225/45R17

Tire Rack: Extreme Performance Summer Tire Test R17

In their next comparative test, the Tire Rack experts checked whether the new models from Bridgestone and Nexen would be able to outperform the leaders of the Extreme Performance segment.

List of models tested:

Extreme Performance Summer tires are the highest-performing category of true «street» tires, and they are the only street tires that the American company Tire Rack recommends for use on the racetrack. As the TR experts note, these tires are hyper-focused on providing ultimate traction in dry conditions, and some of them — but not all — manage to be surprisingly impressive in the wet, too. Of course, the dry-focused tread patterns typically leave little void for evacuating standing water, and on-road refinement sometimes can seem like an afterthought in their development. Even so, the Extreme Performance summer tires are typically the most popular among the sports driving enthusiasts, and are always the most highly anticipated and hotly-debated by consumers.

In 2022, the US market saw the arrival of two Extreme Performance summer tires, the first of them being the Bridgestone Potenza RE-71RS, earlier already presented in Japan. According to the manufacturer, the new model was not designed to be a simple reboot of its predecessor, which was first of all intended for racetrack use, and boasts not just excellent dry grip, but, among other things, increased resistance to wear when used on public roads. The other new model was the Nexen N’Fera Sport R (a tire with the same name also was presented in Japan, only it has a different tread pattern, and more than just one, too), which is coming to replace the Nexen N’Fera SUR4G. According to the TR experts, the previous-generation tire did deliver adequate performance but it never quite achieved the commercial success or recognition of its contemporaries, and NEXEN hoped to change that with the N’FERA Sport R, packing their new tire with their latest, cutting-edge compound technology.

In order to assess the capabilities of the two new models, the TR experts compared them against their two most obvious rivals — Falken Azenis RT660 and Yokohama ADVAN A052. The tests were conducted at TR’s own test facility using a Subaru BRZ Limited fitted with new full tread depth 225/45R17 tires mounted on 17×8.0 wheels.

Dry

On dry track, which is arguably the prime objective for Extreme Performance summer tires, all the four competitors showed excellent lap time, and subjectively the tire that earned the highest score from the drivers was the Falken Azenis RT660 due to its immediate steering response combined with test-leading lateral traction, which meant that the vehicle railed around turns and danced through the slalom faster than the other tires. The Yokohama model demonstrated impressive longitudinal traction, was easy to drive very quickly, and could mask minor driver errors. According to the experts, while the steering was not quite as precise as some of the competition, the drivers could place the vehicle where desired, and it felt stable and planted through turns and rapid transitions, demonstrating the fastest average lap by a notable margin.

Dry Braking

Nexen
9.00
Bridgestone
8.88
Falken
8.88
Yokohama
8.88

Info! Points.

Steering Response

Falken
9.13
Bridgestone
8.75
Nexen
8.63
Yokohama
8.50

Info! Points.


The Bridgestone model fell short of Yokohama by 0.3 points, showing the best result on the circular track (where lateral grip was a factor), but coming last in the test where lap time was taken into account. The TR experts noted that the steering was precise, linear, and had a great feel, though it did not have the immediate response that helps when trying to set ultra-low lap times around the track. The immense lateral grip allowed the drivers to carry big speed through the larger-radius turns, but the tire was a step behind in fast transitions like the slalom. On the whole, the experts said, the tire had tremendous capability, but it felt like it would perform to its full potential on a large racetrack. The new Nexen model came last in the subjective ranking but it must be noted that it was the N’Fera Sport R that demonstrated the shortest dry braking distance and was the closest competitor to the Yokohama in average lap time. According to the testers, the tire was also incredibly easy to drive from the first turn, and it was very consistent throughout the day of testing. It delivered a small amount of usable looseness at the rear axle that helped rotate around turns, and had direct and responsive steering. «This is a tire that simply goes about the business of being fast without drawing much attention to itself» — the TR experts noted.

Lateral Stability

Yokohama
9.13
Bridgestone
8.88
Falken
8.88
Nexen
8.75

Info! Points.

Dry Handling

Yokohama
8.88
Nexen
8.75
Bridgestone
8.75
Falken
8.63

Info! Points.


Wet

Wet testing shuffled the order and created some additional separation among the group, with the Bridgestone Potenza RE-71RS distinguishing itself as the top performer both objectively and subjectively. The tire was praised for its ability to grip through corners, efficient braking performance, and for its capability to «accept as much throttle as the driver was brave enough to provide." The tire won in three disciplines with the fastest average lap, fastest slalom time, and shortest 80 km/h braking distance. The Yokohama ADVAN A052 — the previous wet-testing champion — delivered another impressive performance, despite being slightly outperformed by the new competitor. With the highest lateral g measurement around the skid pad and 80 km/h braking distances a mere 0.45 meter longer than those of the test leader, the Yokohama demonstrated it has monumental wet traction. At the same time, the overall score was influenced by the average lap time, and the Yokohama model was three tenths of a second back from the best in the test, primarily because the drivers could not lean quite as hard on the front tires at corner entry and because it required slightly more disciplined throttle application at corner exit.

Wet Braking

Bridgestone
8.50
Yokohama
8.38
Falken
7.75
Nexen
7.38

Info! Points.

Steering Response

Bridgestone
8.25
Yokohama
8.00
Falken
7.75
Nexen
7.50

Info! Points.


The Falken Azenis RT660 was a step behind the two leaders, and, although in isolation its objective figures were impressive in their own right, its subjective scores did not quite measure up to what the objective testing seemed to promise. Specifically, the immediate steering response could be a bit too much for the limited grip on the wet surface, which had the potential to overwhelm the available traction at the front tires, leading to noticeable understeer. In addition, some movement at the rear axle, particularly under power, sometimes made the vehicle feel a bit nervous, and overall it could be a bit edgy at the absolute limit. As for the Nexen model, its wet traction clearly falls short of that of the competition, which is evidenced by the worst wet lap time and the longest wet braking distance. According to the experts, this tire did have a nice balance within its limits, but those limits were simply lower than the rest of the group. At the same time, aside from a tendency to step out the rear axle when accelerating, the tire had no bad habits to report.

Lateral Stability

Bridgestone
8.63
Yokohama
8.63
Falken
8.13
Nexen
7.25

Info! Points.

Wet Handling

Bridgestone
8.63
Yokohama
8.38
Falken
7.50
Nexen
7.50

Info! Points.


Road tests

The word «Extreme» was added to the name of the Extreme Performance category for a reason, and you can fully appreciate this on ordinary roads, where the tires vividly demonstrate how much of the ride comfort was sacrificed in favor of dry traction and track-worthiness. At the same time, the Yokohama model, which was the best in this part of the test, did impress the drivers: while still noticeably stiff compared to a touring tire or even most performance tires, the ride was surprisingly accommodating to bumps of all sizes. In addition, the noise created by the tread pattern was medium-volume and relatively broad, which in this category is about the highest praise that can be reasonably expected. The Bridgestone tire delivered a much rougher ride, the sound comfort being closer to what one could expect from traditional tires of this class. Over the smoothest sections of the road ride route, the Bridgestone model was acceptable relative to the category, but, as the TR experts put it, this tire «still wouldn’t be described as «quiet» by any driver." The same is equally applicable to Falken, but in addition to the «grinding» sound over coarse surfaces, the Falken tire added some «sizzle» over certain patches of smooth pavement. Besides, when driving on Falken tires, you will feel all the road inequalities, and every large bump that your car will hit. As for the Nexen tire, the ride it delivered was as firm as the Falken, but where that tire felt sharp over certain impacts, the Nexen model seemed «clunky» over nearly every medium-to-large bump. As for the sound comfort, the Nexen tire, the experts said, issues a grinding, ever-present resonance at speed.

Comfort

Yokohama
6.38
Bridgestone
6.13
Falken
5.88
Nexen
5.68

Info! Points.

Noise

Yokohama
5.63
Bridgestone
5.50
Falken
5.38
Nexen
5.13

Info! Points.


The highest score for steering and road handling was earned by the Falken Azenis RT660 thanks to its taut, precise feel and immediate response to inputs. The personality paired very well with the Subaru BRZ test vehicles to create a satisfying driving experience that felt great on the winding road. The Bridgestone Potenza RE-71RS was also satisfying, but it did not have the immediate response of the Falken, and required a bit more effort to elicit any directional changes, which made it feel a little dull on-center. The ADVAN A052 responded predictably and quickly to the driver’s inputs, but never felt as precise as the best in the test, while the Nexen’s response was a little bit fuzzy, particularly at low speeds. It firmed up noticeably at highway speeds, though ultimately was not as sharp or precise as one could expect from an Extreme Performance Summer tire.

Steering Response

Falken
9.00
Bridgestone
8.80
Yokohama
8.75
Nexen
8.50

Info! Points.


VERDICT

Just like in previous tests, the Yokohama ADVAN A052 leads the way with the highest subjective score from the drivers, in addition to the fastest average lap in the dry. The tires from this Japanese brand also provide impressive wet grip, and, in addition, they earned the highest scores in the road test, that is, among the tested tires, they have the best-balanced performance, and the competitors will have a pretty hard time trying to beat them. Bridgestone’s new Potenza RE-71RS came second, being mere 0.02 points behind the Yokohama in the combined scoring thanks to its remarkable capabilities in the wet and the reasonably acceptable road performance. The Bridgestone tire was commended for excellent dry lateral grip, and the TR experts came to a conclusion that this tire is better suited for a full-fledged racetrack rather than the small autocross-style track that the tests were conducted upon. The Falken Azenis RT660 again demonstrated that it could be considered one of the best-in-class, while its dry skid pad performance and highly-responsive steering allowed it to earn the top subjective score in dry track testing. Its wet traction is very strong in its own right, but some tail-happy tendencies and the previously mentioned immediate steering made it feel nervous when being pushed to the limit. In the road test, the Falken model was rigid and noisy but its steering response again allowed it to earn the best subjective scores. And, finally, the new Nexen N’Fera Sport R was also called a viable option, thanks to its shortest dry braking distance. Although that was the only place it led the group, the Nexen model had strong second-place figures in all other measured criteria, and the drivers were very impressed with its consistent, easy-to-master driving performance. At the same time, on wet pavement the Nexen model was behind the competition, and it demonstrated the worst ride comfort, but then again, this is not the high-priority performance area when it comes to Extreme Performance summer tires.

1st place: Yokohama / Advan A052

Quick Take
N/A 31
Dry Performance Handling Comfort Treadwear Wet Performance
  • Available Sizes in Line: 60
  • Year Released: 2016
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Central & South America, Europe, Russia+, East Asia
Yokohama Advan A052

  • Very good handling response in the wet and in the dry
  • Acceptable riding comfort
  • Somewhat fuzzy steering response compared to the competition

2nd place: Bridgestone / Potenza RE-71RS

Quick Take
N/A 42

Bridgestone Potenza RE-71RS

  • Year Released: 2020
  • Regions for sale: East Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Oceania
Bridgestone Potenza RE-71RS

  • Excellent results on wet pavement
  • Excellent lateral stability on dry pavement
  • Relatively long braking distance on dry pavement

3rd place: Falken / Azenis RT660

Quick Take
N/A 26
  • Year Released: 2019
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada
Falken Azenis RT660

  • Precise steering response and a very high lateral grip on dry pavement
  • Somewhat nervous behavior wet pavement

4th place: Nexen / N'Fera Sport R

Quick Take
N/A 26
  • Available Sizes in Line: 13
  • Year Released: 2021
  • Regions for sale: USA+
Nexen N'Fera Sport R

  • Short braking distance and good handling response on dry pavement
  • Relatively weak results on wet pavement
  • Stiff ride and high noise emission

Price