Tire Review: Nexen N8000 On Audi A4 1.8 TFSI S-Line

Cheap tires anyone? The Red Audi A4 1.8TFSI S-line that I last wrote about was previously running some pretty good Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires. Sometime after writing the article about its...
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Cheap tires anyone? The Red Audi A4 1.8TFSI S-line that I last wrote about was previously running some pretty good Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires. Sometime after writing the article about its exhaust system mod, the A4′s proud owner – Zairul – took a good look at the A4′s tires as he had to take a long, 1,000km round trip for an upcoming festive holiday. That long hard look translated to a requirement of new threads. Another round of extremely good, but hard riding Michelins or something else?

You see, Zairul reckoned that the Michelin Pilot Sport 2 made his Audi suffer from a harsher ride than what was expected. The Audi basically came on these 245/40/18 tires, which gave fabulous grip, wet and dry. It however had one drawback, it made the ride slightly stiffer than necessary especially when it wears down by around 50%. This was even when the A4′s suspension setting was in ‘auto’ mode and if toggled into ‘dynamic’, the ride becomes nearly as bad as a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Which is very unbecoming for an Audi, that is basically used as the car Zairul use for his daily commute and also as family transport on outings.

Of course, the tires were Michelin Pilot Sports 2 (pictured above) and they can’t be that bad. They’re not actually, but when you factor in the price, ride, grip and then handling you’d know that the Michelins are pricey, they ride badly when worn as it has ultra stiff sidewalls, grips like its on rails and is very predictable on all road conditions. So it performs slightly terrible for the first two items and the latter two fabulously. The dilemma Zairul now faced was whether to buy a new set of Pilot Sports or try something else.

And try something else he did. Some members of the Malaysian Audi Club had posted on the forum, praising a tire called the Nexen N8000. These were Korean made tires that were half the price of the Pilot Sports 2 (which were about US$330 per piece) and yet according to the club members performed extremely well. So curiosity got the better of Zairul and one weekend we decided to get the Nexen N8000 fitted on the A4. The tire is Nexen’s flagship tire and somehow its thread pattern surprisingly looks like a Continental Sport Contact 3, albeit slightly wider. It also comes with XL or Extra Load rating for added durability.

It was worth it. Immediately after leaving Quicksave Auto Boutique, an official Nexen dealer located in Subang Jaya, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, the car felt transformed and Zairul commented that the A4′s ride felt more like what a European sedan should be. I happen to agree with him. He then added one more important fact that I had deliberately left out till now. The tire noise made by those Michelins was quite loud over time. “I’ve always hated the ride comfort and noise of the PS2s that my car came with. The (N8000s) were really quiet, in fact quieter than even smaller sized tyres that I’ve tried before on my other rides.”

This actually worried him a bit. His brain was saying that “It’s quieter coz it grips lesser!” but upon trusting his heart, decided to hold his thoughts for the running in period of the tires. Anyway, he liked how it rode and how silent it was compared to the Michelins. Sitting beside him I somehow agreed with what he said as it really was quieter and much more comfortable than before. These were tires half the price of the Pilot Sports and we also thought that it also has half the grip if you looked at how big the grooves were on the N8000. It may be 245series tires, but it looked like it had a contact patch as large as a 195series tire.

It must be down to the compound and not only the contact patch as after the 400 or so kilometers Zairul reported that it started to grip fabulously. On the day we changed the tires he actually belted the A4 through a few corners, from the passenger seat I noticed that he had slightly less grip than before. On a sweeping corner the car slightly oversteered as we powered our way into the corner. Midway through, the attitude changed and the whole car four-wheel drifted a tad bit before straightening out. The car felt safe, predictable through the corners even with little grip as the tire still had a thin layer of mold release compound (MRC) from its manufacturing process. This is something all new tires have and we knew that actual grip as well as cornering limits wouldn’t be made known until the MRC wears out.

The N8000s takes close to 400km to be fully run in and Zairul reported tons of grip, both in the wet and dry after that period. Grip wasn’t the only good thing about this tire. It seems to have pretty high limits and no sudden break in traction. It is predictable at its limit as when it does let go, it lets go smoothly enough for the driver to try catch the car back. It is of course quiet too (noise went up ever so slightly after the running in period, but negligible to most drivers). It rides well and the only trade-off from not using Pilot Sports 2 is that the N8000 has slightly lesser grip. “ About 80-90% as good as my old PS2s, which is acceptable since its a good 50% cheaper!” exclaimed Zairul when we met for a cup of tea a few weeks later.

Would he buy these tires again? “If I have to buy tyres again now, YES I would.” said Zairul. “Why? Because no other tyre in 245/40/18 category would give as great bang for buck.” He continued, “Half the price of the PS2s with better comfort and ride. I dont mind if it grips like 10% less. I’ll leave that to my two hands to figure it out and besides, I’m quite sure that they will grip a lot better than the PS2s in the rain.”

So what’s the verdict on these Nexen N8000 tires? I have to say that it’s the performance bargain of the year. It’s actually that good that I got myself a set for my own car. On my little All-wheel drive Impreza 1.6TS (on 215/45/17 series, pictured below) it basically outperformed the Yokohama A-Drive R1s that I used previously. It was more predictable compared to before, it really is quieter, gripped better even in the wet (when it rains down here in Malaysia, it really pours – tropical thunderstorms and all) and also gripped so much better in the dry. Understeer is a predominant trait in any All-wheel drive, but with these tires, it can be felt only at much higher speeds. Like a more expensive tire would. You think the tire has given up but when you turn in more you still find some grip. Furthermore, its ride is as good as the Yokohamas and it costs pretty much the same as the Yokos, which were mid-range tires in the Yokohama tire hierarchy.

I’ve already covered a good 2,500km since the tire change and it has performed admirably. Zairul has covered about the same sort of mileage and has no complaints too. The only thing now is to wait and see on the N8000′s performance when tire wear sets in or how long its tire life is. But at the moment, it’s all fine and dandy with those Nexens.

The Nexen N8000 may not be the out and out track day tires like the Toyo R888 or the Advan Neova AD07s that most specifically use for attacking Sepang or some other track. These N8000s are like Pirelli P-Zeros or the Pilot Sports mentioned above. Ultra High Performance road tires for an enthusiast to belt it out on good B-roads. These N8000s are NOTHING like those cheap tires you find from China or even Taiwan, if you get what I’m trying to emphasize over here. It looks like the Koreans have actually come up good again, like those Ventus tires that Hankook makes but at a cheaper price. The prices of Ventus tire have been rising until it isn’t the performance bargain like before – It looks like Nexens are now the bang for buck tires instead of Ventus (in Malaysia that is).

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  • http://www.saabsnaab.com James

    As long as we’re staying away from chinese (Nankang! Ling Long!) tires, I’m good! I had a set of General Exclaim UHP’s in a 225/45/ZR17 on my old Jetta a few years back. They were $81 a tire, when a Pirelli PZero Nero M/S (comparable UHP A/S tire) was $130. Sometimes these off-brand tires will surprise you with their performance. The Generals had tons of lateral grip after wear-in, remarkable hydroplaning resistance, they were relatively quiet for their whole life, and generally performed WORLDS better than the Avon’s they replaced, which is more of a “name” brand at least on the other side of the atlantic from me.

  • Rigval

    Hmm…unfortunately we don’t get Generals over here…Avons are pretty rare but can be found sometimes. We have the usual staple of falkens, bridgestones, pirellis, goodyear, dunlop, hankook etc mixed with the nankang, wan li (china), gt radial (indonesia) and a few other lesser known tires. One good reasonably priced tire here is the Federal 595..in its 595rr or was it 595RS it is a good replacement for the advan neova ad07/toyo 888…cheaper by a whole lot, very slightly less grip but still good in the wet.

  • Wan

    So, hows the performance over time? grip still there after 50% thread? and what’s the tyre life like?

  • rigval

    I’ve done 13,0000km on them already and they’re still doing fine. Grip level is still good and wear seems minimal.

    • Mliven

      130,000km or you meant 13,000km?
      If 130,000km must wore out over 5-6 years and above i guess? By the way, what size u have there & how much was it? just want to survey around before make any decision to change. Thanks..

  • rigval

    it is 13,000km…thirteen thousand…apologies for the typo

    tire size is 215/45/17

  • hamid

    so can you provide more info on the tire life? if i understand correctly these nexen fall into UHP category, which usually means shorter lifetime.

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  • din

    I am having this tyre on my 320nm torque ford focus using 205/55/R16. 35k km on it and the 4 deep grooves are now just look like runaway track. 40k km is not recommended unless you don’t get tickled evertime you come accross uphills and corners. Everything about this tyre is the “surprisingly good” and quiet. The only problem with it is the font size on sidewall which is i don’t want other driver accidently read it. Low profile tyre won’t be so obvious. But that is not a problem, actually.

  • http://magazin-shin.in.ua/model/15910 Nexen N8000

    These tires are the best choice among the low price and good quality

  • http://goo.gl/JRdZE alexander

    A4 subcompact car from Audi Motors has been always able to impress its customers with its safety standard, and its new 2012 edition is also estimated to come with plentiful safety features.

  • waypoint

    Any updates on how the tyre performed in terms of wear rate, grip performance in the dry and wet and noise levels in mid-life and near end-of-life? Thanks!

  • PeterP

    i’ve got some on my 300-bhp TT. It’s a great tire, bargain, agree with everything you say. Performance – yeah, not perfect, but noise, comfort, rain grip very good. Lets face it, 99% of ths time this is what you ened.
    Perhaps not the ideal tyre once you hit 250km/h+ but even on Autobahns and corrupt russian policed roads, its more than fine under braking at speed, can’t see it letting me down really.
    Now I can save some cash for 6 pot brakes/grooved discs instead.

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