One my biggest pet-peeves when it comes to modern automobiles is the needlessly enormous wheels that comes standard in cars, performance-oriented or otherwise. Why in the world does the new Honda Civic Type-R require 20-inch wheels? The car’s 235/30R/20 tires are practically rubber-bands, and surely the wheels themselves would explode at the first moment it passes over a modern city pothole.
I’m old enough to remember 18-inch wheels were the gold-standard in performance cars, whilst any wheel sized 20 and above where the domain of automobiles frequently purveyed by rap stars and sports figures. I understand completely that having a thin-sidewall tires mean less flex and sharper turn-in, but automaker’s have got to balance that with the realities of contemporary road conditions, otherwise the car’s ride would be horrendous. A Ferrari road-car that seldom sees the road? Sure, give it the biggest wheel with the skinniest tire as you please, but not in a mass-produced hot-hatch like the aforementioned Civic Type R.
If my ND Miata can offer the most sports-car purity this side of the wallet to a Porsche Cayman, all the while running on positively tiny 16-inch wheels shod in 195/50R16 spec tires, then there’s simple no excuse for other brands.
Except there is, and I found it when I saw a base Jaguar F-Pace SUV running on base-model 18-inch wheels: it looked horrendously tiny. The reason automakers put unnecessarily large wheels on cars is the design dictates it! Engineering probably had no choice but to comply with design dictum even though deep down I’m sure engineers know how absurd it is. Colin Chapman would.
I eagerly await someone to put some aftermarket RAYS wheels in 18-inch sizing on the Civic Type R. My guess it’d save many kilograms of weight (stock wheels are nearly 30 pounds each), but from a visual standpoint, likely lopsided and top-heavy. Blame the designers.