Getting in Tune-r
Tuner-Specific Parada Spec-2 and ES100 Hit the Streets
The winding hills of the Sonoma Valley, wine country for most people, proved to be an outstanding place to test tires. Hidden in those hills lies Infineon Raceway the refurbished, expanded and renamed Sears Point Raceway ®“ while all through the region are stretches of fabulous twists and turns, a perfect place to wind up the horses on Porsches, BMWs, Audis and Acuras.
Here is where Yokohama Tire Corp. held its press launch of the new Parada Spec-2, its sport tuner-specific tire line, and the AVS ES100, which is replacing its tried and true AVS Intermediate line.
The Parada Spec-2 was put through its paces on a Pro Solo course, laid out in the racetrack’s garage area. The ES100 saw action on both Infineon Raceway’s main course and on a 20-mile trek on public roads around the facility.
In addition to the in-car experiences, Yokohama officials reviewed the features and market positions of each tire, and discussed market segments.
While every tiremaker has its own definition of the tuner segment, Yokohama and some others see it as being very tire size-specific. A limited number of tire sizes most determined by plus size fitments for the most popular tuner cars ®“ cover nearly the entire market.
Industry-wide, according to Yokohama, the tuner market has grown from around 200,000 total units in 1997 to over one million tires this year.
The current and, for that matter, future ®“ size of the segment is dependent on participant tastes. The look of the tire is more important than its performance, said Yokohama, much as the look of the vehicle is top priority.
Tuner cars are far from show vehicles. They see a lot of road miles, and some are even raced in autocross events. Tiremakers must address real-world performance and safety with the tuner products they offer. Yokohama said some of its most advanced tire technology is present in the Parada Spec-2.
Some tuner cars are overburdened with audio equipment and other add-ons, and still must accommodate four adult-sized passengers. Many lines, including the Parada Spec-2, now incorporate extra load sizes, with features that allow the tires to carry more weight at higher inflation pressures.
The Parada Spec-2’s silica tread compound and reinforced tread improves acceleration, wet and dry grip and braking, said the company.
With the ultra-low aspect ratios and larger rim diameters of the line, key sizes are reinforced for greater load carrying capacity. The line features 11 Z-, W- and Y-rated sizes six are reinforced ®“ covering 16- to 19-inch diameters with 35- and 40-series aspect ratios.
The Parada Spec-2’s unconventional asymmetrical tread design has large tread blocks, S-shaped helical grooves to aid water dispersion, and a deep circumferential off-center groove to move water away without sacrificing handling. Low-void outside shoulders add stability and road contact, said Yokohama, for sharper cornering. And rim protector bars protect expensive custom wheels.
Emphasizing traction and ride comfort, Yokohama sees the AVS ES100 as solid price point option for import and domestic sporty luxury and touring cars. The 280 AAA UTQG-rated line has 36 total 14- to 18-inch sizes 60- to 35-series aspect ratios and H, V, W and Z speed ratings ®“ covering everything from a 185/60HR14 to a 275/35ZR18.
AVS ES100’s continuous shoulder reduces tread squirm for crisp handling, said Yokohama, and steel sidewall inserts provide more responsive steering and control. The tread design’s solid center rib aids high-speed stability and reduces road noise, while twin circumferential center channels and unidirectional "tusk" grooves evacuate water.
Yokohama’s new Silica Composite Carbon tread compound ES100 is the first tire in the U.S. to incorporate this technology ®“ combines carbon black and silica to reduce rolling resistance, improve grip and promote longer tread wear, officials said.
Twin steel belts, a jointless nylon cap ply, belt edge covers, and layered belt construction keep ES100’s footprint in consistent shape, said Yokohama.