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Toyo Proxes R1R Tire Review : In Need of Grip for a Powerful Roadster


  • The modifications performed on the car make it harder to drive.

  • The Toyo Proxes R1R is designed to withstand track days.

  • They also deliver plenty of grip in the wet.


 

Last year, I decided it was time to add another car to my personal fleet. But, unlike my other more utilitarian vehicles (wagon, sedan and pickup truck), the coveted car toy was to be entirely devoted to driving pleasure. A compromising car in many ways, but one whose sole mission was to put a large smile on its driver’s face.

Toyo Proxes R1R tire review | Photo: Vincent Aubé

After toying with the idea of acquiring a first-generation Porsche Boxster S, I finally settled on a Mazda MX-5 Mazdaspeed. However, the edition limited to the 2004 and 2005 model years in North America was not original anymore.

Toyo Proxes R1R tire review | Photo: Toyo Tires

Several modifications had been performed to the car, including the suspension, brakes, air intake, intercooler, exhaust system and even a few other components to stiffen the structure. Compared to the OEM model, the example unearthed in the classified ads was far more powerful than the 180 hp announced by Mazda 20 years ago.

Toyo Proxes R1R tire review | Photo: Vincent Aubé

According to a graph provided by the previous owner, the car I’d just bought had a whopping 230 horsepower at the wheels. It’s not for nothing, then, that the size of the rims and the level of tires installed greatly surpassed what was offered in the Japanese brand’s catalog at the time. Wheels measuring 15 inches in diameter and nine inches in width are very popular in Japanese roadster circles. Wider tires improve the car’s grip when cornering.

Unfortunately, the tires fitted to the MX-5 were old and the tread was mostly gone. In fact, the tire treads were so worn out that it was almost too easy to drift the car by playing with the gas pedal.  This kind of maneuver may be fun, but let’s just say it goes against what a tire should provide : grip.

Toyo Proxes R1R tire review | Photo: Vincent Aubé

So, I had to find a new set of tires for the summer late last winter. I quickly realized that the choice of tires capable of playing the dual role of high-performance summer tire and withstanding a closed-circuit session is increasingly limited. The diameter of modern wheels explains why the selection of high-performance tires is shrinking. Most cars are sold with 17-inch tires nowadays, making these smaller wheels less popular and available.

But there are still a few options for this type of use, including Toyo’s Proxes R1R. The model is not new, having been introduced in Canada in 2010. For almost fifteen years now, it has been meeting the needs of motorists who believe in the sporty handling of their vehicles.

Toyo Proxes R1R tire review | Photo: Vincent Aubé

Described as a tire that “offers ultimate dry-weather traction for the enthusiastic driver who wants maximum car performance”, the Proxes R1R is nonetheless capable of performing on soggy roads. The “arrowhead” design channels water away to optimize grip.

The tire’s enlarged carcass (inspired by autocross) serves as the basis for this high-grip compound. In fact, Toyo even claims that the R1R is perfect for drifting, high-performance driving schools and even track days. Bingo!

And while this criterion didn’t bother me at all, the R1R is actually quiet, which isn’t always the case with these hyper-performance tires.

Toyo Proxes R1R tire review | Photo: Toyo Tires

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be pushing the new tires to find out whether they’re a good choice for your sports car or even your track car. Let’s bet the answer will be yes. So far, the first few kilometres have been very promising, with the MX-5 being much harder to drift thanks to all that extra grip.

Toyo Proxes R1R tire review | Photo: Vincent Aubé

It’s worth mentioning, however, that the larger rim size (nine inches) is not optimal. In fact, when I contacted Toyo Tires Canada, marketing consultant and motorsport coordinator Mike Miller told me that the maximum recommended width for this size of 225/45ZR15 was eight and a half inches. Unfortunately, my plan to use rims belonging to an acquaintance fell through a few days after receiving the tires. So, I had to ask my mechanic to install the R1Rs on the nine-inch rims, with a slight stretching of the tire that, I must admit, isn’t noticeable.

See you later this summer for a more detailed conclusion to this high-performance tire test. I can’t wait to discover more on the R1Rs. The summer should will be fun…

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