“Hey, want to do some tire testing for Nitto next week?” is what the voice on the phone says. “Hey, want to come with us and shred some tires driving someone else’s car” is what I hear. I’m at max vacation days at work, and this is a great excuse to get out of the office, so I say “I’m in – just tell me when to be there.” and hung up the phone. The details were to spend a day at Cal Speedway to evaluate three different Nitto tires with fellow drivers Formula D pilot Mike Essa and the incomparable Tyler McQuarrie, putting the Nitto NT05s, Invos and all new All Season Motivos through some very tough courses to evaluate each at their limits.
|The Nitto NT05 dry high performance tire is on the left. The Invo is in the middle and the all season Motivo is on the right.
The tires would be evaluated on three identical Jaguar XFs shod with the same size tire (245/40R19) in each of the Nittos. This car was picked as it had the same stock tire size that each of the three Nittos were available in. Immediately I thought I knew the results, but I tossed out my pre-determined bias and decided to let the tires do the talking. Our job was to drive the tires through three tests, the first a wet course consisting of a 0-60 full throttle romp, followed by an immediate transition to full braking with ABS activation, then a left turn with a max speed of 25-30MPH, then a nearly immediate right hand turn and another full throttle stomp for 100 feet then braking under ABS to a full stop – all in the wet. The second test was a high-speed six cone slalom and lastly was a 200 foot radius figure eight.
|Our course was designed to help us evaluate transitional cornering, steady state cornering, limit braking and acceleration with combinations of all three states put together.
We had a water truck at our disposal for the entire day, and we had it keep the first course as wet as possible. For the most part puddles were not forming due to the slight grade of the pavement that we were on and the overall smoothness of the pavement, but the tires were already starting to show some impressive results.
|Traction and handling dynamics under wet conditions were also evaluated.
The dry condition biased max performance NT05 was a surprise with its minimalistic tread employing only two major grooves. This tire was designed for maximum dry grip. We were amazed that it actually had a lot of grip in the wet. Even with the water not allowing much temperature build up in the tire, it gripped much more than expected in the wet. At the limit in the water, the NT05 would remind us of its dry biased roots, once it did let go, it did so completely and recovery took some driver skill and countersteering to bring the car back under control. An interesting note was that the NT05 had better wet grip than the stock all season tires on the car!
|Folks from Discount Tire were on hand to help out with the test.