Tire fetishists have long known about Yokohama's ADVAN sporting brand, but until recently it has had limited exposure in the United States. Only a few extremely hardcore vehicles like the Lotus Elise and the Mitsubishi Evo were fitted with them.
Now, however, the company has decided to rebrand its flagship tire as the ADVAN brand, and is launching three new products: the ADVAN Neova; the ADVAN Sport, which replaces the AVS; and the ADVAN ST, which is a brand new high performance tire for trucks. The Sport is available from as small as 205/55ZR17 to as wide as 315/25ZR19 and as big as 295/25ZR22. The ST starts out as a 225/55R17 and goes up to 315/35R20 and 305/35R24, which is about as big as we have seen on the most blinged-out SUVs. Essentially, the re-branding turns ADVAN from a semi-racing tire into a mainstream performance tire line.
Yokohama didn't spare its budget when it introduced the tire, choosing Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as the launch venue. We tried out the 275/40R20 ST on the Porsche Cayenne S, comparing it with the same size Michelin 4x4 Diamaris, and compared Mercedes Benz SLs fitted with 255/35ZR19 front and 295/30ZR19 rear Continental ContiSport Contact 2 tires and ADVAN Sports.
Online editor and tire snob Mike Dushane is a fan of the AVS, so it was no surprise that the ADVANs offered a number of advantages over the original equipment footwear on both vehicles. In the SL, the ADVAN gave a touch more steering precision, dialed out the car's tendency to understeer-an SL500 is a big, heavy beast for racetrack use-and sharpened up the turn in. We also noticed less tread shift in the faster corners, which gives a driver a lot more confidence.
It was pretty much the same story in the Cayenne, which tends to plow even more than an SL in tight corners. (Although we were pleasantly surprised by how capable the truck is on a racetrack.) With the ADVANs, the Cayenne understeered less, had more steering precision than with the Michelins, and suffered less steering kickback throughout the range when driving hard.
The ADVAN Neova and ADVAN S.T. are on sale now, and the ADVAN Sport will go on sale during the second half of 2005.