If you're lucky enough to own a Porsche vehicle, you're likely aware of the N rating tire program, and just how confusing tire buying outside of a Porsche dealer can be.
Fortunately, thanks to a smart update to the N rating system, tire shopping is about to get a whole lot easier!
N rated OE tires are tires specifically designed to work with the Porsche they were developed with. Porsche and the tire manufacturers work together closely, sometimes for years, to tune an existing tire to work perfectly with the intended vehicle, which in the case of th 911 which is famously rear engined, an extensive list of modifications. In the case of the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S NA0 Michelin and Porsche worked together for three years to fine tune the front and rear tires to give the 911 one of the best handling tire packages available.
Previously, all N rated tires were listed as N, then a number to show the revision of the rating, ie N0, N1, N2.
This works great when your Porsche model uses a unique tire size in the Porsche line-up, but with many new Porsche models now available there's beginning to be an overlap, meaning you could for example find a rear size for a front engined vehicle also being the same as a front tire for a rear engined vehicle. Naturally, these tires will have very different design and load requirements and shouldn't be used interchangeably.
To improve the situation Porsche have taken the common sense solution of adding a second letter to the rating, which indicates which vehicle the tire is intended for!
Currently the only active rating is NA, which is for the 911, but in the future there will be NB for the 718 Boxster / Cayman, NC for the Cayenne SUV, ND for the Panamera, NE for the Mecan, and NF for the Taycan. The numbering system for the revisions still applies, so NA0 will become NA1, then NA2 etc. Surprisingly for the GT models the one letter system will remain.
This is a wonderful common sense approach to OE tire markings, and is something we hope other manufacturers follow in the not too distant future, to make OE tire buying as simple as possible for shoppers.
Below are a few slides from the Michelin document about these changes, released with the introduction of the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S NA0. You can watch the Tire Reviews video on this tire here.