Tires: or Tyres if you prefer
While most people tend to focus on the wheel side of the equation when we talk about wheels and tires, tires are actually one of the most crucial modifications for performance.
Tires are your connection to the road. All the power and suspension upgrades mean nothing without the mechanical grip of the tires to transfer power to the ground and grip the road mid-corner.
Fun Fact: The Q50 comes from the factory with runflat tires.
Not Fun Fact: Runflat Tires are horrendous for performance.
While these offer the convenience of being able to drive on a flat tire, they are a HUGE damper on performance in terms of rubber used, and also weigh significantly more than a traditional tire. The factory runflat Dunlop SP Sport 5000 DSST CTT 245/40R19 tires (on sport models) weigh about 30 lbs each.
To explain why the super-heavy run flat tires sap so much of your performance, we have to get into a little bit of physics and talk about moment of inertia. If you’re old enough to remember when playgrounds had Merry Go Rounds, then you probably remember how it was more difficult to get the merry go round to spin fast when the kids were hanging on the outer edges vs the inner area. Moment of inertia can be defined as: “A quantity expressing a body’s tendency to resist angular acceleration. It is the sum of the products of the mass of each particle in the body with the square of its distance from the axis of rotation.” The reason heavy tires have such an impact on performance is the further a concentration of mass from the axis of rotation, the greater its tendency to resist acceleration. Acceleration includes both speeding up and slowing down – “An object’s acceleration is the net result of any and all forces acting on the object, as described by Newton’s Second Law.”
Remember how we said the OEM Dunlop Sport SP50000 DSST CTT’s weigh 30lbs each? By comparison, the Michelin PS4S, Hankook V12 Evo2, Continental DWS 06, and Nitto NT555G2 are around 5 lbs lighter each. Swapping out the runflats for traditional summer or all-season tires will not only give you a better gripping tire compound, but also shaves 20lbs of weight off the wheels/tires. Weight reduction always has a drastic effect on acceleration, stopping, ride quality, etc. While 20 lbs may not seem like much, that 20lb weight saving makes the car perform like it is 60-80lbs lighter. 60-80 lbs? How is this possible? Well, rotational mass effectively has an extra component over non-rotational mass, which is angular momentum (which is proportional to moment of inertia). The angular momentum of an object requires 4-5 times the amount of energy to stop it, change its direction, or speed it up. Think of trying to stop a tire rolling down a hill vs stopping the same tire on a furniture dolly rolling down the hill at the same speed. The rolling tire will be much harder to stop because you have to deal with both the linear momentum and the angular momentum.
Michelin – PS4S – (Treadwear: 300 / Traction: AA / Temperature: A)
The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S (PS4S) is the pinnacle of Max Performance Summer Tires. As the successor to the legendary Pilot Super Sport (PSS), the PS4S improves on both wet braking and wet handling along with improved tread life and noise reduction over the PSS. The PSS had reigned over the Max Performance Summer category from the day of its release, so it is easy to understand why this new Michelin still leads the pack and is the new benchmark in its category. If you want to learn more about the Michelin PS4S you can check out our “Know Your Mods” episode on YouTube: Know Your Mods Ep16 : Tires – Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S (PS4S) or our recent Blog Post on the PS4S.
TL:DR – The best Max Performance Summer Tire on the Market, Period. If you want the best, don’t settle for anything else. You really get what you pay for with the PS4S.
Nitto – NT555G2 – (Treadwear: 320 / Traction: AA / Temperature: A)
The Nitto NT555G2 is exactly what it sounds like, it is the second generation of the legendary NT555 which was touted by many to be the best Ultra High Performance Tire on the market for years. Similar to Michelin, Nitto sought to improve upon their best selling (for cars at least) tire and made it their mission to make improvements in areas that competitors were catching up in. With increased dry traction, lateral grip, and straight-line stability as well as improved all around performance in the wet the NT555G2 continues to be a leader in the Ultra High Performance Summer Tire category.
TL:DR – If you are looking for High Performance Summer Tires that still do very well in the wet (not freezing, snow, or ice) and have great longevity then the NT555G2 is a great choice.
Hankook – Ventus V12 Evo2 – (Treadwear: 320 / Traction: AA / Temperature: A)
Do you want Maximum Performance at a reasonable price? The Hankook Ventus V12 Evo2 is exactly that. This tire is praised for it’s impressive lateral grip and responsive handling feel. The dry traction of the of the Hankooks is competitive with the best Max Performance Summer tires with a much lower price tag. This makes the Hankook a favorite among enthusiasts. The wet traction and road noise are the only drawbacks of the Hankooks, but they are acceptable tradeoffs for many performance oriented drivers who don’t want to break the bank on tires. Also, if you’re (un?)lucky enough to live in an area that gets snow, these make a great set of summer tires while leaving some budget for a set of winter tires as well.
TL:DR – Great performance for the price if you don’t mind a little more noise and aren’t planning on driving in wet conditions very often.
Continental – DWS 06 – (Treadwear: 560 / Traction: AA / Temperature: A)
Because not everyone can live where it never snows. The Continental DWS 06 is fantastic All-Season Ultra High Performance tire. While some people have the extra money and space to have two sets of wheels and tires depending on the season, many of us don’t want to deal with having to switch tires between seasons. For those that want a performance tire that will work from the warm weather of summer to light snow, the DWS 06 is the perfect tire. The longevity of the Continentals is also a big plus as these tires will last almost twice as long as their summer competitors.
TL:DR – You need All-Season Tires but don’t want to sacrifice performance, the Continental DWS 06 are perfect.
Understanding UTQG Treadwear, Traction, and Temperature Ratings:
Treadwear – A standardized test of how quickly a tire wears down over 7200 miles (with tire rotations, alignment checks, and pressure checks every 400 miles). The tire is tested against a standardized “Course Monitoring Tire” and its grade is assigned based on the relative wear. 100 would indicate it would last as long as the test tire, while 200 would indicate that it would last twice as long as the Course Monitoring Tire. This still only tells us so much because we don’t know exactly how long the “Course Monitoring Tire” lasts. Also, treadwear is subject to some interpretation as the wear experienced on the tire being tested is open to interpretation by the manufacturer. In general though, the higher the number, the longer it will last.
Traction – UTQG traction tests do not evaluate traction in relation to dry braking, dry cornering, wet cornering, or high speed hydroplaning resistance. The test is simply a representation of the tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement as the tire skids. So this test really only applies to those without ABS in wet conditions.
Temperature – The temperature grades are a scale that indicates a tire’s ability to resist the heat buildup produced by speed. A is good enough for speeds over 115 mph, B is between 100-115 mph, and C is between 85-100 mph.
No matter what tire you decide to buy, we recommend not letting the UTQG Rating have much influence on your purchase.