It used to be if you wanted a good performance tire, it was at the sacrifice of comfort and multi-season driveability. Because of characteristically aggressive tread patterns and requisite compounds, the tires were also noisy. For better performance, most of us overlooked such undesirable traits and accepted them as part of the package.
You may never have to make these compromises again. Various leading manufacturers have introduced performance tires offering significant headway in many areas. Nitto Tires' Invo is chief among them.
Specifically targeting the European performance and luxury segment, the Invo has many qualities. It's got one of the more visually striking treads, with sharp angles and criss-crossing grooves, creating an asymmetrical tread aesthetic. It incorporates a series of complex X and V tread patterns with twin water dispersion channel grooves placed off center. Block pattern grooves on the outer are noticeably wider than those on the inside shoulder. Aside from a distinctive look, each element has a unique function. Designed with a continuous inner rib, the tire also uses a silica-reinforced compound which reduces tread flex, further refining performance and driveability, as well as prolonging tread life.
Installed on an E46 M3, I found the tires an ideal match for the car's demanding performance characteristics. Traction in the dry is exceptional, building confidence via optimal control in and out of corners. I have a favorite section near the office which I use as a barometer for traction and stability. It's nearly a full circle, entering the 57 Northbound. If I time it right, I get a clear shot and power my way through. It's a quick and easy way to gauge when and where traction breaks--some tires surprisingly much sooner than others.
Not the case with these Invos. They stick to the asphalt as if it were recently tarred, holding the turn through the exit without even a squeal. Had conditions been wet, the grooved center section would have sucked up residual water, allowing maximum tread contact.
With the exception of snow, the tread is designed to provide the best-balanced performance under a variety of road conditions. Nitto calls the tire athree-from-four-season, pertaining to spring, summer and fall, which, for warmer climates like California, constitutes year-round excitement.
Once up to speed, two things are apparent. The comfort and low level of road noise. It's great, especially if you're accustomed to the drone of some performance-rated tires. Relative to its performance characteristics, the Invo is very quiet.
"Our goal with the Invo was to advance our tire development technology," says Mr. Nishihata, head of Nitto corporate technology. "In the end, we knew we had a winner with the aggressive tread design, high performance threshold and low noise residual. It's an elegant display of the harmony between art and engineering." Nitto's Invo is available in the following sizes: