Tested: Nitto's new 555 G2 High Performance Tire!
It seems like only yesterday but it was actually 20 years ago in 1996 that the Nitto 555 was first launched. Aimed at the center of the growing, red hot sport compact market, the 555 was the new kid in town, the performance leader of a new tire company that burst upon the scene right as it exploded into the mainstream. As Nitto's flagship tire, the 555 was a summer ultra high performance or UHP tire that offered excellent all around grip with good wear to boot.
In the years that followed its launch the 555 model grew in applications and became widely accepted by the domestic performance market as Nitto rolled out the 555 in popular larger sizes. As the years went by the 555 was joined by other tires in the Nitto lineup like the Invo luxury performance tire, the Neogen all weather ultra high performance tire designed to have a long tread life, the Motivo, the super grippy all weather ultra high performance tire and lastly the maximum performance NT05 that we love here at MotoIQ.
Well 20 years is a long time for a production item to go on with no changes in this world and as car technology has changed in leap and bounds, Nitto felt it was time for them to update the beloved and Iconic 555 model to match the times. Check out what they've cooked up!
Fast forward 20 years and the market has changed, FWD performance cars are not in vogue anymore. Performance cars now tend to be RWD or AWD and have more than 400 hp. They also typically weigh more than 3000 lbs.
To update the 555, the 555 G2 has stiffer and more sticky high silica tread compound. The rubber tread blocks are now stiffer. An improved molecular bonding agent affixes the tread elements together to increase the stiffness without making the rubber harder. The increases in stiffness reduces tread squirm improving the tires responsiveness, feel and driver feedback. The high silica rubber grips more tenaciously, particularly in the wet as the silica makes for a more nappy interface between the tire and road.
To further improve the tire's response and lateral grip, the sidewall's shoulder areas have been reinforced to stiffen them. This holds the tread flatter to the road during hard cornering improving both dry and wet grip. Stiffer sidewalls also improve steering response and imparts a more secure feel. This helps the tire work better with the higher loads that more powerful and heavier cars impart on their tires.
The large side blocks have tapered grooves to help maintain stiffness of this highly loaded area of the tread, reducing squirm while still giving decent water evacuation.