Outfitting the right everyday performance tire on a 2020 Toyota Supra that’s a former SEMA show car and time attack competitor.
Written By: Sam Du
Photos By: Renz Dimaandal
The Importance of Tires
I’ve been asked more times than I can count what a person should invest in or modify first when it comes to their own project cars. My first two answers are always the same: A) Learn how to drive, and B) Have a good tire on the car.
Now, not me nor anyone over the internet can teach you how to drive faster in a track setting, but understand that getting proper instruction and practicing safely on a road course is the best way possible to improve your driving skills and lap times. This also translates to having a better and safer experience when it comes to spirited getaways in your local backcountry roads. That leaves us with tires, and if you take a step back and think about it, tires are the one component of your ride that connects you to the road (not your expensive suspension setup, powerful engine, or fancy bodywork...) Tires are the single most important investment you can make when it concerns your safety and your vehicle’s performance.
How To Choose the Right Tire
Unless you’re driving a 1996 Toyota Corolla, you’re going to need something with a little more quality than those all-seasons for sale at your neighborhood tire shop. There’s a lot of factors that go into selecting the right tire which includes overall traction, handling characteristics, how it handles various weather conditions and terrains, tread life, noise level, appearance, and price. Some of these priorities might matter to you more than others, for example, you’re building a dedicated track car. You want the most grip and best handling possible with no care in the world for tread life and noise. You’re likely going to shop for the lowest treadwear possible which suits your driving style and vehicle. However, if you’re looking for something for that 100hp Corolla, all you’d worry about is getting the most mileage out of that tire for the cheapest price. Don’t be ashamed as not everybody gets it, even I didn’t when I first got into cars. There was a time when I just wanted the most aggressive tire my wallet could afford but was totally unnecessary since I didn’t drive more than back and forth from home to school on the freeway. I’ve learned a thing or two over the years and realized doing your research and reading up on real-life reviews is the first step towards making an educated decision on choosing the right tire, which is why I’m happy to share the experiences with my 2020 Toyota Supra.
Super Street Toyota Supra Project Car
For those that don’t know me, I’m Sam Du and I’ve been the editor-in-chief at Super Street for nearly ten years. My experience in the car community stems back to the late ‘90s where I began helping out a local VW/Audi tuner. From there, modifying cars for better performance and more style has been a passion and lifestyle for me as I’ve continued to appreciate different types of car cultures, motorsport and have had a fair share of building my own project cars, the latest being an A90 Toyota Supra. In stock form, it’s already a blast to drive and truly caters to the sports car enthusiast and weekend track junkie. Being that I’m from Super Street, there was no way I was going to keep it stock so I installed aftermarket parts to improve its overall handling, power and looks with things like adjustable coilover suspension, larger brakes, free-flowing exhaust and downpipe and a rear carbon fiber wing for added downforce. The Supra made its debut at the 2019 SEMA Show, however its ultimate test would be participating in Global Time Attack Challenge at Buttonwillow Raceway where it successfully completed several hot laps and pushed to its maximum limit running ADVAN A052 tires, Yokohama’s most competitive, softest and race-inspired tire.
Track Tires Aren’t for the Street
You might be wondering why I wouldn’t just run with the A052 tires all the time, but the truth of that matter is, while grip was phenomenal around Buttonwillow’s 3.1-mile road course, the 200-treadwear tires were flat out too aggressive for handling day-to-day duties like going to the office. These circuit-designed tires also aren’t cheap and don’t offer a long tread life so wasting miles on them picking up groceries would be foolish, not to mention I was forced to run a smaller 18” diameter wheel to take full advantage of the widest A052 footprint possible. Wanting to keep the 19” stock-sized wheel for the street, I had to ask myself what tire would make the most sense for commuting several times a week but also allow me to let loose on some winding backcountry roads from time to time. This is where the ADVAN APEX comes into play.
ADVAN APEX Technology and Features
The ADVAN APEX tire is Yokohama’s award-winning summer tire and intended to be an OEM replacement for high performance, fun-to-drive vehicles like the BMW M3 or Toyota Supra to name a few. What I found interesting about this tire is that it’s Yokohama’s first summer tire offering developed for the U.S. market. This means its local R&D team was able to take into account our road and weather conditions, demands in performance, preferences in tread pattern and requests for certain fitments to offer the best street tire possible designed for our roads.
Let’s take a step back and it’s important to remember that it’s impossible to have a tire that excels at everything. A tire that’s able to get you around in the snow, isn’t going to also perform well in the rain or give you the most grip in the dry. Formulating a tire consists of finding the complicated and delicate balance of the right chemistry, compounds, and design to offer a specific combination of driving traits. In the case of the APEX, traction and handling are the top two priorities, so you’ll find a high-grade micro-silica compound that creates the most grip with a road. Then there are wide outer rib blocks and strengthened sidewalls to maximize dry grip performance and turning feel. Other important traits for the ADVAN APEX include distributing heat more evenly which aids a longer tread life. While not as important as traction, these are important factors engineers have to address, which is why the APEX becomes a good option for cars that see a lot of mileage.
Over the last 30 days, I’ve had the chance of reviewing the ADVAN APEX tires on my Supra in both an everyday environment and spirited summer driving sessions in the secluded twisty roads of Malibu Canyon and Angeles Crest Highway. First off, they’re quiet and comfortable for daily commuting. Its sound profile isn’t overbearing at all and resembles the factory Supra tire offering. I can’t comment on the tire’s wet performance and tread life, but where I was able to test the APEX’s in a short period of time were its handling and grip, and frankly what I cared about most. The sharp and tight handling wasn’t there like my A052 track tires, but when I kicked up the aggression and pushed my driving limits to about 80-90%, the ADVAN APEXs answered the call. They felt very even and controlled through cornering and stable at top speeds. Admittingly not as much initial bite as I liked with a more track-focused tire but the control and stability were there. There’s an old saying, “smooth is fast”, which is exactly how the APEX’s felt as it rewarded me with each properly executed turn. It didn’t break traction unexpectedly or required any unnatural steering compensation due to additional understeer or oversteer. Managing proper weight transfer lets the APEX’s compound and tread design do at all the work. I should highlight that even during hard launches and using maximum braking force, the tires experienced minimal slipping proving that it was intended for a performance car like a Supra.
I can’t stress this enough but it’s important to remember this isn’t a competition tire and not a tire you should be pushing 110% while aiming for the fastest lap. It’s a reliable UHP tire that hits its mark for guys that have powerful cars and some spirited driving on the street. The APEX is something for the majority of folks that aren’t looking to prove anything at all times but want a tire that fits their needs as a performance car nut and a driving enthusiast.
Last but not least, I’ll be honest that there are many brands that offer a tire that has similar ratings and reviews as the APEX, but there’s something to remember about Yokohama ADVAN and its heritage that goes beyond the data and that is the brand’s proven success in racing. On the highest professional level, ADVAN has won in Japan’s Super GT300 Championship, 24 Hours of Le Mans GT class, Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. On the grassroots side, ADVAN tires have been equipped on some of the most-winning time attack record-holders in history. So if you’re ever stuck the next time buying a set of track or street tires, keep in mind that the ADVAN brand is trusted by some of the biggest dogs around with decades of victories in motorsports. That’s something you simply can’t ignore if you’re a true driving enthusiast.