Gap closing between premiums, mid-range brands

Published by Stephen Goodchild
8th March 2019
Gap closing between premiums, mid-range brands

Another tyre test from the Auto Bild family of magazines. This time, Auto Bild Sportscars looked at 11 products in 245/45 R18, a size worn by executive saloons such as the BMW 5 Series. What it found was that the “top brands’ technological leadership compared with the remaining tyre makers” has shrunk. Even so, anyone prepared to pay a little extra for their tyres is still more likely to receive “top quality” driving dynamics.

Auto Bild Sportscars fitted the tyres to a BMW 5 Series and evaluated the influence each had upon braking and handling in wet and dry conditions. It also looked at rolling resistance/fuel efficiency, comfort and noise.

The winner: Pirelli P Zero

Pirelli’s flagship tyre finished in top spot. The testers described the P Zero as flawless, showering praise upon it for many a reason: Excellent handling characteristics on wet and dry surfaces, precise steering with copybook response, short wet and dry stopping distances, good safety reserves during aquaplaning. For its efforts, Auto Bild Sportscars declared the P Zero an ‘exemplary’ tyre.

Five tyres gain top rating

The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5 was runner-up and also judged ‘exemplary’. As you’d expect from tyres sharing Auto Bild Sportscars’ highest rating, the testers only reported minor shortcomings. Specifically, a “slightly raised” rolling resistance. It was a similar story with the third-placed Continental PremiumContact 6;  only “slightly elevated road noise” tarnished an otherwise excellent result.

Two other tyres were also ‘exemplary’, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 and Vredestein Ultrac Vorti. The testers’ only bugbear with the Michelin rubber, besides price, was its lateral control on wet surfaces. This was no better than average. High rolling resistance detracted from the Vredestein tyre’s otherwise clean performance.

Hankook: It’s all good

Auto Bild Sportscars rated just one tyre as ‘good’ – the Hankook Ventus S1 Evo². The Hankook tyre was credited with “good reserves of safety during aquaplaning, balanced wet and dry handling, short braking distance on dry surfaces and quiet road noise”. On the downside, the testers thought lateral control could have been better. The same applied to wet stopping distance.

The rest: Satisfactory

Performance in each individual test received a value much like a GCSE grade, but with 1 representing the best possible result and 6 the worst. Tyres gaining twos and threes fall into the ‘satisfactory’ category – no gold star from teacher, but nonetheless a solid effort. Five tyres achieved this rating.

Marked down on several points, the Nokian Powerproof finished seventh. Grip was good but not great. The 5 Series also took too long to stop in the wet when fitted with the Nokians. Additionally, it gave middling lateral control in the wet and tended towards understeer.

Three tyres shared eighth place: The Bridgestone Turanza T001, Maxxis Premitra 5 and Toyo Proxes Sport.

The Bridgestone tyre delivered “delayed steering response and understeering driving characteristics on wet and dry surfaces.” Like the Nokian Powerproof, its stopping distance in the wet was also too long.

The Premitra 5 gave “moderate grip on wet surfaces, understeering driving behaviour and extended braking distances in the wet, delayed steering response on dry roads”.

Cons for the Toyo Proxes Sport were a “marked understeering driving behaviour and extended braking distances on wet surfaces”. Comfort was also limited and rolling resistance on the high side.

Following the trio in 11th and final place was the Fulda SportControl 2. Auto Bild Sportscars called it an “affordable branded tyre with fuel-saving rolling resistance and quiet road tyre/road noise”. Yet this praise was soured by the Fulda tyre’s weaknesses. These were mediocre wet & dry grip, steering delay, and stopping distances that were a little too long.