AROUND THE WORLD WITH YOKOHAMA ADVAN SPORT PART 1
The critically-acclaimed ADVAN Sport V103 has served as the choice for enthusiasts who wanted to get the most out of their high-powered premium cars. So it’s no surprise that Yokohama Tire Corporation would choose the world’s most demanding race track, the Nürburgring Circuit, as the research and development base for the tire’s successor, and subject it to an unending barrage of torturous tests in the quest for “high speed, high comfort.” The end result is the ADVAN Sport V105 – a tire that delivers superior driving performance over its predecessor with improved comfort and safety. And just like the V103, the new V105 is fitted as original equipment (OE) on a number of sporty high-end luxury cars, among them those from Mercedes-Benz, who assisted in the tire’s development.
But instead of listing the numerous benefits and virtues of the V105 here, we thought it would be more fun to help you experience the tire in its environment. In a special feature called “Triple Play,” we evaluated the V105 on three different continents, three different driving venues, fitted on three different high-performance vehicles. So come along as we set out for a trip around the world, leaving an abundance of tire marks in our wake.
PART 1: EUROPE AND THE AUDI R8
Nestled in the Andalucían countryside in southern Spain is a small, private racetrack called Ascari Circuit. A few miles from Malaga, Ascari Circuit has become a popular test site for car makers around the world. The 3.37-mile layout features an array of tricky corners and numerous elevation changes, making it a challenging course for even high-level racecar drivers. Created to be a country club for driving enthusiasts, Ascari has approximately 30 or so members from all over the word, many of them leaving their prized mounts in the facility’s garage. Presently, there is everything from a race-prepped Mini Cooper to a Ferrari F1/87 Formula 1 machine from 1987.
It was an ideal place to experience the new V105s at their absolute limit. For our test car, we chose the Audi R8, with former Formula 1 pilot Ukyo Katayama behind the wheel. As soon as the “go” signal was given, the all-wheel-drive sports car took off from a standstill like a slingshot, with all four tires biting the tarmac simultaneously. Going into the first sweeper at well over 80 mph, Katayama delicately clipped the apex with minimal steering input. Where it seemed as if he would drift through the corner, Katayama took the quickest driving line.
“It’s really easy to control the car at high speed with this new tire. With other tires, if you slid the car’s rear end out, you don’t know where that slide will end; but with these tires, it’s easy to know because the tires provide constant feedback. And are they sticky! Even when you feel they have exceeded their limits of adhesion, they’re still stuck to the driving surface. Amazing!” he said.
That the V105 displayed noticeably better grip than the V103 was obvious, but how did Yokohama achieve such drastic results? According to the engineers, the difference comes in the form of a myriad of new technology. Among them are a new tread design, which we will address later, and the “Matrix Body Ply” structure, which improves rigidity in the circumferential direction through a double structure that crosses over from the sidewall to the shoulder. This means that if side rigidity is high, the tread and bead can roll in the proper direction, thus creating precise steering response without diminishing ride comfort. It’s easy to see why, through tight chicanes and tricky esses, the R8 remained composed and never once got out of shape.
On the high-speed straights, the V105s showed amazing stability, thanks in part to the “mound profile.” The cross-sectional shape of the new ADVAN Sport is flatter and each block has a slight “R-shape.” The R-shape on the five circumferential ribs is nominally different depending on location from shoulder to center. This profile precisely controls the ground contact pressure of the blocks, improving stability at high speeds by enhancing the tire contact patch.
As Katayama kept lapping, the tires seemed to be getting stronger, hardly losing their adhesion even after a full day on the track. Part of the credit here goes to the high-rigidity rayon carcass material that’s more heat resistant than customary body ply and has minimal effect on carcass properties.
As the test session ended with the Audi R8 running as strong as when the day started, Katayama said the V105s seemed to be made especially for the R8, making the car’s excellent chassis shine brighter than he had ever expected.
“I realize that another manufacturer helped Yokohama develop the V105, but they work on the R8 extremely well. Grip through corners was excellent and traction when braking was phenomenal. It just goes to show how well-balanced V105 are,” he commented.
Now, it was time for us to see how well the new V105s performed on public roads where most V105 customers will find themselves. So it was time to head back to North America to evaluate the V105 on a winding mountain road near Los Angeles, California.