Categories: Tires and Wheels

Porsche N spec Approval. Understanding it when Choosing Tires

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Today’s question has to do with finding the right tires for your Porsche. More specifically:

“What does it mean for a tire to have a Porsche N spec approval?”

A Porsche N spec approved tire is one that has passed a series of difficult and diverse tests designed by Porsche engineers to ensure maximum performance and safety under a wide range of driving conditions. To qualify for this approval and “to be an Original Equipment tire provider on a Porsche vehicle or be approved by Porsche for the replacement market requires the joint product development efforts of the tire engineers working alongside the Porsche vehicle engineers.” In some instances specific tires will only be approved for specific Porsche applications or models.

Tires may be specified for a particular vehicle or range of vehicles and must successfully pass the tire company's laboratory tests to assure that they would be capable of adequately supporting the Porsche vehicle while allowing it to reach its top speed on the German Autobahn. Additional laboratory, test track and race track tests are conducted to confirm that the prototype tires meet Porsche's noise, hydroplaning and handling requirements. Prototype tires will also be evaluated to assess their high-speed durability, uniformity and serviceability. Upon test completion, the tires will be released for production.

Let’s look at some of the tests required by Porsche for N spec approval:

  • SPEED: The tire must be capable of safely handling the Porsche vehicle at any speed while allowing it to reach its top speed on a track or the German Autobahn.
  • NOISE: As tires continue to grow in size and width, noise suppression becomes more and more important. Generally speaking, Porsche performance tires are low profile and very soft. This makes it even more difficult to manage road noise. You can rest assured that those tires with a Porsche N spec approval will be as quiet as possible.
  • HYDROPLANING: The focus in recent radial tire development for Porsche vehicles has primarily included optimum handling on dry surfaces and the safest possible behavior on wet surfaces, even at high speeds. Tires developed by various manufacturers, in concert with Porsche, offer a specific set of wet grip properties which few, if any, other autbile manufacturers demand in equal measure from the tires they use on their vehicles.
  • HANDLING: I’m not sure this particular heading requires any additional explanation. Your tires provide the grip that keeps your Porsche “stuck” to the road. Poor tire construction, soft sidewall, tires that are too firm, etc. all these things will lead to reduced handling and possible safety concerns that can be avoided by choosing a Porsche N spec tire.

Once a tire has been approved by Porsche it is branded with the N spec approval. The N-specification brandings include: N-0 (N-zero), N-1, N-2, N-3 or N-4. These markings on a tire's sidewall clearly identify them as approved by Porsche for their vehicles. The N-0 marking is assigned to the first approved version of a tire design. As that design is refined externally or internally, the later significant evolutions will result in a new generation of the tire to be branded with N-1, N-2, N-3, etc., in succession. When a completely new tire design is approved, it receives the N-0 branding and the succession begins again.

It is important to note that certain tire manufacturers may produce the exact same tire in name, size and speed rating as those that have the N spec approval. However, if they are not branded with the N spec approval than there is no way to guarantee that they will perform to Porsche requirements.

Replacing Porsche Approved N Spec Tires

According to a recent Porsche owner’s manuals, if you do run Porsche N spec approved tires on your car, it is always recommend that your tires be replaced in pairs (one axle at a time.) In the event of tire damage such as cuts, punctures, cracks or sidewall bulges that cause a single tire to be replaced for safety reasons, the remaining matching tire on that axle must not exceed 30 percent wear. If the remaining tire has more than 30 percent wear from new, it should also be replaced. Handling inconsistencies may result if this is not done.

Here’s a list of some of the more popular Porsche N spec approved tires:

There are many, many more tires, than those listed above, that are Porsche N spec approved. If you are researching tires, one of your best bets is to check out as you can look up your vehicle by make, model and year. The resulting list of tires will provide you with various information including whether the tire is a Porsche N spec approved one.

Don’t forget, if you have more questions you would like researched and answered, please ask below or by sending us an email using our form.

Updated: August 12, 2016

Related Posts
Review of the all new Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Choosing the Right Tires for your Porsche
Winter Tire Choices For Your Classic Porsche
Sumit HTR Z III Tire Review
Porsche Wheels and Rims

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View Comments (18)

  • There is only one winter tire for me on my 04 Cayenne S. Nokia. I am still using them from the 1st yr. and decided to use them all year, 2009, trying to wear them down thinking that they would not pass this winter and I'm due to but new ones, NOKIA, of course. WRONG. I live in Upstate NY and see lots of snow, ice and stop on a dime. So much for Porsche rated tires.

  • HI, Carol,

    I run Nokias on my Mercedes for winter tires. I agree, they are fantastic. However, on a sedan, like my mercedes, you get some pretty significant road noise if you run them spring and summer so I always swap them out..

  • Thanks for the clear explaination. I replaced my rear set with the factory brand this past Saturday. I got the best price at a national retailer on the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 295/30ZR19XL 100Y N1; however, they couldn't explain the difference between what I bought and this version: 295/30ZR19XL 100Y POR. The POR cost $40 more per tire.

  • Check this out
    Tried to order N Spec for my '07 Cayman through Tire Rack
    Tire Rack N Spec could only be ordered by dealers?
    Gave info to my independent shop and owner was surprised!
    He ordered them for me.
    Anybody had this happen?

  • Ive always been disappointed that the MPSS was never N spec approved for the 911's ... best tire in its class in my opinion

  • Your "linked" article regarding N spec tires mentioned Michelin Pilot Super Sport as N spec tires.My research shows no N spec for this tire but rather for the Michelin Pilot Sport II. This tire, by the way, is considerably more expensive than the same size Super Sport tire.
    Please advise.

  • I have a '62 Porsche 356. Stock setup is 4.5" rims with 165-80 (165-78) tires at all 4 corners. I would like to run 185-70 tires on 5.5" rims at the rear only, keeping the fronts stock.

    4 reasons for that: cuts down on oversteer (Porsche started doing the same thing 10 years later when it figured out what was going on), doesn't alter the delightful, light steering feel (best part of a 356), and softens the on-stilts look at the rear. Plus a 185-70 tire on a 5.5" rim won't fit in the spare-tire well up front.

    Earlier in 2016 Porsche put out a press release about its collaboration with Pirelli to reintroduce vintage tires and have them be part of the N-spec testing and approval program. One of these tires is the CN36. The CN36 165-80VR15 is listed. (That's a little surprising because I don't think Pirelli made that size in the 1970's and 356 cars can't go fast enough to require a VR speed rating.) Also listed is 185-70WR15 (for early 911's).

    The original 185-70 CN36 was VR rated, and in fact Pirelli still sells that version (without the N-code approval).

    Two questions:

    Is Pirelli really making 2 different versions of the 185-70 CN36? Or is just the labelling different? One could imagine that as a result of the renewed interest in and testing of this tire, Porsche and Pirelli concluded that because of modern materials and construction (but vintage tread pattern) this tire meets the WR standard. (But why wouldn't that be true for the 165-80 size also?)

    If there are really 2 versions of the 185-70, should I match speed ratings (VR front and rear, but N-spec in the front only) or match N-spec (VR front and WR only)?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Lucas Classic Tires now carries Pirelli Cinturato N4 marked tires for all vintage Porsches. I picked up a set for my 911. Great tires.

  • On the older modified or hotrod 911, tire selection is even more critical, your selection choices go way down. Say for the 1965-1969 modified sported with factory rims, lowered and whether or not your car has fender rolled fenders, you first you need to hunt for tires that fit 15 inch Fuchs the wideness of 5s, 6s, 7s, even 9s. Rear wheel fitment, with lowering, spacers and rolled fenders, the issue is making sure you don't end up cooking the rear fenders if you habit being hot. This brings up the rabbit hole of having ST Flare where then you could be running 9s. Have fun. High Octane for all.