Review: Yokohama Advan Neova AD08

Although at Leftlane we try to focus on OEM auto manufacturers, we just couldn't turn down Yokoham's offer to try out its new high-performance Advan Neova AD08 tire at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The AD08 is the successor to the successful AD07, but the real question is, can the new tire live up to the previous generation's unofficial title of "the fastest street tire?"

After spending a day behind the wheel of several different cars equipped with the new Advan Neova AD08 rubber, we can unequivocally say yes.

Our day started out on the autocross course with some Mazda RX-8s equipped with the previous-generation AD07. After taking a few laps getting to know the course, we were ready for some full-throttle runs. Despite being a previous-generation tire, the AD07s handled the turns remarkably well. Grip was great up until the 8/10th threshold, at which point the tires stated to exhibit a bit of understeer - nothing that was out of control but definitely noticeable at the limit.

Now that we had a baseline for the old tires, we got behind the wheel of some identically prepared RX-8s, this time with the new AD08 rubber. What a difference a generation can make. The AD08s were noticeably better from the first turn. The AD08 exhibited loads of grip with the RX-8's chassis, not the tires, dictating how fast a corner could be taken. The new tires also felt much more stable, which can be attributed to stiffer side walls, but we'll get to that later.

And not only did the laps on the AD08s feel faster, they were faster -- our lap times dropped by an impressive two seconds.

But track days don't automatically mean sunny weather, so Yokohama wheeled out a water truck to simulate some rather damp track conditions. Obviously there was some traction loss due to the puddles on the track, but the AD08s continued to impress. Yokohama improved the tire's water channeling ability and it really showed on the water logged asphalt. We managed to spin an AD07-equipped RX-8 twice in the slick conditions, but barely got a waggle from the AD08-equipped car.

After a quick break, our focus switched from the autocross course to a road course setup in the middle of the Las Vegas Speedway's big oval. The intent was to explore how the AD08 would handle a simulated back roads romp. As we found on the autocross, the AD08s passed with flying colors. We sampled the new rubber on a wide variety of vehicles - from the all-wheel drive Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X to the rear-engined Porsche Carrera S Convertible to the wildly-powerful Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG - and never found an instance where we didn't have the utmost confidence in the AD08s.

So why are these tires so good? The simple answer is a lot of science and a lot of research. Whereas the old AD07s used pretty much a standard rubber compound, the new AD08 were design with a new micro silica compound called Hyper Density Carbon, or HDC for short. HDC allows for a much stickier compound yet keeps the old tire's treadwear rating of 180. The only real downside - if you can call it that - to HDC is that it can't be used in temperatures below -14 degrees Fahrenheit, but we doubt this will be a factor for anyone shopping a high-performance tire.

The AD08 was also designed with an extra-wide unibloc shoulder for continuous rubber-to-road contact, which explains why it has so much grip, even in extreme corning. Specially placed steel side wall inserts also help the AD08 from rubbing the lettering off the side walls, and keep more of the tire planted in the twisties.

In addition to improving the technical aspects of the Advan Neova tire range, Yokohama also improved some of the retail shortcomings of the AD07. While the AD07 was standard stock for some of the world's best performance cars - including names like Audi and Lotus - its aftermarket uses were limited due to very few sizes being offered. That won't be the case for the AD08, however, as it will be available in 32 sizes, ranging from 15 to 19 inches.

If you're looking for tires to pull double duties on a daily driver/track toy, we wholeheartedly recommend the AD08. Under normal driving conditions the AD08s act more like an all-season comfort tire - very little noise or excess harshness - but once on a closed circuit, look out. The AD08 provides grip only surpassed by an all-out racing tire.

Words and photos by Drew Johnson.