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Cooper Tire Zeon RS3-S - Tire Review

True to its category, the RS3-S is a sticky tire that keeps itself glued to the road.

Jan 10, 2012

Specs & Details
Cooper Tire Zeon RS3-S
Type Ultra-high-performance summer tire
Size 235/40R18 (front) 255/35R18 (rear)

Modp 1201 02+cooper tire zeon rs3 s+tread Photo 1/2   |   Cooper Tire Zeon RS3-S - Tire Review

Key Features

  • Specially formulated tread compounds combine excellent dry and wet traction with crisp handling and high-speed capabilities

  • Advanced technology square tread profile provides more tread-to-road contact

  • Asymmetrical tread design allows for cross-rotation, which reduces heal-toe wear, promotes even wear, less noise and increased overall tread life

  • Wide, circumferential grooves positioned toward the inside of the tread pattern allows for more rubber on the outside of the tire, increasing dry traction and cornering ability

Test Mule
’97 Nissan 240SX
Test Driver
Peter Tarach
Test Track
Street and highway driving
Track Condition
Dry and wet roads

Modp 1201 01+cooper tire zeon rs3 s+cover Photo 2/2   |   Cooper Tire Zeon RS3-S - Tire Review

Cooper Tire’s latest venture into the ultra-high-performance summer tire segment is the Zeon RS3-S. It replaces the outgoing Zeon 2XS and boasts new technologies that Cooper says provide world-class dry traction and outstanding cornering ability, with wet-weather performance also being improved.

With a fresh set of 18-inch RS3-S tires mounted on our Nissan 240SX test mule, we set to test the limits of the Zeon RS3-S with some aggressive street driving in both wet and dry conditions.

True to its category, the RS3-S is a sticky tire that keeps itself glued to the road. Initial turn-in is surprisingly good with a crisp, quick response. As you push the tire harder and faster in a corner, it grips better than expected, and just as you crest the breaking point of tire adhesion where fade starts to set in, it reacts in a progressive, linear fashion that allows you to bring it back under control with ease. This characteristic makes the RS3-S ideal for RWD cars such as our tail-happy S14. Controlling a medium-speed slide proved very straightforward for this wannabe drifter, as the tires exhibited a smooth transition between grip and slip.

On the other side of the token, the Zeon RS3-S also proved itself worthy as a lapping-day tire, demonstrating good high-speed stability through long, sweeping corners with no fade whatsoever. With continued abuse, it rarely showed signs of giving up, but we suspect the RS3-S can be overheated and lose the majority of its grip if pushed hard enough over and over at the track. In the wet, the tire sheds water quickly and effectively, leaving you with more traction than expected. The large grooves on the inside of the tire are largely to thank for the above-average wet performance.

Speaking of grooves and tread pattern, the RS3-S is designed with larger tread blocks on the outside for increased dry grip while the inside is optimized for wet-weather driving, making it a great all-around performer. Furthermore, its asymmetrical, square tread design should stand up to uneven wear on negative cambered suspension setups.

With sticky rubber comes one caveat, and that’s tire wear. Having only put about 2,000 miles on the tires, we already began to see signs of wear — meaning that the RS3-S isn’t going to be a tire that will last a long time. Of course, it depends how you drive, but we wouldn’t expect more than 10–12K miles out of them. However, that’s just a sacrifice you have to be willing to live with if you want a high-performance summer tire. On the upside, the Cooper Zeon RS3-S is priced extremely well and won’t burn a complete hole in your wallet for a full set.


Cooper Tire
Findlay, OH 45840



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