Confession time: We’ve been keeping secrets. It started innocently enough, with an email from a manufacturer asking us to find out how its new tire stacked up against the competition.
But this tire wasn’t yet available to the general public, and our testing would have to be confidential. Fair enough. We’ve been down this road before, sometimes with disappointing results.
Nankang Sportnex CR-S (original)
- best lap: 1:27.15
- lap times: 1:27.27, 1:27.42, 1:27.15, 1:27.52, 1:27.85, 1:28.00, 1:28.04
► Highway: The CR-S has a soft feel to it and is fairly quiet for a 200tw street tire. Steering response is good, if not a little lazy. It has a very strong on-center feel promoting stability in road use.
► Track: The CR-S delivers strong grip but operates at large slip angles requiring significant steering input for cornering. Breakaway is very progressive with quick recovery, making the tire easy to drive at the limit. As heat builds with increasing lap count, grip and pace fall off and the tire becomes a bit sloppy to drive.
When we first track tested the original CR-S two years ago, it was on our front-drive One Lap CRX. We found that the tires overheated after just a couple of hard, sustained turns. On our better-balanced Miata, we got three good laps before falloff.
Nankang Sportnex CR-S (revised)
- best lap: 1:26.15
- lap times: 1:26.56, 1:26.15, 1:26.32, 1:26.35, 1:26.66, 1:26.52, 1:26.44
► Highway: The new CR-S–simply look for tire identification number on the sidewall ending in 23–retains the original’s soft, quiet highway feel but delivers steering response that’s much quicker and more athletic. On-center feel is lessened compared to the current CR-S, and the tire changes directions more easily. It does tend to tramline a bit, though, following undulations in the roadway.
► Track: The new CR-S delivers superior grip with improved response. The harder you push into a turn, the more it dives to the apex. Slip angles are smaller than with the current CR-S, yet breakaway is still progressive. Heat buildup slows later laps, but not nearly as much as with the other two tires. This is a delightful tire to drive.
Data analysis shows most of the time improvements came from a quicker pace in the two longest steady-state cornering areas as well as the corner exit acceleration zones thereafter. This is a…
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