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HTSpec TSX Redeux: Part 13, Fresh Volk Wheels wearing Sumitomo Tires

  • Posted: 06-23-2014 12:12 PM
  • HTSpec TSX

For all prior HTSpec TSX blog updates, please visit:

HTSpec TSX Redeux Build Log

The bodywork has been put on and no sooner than the last bolt was tightened, Skip called us and let us know our GT-7s were all done and ready to be picked up! Timing proved exceptional when we received a delivery from the Tire Rack with a brand, spankin' new set of Sumitomo HTR Z-III Max-Performance Summer tires to put on them. So, off to Skip's Wheel Werks one last time to drop off our tires and bring home some freshly shod JDM glory.

Wait, what? Volks with Sumitomo tires? Shouldn't our build of the HTSpec TSX be using Michelins, or Bridgestones...or at the least a highly recognizable brand such as Falken or General or Continental? HTSpec does not mean spending money or about buying into brand names. The main, overriding principle is value.

To really be an HTSpec tire, they need to be able to do everything pretty darn well. That means good grip in both the dry and wet, as well as some minimum capability when the weather is cold (below 20-F and possibly icy, which this tire is specifically NOT intended for, but the Tire Rack reviews were encouraging enough to try it). Comfort is relatively important, as is minimal road noise; because howling tires is about the most annoying thing to have to live with in a luxury car. However, being a GT-style build, the tires need to be able to stand up to some serious flogging from time-to-time. We know full well that there are track tires and snow tires and all-seasons and touring tires that will do every one of those singular tasks very well, but with little balance across the board and few others can do all that at a budget-friendly cost.

We gained a lot of confidence in the reviews on the Tire Rack that the top-of-the-line Sumitomo HTR Z-III Max-Performance Summer tire was going to be a great fit for the Volks and our use of the HTSpec TSX. The cost is hard to beat as well, since Sumitomo is known to be a value leader in performance tires. HTSpec check-boxes are quite fulfilled here! We've been using Sumitomo tires on our cars for more than ten years and have always had great success. HTR Z, HTR Z-II, and even some of their touring tires. We've got really high expectations for these HTR Z-IIIs.

No sooner than we walked Skip's in the door, we began to salivate at our newly refinished Volk wheels.

Skip was giving us a tour of the wheel work, starting on the backside where he showed off the finish and clear-coating.

The centers are particularly stunning. For not being able to perfectly replicate the paint-then-machine process Rays implemented in producing these wheels, he did a damn good job using abrasive to replicate a machined-finish in the hub. While a little more satin that it should be, the result looks fantastic.

Meticulous masking created a very fine edge which kept the paint where it was supposed to be and not where it wasn't. The only drawback here is a bit of a lip has formed at the edge of the paint. You can see the shadow in the image above. Skip was really self-conscious about the work here, but we think it turned out fantastic.

The raw aluminum lips being polished to a mirror finish provides a great contrast to the mild metallic in the paint on the centers.

Skip was entrusted to mount the Sumitomo HTR Z-IIIs onto the Volks they just it seems that directional tires are the norm. Not being as experienced with asymmetrical tires, we took a bit of a closer look at the design of the HTR Z-III

Tire Rack's description of this tire reads:

"The Sumitomo HTR Z III features a silica-enhanced tread compound molded into a sophisticated, 5-rib, asymmetric tread design. Large outboard shoulder and intermediate tread blocks along with continuous center and inboard intermediate ribs provide responsive handling, high-speed stability and dry road traction. The inside shoulder is linked by another continuous circumferential rib that enhances wear quality to help reduce noise throughout the life of the tire, especially on vehicles with independent suspensions and alignment settings that specify negative camber. Straight and wide circumferential grooves along with long, sweeping lateral grooves pump water from under the tire’s footprint to increase hydroplaning resistance and wet traction."

So, being asymmetrical allows the tire engineers to incorporate varying tread designs across the section width to wear and react ideally to different driving variables. We'll see how it plays out over out tenure with them.

We are very confident that Sumitomo has created a real gem of a GT tire for our HTSpec TSX. With the tires mounted on our Volk GT-7s and assembly nearing completion, we are left wondering if the HTR Z-III might be a good choice for track days. Being a main requirement of HTSpec status, HTSpec parts must be able to cope with heavy-duty usage. We'll have to revisit that notion shortly while the next installment will conclude our initial build and show off some sights seen at the 10th annual Eibach Meet.


03-11-2015 06:13 PM at 6:13 PM
What size wheel and tire did you go with? Looks great!
Administrator Note:
These wheels are 18x9. Please read more on them here! HTSpec TSX Redeux: Part 4, New old wheels.
Jason Allen
01-21-2015 07:41 PM at 7:41 PM
personally i have heard that the potenza re-11, re50 are the best for track. they grip the road like your hugging it do to the compound in it.

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