For the majority of us, you wouldn’t normally associate the words ‘Nexen’ and ‘track performance’ in the same sentence. Furthermore, ‘SUR4G’ sounds like a WiFi router.
As many lesser brands have proven over the years though (e.g. Nankang), the game really has changed and there are new viable alternatives to the mainstream out there.
It’s been years since Pearl the S15 has done any serious track work on street rated tyres, R compound semi grip and confidence has been the clear choice for maximum attack.
You can imagine then it was quite daunting making the move back to the 140+ treadwear rubber.
Having achieved 1:06’s at Wakefield on Hankook Ventus TD Z221 C50 semis, it was time to don some 140+ treadwear street spec tyres to make Pearl eligible for clubsprint class events.
There are 3 common choices – Yokohama AD08R, Hankook RS4 and the Bridgestone RE71R.
The AD08R is the WTAC control compound and has proven itself to be quite the grippy tyre. It is also quite pricey and optimal grip life is quite short.
The RS4 is an amazing bang for buck tyre. It’s long wearing, relatively inexpensive and has decent amounts of grip.
The RE71R has R compound grip and is priced as one however is labelled at 200 Treadwear. Commonly viewed as “cheater” tyre due to it’s non 200 treadwear grip levels, these are quite hard to source with long waiting times and limited availability, and when you do get some they wear out very quick.
Knowing full well I’d need R compound grip and confidence levels to do any respectable time on the track, RE71R was the first choice. After spending a few days chasing anyone who could source let alone price me on a full set, it was time to choose an alternative.
Whilst tempting to run the AD08R and RS4 which are great proven tyres, straying from the mainstream and searching for better options is simply in my nature.
The US talks volumes about street tyre choices (mainly autocross) and two tyres not heard of here were the BFGoodrich Rival Plus and Nexen SUR4G, they were marked as worthy selections both labelled at 200 treadwear.
The BFGoodrich wasn’t available down under so after some more digging it was decided to give the Nexens a go.
Definitely hesitant at first as Nexens have a stigma of cheap and nasty but I had faith, my research proved otherwise and tech really has come a long way in the past years – if you don’t try first hand who’s to know?
Soon enough a staggered 245/40/18 and 265/35/18 setup was ordered for my brand spanking new track wheel of choice the Advan GT’s – the tyres costing about $260 each.
It’s been 4 trackdays since running the Nexen SUR4G and it’s left me quite impressed.
Naturally, it took some time to build up the confidence to push the tyre as I’m not exactly an oversteer pro but I’m happy to report I haven’t spun out with these tyres – they really do grip.
The sidewalls aren’t super stiff so it isn’t the most responsive feeling but feedback is quite smooth and predictable.
Despite low front camber (-2.2), the staggered setup, a 2 way diff and maximum front swaybar stiffness, there was minimal understeer which was surprising – the car felt balanced and rotated well.
At first it was 1:11, then 1:09, then 1:08.8 and I was cheering.
Keeping the pressure about 32-34psi kept the tyre happy and remarkably manages to hold fish hook corner exit very well at full power in 3rd.
On the most recent (4th) track day and the last hurrah for these tyres before trying a new tyre for Aus Time Attack 2019, I really pushed Pearl with later braking and higher corner speeds and managed a 1:08.4 – pretty stoked!
The Nexen SUR4G can take a beating too allowing you 3-5 hotlaps before tyre pressures and temperatures go through the roof, it’ll let you know of course with plenty of screeching.
Even when pushing the grip levels beyond their limits, the slip was surprisingly controllable which resulted in thankfully no off track moments.
After 4 full on trackdays, the treadlife is about 50% which is pretty good!
If you’re wondering how they go on the street they’re fine, not too noisy and warm up quick.
For my first serious stint on a 200 Treadwear tyre, the Nexen SUR4G are surprisingly good. The times speak for themselves and I’m not exactly the best driver trying to tame the 260kW S15 (low boost for track).
The outright grip, longevity and control and reasonable price make it in my opinion, a worthy alternative to the mainstream 200 treadwear tyres.
To my readers benefit though, I have not used the AD08R or RS4 on track.
Now then, if a 140 treadwear tyre is something you’re looking for watch out for my next review on the Zestino 07RS which I will be running at Aus Time Attack.