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Tested: Nitto's new 555 G2 High Performance Tire!

by Mike Kojima

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!

 

When the 555 was first introduced, the tire was designed around the power level and weight of a healthy FWD sport compact or around 240 hp and 2600 lbs. The tire carcass and tread compound was optimized for this sort of use.

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.

 

An interesting thing that Nitto has done is to optimize the 555 G2 for powerful RWD cars that typically run staggered fitments.  Tires with a section width 275 and greater have larger and firmer tread blocks to put more rubber on the ground. Tires with widths 265 and narrower have smaller tread blocks but the carcass and sidewall construction is stiffer to produce a more responsive tire with faster and more accurate steering response. 
The 555 G2 has a radically different tread pattern when compared to the 555.  The most noticeable thing is the 555 G2 has two very prominent center grooves reminiscent of the NT05. These greatly improve water evacuation from under the tread and make a huge contribution to wet handling and braking without having much of an effect on dry cornering performance which is more dependent on the stiff larger side blocks.  

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. 

 

 

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Comments
StrangeLiform
StrangeLiformlink
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 1:23 AM
Hmmmmm, any thoughts on how this new 555 G2 might compare to Continental's ExtremeContact DW? The XCDW has been my go-to performance car tire for damn near 10 years now. I'm not big on the Continentals because of ultimate dry grip, but because of great wet weather grip, braking performance, durability, and ride comfort.

It sounds like the new Nitto 555 is a far more refined tire than it's predecessor. I especially appreciate the new center grooves. My guess is that the new 555 G2 has better dry grip and handling than the ExtremeContact DW, but weaker wet braking and possibly tread life. Those Continentals wear like iron, but as long as the new 555s are in the same ballpark for durability then I would be mighty tempted to make the switch.

Any comments or opinions on this particular tire comparison?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 1:27 AM
I have only driven the Continental for short periods of time and never really hard but I think the new 555 G2 has similar level of grip and better turn in with better overall steering response. Pretty sure it has better wet braking because that was really good.
Colorado S14
Colorado S14link
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 8:47 AM
Would you guess these have 80% of the grip of the NT05?
WylieKylie
WylieKylielink
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 11:12 AM
Do you have any insight into what sizes will be offered in the future? One nice thing about the NT555 is the huge number of sizes available. I've read some things eluding to more sizes for the G2, but haven't seen anything about what those sizes will be.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 2:38 PM
I would say they are closer to the NT05 than 80%.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 2:38 PM
I am pretty sure that a lot of new sizes will be pending soon.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Saturday, March 19, 2016 4:03 PM
I love the first-gen '555s for daily-driver use. I sort of want my current set to wear out prematurely so I have a legitimate excuse to upgrade.
Preludacris
Preludacrislink
Saturday, March 19, 2016 9:30 PM
I'm disappointed these don't come in old-Honda sizes, because your description makes them sound like a very good alternative to my beloved but loud BFG G-force Sport Comp-2.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Saturday, March 19, 2016 10:22 PM
I think Nitto's initial push is staggered fitments but I do know they have big plans for this tire so more sizes will probably be forthcoming.
CTK
CTKlink
Sunday, March 20, 2016 7:05 PM
I had the 555s on my Z. Felt really good, but man they were loud. That was probably the car though
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