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Dunlop Direzza DZ101 - Newbie Question

9 July 2008
Mineral, Va.
The 97 I just picked up will need new tires soon. I'll be the first to admit I can't drive this car at its limits, don't even want to try. My track time is confined to E-stock auto-x in a 93 Miata, both from an ability and cost standpoint. So, the 97 is primarily to be used for casual driving in the spring/summer/fall and may sometimes get caught out in the rain.

I'd like to extend the tire life some and was looking at stock size tires, of which there don't seem to the that many because of the stagger. Anyway, Tirerack has the Dunlop Direzza DZ101 with a 300 tread guess rating. For the casual driver, what's your opinion of these tires. Also, I am considering going with a bit less aggressive alignment numbers, again because of the use of the car and to preserve the tire life. Although, at 3000 miles a year, I suspect almost anything will get we through a few years of use. Any comments on that idea?

Thanks for any help. I may decide to drive the crap out of this car after a year of ownership but for the moment, it is just going to be the fun car for my wife and I and yes, she will also be driving it (she's 2 seconds faster through the auto-x than me BTW :( ).
I have those on my miata, and loved them, very audible noise at limit and gradual break away... grip isn't there compared to most other tires I have. I would recommend Kumho Mx if you want inexpensive tires on nsx.

if you admit that you can't drive the nsx at the limit, you probably need better tires in case mother nature gives you some surprise. I swear by the Dunlop Z1 star spec. and they are cheaper than all other tires that performed the same level.
First, let me repeat the advice I frequently post about choosing tires for the NSX; then I'll address your particular query:

nsxtasy said:
Lots of very good tires are available for the NSX, and my summarized recommendations are bolded below. I'll confine the discussion to summer tires, under the assumption that you do not drive your NSX in snow or frigid cold (or you have winter tires for that purpose), so you do not need all-season tires.

Summer tires tend to break down into three broad categories:

a. Specialty tires with exceptional traction and handling on dry pavement. These tires are almost like track tires. Their downsides are that they tend to wear rapidly and are not all that great in rain or on wet pavement. The best of these overall are the Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec (17"/17" and 17"/18" wheel sizes only) and Falken Azenis RT-615; other decent choices include the BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD, Bridgestone RE-01R, and Yokohama Advan Neova AD07. (The latter two are not available in North America in NSX sizes.)

b. Top-of-the-line tires with excellent traction and handling on dry pavement, outstanding traction and handling on wet pavement, and very good treadlife ("very good" being a relative term on the NSX ). The only downside is that they tend to be expensive. The best of these include the OEM tires for the NSX (Yokohama A022H and Bridgestone Potenza RE010) and the Goodyear F1 GS-D3. (The Goodyear F1 GS-D3 won the recent comparison test of eleven top-of-the-line tires in Car and Driver.) Other decent choices include the Bridgestone Potenza RE050A Pole Position, Michelin Pilot Sport PS2, and Dunlop SP Sport Maxx.

c. "Budget performance tires" which are designed to offer good performance at a lower price. With the best of these, their performance (both dry and wet) is quite good although not at a level of the tires in the previous category. The best tires in this performance category include the Kumho Ecsta SPT, Yokohama ES100, Avon Tech M500, Dunlop Direzza DZ101, Falken FK-452, Toyo T1-R, Bridgestone Potenza RE750, and BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW2. All offer similar performance. The first five tend to cost less than the last three, and the Kumho SPT tends to be the least expensive of all of these.

So then it's a matter of deciding which tire category is best for you:

a. If you want the absolutely best traction on dry pavement, and you're willing to give up wet traction and treadlife for it, then go with category (a) and the Dunlop Z1 Star Spec or Falken Azenis RT-615.

b. If you want excellent dry traction and wet traction and treadlife, then go with category (b) and either the OEM tires or the Goodyear F1 GS-D3.

c. If you're willing to accept somewhat lower performance in exchange for a lower purchase price for your tires, then go with category (c) and the Kumho SPT.
(Personally, I don't see much point in spending a lot of money on a high-performance car like an NSX, only to then degrade its performance in order to save a few bucks on tires, but hey, different strokes...) (It's also worth noting that if you're going to use your car for an occasional track event, you should probably avoid this category entirely.)

All of the recommended choices other than the OEM tires - IOW, the Falken Azenis RT-615, Goodyear F1 GS-D3, and Kumho Ecsta SPT - are available in 215/40/17 and 265/35/18 for those with 17"/18" wheels. Those with 16"/17" wheels can go with the stock sizes for the OEM tires, with 215/45-16 and 255/40-17 for the RT-615, and with 205/45-16 and 245/40-17 for the F1 GS-D3 and SPT. The F1 GS-D3 is not available in the stock sizes for 15"/16" wheels, but the OEM tires, RT-615, and SPT are.
Before I continue, I'll note up front that there are additional sizes you can use on your stock 16"/17" wheels. Any of the following combinations will work just fine on your car:

215/45-16 front and 245/40-17 rear (stock sizes)
205/45-16 front and 245/40-17 rear (slightly smaller front, stock rear)
215/45-16 front and 255/40-17 rear (stock front, slightly larger rear)

Since you're looking for longer treadlife, you obviously don't want "category (a)". Both the "category (b)" and "category (c)" tires will give you relatively long treadlife (not compared with other cars - it's still an NSX - but compared with some other, stickier tires). It's just not clear from your post whether you are willing to spend a bit more for better performance, or, on the other hand, if you would prefer to spend a bit less on your tires for a lower level of performance. (I would be surprised that anyone who autocrosses would fall into the latter category, but hey, different strokes...)

If you don't mind spending a bit more, get the top-of-the-line, "category (b)" tires. The Goodyear F1 GS-D3 is a great choice in this group, and is available in 205/45-16 and 245/40-17, which will fit your '97 perfectly (even though the front is slightly smaller than the stock size).

If you would prefer to get a less expensive, "category (c)" tire, then there are better choices in this group than the Dunlop Direzza DZ101. In particular, the Kumho SPT and Yokohama S.drive offer better "bang for the buck"; the prices are similar to the DZ101, but all three give better performance than the DZ101 and will last just as long. If you would like to see a side-by-side comparison test of the SPT, S.drive, and DZ101 (and also the Fuzion ZRi, which is hard to get in a front size for the NSX), click here. All of these are available in 205/45-16 and 245/40-17.

Incidentally, treadwear ratings are not always indicative of a tire's true treadlife, especially when comparing between different brands. For example, the Falken Azenis RT-615 has a treadwear rating of 200, but compared with most other tires, it wears as though its rating should be 100 instead. But FWIW, the treadwear ratings of the above tires are 280 for the Goodyear F1 GS-D3, 320 for the Kumho SPT, and 300 for the Yokohama S.drive.

Current prices:

Goodyear F1 GS-D3 205/45-16 $138 245/40-17 $175 at Discount Tire
Kumho SPT 205/45-16 $86.30 245/40-17 $118.60 at tires-easy.com
Yokohama S.drive 205/45-16 $90 245/40-17 $117 at Discount Tire
Dunlop Direzza DZ101 215/45-16 $127 (205/45-16 $78) 245/40-17 $115 at Tire Rack

Bottom line, if you're willing to pay a bit more for better performance (and roughly equal treadlife), get the Goodyear F1 GS-D3; otherwise, get the Kumho SPT or Yokohama S.drive.

Kumho Mx
Dunlop Z1 star spec
Both the Kumho MX and the Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec are "category (a)" supersticky tires (and the Star Spec is far, far better than the MX, which will be discontinued next month when Kumho introduces the Ecsta XS). Because of relatively rapid treadwear, both are poor recommendations for the original poster, who is looking for a longer-lasting tire. Also, neither the MX nor the Star Spec is available in sizes for 16"/17" wheels on the NSX.
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Wow, that was a lot of work and I really appreciate all the advice. Wasn't sure about using slightly different sizes and so was only coming up with the stock size tires and thus the limits as to what I thought I could use.

I will print out your post and start hunting! Again, thanks for all the time and effort you put into that post!
I have these Dunlop Direzza DZ101's on my NSX with a stock setup (not lowered, factory sizes) and they have been great as far as daily driving goes. I've put 10K miles on them over the past year thus far, and they still look like they have a long way to go before I have to replace them. They ride nicely, and are quiet on the highway too--I notice more wind noise than road noise for sure. As far as grip, they certainly aren't anything to write home about (I wish they had a little bit more "bite" on turn-in.) But for simple daily driving, I wouldn't hesitate getting them again.

That said, nsxtasy is very knowledgeable about his tires, and I might try the Yokohama or Kumho (same price range) next time. :biggrin:
This thread has been great - it helped me with exactly the same issue (I even have the same year NSX, a 97!)

I started another thread regarding the availability of the Goodyears earlier today (in short, they are discontinuing the 205 size for the fronts) and eventually bit the bullet and went for Khumo SPT's, largely on the guidance from NSXtasy in this thread.

I have to say I was disappointed, as the Goodyears looked as though they were going to be fantastic, but I just couldn't get the fronts, so had to move to plan 'B'. I thought it was probably better to get a full set of the same make/brand rather than try a mix and match.

In any case, I will try out the Khumo's and let you know how they work out.
I, too, just got a 97 NSX that needs front tires, knowing how little there is available in the OEM stock size. I am going blind reading all the Tire Rack reviews, and NSXPrime again shows how valuable a resource it is to us NSXers. I'm a little concerned about going to a narrower 205 width tire, as I would expect a smaller tire patch, however, a better overall tire, e.g. the F-1 GS-D3, should be expected to make better use of its tire patch than a poorer performing tire in the OEM stock size. Hence, I'm leaning towards the Goodyears - if I can find it in stock. Additionally, spending an extra $100 for two tires for the F1s (over the S-Drive or SPT), is a small cost of insurance to maintain control over my dream car.:redface:
I just had the Goodyear GS D3s installed. They are great. The 205/45-16 size is no longer available so I put on 215/40-16 instead. That size seems to work well, at least on my upsized 91.