15" tyre choices
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Thread: 15" tyre choices

  1. #1
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    Default 15" tyre choices

    I have written on several occasions about tyre & wheel choice for rear-engined Renaults. Summarily put, the situation is fairly dire almost no matter what option one chooses. And things are generally getting worse, not better, as time goes on.

    As remarked previously, I think that any wheel size choice should be partly dictated by tyre availability to suit.
    13" is now almost devoid of performance tyres (apart from "track day" tyres) yet performance is a major reason for fitting them. Some goodish stuff still exists in 175/70 (best is the Continental EcoContact3) but, for a road car, I can't see why one would bother unless one already had a set of 13" wheels which one wished to keep & use.

    I have suggested in the past that 14" is the sweet spot for these vehicles as some good tyres remain available but I shan't repeat that argumentation here.

    My present focus is on 15". There are 3 main scenarios: standard 4" rims, R10S/R8G (or Citroen GS rims on Renault centres) 4.5" or some wider rim scenario (usually 5" or 5.5"). I'll speak to each in turn. My major criteria of choice are wet grip under braking & laterally & benign limit behaviour.

    4"

    In the past, I have spoken against the usual 135/80 & 145/80 (actually 82 originally but . . . .) choices of Michelin ZX & XZX & Nankang CX 668. In each case, my complaint is lack of wet grip. I've also suggested avoiding 155/80 Vredestein & Xas FF (wet grip in each case & soggy response for the former & aquaplaning for the latter - an issue with the light front of these vehicles). But tyre choice is not a matter of what's good or bad but of what's best in the sizes suitable to the planned wheels. Is anything better available for 4"?

    Again in the past, I have recommended avoiding the above & fitting 145/65 Continental EcoContact EP tyres (shorter gearing than 135/80 by about 5%). Regrettably, it's no longer available here. 4" is very constraining but another option in in this size is another Nankang, the AS-1. Not a wonderful tyre (& anecdotally, inferior to the EP in the wet) but currently the best thing available here for 4"x15 wheels. It's an old type (so are all the other options) & I hadn't seen a test until recently (I was astonished to see it tested at all). The link is below & it comes last in every discipline but I make 3 comments.

    First, it is irrelevant that everything else in the test is better as none of them are available in a size to suit. Second, I shudder to think how ZX, XZX or CX 668 would have gone. Third, although last, it is not woefully adrift from some halfway decent (though not class leading) tyres in some key disciplines of significance to R.E.R. drivers. The test confirmed me in my thinking that the AS-1 is a not disastrous choice & that retaining 4" rims is not a comparatively lethal decision.

    2019 Auto Zeitung Summer Tyre Test - Tyre Reviews

    4.5"

    I have always considered 4.5" to be a nice choice as it allowed access to a very good wet tyre, the Continental EcoContact3, in 155/60. Like 145/65, this is an early Smart size & the two are equal in circumference & thus gearing.

    But: Continental has ceased to list it on its oz website (although retailers still list it). So, likely it is now no longer available either. So, what now? Well, the Nankang AS-1 is available in 155/60 also but with 4.5" rims another option arises: 165/65. This size has the merit of being identical in circumference to 135/80 so gearing is unchanged & a 135/80 can be used as a spare without diff. stress in a rear flat tyre scenario.

    There's not much available in this size in oz but one tyre is appealing. The Kumho Ecowing ES01 KH27. Not a wonderful wet grip tyre but not rubbish either (it seems to have had a recent beneficial change to compounding). Browse the tests (but look especially at the latest) at:

    Kumho Ecowing ES01 KH27 - Tyre Reviews

    Not that I recommend it but another tyre available in 165/65 is the Maxxis MAP-1. It is of interest because it was the "modern" tyre representative in a recent classic tyre test. Generally considered to be weak to mediocre in the wet, it nonetheless beat the Michelin XWX. The latter is a decided step up from ZX, XZX & Xas so some indirect comparisons can be made. In short, even fitting the MAP-1 would improve matters over the default fit Michelins most people choose. The KH27 (especially as recently upgraded) is another step up again. So, in summary, my choice would be 155/60 EC3 if still available & 165/65 KH27 if not.

    5" or 5.5"

    Once one gets to a 5" rim, decent tyre availability improves dramatically. (If these are widened standard Renault rims, then I note in passing that the centres are a bit fragile but that a simple reinforcement cures matters - details on request.)

    One can fit some earlier-mentioned tyres to these & gain beneficial handling crispness from increased sidewall tautness but better to take advantage of the better tyre types that become available in larger sizes.

    Three sizes are relevant: 175/65, 185/60 & (with a 5.5" rim) 195/55. The first gives mild over-gearing (around 2%) & the second & third are pretty well identical in circumference to 135/80.

    In my view, RERs benefit from a front/rear size differential, both under braking & laterally. Under braking in the wet because of increased ground pressure of a smaller tyre & laterally because, for a given handling balance, a smaller front will be at a higher pressure & thus be better tensioning the sidewalls for crisp response. So, my two scenarios here are 175/65 fronts with either 185/60 or 195/55 rears. Unless one is very aware of the tyres' characteristics, the best way of avoiding handling oddities caused by different structures &/or different tread stabilities is to use the same tyre type front & rear.

    So what's available in a 175/65 F & 185/60 R combination?

    Fortunately, two very good tyre types: Continental's PremiumContact2 & Dunlop's FM800. Both are excellent wet tyres with good limit behaviour but the PC2 is the crisper handler.

    How about 175/65 F & 195/55 rear?

    Again, the PC2 & FM800.

    So, two very good tyres (each much better than what's available for either 4" or 4.5" rims). Either would delight but which rear tyre size to choose?

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    I'd choose 185/60 for two reasons.

    First, I worry about 195/55 given the camber changes of these cars (even with shorter 330 mm droop straps). The 195/55 sidewalls are the same height as 185/60 but the sidewall to width ratio is not.

    Second, 195/55 requires a 5.5" rim but 185/60 can be fitted on a 5" one. This is not an issue if one is prepared to accept different size wheels for front & rear tyres but if, for fitment flexibility reasons, one wants the same front & rear, then 5.5, although receiving a front 175/65 happily, will, I suspect, require non-standard offset. This might not matter as it won't be by much but is still a consideration.

    Cheers! Peter
    Last edited by 4cvg; 15th April 2019 at 12:28 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Thanks for the update Peter.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for going to the trouble Peter.

    Cheers
    JohnW

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