Lexus RC F’ Active Rear Wing – Designed for Down Force

Lexus RC F’ Active Rear Wing – Designed for Down Force

Lexus RC F is an absolutely amazing work of automotive engineering in the market today. With an engine that delivers 471 horsepower, the RC F is the fastest Lexus outside of the LFA super car. Several technologies contribute to such performance, but one feature in particular benefits from more than 10 years of Lexus super car research: the active rear spoiler. Sometimes referred to as a “wing,” the active rear spoiler is an airfoil that pops up at 80kms/hr to create down force—in other words, it helps press the vehicle toward the ground for enhanced grip and handling at higher speeds.

What make the RC F’s active rear wing especially superb are both its elegance and its design history. It’s a direct adaptation of the LFA’s race car-style active rear wing, which Lexus designed during endless 320km/hr plus test drives on Germany’s Nurburgring race circuit. According to Paul Williamsen, National Manager of Strategic Educational Support for Lexus International, to fully understand the dedication Lexus puts into active rear spoiler design, and the experience it creates, one needs to understand how the systems came about.

During every heart-pounding minute spent flying around the Nürburgring, Lexus LFA test drivers helped shape the car’s final design by relying, as pro drivers do, on tactile feedback through their hands, seat and feet. In highly engineered cars like the LFA, this feedback gives professional drivers a subtle, almost sixth sense of what the vehicle is doing at any given moment, and how much further they can push it.

Working against them was aerodynamic lift, a phenomenon experienced by objects moving at high speeds over the ground. At initial test-track speeds, lift reduced the downward force on the LFA’s tyres—the vehicle essentially rose, similar in principle to an airplane taking off.

“Drivers began to lose that tactile feeling of what the tyres were doing on the roadway surface,” explains Williamsen. “It compromised the accuracy of the information coming to the drivers.”

As a result, the LFA track drivers and engineers developed the type of rear spoiler system found in the racing world, and designed it to provide maximum down force—and therefore superior handling—for LFA owners. The final street-legal design is active: it stays tucked away at low speeds when lift is negligible or nonexistent (to avoid drag), and it automatically rises as the car approaches highway speeds.

Fast-forward to RC F development on the Fuji Speedway, which drew from this super car design. Here, engineers and pro drivers took their super car knowledge and designed a more subtle production version of the active rear spoiler. Like the LFA’s wing, the RC F’s active rear spoiler engages automatically at 80km/hr and disengages at 40km/hr; the lower threshold is to prevent the wing from rising and lowering repeatedly when the vehicle’s speed hovers around 80km/hr.

In high-speed situations, like a track environment, RC F drivers can delay the wing’s deployment by selecting the Eco driving mode (less drag equals less fuel burned). There’s also an override that allows the driver to raise or lower the spoiler—useful, say, if there’s glare coming off the wing while cruising the highway at sunset, or when washing the car.

From the very beginning Lexus was conceived to set new standards within the automotive world and this pursuit continues today. In a relatively short period of time, Lexus has established a unique place in the automotive world as a manufacturer of premium vehicles that distil breathtaking design, advanced technology, heart-stopping performance, environmental sensitivity and refined levels of luxury into one distinctive package.

Lexus is constantly looking to the future, driven by innovation. The process to create a Lexus vehicle is unique within the automotive industry. Taking inspiration from fields as diverse as the fashion industry, architecture, the arts and medicine, each vehicle is painstakingly crafted to meet Lexus’ exacting standards.