We might be enjoying the summer now, but with another winter around the corner, Nitto showed us its newest products
Although Nitto has only been focused on the performance market since the '90s, and only present in the US since the '70s, its purchase by Toyo Tire in 2000 set it on a straight path.
It's now one of the most recognized brands, with more Facebook fans (three million and counting) than any other tire company, as well as its own race results and travel phone apps.
The company shares Toyo manufacturing facilities, giving it access to a US plant in White, GA that employees 600 people and turns out two million tires each year. At this facility the new Nitto Motivo all-season tire is produced, destined for the OE replacement market with Y and W speed ratings.
With winter coming, Nitto gave us the opportunity to test the Motivo against an OE competitor and compare them to the dedicated Nitto NT90W. Unfortunately, they decided the Nissan G37X all-wheel drive would be a good chassis to highlight the product, so we held our noses and got stuck in.
The competitor was the Goodyear Eagle RS+-A. It's original equipment on the Infiniti sedans and representative of what Motivo is up against.
In our early tests, the Motivo seemed to have slightly better accel, braking and turning, feeling marginally crisper in the cold snow and ice. Like all tires in this sector, the compound remains compliant at low temps but the large number of sipes gives it plenty of biting surfaces to find traction. The 3D Multi-wave sipes can also lock together when necessary to provide better dry traction.
As you'd expect, the Motivo has wide center channels to evacuate water and resist hydroplaning, with most of the sipes on the inside, while the outside shoulder is designed for dry performance. It also has a 560 UTQG, meaning they should last a long time, and this is supported by a 60,000-mile limited treadwear warranty. The asymmetric tread pattern allows cross-rotation of your tires in basically any direction, which should aid longevity.
Unfortunately, the afternoon brought warmer temps and melting snow, so while our initial impressions of Motivo were good, it was difficult to form a strong opinion after that. If nothing else, the Motivo appeared to be as good as the Goodyear Eagle RS-A, which is a popular OE tire for inclement weather - a pretty good endorsement in itself.
Where the company really scored was when it brought out the NT90W. This is a dedicated winter tire for regions that get proper winters, rather than the occasional dusting of snow.
The asymmetric design is similar to Motivo, with sipes inside, dry traction outside, and water evacuation in the middle. They also have the interlocking sipes and a dual tread compound.
A unique aspect of the NT90W was its bamboo charcoal additive. This is mixed into the rubber to create tiny holes in the tread that microscopically suck water off the road. There are also crushed walnut shells in the tread that create an uneven surface, even as it wears. This produces more microscopic edges to cut into the ice and snow, increasing grip.
Only available in Fall 2013, our experience with the Nitto NT90W was very positive. It was significantly better than both all-season tires, which you'd expect in deep snow and ice - proving once again that you need the right tire for the conditions.
It wasn't quite like dry road grip, but the NT90W was significantly quicker to accelerate and had better braking and turning grip. They gave you stability and confidence you didn't get with the all-season tires. So if you live in areas with heavy snow, the NT90W is another option to add to your shopping list. Admittedly, we didn't test them against a competitor's winter tire, but in comparison to the all-season, they could be lifesavers in the right/wrong conditions.
So as well as maybe looking at the Nitto NT05 for track use and Invo for street use, you can also consider the Motivo for the wet months and NT90W for the winter, wrapping your entire year in Nitto rubber.
For more information, visit nittotire.com
Photos courtesy of Nitto