It’s hard to believe we’ve had the Honda S2000 for five years now. It’s harder to believe how little we’ve driven it due to lack of time. However, despite what some people believe, a sitting car also requires maintenance. And the tyres on the S2000 have expired by now, as per the RTA.
Our car had super-fancy Potenzas generously donated by Bridgestone back in 2012 for review purposes. They were ridiculously good tyres (and still were after 5 years), but totally overkill for the streets. And at about Dhs 1000 a pop on average, totally overkill when we’re not trying to set lap records on the Nurburgring. So although we are sure Bridgestone would donate us fancy tyres again if we asked them, we are trying a different thing now — what would a budget enthusiast do?
An enthusiast on a budget would go for proper branded tyres, but he has a tiring day job, so he may not have time to scour Sharjah or Satwa in traffic looking for the best deals. So we did what any millennial would do — we hit the internet to find a home-delivery service.
We first tried ZDegree, which we used to get tyres for our Jaguar XK. But they did not have anything for the staggered 17-inchers on our S2000.
So we found a site called Tire.ae (known offline as Sun Gate Tyre Trading), who home-deliver, balance and fit tyres where your car stands, just like ZDegree. The prices were attractive too — Dhs 230 each for two Nexen 215/45R17 front tyres, and Dhs 500 each for two Pirelli 245/40R17 rears.
The Pirellis were a year old, which is why they were cheap, but they’re perfectly fine. If you’re wondering what the heck Nexens are, you’re not alone, but we found out that they are a legit 70-year-old Korean brand that’s got the seal of approval from the U.S. Consumer Reports magazine. And the tyres were only 3 months old. Let’s see how it goes.
Now, conventional wisdom suggests you should not mix tyre brands or types, but it is perfectly fine for your commuter car as long as you have the same brand/type on each axle with the same amount of wear. However, you will still get handling changes depending on what tyres you put on. All our tyres have the top Traction rating of AA, amd the front Nexens have a treadwear rating of 500 while the rear Pirellis have a treadwear rating of 260 (which means the Nexens will theoretically last much longer than the Pirellis, but probably not as grippy).
So how did this affect our handling? Well, there is now a bit more understeer at the limit, instead of the car twitching its tail out like it used to on quick direction changes. So you could say it drives more like a Toyota 86 now than the go-kart it used to be (which is still not bad!). Also, there is less noise and the ride is more comfortable now, although this could just be because the previous tyres had aged. Braking distances are also probably a bit longer with the cheaper tyres, but it isn’t obvious in daily driving.
As for the service, it was pretty good. We called them instead of ordering via the site, and actually got a few bucks more as a discount compared to the listed price online. The Tire.ae van came to our parking lot on the same day and switched out the tyres in an hour, with full tyre-balancing and a credit-card payment facility (all for free if you buy four tyres). However, nitrogen-filling was supposed to be included in the price but they had run out and so we didn’t get that.
Again, if you want ultimate performance for your boy-racing dreams, get the best performance tyres you can afford. But for daily driving, maximum performance is irrelevant if you car is already a great handler. Even with cheaper tyres, our S2000 will out-handle most other cars. We may switch over to better tyres later on, but these will do the job for now and we’ll see how they perform.
Original Mileage When Bought: 14,900 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 25,500 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 13.5 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 0
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 1460
Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Bought: Dhs 9730