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Project IS-F: Evaluating the Nitto Motivo Tire

by Mike Kojima

Our Project IS-F is still around, it has been quietly and reliably racking up the miles doing daily driving duties in and around Orange County.  Our car is driven at about 70% street driving and 30% highway driving. One thing we have noticed is that the car has a healthy appetite for tires even though the car is used mostly for family transportation duty. For instance, the factory Michelin Pilot Sports were gone after only 11,000 miles. 

We installed KW Suspension and a bigger wheel and tire combo using Nitto's excellent Summer Ultra High Performance NT-05 Tires and did a somewhat aggressive performance alignment.  We were rewarded with about 12,000 miles of wear before those tires were totally gone. Since the NT05 is a summer ultimate grip type tire with a UTQG rating of only 140 we were were not entirely surprised but since the IS-F is a daily driver we decided to back it down a notch for more daily driving convenience.

In a test where we compared the Nitto NT05 to the Invo and the Motivo tires we next decided to try the Nitto Invo on our IS-F.  With it's UTQG rating of 220, we figured it would have quite a bit better tread life and from our prior test we knew we would lose just a little bit of ultimate dry grip and response but in turn get better wet traction.  This would not be much of a reduction of fun issue with our high performance family cruiser. We also went a little more conservative with the alignment in an effort to get longer tire life.

Well 24,000 miles and a year and a half later the Invo's were bald. Doing a little research we found the it is not just us that is experiencing rapid tire wear on the IS-F.  The car is known to kill tires. It is probably a combination of the car's weight, abundance of low end torque and scrub in the multi link suspension geometry that all contribute to it.  It was time for another change in tires.

 

From our previous testing we knew that Nitto's Motivo, a tire unusually positioned in the Ultra High Performance all weather market segment was amazingly good for an all season tire. In fact previously we felt that it was one of the leading tires of the segment, surprising us with decent dry grip and amazing wet grip in back to back testing.

At first we were reluctant to put a "pedestrian" all season type tire on a premium high performance sports sedan like our IS-F but on the other hand we were getting tired of constantly monitoring tire wear and replacing tires on the family wagon all the time. With this in mind the Motivo's UTQG of 560 was quite appealing!  What we really wanted to try was Nitto's new NT555 G2 but unfortunately it was not available with the sizes we needed just yet.

 

The Motivo is actually made in the USA, a fact that we did not know until now.  We were curious why such a pedestrian product like an all season tire would work so well and a lot of it has to do with the tread design.

The first thing that is obvious when looking at the tread is that they are 4 large circumferential grooves which are great at draining water from the tread, pavement interface. There are a lot of sipes, or narrow cut grooves, in the tread that give additional biting edges to the tread blocks which really helps wet traction.

The disadvantage with sipes is that they can cause tread squirm and chunking in aggressive dry driving but Nitto's sipes have an internal interlocking shape so when subjected to braking, acceleration and cornering forces that can force them to flex, the interlocking shape causes them to lock together and act more like a single block of rubber under load. Under wet conditions the sipes edges are still free to give an edge to cut through the water and grip. 

Another advantage is that some of the sipes are placed in such a way that they will act as an early indicator of feathering which is meant to tell you that the car is in need of an alignment before any substantial tread is worn. 

The Motivo is an asymmetrical design whith larger low squirm outer blocks to help with dry cornering and an aggressively siped set of inner blocks to aid in wet grip. To enhance straight line stability, the tread pattern also features a continuous center rib.

 

We ran a taller 245/40-19 front tire to give the wife a little more parking block and speed bump clearance. This gives the car a pretty aggressive fitment with little wheel gap.

 

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