Nitto Invo Review: Ultra High Performance Street Tire

by Nitto

  • Dry 90% 90%
  • Wet 90% 90%
  • Snow 70% 70%
  • Comfort 95% 95%
  • Noise 95% 95%
  • Treadwear 85% 85%
  • Overall 88% 88%

The Nitto Invo is probably one of the most unusual (yet totally good-looking) tires in the market. However, we’re talking about a design that’s more than ten years old and counting. But why fix something that isn’t broke in the first place? The Invo belongs to Nitto’s original tire lineup. Back then, the company needed a product that will win over the hearts and minds of performance enthusiasts.

And they got it with the Nitto Invo. In some parts of the world, the Invo is a premium choice and competes head-on with other stalwarts like the Bridgestone Potenza and Goodyear Eagle F1. But in North America, the Invo was a more affordable alternative offering OEM levels of all-weather traction and grip.

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And if you have an expensive sports car or sport-luxury sedan, style is part of the equation. If you want a tire capable of giving your ride a sportier and more aggressive stance, the first thing you need to do is upgrade the tires – preferably the Nitto Invo. It’s hard not to talk about this tire’s asymmetrical tread design, which is one of the most extreme we’ve seen so far. But the Invo is not just a looker. The design is there, but it’s there for a purpose other than style alone.

In this Nitto Invo review, we’ll be testing the tires onboard a 2005 BMW M3. Yeah, our test vehicle came with the famed naturally-aspirated 3.2-liter inline-six producing 333 horsepower. Making things better is the standard gearbox, which happens to be a quick-shifting 6-speed manual. Our test vehicle came with staggered size wheels, making the Invo the perfect choice for this application. Our test vehicle is bone stock except for the springs, dampers, and wheels.

Even though we were given the keys to a fast Bimmer, we wanted a more comprehensive test in real-world conditions. Honestly, we’re not raving to drive the Bimmer on a racetrack, because we believe a car like this is best enjoyed on empty streets and winding provincial roads. Also, the Nitto Invo is not a racing tire, but rather an all-season premium touring tire for sporty driving.

Nitto Invo Review: Features

That’s right. Nitto’s Invo is actually a touring tire at heart. The strongest traits are solid ride comfort, a quiet ride, and sporty handling. Nitto classifies the Invo as a luxury sport ultra-high-performance tire, which is true to some extent. But actually, we’re talking a sporty touring tire combining excellent comfort and precise handling.

The Invo is constructed using a silica-reinforced compound, which is precisely engineered to reduce tread flex to improve cornering, braking, and acceleration. The silica-infused compound is also responsible for the all-weather performance of the tire. It allows the treads to remain stiff yet pliable enough to deliver a nice blend of dry and wet performance.

Nitto’s Invo is easy to spot from a distance. The outer shoulder has larger tread blocks for faster cornering and better stability over dry roads. Meanwhile, the inner shoulder is festooned with V-shaped 3D-multi wave sipes with an interlocking ripple design. When the sipes lock together, the tire offers more surface area to improve traction and acceleration. Combined with the larger tread blocks on the outside shoulder, this design is meant to increase the surface area of the tire to deliver relentless traction and grip.

The Invo also has a three-channel deep wide rib, which combines an inner rib with two circumferential grooves. This not only improves the design, but it’s also responsible for the solid wet performance of the tire. And in order to reduce noise, Nitto utilized different variations in the size and positioning of the treads to counteract road noise.

As we said, the sporty handling is a given, but what really makes the Nitto Invo shine is the ride comfort, road silence, and tread longevity. Sounds familiar? That’s right! Those are the traits of a touring tire!

Nitto Invo Review: Test Drive

A large majority of our test drive was on perfectly dry roads. We encountered a slight drizzle on the way home, but it’s enough for us to get an idea of how the tires behave on a wet highway. Right off the bat, we were impressed with the ride silence and ride comfort, something which the owner loves the most about Nitto Invo. The springs and dampers are tuned for street driving, but the firmness is there. However, the tires were able to cushion the many blows we encountered over pockmarked city roads.

Dry Traction

We made it clear the Nitto Invo is a high-performance touring tire, which means the tire will lean more towards long-distance comfort over outright sportiness. And you know what, we’re right. The Invo offers sure-footed grip, strong braking, and confidence-inspiring stability when you’re going fast in a straight line. The tires also tend to squirm for grip if you really push it, but it takes a lot of coaxing and wild steering corrections to upset the composure of the tires.

For fast driving, the Nitto Invo is one of the best. However, if you demand precise handling or if you have a muscle car with the torque output of a jumbo jet, you better look elsewhere. For example, if you have a Mustang EcoBoost or V6, the Nitto Invo is a good choice. But if you have a Mustang GT, GT350, or GT500, you’re better off with the Nitto NT05.

Wet Traction

It’s the same banana over wet roads. But in all fairness, the Nitto Invo tires felt good on a wet highway. We never felt the tires hunting for grip, nor did we notice a loss in braking performance. The handling remained rock solid all throughout our test drive, and we noticed this whether the roads are dry or riddled with water puddles.

Snow Traction

There was no way for us to test the tires over snow, and the owner of the vehicle keeps the car in his garage whenever cold weather starts creeping in. But since the Invo is an all-season tire, we’re expecting negligible performance over light snow, and that’s basically it. Anything over two to three inches of snow requires a proper set of snow tires, and that’s a fact.

Comfort

There’s a huge difference between stiff or jarring suspension. Of course, our BMW M3 belongs to the former, which is one of the hallmarks of what makes this vehicle great. Equipped with aftermarket springs and dampers, the ride is noticeably firmer than stock, but there’s a certain amount of compliance along with the omission of harshness inside the cabin. The Nitto Invo tires are one of the comfiest sport-touring tires you can buy, and we’re not just saying this out of thin air. Remember, touring tires are all about comfort and longevity. As it turns out, the Invo is infused with a ton of touring DNA despite the sporting apprehensions.

Noise

With such a radical tread design, we weren’t expecting the tires to be this quiet. But for a sporty tire, the Nitto Invo delivers an almost whisper-silent ride. Of course, this may also have something to do with the NVH tuning of our ride, but the Invo gets a high score in terms of refinement. You’ll still hear road noise as the speed builds up, but it wasn’t enough to distract us from the real chore of piloting such a marvelous vehicle.

Treadwear

Our test vehicle is a low-mileage example and was handed over to the owner by his eldest brother. The Nitto Invo tires fitted on our ride were more than a year old, but the treads still had approximately 8/32” left, which speaks highly on the longevity of Nitto Invo.

However, the Invo has no treadwear warranty, which is the norm for sporty performance tires. Remember, your driving habits play a huge part in tire wear, too.

Nitto Invo Review: Conclusion

In truth, Nitto’s Invo is competing in a tough market. OEM tiremakers such as Michelin, Bridgestone, and Goodyear all have newer and better weapons in their arsenal of performance tires. But despite this, Nitto Invo is still capable of standing out as an excellent sport-touring tire for all-weather driving.

And despite the age, the Nitto Invo is showing no signs of slowing down. It’s not the most affordable option out there, but you get your money’s worth in terms of all-season traction and all-weather ride comfort. This tire is not ideal for racing or slalom applications, most especially when talking about muscle cars or sports cars with megabucks of horsepower. But for fast driving on an empty stretch of highway, or in mountain roads with a plethora of hairpin turns, the Nitto Invo will still make you smile.