New tires will be a big help, not only in improving a cars performance, but also in tire longevity. Even though performance summer tires wear faster, they have stiffer sidewalls and are design to run at higher temperatures. This will reduce chunking (often seen with OE touring tires) and tire corner wear from sidewall roll over.
Recently, grassroots motor sports did a test on this, and it was found that wheel weight had less of an impact when compared to having correctly sized tires for the wheel. I’m not saying that wheel weight doesn’t matter; I’m saying that impact/dollar is pretty low.
When it comes down to street tires, my research has led me to believe that you’ll get the best performance out of a tire sized correctly to the wheel width. Stock 15x6 will be best served with a 195 street tire.
Not sure what your budget or overall goals are here. Are you looking to get a separate set of wheels and tires, or just new tires? It may be that starting out you’ll want to fit a good performance tires to your OE alloys, and find a used set or steelie wheels to put on some snows or all seasons for the winter.
Parking Lot Hero
2008 WRX daily driver
2003 ZX3 23D Autox Car 42 FSP
"Hella Functional - Raced, Not Hard Parked"