Charging into the off-ramp lane at full speed I brush the brakes and adjust the wheel to follow the long sweeping arc as I squeeze the power back on. Without getting too stupid, I keep adding to it to see if the grip holds up. My hot hatch pulls through the corner without a hint of tire squeal or loss in traction.
Picking up a 2013 Focus ST for commuting duty, was a strategic move. Sure it gets better mileage than a supercharged Mustang, but it also allows for sporting performance when called upon. Such brisk cornering can relieve the pressure of a day filled with deadlines and put a smile on this driver’s face.
Toyo has a long history of providing a wide assortment of high-performance tires from street-oriented products like the Sport to competition products like the R888R. The Proxes Sport A/S carries on that tradition… — Kevin Arima, Toyo Tire
While the car is still a blast, it came time for a fresh set of tires. Wanting to ensure the good times rolled on, while making sure the car could still perform its beater duties on those story-seeking road trips, it seemed like an all-season tire might be the move. As luck would have it, Toyo Tires recently released its Proxes Sport A/S UHP tires.
“We set out to provide the customer with an authentic sports experience by maximizing wet and dry performance while continuing the quiet and comfortable on-road manners of its predecessor, the Proxes 4 Plus,” Kevin Arima, Senior Product Manager at Toyo Tire USA, explained.
While it not only supplanted the Proxes 4 Plus, Proxes 4, and Proxes T1R, carrying the vaunted Proxes name is no light duty. The company’s ultra-high-performance summer tires are well respected and its racetrack and autocross tires are known for their grip. As such, Toyo engineers set out to walk a tightrope that delivers in many conditions and also wears a bit slower than its UHP cousins.
“Toyo has a long history of providing a wide assortment of high-performance tires from street-oriented products like the Sport to competition products like the R888R,” Kevin said. “The Proxes Sport A/S carries on that tradition to exemplify the Proxes promise to offer high-performance tires for drivers to enjoy their ride.”
“The biggest challenge is achieving that delicate balance between ultra-high performance characteristics of traction/handling in various seasons and maintaining or minimizing any trade offs like tread life,” he added.
This tire definitely delivers on the tread-life promise with performance that approaches its Sport cousins, but with a better treadwear rating. As such they carry an impressive treadwear warranty of 50,000 miles in V-/W-rated applications and 40,000 miles in Y-/(Y)-rated applications.
Part of the recipe to making this tire deliver grip in less desirable weather is a fresh silica tread compound. Such a mixture allows the tire to stretch and flex and lower temperatures for improved traction in cooler weather, but this one also aids the cause when there is water on the pavement.
In practice, the Proxes A/S inspires confidence on both wet and dry pavement. The lateral tire channels sluff off water while communicating before breaking free. On dry pavement, the tires grab the pavement until the limit and remain predictable upon arrival at the edge. They provide sharpened steering, but they can wander a bit on uneven roads.
“Advancements in the silica compounding primarily contributed to major improvements in wet performance,” Kevin said.
Making such a tire perform when pushed to those aforementioned limits meant getting creative with the tread pattern. The Proxes Sport A/S benefits from a new taper and rib tread designed to deliver better braking and cornering stability. The compound and design make them quite at the edge. They don’t squeal when the hammer is down, they just get to work.
“These tread elements improve the rigidity of the blocks to keep more consistent contact pressure,” Kevin said. “As a result, the tire is able to stay planted on the road surface during braking, acceleration, and cornering.”
It was spring at the time of our installation, so the tires proved up to the task in the dry and during brief sprints through the rain, but heading into the Sunshine State’s rainy summer season is where the balance of wet-dry performance comes in handy. And, during those rare northbound road trips during the winter months, these tires are better prepared should conditions suddenly change in the cold.
“Whereas the Proxes Sport could focus on providing excellent dry and wet performance, the Proxes Sport A/S excels in this area while also delivering longer tread life and ability to handle light snow conditions when needed,” Kevin said.
In our Focus ST application, they delivered a surprise benefit for a tire with a higher tread life than the worn-out rubber they replaced — a hushed demeanor in everyday environments. Not only is it down to perform in just about any conditions you can throw at it, but it does the job quietly, so you can focus on your exhaust note and the tunes throbbing from the sound system.
While the 235/35-19 size was just right for the fresh Ford Performance wheels on your scribe’s hot hatch, the company built a vast array of sizes so it can do the job on almost any performance car, including popular applications like the latest Mustangs.
“The Proxes Sport A/S is offered in (89) sizes covering over 86 percent of the market. It is a great replacement for sports car owners, staggered fitments, drivers that want to enhance their vehicle’s handling, and the incidental high-performance customer who purchased a new vehicle that came equipped with a typical low aspect ratio, large rim diameter, or high-speed rating commonly associated with a UHP tire,” Kevin concluded. “Whether their vehicle needs a replacement to their original equipment tires or they’re looking to upgrade to a plus-size tire and wheel package, the Proxes Sport A/S has a wide variety of sizes to meet their needs.”
It definitely fits the bill on this author’s 2013 Focus ST, and it will be fun putting the tire through its paces as weather conditions change throughout the year.