In the performance tire arena, Yokohama has a unique issue: The originator of the now legendary A008, with its semi-slick tread and high grip, branded the firm as an enthusiasts' manufacturer, meaning a consumer base that's both discriminating and demanding.
Yokohama may be the tire manufacturer that uses word-of-mouth more than any other performance player and acceptance by early-adopter consumers in expensive sports cars is the key to getting new products under the millions of performance sedans and GT cars whose owners read and understand the importance of tires.
Into this charged climate, Yokohama has launched a new performance product, the ADVAN Neova ADOS, tested recently by Tire & Wheel Canada/SSGM in the beautiful wine country of the Niagara Peninsula in Southern Ontario.
The venue was appropriate, as that coveted early adopter sub-segment is definitely a wine and cheese culture, notoriously demanding and often surprisingly price conscious if two or more brands offer similar performance. As the replacement to the AD07, the new ADVAN ADOS features a new casing shape to improve the contact patch and steel inserts in the sidewalls to resist lateral deflection when cornering.
Steel belts are also used in the under tread area, along with the expected nylon cap in this performance application. The top cap and chafers are joint less. The ADOS uses a tread compound that uses a proprietary nanotechnology silica-polymer material that increases material density and allows a five to 10 per cent increase in effective contact area without an increase in tread size.
Another material addition is "Hyper Density Carbon," a tread compound component that increases dry and wet grip with improved tread wear. The pattern is an evolution of the AD07, with a straight centre groove, two prominent wavy centre ribs and a tread-to-void ratio that puts lots of rubber on the road. The tread also reduces pattern noise. Irregular wear is a frequent issue with UHP tires and Yokohama addresses this with a series of tiny slits (not sipes) in the sides of the groove walls, which distribute internal stresses more evenly. Water evacuation is handled by "HydroARC Channels" which eject water laterally at their exit point on the tread shoulder. How much does the ADOS improve upon the 07?
According to Yokohama, dry and wet braking distances are shorter, wet skid pad speed is up seven per cent with a three per cent improvement in lateral "g's" and a 1.2 dB reduction in pattern noise.
While Tire & Wheel Canada/SSGM hasn't confirmed these numbers independently, they look reasonable for the level of additional technology.
While sport sedans will be the majority of the market, the major "halo" application will likely be Porsche, and Yokohama thoughtfully brought along a 911 to the test. With its rear weight bias and legendary (some say notorious) handling, rear-engine Porsches are a natural test for the ADVAN ADOS.
In the informal testing the tire does have sharp turn-in and excellent traction and braking, but perhaps the most important feature, for this tester at least, is the shape of the tread shoulders.
The shoulder of the ADOS is rounded with a decreasing radius, starting well into the contact patch. Square shoulder designs put more rubber on the road on a rear, live axle fitment, but the intended vehicles for the ADOS are IRSs, and incorporate a significant amount of negative camber, either statically or as the suspension articulates.
Even without the excessive camber often added by enthusiasts, the shoulder design keeps lateral grip up as the tire "sets" in cornering and keeps the grip level consistent and predictable, especially during the odd errant steering input mid-corner, a reasonable expectation in powerful cars driven on typically irregular road surfaces. The "poster child" for all these handling issues is the 911. The 911, historically a car that punishes ham-fisted drivers with gobs of fence-bashing trailing throttle over steer, is f extremely drivable on ADVAN ADOS's, with the tire taking full advantage of the Porsche's modern chassis design.
Amateurs can drive quickly on this tire without nasty surprises. Available sizes reveal Yokohama's strategy for the Yokohama ADVAN Neova ADOS.
31 sizes are available, from tuner 205/50R15 86V to super car 295/30R10 100W for the well-heeled. There's no downward reach into mainline sedans, or poser "donk," "box" or "bubble" applications in outrageous diameters. On the tire wall, the ADOS has a contemporary scalloped look that should show very well and on the street, Yokohama can expect the enthusiast press and \word-of-mouth/Facebook/Twitter etc. to do some "pre-selling" of the tire for the dealer network.
In Canada, a fall rollout for a performance tire seems odd, but Yokohama is a global company and with instant global communication, it's a good thing that Canada gets the product without delay... in fact its available (and other brand name tires) in our shop.