Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Some of you may have seen the review I did on the INVO a few months back.
My Nitto INVO Review
Here’s a new review of Nitto’s latest addition to their line-up, the NT05.
First a little background on the tire. This tire is Nitto’s offering for the max performance summer tire to compete with tires like the Toyo R888, Falken 615, Bridgestone RE01R, Dunlop Z1, etc. This tire fills the void between their Invo and NT01 tires. The Invo is a great high performance street tire and the NT01 is their track tire that’s just short of a full slick.
Their Invo was built to be a great tire for both performance and comfort offering great grip in wet/dry plus a decent ride in a surprisingly quiet package. I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with the Invo before trying these. The NT05 sacrifices some of that quiet and comfortable ride for additional grip and performance. I was warned when I got the tires that they would be louder and the ride would be rougher but I was willing to give some of that up for sheer performance.
The Test Car:
My car presents a few challenges when it comes to tires. First, it makes 530whp on the daily driven pump gas tune (649hp on race) so grip is hard to come by. Second it has huge brakes and wheels. I can’t run an 18” wheel (currently on 20’s) so finding a tire with enough grip in my size has been a problem. Third my car is not the lightest G, it has a couple hundred pounds of stereo in the trunk, a lot of extra noise deadening material and mods to add weight. I would estimate the car is a good 3700+lbs in current state. I need all the grip I can get…
The UPS driver dropped off the tires and the first thing I did was stop and look at the tread pattern. I had looked at them online and thought they were a bit bland looking. I was taken back at how cool they looked in person, they look like they mean business. The enormous tread blocks and two huge channels down the middle make this tire look like it’s ready to eat anything the road can throw at it. It reminded me of a saber tooth tiger in some ways. Looking over them, the quality was very good compared to some of the other tires I have seen before that have shavings still hanging on, etc. I was very happy so I loaded them in the back seat and headed out to have them installed. I only drove home from the tire shop and didn’t have time to play around before taking the car home for the night. The next morning I was heading out for a track day at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix. (Funny side note, when I got home after having them installed, I had the car jacked up in the open garage and the pizza delivery guy came by asking what kind of tires are those?!? I have never seen anything like it before, they look evil!)
Driving to the Track:
I will admit that I had my expectations set low for this tire’s street manners. I was expecting them to be loud and harsh. I was very surprised at how mild mannered they were. They were not that much louder than most of the summer street tires I have tried in the past. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the loudest I would set them around a 5. To compare I would set a Falken FK452 at a 3, A Kumho SPT at a 4, a Toyo T1R at a 3.5 and a Nitto Invo at a 2.5. For what this tire is offering, they are great. Most of us who are going to run these tires have a louder exhaust and other mods anyway so tire volume is not an issue unless it’s obnoxious and I had to try and listen for these. Next, the ride comfort was a fair amount stiffer than the Invo I just took off but again, not to the point of discomfort. I would compare them with going from stock sport springs to a softer riding lowering spring. I was running the tires with 35psi in them (same as my Invos and other tires) and found these to be maybe 20% stiffer than the Invo. Given these are for the top echelon of street performance I would be shocked if they were not harder. (More street impressions later)
The track I tried these out on was Firebird Raceway’s West Track, it is a shorter more technical track with lots of tighter turns. My car on the pump gas tune was hitting about 130mph max on their ¼ mile straight, the last 20% of which was being used for braking and under 60mph for most of the rest. Here’s the track:
(I'll put an image of the track here when I can get to my photobucket account)
If I could say one line it would be that these tires stick like crazy and provide excellent predictable communication to the driver. After less than a warm up lap they were ready to deliver and started to impress me. Turn in was sharp and predicable, mid-corner was perfect (I mean perfect), they were so responsive and break-away was smooth. Never once did these tires surprise me. There was plenty of warning when they were going to break loose. Not one time did I spin or over steer to any extreme and I credit it to how predictable they were. They were not twitchy at all under sharp or long banking corners. Breaking was predictable and combined with my huge brakes allowed me pass multiple cars on the very short straight over and over. I found these able to catch and keep straight line traction pretty early on in 2nd gear with only minimal rear wheel spin. As I continued through the 20 minute sessions, the tires showed no signs of tiring and continued to perform just as well as when they first warmed up until the end when I went into the pit; a very impressive feat given they had no relaxing part of the track to cool at all. I took a few instructors out with me who all commented on how impressed they were with the tires and how well they were treating me that day.
We have not had any rain here in Phoenix since the tires went on so I will update this once I have the opportunity to drive them in the wet.
Dry Street Conditions Continued:
As I mentioned before these tires are not that loud and I have no issue with these for my daily commute. I have tried driving with the stereo off in silence and it is not bothersome at all.
The stiffer sidewall is a small compromise you have to make for the performance gains you obtain. If you have ever owned run-flat tires, these ride about the same. Not bad at all IMO.
I used two factors to judge the dry performance of this tire: straight line acceleration (how much it could take before it let go) and cornering (both accelerating and turn-in). For straight line my last three sets of tires could not hold at all in 1st gear and at times could grab near the top of 2nd gear. Now 1st gear is still the same (I wonder if any tire aside of a slick could hold on my car in 1st) but 2nd gear now grabs most of the time and even when it spins it recovers very quickly. As for cornering I found similar results to my track performance, these things grab and don’t want to let go.
Overall and Final Thoughts:
Overall I am blown away with these tires and their performance given they fall under the street tire category. For my application I will be purchasing the NT05 again when these wear out. After seeing for themselves, a few friends have already ordered or are planning to order NT05’s for their cars (Evo 8, STi, S2000, DSM and a couple G/Z’s).
I feel that for a normal N/A street G35/350Z there is a fine line where this tire would suit you better vs a Nitto Invo or equivalent. I think the hard core performance driver would be better off with the NT05 as where the somewhat performance minded driver who is still a stickler for ride quality and road noise may be better off in the Invo. If you don’t have too much issue with under steer/over steer you may not need to step up to these. I feel the same about the stock block boosted guys. You can read this review and use it to help you make the call. The high power VQ guys need all the grip we can get so for us it’s a no-brainer! LOL
If you track your car on any kind of regular basis I would strongly recommend giving these a shot. They are the closest thing I have found to an R compound and they still have decent tread wear while also offering 19” and 20” sizes!!
The NT05 deliver that’s for sure! Great work guys.