Hi Guys & Gals,
Now that it seems we skipped straight from winter last week to summer here in the Northeast US, I decided it's time for a bit of an upgrade! I was riding on winter tires for the past few months, and I figured if I have winters anyway, what's the point of all-season tires (aka "no-seasons")?
I recently read about the Ford Mustang Shelby 350 vs 350R, the primary difference being the "R" version has carbon fiber wheels, saving something like 20 lbs per corner. Same engine output, suspension tuning, etc as far as I know, the only differences being the wheels, tires, cosmetics, and ditching the rear seats. It seems like the 350R's unsprung weight savings (almost) alone gave the 350R a significant advantage in terms of both simple straight-line acceleration (4.3 s 3.9 sec), braking (152 vs 146 ft), and track lap times over the "regular" version. I guess the tires probably helped too, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 vs Pilot Super Sport, but from experience I know the PSS to be plenty sticky.
Anyway, if the weight savings can have this type of effect on a heavier, MUCH more powerful car, I thought it could definitely be beneficial for our lightweight, low-power Fits. And I'm glad to report that there is indeed an appreciable effect on the "butt dyno." I don't know if there's that much of an effect while already moving at decent speed, or if something like a 1/4 mile time would be very affected, but from a dig the car feels SO much more peppy and just willing to "jump" at every chance it gets. Especially with the manual transmission. I'm not sure if the CVT will handicap this boon at all.
As for the tires, I have always been a fan of S.Drives. They've been around for a while now, but Yokohama regularly updates them to keep them competitive. They're not super loud around town or on the highway. At least not that I notice, but the Fit is kinda loud on the highway to begin with. The tread pattern looks nice and aggressive too. They're UHP summer tires, so they're a little stiffer than normal passenger tires, but they grip nicely and feel absolutely great to actually drive. The steering feel is a little better. Nothing crazy, especially because this is an electric-steering FWD car, but the tires are still greasy and not totally broken in, and they're already a huge improvement in every single department except bounce/rebound ride quality over the awful stock Firestone all-seasons. Obviously they're stiffer, so the ride's slightly more "bumpy" but nowhere near as bad as I've had in the past on performance tires with stiffer sidewalls, or run-flat tires.
The wheels are RPF1 in Bright Silver, 16 x 7 I believe. Tires are Yokohama S.Drive 205/45/16. I rubbed a bit with my 195/55/16 winter tires on the same size wheels, so I went for the 45 aspect ratio to keep the profile slimmer. The effect on my speedometer is something like I'm actually going 63 when the speedo reads 65, so it's not too terrible. Also I want to do suspension work in the future, and I hear these cars don't play nice with trying to get some negative camber so I'm trying to be conservative with wheel size.
The RPF1s weigh 13.7 lbs each in this size, over 8 lbs of weight savings, while the wider s.Drive tires weigh the same 18 lbs as the stock Firestone tires. I've heard lots of different "formulas" on how to convert to the "equivalent" weight loss in regular, sprung car weight, but these 33ish lbs of weight loss at the wheels definitely equate to a feel that seems like the car lost at least a couple hundred lbs, from a standstill at least. The effect is less pronounced on the highway. I'm also thinking this will help fuel mileage, since there's less rotational inertia to overcome when speeding up and maintaining speed.
Overall - lightweight wheels are something everyone with a Fit that wants to to at least FEEL faster should do. I see a lot of people wondering how to make this car faster. It's not easy. It's a tiny, naturally aspirated engine, in an already lightweight car. I think lightening the unsprung weight is the best thing to do for anyone who wants to add a little pep to their Fit.
The summer tires are a more personal choice. Since I swear by winter tires, I see no reason to stick with the all-seasons, but all-season tires may be the only reasonable choice in some people's eyes for a car that, let's face it, is absolutely not a sports car, or even a "sporty" car. However, with a short list of mods, I think the Fit has lots of potential to be a lot of fun. So far I'm already loving it, and I still have more upgrades on the horizon! A rear sway bar and a strut tower bar are just waiting in the garage, and aesthetically speaking a Visual Garage paint-matched sharkfin style antenna is waiting too. Can't wait to get some time to put those on as well!
And now, for the pictures!
(I apologize in advance, I was editing these pictures on my laptop outside with the sun glaring and kinda went a little too heavy with the filter, color levels, etc. Now I'm too lazy to fix it, so these shots are a little "colorful" / overdone)
Thanks for reading and looking!