New Wheels And Tires
You can’t have a project car and not try to spice up its looks a bit. Our Mazda5 came with the base 16-inch alloy wheels paired with low rolling resistance Toyo tires optimized for fuel economy more than performance. It was too easy to spin them in first gear, even when it was dry out. Naturally, then, the tires also didn’t provide much traction in Washington's wet season.
Since the 16-inch wheels are small by today’s standards, I wanted to step up to something bigger with more clearance. In the future, I plan on adding a brake kit that requires 18-inch wheels up front. And because I bias to OEM alloy wheels for fitment and price reasons, I hunted down a used set from a second-generation Mazdaspeed3 on Craigslist.
Plasti Dip is a quick and simple solution for cleaning up wheels, so I purchased four cans of anthracite gray and a cap of Glossifier to give it a more brilliant sheen. After carefully cleaning and then painting the wheels, they were ready to go on the car.
They needed tires of course, so we teamed up with Yokohama for a fresh set of all-season performance rubber. My previous experience with Yokohama's S.Drive line-up was excellent; they were a great pairing to my Miata. But because the Mazda5 needs to cope with Washington's schizophrenic weather, I went with a set of Advan Sport A/S, the company's high-performance, all-season tire. Yokohoma even touts them as capable of treading through light snow, which is about as much as we get on the west side of the Cascades.
We’ve had the new wheels and tires on the car for about a month and couldn’t be happier. Whereas the stock Toyos had trouble putting power down when it was dry, the new Yokohomas grip well under any condition. The car wants to be pushed harder than before, and I'm perfectly fine with that.
At this point, I have no problem recommending the Yokohoma Advan Sport A/S for drivers in areas with a lot of rain. I'll keep the updates rolling as the car continues evolving, but so far the new wheel/tire combination has me in love with the Mazda5 all over again. They're often under-emphasized, but good rubber makes or breaks the driving experience.