With budget brands now accounting for 38 per cent of 17- and 18-inch tyre purchases in the UK, it is more important than ever to recognise products that deliver the handling and stopping performance required by executive and performance saloons. To identify our favourite Performance Tyres of 2023, WhatTyre has looked at the three most popular sizes for 17-inch and larger rim diameters, 225/45 R17Y, 225/40 R18Y and 205/45 R17W. As was the case in 2022, this year we have separated tyres aimed at the highest echelon of the performance car world into their own category – Supersports Tyres.
Newcomers make Performance Tyres an interesting category in 2023. Many brands have released their latest-generation products, which means anyone in the market for new UHP tyres is spoiled for choice.
WhatTyre Performance Tyre of the Year 2023
Goodyear began rolling out the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6 early last year. By the end of this year no fewer than 65 sizes will be available, beginning with 17-inch sizes and going up to 22-inch. All currently available dimensions come with an EU label rating of A for wet grip, and the Goodyear tyre’s stopping and handling prowess has been confirmed by numerous independent tests, including a double win with Auto Bild in 2023 and top spot in two UK-focused comparative evaluations last year. But the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6 doesn’t just deliver the goods on wet and dry roads – a combination of very good mileage and moderate pricing gives the Goodyear tyre a price-performance ratio that’s hard to beat. We are therefore delighted to name the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6 our What Tyre Performance Tyre of the Year as well as our Value Champion.
Highly recommended tyres
Upon declaring the Pirelli P Zero PZ4 our winner in 2022 we noted that the tyre had been homologated as original equipment for 18 vehicle brands. A further six have now come on board, and the makers of 24 vehicle brands can’t be wrong. A result of the tyre’s popularity as an original equipment fitment is that many dimensions in the P Zero PZ4 range carry specific manufacturer’s markings on the sidewall, indicating they have been tweaked for a specific vehicle.
The 225/40 R18Y tyre we looked at doesn’t carry this marking. It also has an A label rating for wet grip, indicating that the Pirelli tyre’s focus on superb performance in dry conditions is supported by surefootedness in the rain, at least in this dimension. The Pirelli P Zero PZ4 has well earned its place as our Performance Tyre of the Year runner-up and a WhatTyre Highly Recommended tyre.
When naming last year’s WhatTyre Best Performance Tyres we mentioned that Michelin was in the process of introducing a successor to the Pilot Sport 4, a tyre scoring well on the WhatTyre site. Since then, this fifth-generation tyre has proven itself more than worthy of carrying the Pilot Sport name, and it comes as no surprise that independent testers have found podium space for it.
Not only has Michelin appeared to have come good on its promise of “class leading” longevity, independent testing shows the Pilot Sport 5 to have comparatively low environmental impact as well as offering consistently good performance in a range of conditions. Admittedly the Michelin Pilot Sport 5 isn’t the cheapest tyre in the 17- and 18-inch size bracket, but strong performance in a range of conditions coupled with its longevity combine to make this a WhatTyre Highly Recommended tyre.
Commended Performance tyres
If you’re looking for a product that handles and stops well but doesn’t cost the earth, the Hankook Ventus S1 evo 3 offers a very attractive price/performance ratio. The Ventus S1 evo3 has been on the market for about four years now but still holds its own against younger rivals, topping the Auto Bild braking test and receiving a highly recommended rating in recent evaluations by European motoring associations. The Ventus S1 evo 3 also remains a favourite with OEMs and aftermarket availability is excellent, with approximately 150 sizes for 17- to 22-inch rim diameters on offer. All these factors combine to make Hankook Ventus S1 evo 3 a WhatTyre Commended tyre.
The Falken Azenis FK520 delivers generational improvements on its strong-selling predecessor. Wet and dry grip is better, and the FK520 is stronger and lighter, too. The Falken tyre achieved an EU label A rating for wet grip in the two sizes we looked at, 225/45 R17Y and 225/40 R18Y.
In its 2023 UHP summer tyre test, Gute Fahrt voted the Maxxis Victra Sport 5 its “clear price winner.” Tester Dirk Vincken commented that “anyone who can boldly play in the same team as Goodyear and Bridgestone has done something right.” The acclamations continued in Auto Bild’s 2023 Sports Car Summer Tyre Test as the VS5 was commended for its dynamic handling in the wet and short braking distances. The range has now been complemented by fitments for electric cars, the Victra Sport EV.
Prior category winner the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT2 offers across the board performance. Its AB tyre label rating pairs very good grip on wet roads with low rolling resistance, and a tyre noise measurement of 68 dB means the Sport Maxx RT2 is quieter than many of its counterparts.
Bridgestone developed the Potenza S007 especially for high speed super sports vehicles and features a profile that delivers increased steering precision and traction on dry ground. This allows for maximum stability on corners and under braking, improving safety and performance in race conditions.
The asymmetrically patterned Kumho Ecsta PS71 was one of the first major products developed at Kumho Tire’s new R&D Centre, and the team there designed PS71 for outstanding high-speed stability and strong wet weather performance. Ecsta PS71 is now the mainstay of Kumho’s UHP range. The pattern is currently available in some 70 V, W and Y-rated sizes for 16- to 20-inch rims to fit the market’s best-selling executive saloons and sports cars. In addition, the PS71 passenger car line-up features 13 run-flat sizes.
Auto Bild, publisher of Europe’s highest-profile tyre test, has given the GT Radial SportActive 2 a ‘good’ rating in its summer 2023 test. GT Radial finished fourth place overall out of 20 second-round finalists and 50 tyres in total. The GT Radial SportActive 2 is available in 42 passenger car and SUV sizes with rims ranging from 16-21”, section widths from 195-295, series sizes from 35-55 and speed indices from V-Y. Across all sizes the GT Radial SportActive 2 has maintained its A label for wet grip with B-D for rolling resistance.