Shortly after I bought my 2014 Mazda2, I knew I wanted to do something with the wheels and tires.
Since I purchased the car during the winter months, purpose built winter tires were installed on the standard 15-inch alloy wheels.
Although I did have the stock 185/55R15 all-season tires, I wasn’t inclined to re-install them on stock rims. Not only can it get expensive constantly switching tires on the same set of wheels twice a year, there’s also the potential of damaging the wheel or tire itself.
Up-Sizing My Wheels
That left me with two options: I could get another set of 15-inch wheels, or up-size the wheel size and get new tires as well. After doing some research, I decided on getting a set of 17-inch wheels for the Mazda2. A 205/40R17 tire would give me the same basic overall tire and wheel circumference of the stock set-up and should improve handling, not to mention aesthetics.
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But which tires to get? The Mazda2 is highly regarded as one of the more fun to drive and responsive subcompacts on the market. But a set of dedicated high performance summer tires didn’t make much sense for an otherwise stock, 100 HP commuter car. That had me looking at high performance all-season tires.
This is a sub-section of the all-season tire that trades in some colder weather capabilities for warm weather performance. Not as performance-oriented as a summer tire, a HP all-season tire usually comes with a longer tread life and a more livable ride quality while still delivering above average on-road performance.
Toyo Extensa HP All-Season
After a bit of searching, I decided on the Toyo Extensa HP All-Season. The HP All-Season is an entry-level high performance tire for Toyo and is a member of the brand’s value-focused Extensa family.
Available in 43 different sizes for wheels ranging from 15- to 22-inches in diameter, the HP All-Season comes with a 360 tread wear rating. Unlike some high-performance all-season tires, the Extensas only have with a single “A” traction rating instead of the higher performance double “AA” rating. They do come with the usual single “A” temperature rating though.
The Extensa HP all-seasons measured 9.5/32nds of tread depth once installed. Despite having a much smaller sidewall than the Mazda2’s stock wheel and tire set-up, the new lower profile tires did not adversely affect ride quality. Going from a 55 to a 40 series sidewall, I expected a least a bit more harshness from the road to make its way into the car’s cabin, but I was pleasantly surprised.
This includes noise. Besides having a lower profile, the Extensa HP tire is 20 mm wider than the stock tire and features a more aggressive, handling-focused tread pattern. This usually leads to more road noise but once again, the Extensa tires showed no adverse effects. Part of the reason for this has to do with the tire’s Silent Wall technology on the center rib of rubber that helps reduce road noise.
That solid center rib also helps with stability and handling. By keeping a solid band of rubber in contact with the road at all times, the tire is less prone to be pulled from side to side by road imperfections. There are also interlocking tread blocks that further help with forward stability and cornering.
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Although the Mazda2 is by no means a “darty” car on the highway, it is a subcompact and can slightly wander at times. With the new Extensa tires installed I noticed an improvement in directional stability as it was less prone to moved from side-to-side when cruising down the freeway.
Dry and Wet Handling Prowess
With less sidewall and a larger footprint, the Extensa obviously handles better. Steering feel has also improved as there is less side-to-side flex in the tires. I wouldn’t go as far to state the Extensa HP handling is great, but the marked improvement over the stock touring all-season tires makes the car more engaging to drive than before.
In the wet, there is a more noticeable improvement in handling. With full depth straight sipes and four deep grooves for evacuating water, the lateral grip produced by the Extensa in wet conditions impressed me. Acceleration and braking traction in wet conditions are acceptable, but not as impressive as cornering prowess.
The Verdict: Toyo Extensa HP All-Season Tire Review
In all, the Extensa HP All-Season is a slightly above average tire when it comes to performance. But its best aspect is price. For a 205/40R17 tire, expect to pay around $58.99 a tire. That makes it one of the cheapest name brand high-performance all-season tires currently on sale.
If it’s ultimate performance you are looking for, this tire is not for you. But, for someone looking to upgrade from regular all-season tires to something with a bit more performance without breaking the bank, the Extensa HP All-Season is a solid choice.
- Available in 43 sizes for wheels 15- to 22-inches in diameter
- 360 Tread wear rating
- A Traction and A Temperature rating
- 205/40R17 tire costs around $58.99