Last Updated: 02/11/98
Nokia Hakkapelitta NR-W (Nokian)
From: Andrew Chan
195/60 R15 88H
Price $120 Cdn (~$87 US) each
UTQG Treadwear Rating ???
Expected life: >70,000 km at sub-zero C temps
When the roads are nice and clean, you can really have some serious fun.
Their sidewalls are on the stiff side for a snow tire (note H rating). It tracks
well on the highway, and gives a reasonable amount of feedback. They are nowhere
as squishy as Blizzaks and I think they will last a lot longer (Blizzaks act
like an all-season when half-worn). When driven close to the limit they tend to
get loose and the steering goes numb. Its squarish shoulders probably don't help
here. The limit though, is high for a snow tire.
Deep snow (wet or powder) is where this tire really shines. Its tread is
deeper than the Blizzak, Guardex, Alpin, or the 190/210Ps. The blocks are
extremely sharp and for some reason stay that way even after 12500 km although
the rubber compound itself is soft. I got through snow as much as ground
clearance would allow.
Braking on icy roads is pretty good. I have to admit however I drive with the
ABS off during the winter and that alone makes a big difference. I find the ABS
too sensitive and consequently the system is busier anti-locking than actually
slowing down the car. Update: 2/11/98
Well it's been over 30,000km now, and thanks to an El Nino winter, there
hasn't been much snow in the prairies. The roads were clean 99% of the time,
which means I've been giving the Nokias a good workout on dry pavement. Even so,
they still have plenty of life left, with about 2/3 life remaining until the
tread bars. They have gotten noisier though, possibly because I've worn the
outside tread blocks down more than the inside blocks (enthusiastic driving ya
know, heh heh) thereby causing an acoustic shift.
Last year I noted that the NR-Ws tend to get squirrelly at the limit. This is
no longer the case, partly because I got the tire pressures right, and maybe
partially due to the fact the squarish shoulder blocks are no longer so square.
It breaks away evenly and remains communicative at the steering wheel. The grip
is impressively strong (for a snow tire) owing to the soft compound, but beware
driving around in warmer weather since it will wear fast. My NR-Ws spend its
lives at sub-zero (C) temps. Ideal pressures for best handling/response in
dry/wet conditions are about 33/30 psi F/R (max rating is 44psi). You could go
higher but 1) the ride gets uncomfortable and 2) you need compliance for the
occasional pothole. For best traction in snow, I've found that 27psi all around
works very well.
I must note though, 195 section is probably too wide for an ideal snow tire.
The 185/55-15 is a better choice if you get a lot of white stuff. The wide tire
width of the 195 combined with the relatively light weight of an Integra means
that the tire doesn't exert as much pressure via the contact patch as a narrower
tire would. With 195s, it is a bit tricky to travel in a straight line through
deeper snow; many steering corrections are needed. It's not a bother, mind you,
but it requires more attention. Changing lanes over large patches of slush at
speed can be a little intimidating as the car loses and regains traction for a
second, giving the sensation that you are jumping over to the next lane rather
than crossing over to it. My friend's 97 Civic with the 185s is more stable in
comparison. It all comes down to how much you are willing to compromise between
foul-weather proficiency and dry road handling.
Yokohama Guardex 600
'95 GS-R owner. Just put on a set of 4 Yoko Guardex 600s (185/65R-14) from
Tire Rack ($400 + shipping w/wheels & covers). After last winter here in the
East on XGTV4s, it was a no-brainer. Coming up on 500 miles, they're pretty
squirmy even compared to the stock tires, but they're starting to break in and
give decent (for snow/ice tires) dry response. Wet weather - no problem! Will
provide a performance update after we're frozen in for awhile (I've lived in
SoCal (San Diego) and boy do I miss it!).
Had enough snow and ice now for me to say that these tires are simply
terrific ... they grip! They'll make a believer out of anyone driving all-season
tires (especially OEM XGT V4s). If you live with snow & ice, even a little
bit, put away your fair weather rubber and suit up with these (or Bridgestone
Blizzaks, for that matter); the technology these tires employ will make your
Integra more fun (and safer) in the winter. Pretty cheap insurance, IMO, to keep
from bending your baby, winding up in a ditch, or (the worst) lodged in someone
else's sled. Even when the roads are pretty clear, I try to find snow and slush
to drive through just so I can explore the limits :-D Downside? Dry grip is
merely OK, they sing at 60mph, and the sidewalls are pretty flexible; ultra high
performance tires they are not. But, hey, that's not why you put them on. And,
no, I don't work for The Tire Rack: I'm a 45 year old Navy Commander with a
sense of responsibility who can still appreciate a fun drive.