Conventional wisdom has it that the original equipment tyre fitted off the showroom floor is the ideal choice for your car.
In a perfect world that may be the case, as a carmaker’s engineers generally tend to optimise a car’s handling, braking and electronic systems intervention to the OE tyre.
But it’s no perfect world. Particularly when chasing maximum handling and braking performance. And, further to that, combined dry and wet performance.
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Fuel consumption, ride comfort, low noise, cost, supply logistics – there are myriad considerations outside of extracting maximum tyre performance that carmakers have when selecting OE rubber. Even with some big-dollar performance cars it can be a lottery as to what brand and model of tyre is fitted, due to the economics of car making.
So MOTOR’s Tyre Test is back. The purpose? To funnel the finest and freshest rubber through a single hi-po vehicle to decide what’s the best all-round, all-weather tyre out there for your pride and joy. By measures of speed, time and distance, we’re out to crown a performance-tyre king.
And as performance equates to maximising grip, handling and stopping, by the very nature of our testing regime we’ll also discover the safest performance tyre of this year’s eight-strong field.
This year Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, Falken, Goodyear, Michelin, Toyo and Winrun stepped up to our annual ‘Tyre Olympics’, each nominating their best-performing tyre model within conditions of the Tyre Test rules.
The rules are, in a nutshell, pretty simple. The eligible candidate must be a certified road tyre and be available as standard or optional fitment to a series production car. Pretty straightforward then, thus removing the murky grey line separating a proper road tyre from grooved/lightly treated dedicated off-street rubber.
That’s precisely why our testing is split between dry and wet disciplines. By its very nature, mixed running works unfavourably against sticky track tyres that require dry heat with which to excel and favours rubber capable of dealing with all real-world on-road conditions.
New to our Tyre Test is the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, a list-topper of ideal Tyre Test go-to vehicles for two reasons. Firstly, it’s the hottest modest-sized device out there, so it’s a perfect fit for the disciplines at hand. And, secondly, it runs 19-inch rims fitted with 235mm-wide 35-aspect ratio rubber that, today, seems to be something of a sweet spot for high-performance road rubber.
As ever, the AMG also provides a crucial control tyre to which all competition rubber can be scaled against, which is tested at the outset and retested twice through proceedings; primarily as a yardstick to adjust final calculations if conditions change throughout the testing process.
The rest of the Tyre Test cast and crew will be familiar to regular, erm, viewers: Warren Luff as stunt test dummy, our trusted mates at JAX Tyres supplying the tyre-swapping muscle and Eagle SMF the hardware, our trusty Driftbox timing equipment as judge and jury, and Sydney Motorsport Park and Sydney Dragway as the exotic test locales.
Let’s cut to the chase then, shall we?
MICHELIN PILOT SPORT CUP 2
GOODYEAR Eagle F1 asymmetric 2
TOYO PROXES T1 SPORT
FALKEN AZENIS FK453
CONTINENTAL CONTISPORTCONTACT 5P
ORIGIN: CZECH REPUBLIC
BRIDGESTONE POTENZA RE050A
THE TYRE TESTS
Beyond the 400m timing point, at the top end of Sydney Dragway’s strip, lays asphalt free of sticky surface prep. It’s the perfect venue for our first discipline.
The spread of braking distances, across this field of eight competing tyre models, spans a whopping 8.52 metres!
A tyre’s ability to cope with wet conditions plays a huge part of the Tyre Test and represents a significant portion of the overall scoring.
With the Michelin and Continental showing class-leading form on dry high-friction asphalt, it was interesting to see if the same dominance would continue on the Figure Eight.
Ordinarily, we’d be discussing the field’s wet lateral G force performance right about here.
TYRE TEST VERDICT
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Our ultimate grip test again proves that while they may look the same, the levels at which these rings of sticky stuff perform are vastly different.
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