My trusty Nitto Invo’s had come to the end of their life and it was now time for some new meat for my 350z. If you read my previous review of them, you would know that I was very impressed with the Invo’s and that they held up to everything I threw at them – including a few track days. For some time now, I have had my eye on a somewhat ‘exotic’ tire called the Ultrac Sessanta from a little known company named Vredestein out of the Netherlands. For the sake of something different and not really well known, I decided to try them out.
As I stated above, I have put these tires on my 350z which is my daily driver. I have two sets of wheels and tires for the car which allows me to use high-performance summer only tires for the warm months and winter-only tires for the cold ones. Because I really don’t do any racing with the car, I generally look for tires that offer a little more comfort than the fastest, most girppy tires which sacrifice everything for performance. Of course, the trade off with more comfort is a tire that does not respond as quickly and can get a little sloppy in the corners but I feel that’s acceptable for my now long commute to work. But don’t get me wrong, I love to toss my car around corners and drive it hard; and I felt that the Nitto Invo was the perfect blend of performance and comfort.
Enter the Ultrac Sessanta. I have to admit my guilt – what first drew me to the tire was its interesting tread pattern. The tread looks like its directional, but it’s actually not. The tire has an outside and inside, but is not directional which allows the tire to be rotated. Since my car uses a staggered fitment, this is a big plus as I can now at least rotate the tires from left to right. This tread pattern confuses many people since it looks like one side of the car has the tires mounted backwards; I personally think this non-symmetrical look is cool, but that’s just my opinion.
My first impressions:
Since I already had my summer wheels off the car, I brought them and the tires to a local shop to have them mounted and balanced. I installed the wheels on the car myself in my garage. When I rolled down the driveway for the first time and went over the curb, I was shocked at how soft the sidewalls were. With 37lbs of air, these tires felt almost as compliant as the snow tires I had just removed.
As I picked up speed, I noticed that the Ultrac Sessanta’s were about as quiet as a tire you can get. 350z’s transmit a lot of road noise into the cockpit and the silence these tires brought was quite welcome. I also noticed how smooth the car felt; the level of isolation these tires provide from imperfections in the road surface is something you would never expect in any sports car.
But, as you can expect, all of this smoothness and comfort came with a penalty in performance. I immediately noticed more body roll and dulled handling sharpness. More steering angle was required to make turns and the quick steering response and tossability the car had, had been diminished. At highway speeds, the tires did not inspire confidence when performing quick lane changes as the sloppiness of these tires increased the amount of time it took for the chassis to settle. On center feel was also reduced compared to my old Nitto’s.
I have put a few hundred miles on these tires mostly to and from my work. In my long commute, the comfort these tires bring is welcome, but I still feel that they sacrifice too much performance. They handle well enough for street duty, but I really miss having that sharp preciseness that comes with stiff tires.
One thing these tire do well is communicate the limits of traction well. While stiff tires can have a cliff of traction – that is, once the limit of traction is exceeded, it diminishes rapidly; these tires, which have soft sidewalls, gradually taper off and give plenty of warning before they let go. Like most sport tires, these do not squeal when pushed.
Because of their tread pattern, I have been asked if they perform well in the rain – and what a good time to ask since we have been experiencing quite a bit here in the Chicago area. I am very impressed at how well these tires perform in the wet, and both sides are the car has even amounts of traction. These tires do prove the point that you really can’t tell anything from how a tread pattern looks. I have to say that these are some of the best wet weather tires I have been on. There is something with this rubber compound that just works in the wet.
From what I can tell, the tires are of high quality construction and I would be happy to try other tires from the manufacturer. I have learned that Vredestein does have a more performance oriented tire called the Ultrac Vorti, but I do not know if it’s available in the US.
The Ultrac Sessanta is a high quality tire that is comfort focused. If you have a show car that doesn’t really see any high performance driving or want a smooth, quiet ride for a long commute, this might be your tire. But, if you are like me and love tossing your car around, or if you might find yourself in an autocross – you will not be happy with this tire. If you are looking for a blend between comfort and performance, I feel that the Nitto Invo offers a more balanced solution.
I also have to mention the wacky ad’s Vredestine puts out. Are they actually trying to sell tires with this?
What is going on in this video!?
***** Update 2/2/2014 *****
I have done quite a bit of driving on these tires – I estimate somewhere between 10-15k miles on them mostly at high speeds on the highway. I feel that the tires are wearing well for the amount of miles I’m putting on them. I have noticed that I have worn the tread down to this block which is found inside the grooves in the main part of the tread. I’m not sure if this is a wear indicator or something else. The tires still feel very good but have become slightly noisy. The noise is minor and mostly noticeable when the tires are loaded under braking. I have to comment that I’m very impressed with this rubber compound in the wet.
I have worn down these tires so that the step the arrow is pointing to is hardly visible: