride means less wallow and a lot less roll. This results in better handling, better braking and a more planted feeling at higher speeds. This means that you don’t get carsick while you’re on a road trip, either on our highways (which are never properly smooth, hence the wallow in the stock setup) or while going through the twists. The second factor is that the suspension has better rebound so it hits a bump and quickly settles the Innova, unlike the stock setup where it takes time to settle down. Another feature of this suspension package is reliability. Race Concepts have engineered these dampers out of motorsport grade materials, “the only way you can break this is by doing something absolutely crazy”. Not only that but with larger diameter dampers, it can also handle heat from constant motion much better than the OEM dampers, which means the suspension won’t go soft after a couple of hours. It is also fully serviceable, meaning you can swap out individual parts, instead of the full assembly like the OEM unit. Race Concepts will provide a two-year warranty on the full kit.
A final word. We thought we were comparing a stock Innova to the RC setup but when doing the braking tests we caught a flash of green and realised it was running on Tein suspension, which also works very well as we’ve seen on street and competition cars. The fact that the RC setup reduces dive significantly under braking while also delivering better body control and comfort is a massive testament to their R&D abilities, all of which has been honed and polished in the heat of motorsport battles — and right here in India. The full kit costs Rs. 95,000, installation is free if done at Race Concepts in Bangalore, and any local mechanic can do it too. For now, the package is available for the Innova Crysta and the previous-gen Innova, but Joel is toying with the idea of building one for the Fortuner too.