ALL EYES ON THE SUMMER
Hi-Performance SUMMER TIRES
With summer replacements now upon us, it’s time to take a look at a few quality brand products, second-line products as far as price and certainly not for quality, offered by the top market players.
As winter, normally affected by seasonal tire replacements, gradually becomes a distant memory, and summer starts knocking at the door, it’s about time to take a good look at the most suitable equipment for the most popular coupes as well as family cars. A close look at the wide assortment currently on the market shows how right behind premium tires – just one level lower – the lively quality brand tire market is able to score the most interesting sales volumes. We’re speaking of second-line products which, despite being designed for small and medium range cars, do not disdain being used on dynamic sports coupes and GTs thanks to their High Performance specs. Precisely the automotive segments that, without resorting to the most extreme UHP tires, favor the use of high-performance tires, with the most widespread size being 205/55 R16 with 14 to 18 inch keying. Characterized by an attractive balance of performance, they are entrusted with providing adequate driving precision and safety on daily trips as well as medium/long journeys, come rain or shine, to what is often the only family car, or the second city car.
As the economic scenario is still largely unfavorable for most Italian families, an ever-increasing number of motorists have turned their attention towards technologically advanced products with a favorable quality / price ratio.
Here is a brief overview of the top players in the high quality high performance brands market (with a few intrusions into the premium segment).
One of the products that embodies the ultimate expression of the Aeolus Tires range, as can be inferred from the name Precision Ace2, focuses on safety, handling and steering precision, in optimal conditions as well as in wet conditions. The emerging Asian manufacturer makes extensive use of the most modern technologies, and the AH03 range features a tread pattern with four wide longitudinal grooves, designed for maximum water drainage even under the most intense rains, thanks to the dense side grooves. An asymmetrical pattern with a large contact patch ensures the best weight distribution and delivers superior handling even at high speeds. The compound used ensures a consistent performance, low rolling resistance and long service life, with a European labeling that varies from C to F (according to the different sizes) as far as energy efficiency is concerned, a B for braking in wet conditions and noise level ranging between 69 and 71 dB. The dimensional range currently includes about 35 sizes, 14, 15 and 16 inches, from 70 to 50 and 165 to 215 mm in width.
The goal? To cover the automotive range with an advanced product that encompasses all the technology of the Michelin Group. Here is, in a nutshell, BFGoodrich’s philosophy, with its g-Grip, the most popular summer option, as its crown jewel. In terms of grip, as the name itself points out, this tire is able to guarantee appreciable performance on dry roads, thanks to massive shoulders and a sturdy central rib, as well as in wet conditions, thanks to its directional tread pattern called Vortex, which disperses water more quickly and earned a B and C rating in wet braking. Its “chamfered edge” sipes improve the stability of each tread block when subjected to strong lateral loads, improving both driving precision and braking distance, with an E rating in rolling resistance, and a noise level between 69 and 70 dB. Performance is accompanied by a wide choice of sizes ranging between 165/70 R14 and 255/35 R19 s, a total of 119 items.
Moving up the range, Dunlop’s Sport BluResponse is certainly one of the most representative products, already chosen as original equipment by many vehicle manufacturers. Extremely competitive also in European ratings, most of its units boast an A for the wet grip, and a B for rolling resistance with just 68 dB as noise level. The result of Goodyear’s great know-how, the BluResponse can boast a Multi-Radius Tread (MRT), which results in a highly effective pressure deployment on the road contact patch, with a flatter tread profile for maximum stability and steering precision. This structure, along with an asymmetrical design with variable sea / land ratio, provides high aquaplaning resistance together with a significant reduction in rolling noise. Particularly large is the choice of sizes available ranging from 14 to 17 inches, with H, V, W and Y speed symbols.
The Japanese giant Sumitomo’s leading European brand unveiled its updated version of Ziex ZE914 range followed by the logo Ecorun, just to indicate the search for the satisfaction of European customers. Namely, low running costs without compromising on performance, low fuel consumption combined with appreciable features such as handling and braking distances, on both wet and dry roads. The asymmetric tread pattern presents four wide circumferential grooves to optimize grip as well as handling, with C and E ratings for rolling resistance, B for braking distance on wet roads and 69 to 72 dB noise level. To meet the demand of the largest number of motorists, the dimensional range benefits from a wide option of choices, more than 70, ranging between 12 and 18 inches, with a 70 to 35 aspect ratio and width between 165 and 265 mm, including a limited series (six sizes from 195/55 R16 to 225/45 R17) with a self-supporting or run-flat structure.
Designed to go beyond mere road cars, Firestone’s latest can equip both crossovers and SUVs alike. With Firestone’s Destination HP, Bridgestone's US brand takes the true-sports driving concept to new levels, extending its range to suit the heavy masses of this type of vehicle, capitalizing on a modern and sturdy tread pattern. The new and sturdier casing reduces irregular tire wear thanks mainly to the improved weight distribution over the whole contact patch, providing balanced performance and great stability in both dry and wet conditions. Using 3D center grooves, the stiffness of the tread blocks has greatly improved, enhancing its braking qualities and road handling, while transversal grooves quickly disperse water to reduce the risk of aquaplaning, even at high speeds. The Destination HP can also boast a B rating for wet braking, and between C and E for rolling resistance with noise levels ranging between 70 to 72 dB. The commercial offer includes about 40 sizes, ranging between 215 and 275 mm in width, with shoulder ratios between 75 and 45, for 15 to 19 inch wheels.
Altimax Sport by General Tire, US brand owned by Continental, is an asymmetric profile developed to offer precise handling and reduced braking distance on wet as well as dry roads. For this purpose, the tread pattern features four wide circumferential grooves with open shoulder blocks resulting in faster water dispersion and optimal stability, which translates into precise steering when cornering and safe driving even at high speeds. Through the Visual Alignment Indicator, regular wear is always guaranteed, to preserve uniformity of performance and maximum durability. The 70 sizes available, rated E for rolling resistance, B and C for wet braking with 71 dB of noise level, range between 14 to 20 inches in diameter, from 185 to 275 mm in width and aspect ratios from 55 to 35.
Designed for traveling comfort, GT Radial’s Champiro FE1 is a versatile tire that combines high mileage and fuel economy. With a very distinct asymmetrical design with three wide longitudinal grooves and lateral tread blocks with variable sipes, made to facilitate water dispersion guaranteeing appreciable handling and traction in any condition. The advanced tread compound ensures low noise level, reducing heat generation and resistance to wear in order to improve durability and driving smoothness. The range’s overall performance earned the Champiro a B rating for grip in wet conditions, a C in rolling resistance and scored 70 dB in perceived noise level. The nearly thirty sizes available at the moment range from 175/65 R15 and 225/50 R17, with H and V speed symbols.
The brand is Korean but the production strictly European. Having said that, the Hankook Ventus Prime3 can rightly be considered a premium tire that guarantees a balanced mix between performance and safety, with a flattering A rating for grip on wet roads (B for a few models) and C for rolling resistance. We’re looking at a modern four-longitudinal-grooves asymmetrical design whose greater stiffness enhances the contact patch, driving precision and braking, with reduced braking distance also in wet conditions. The reinforcement inserted in the belt improves strength and handling, improving traction in any condition thanks to a new high-grip compound. The wide range of sizes, able to equip as OE almost any vehicle currently in circulation in its reference segment, includes 50 sizes, from 15 to 18 inches with a tread width from 185 to 245 millimeters and aspect ratio between 40 and 65% not to mention H, V, W, and Y speed symbols.
New product by the Korean manufacturer, the Ecsta/Solus HS51 line is the flagship model on the European market designed to meet the needs of mid-sized and medium-large sedans, featuring a tread pattern designed to provide high standards of safety and comfort. The tread pattern, in fact, boasts stiff central ribs, four wide longitudinal grooves with reinforced lateral tread blocks to optimize handling, water dispersion and braking distance. The new high-dispersion silica materials used for the compound, with high grip resins, benefit the motorist in terms of both grip and high mileage with a regular tread wear throughout the tire’s life cycle, earning a European B and C rating (according to the size) for wet braking, and C and E ratings for energy efficiency yield topped by a 69 dB noise level. The wide choice of models ranges between 185/55 R15 and 245/45 R17, with V, W and Y speed symbols.
Introduced last year in the catalog of the world’s northernmost producer, the new Nokian HP summer tire successfully passes the scrutiny of the public. The e-line 2 range in fact earned a flattering double A rating that well describes the characteristics of this model, both in terms of energetic efficiency and grip in wet conditions. Nokian’s Coanda technology speeds up water dispersion through the curved, ramp-like design of the tread blocks on the inner shoulder, which guides and accelerates the flow of water from the longitudinal grooves into the transverse grooves. A special compound ensures maximum grip and high noise and vibration dampening, with noise level reaching only 68 dB, resulting in improved tread wear resistance especially on long journeys. The presence of DSI depth indicators located on the central rib makes it possible to monitor the remaining tread depth to avoid reaching the safety limits especially in terms of aquaplaning. Currently available for 15 and 16 inch wheels, sizes range between 185/65 R15 and 215/60 R16, with H and W speed symbols.
Another double A holder is the Cinturato P7 Blue, born as high quality replacement flanked by its more famous “brother” Cinturato P7, destined, from the outset, to supply a wide range of medium-high sedans as standard equipment. The Blue version, therefore, is a performance enhancing evolution in terms of rolling resistance as well as grip on dry and wet roads alike. The stiffer casings, obtained using advanced materials, with a reinforced contact area supported by flexible sidewalls, which reduce energy dispersion by lowering rolling resistance. Compounds are new too, made with the latest generation of low oil content polymers, developed by Pirelli to improve performance in terms of grip and braking. The P7 Blue range, intended for mid-sized and large sedans, now includes twenty sizes ranging between 205/60 R16 and 245/40 R18, with H, V, W and Y speed symbols.
A summer tire for everyone, from small city cars to gritty sedans, that promises dynamic performances and comfort in every situation. This is Toyo’s Tranpath MP4, characterized by an asymmetrical tread profile designed to combine road-handling and low noise levels, with four main grooves surrounded by multi-wave sipes for a greater water drainage. The reinforced sidewall increases the overall structural stiffness of the tire, which guarantees greater cornering performance and quick changes in direction, not to mention durability, the result of using an elastic bead cord and a rim protector. The dual-compound technology used boasts a different concentration of silica between the inner and outer part of the tread optimizing its braking qualities on wet roads, which earned the Transpath a B and C rating and lowering noise levels to 70/71 dB. Furthermore, its low rolling resistance also scored a C for the entire range. The wide choice available includes 30 sizes, ranging between 175/65 R14, with an H speed rating, and 245/40 R18, which received a Y speed symbol.
With increased balance of performance between comfort, high-speed stability and safety even in case of rain, compared to the rest of Vredestein’s range, generally more geared towards pure sports driving, the Sportrac5 is a summer tire designed for a wide range of applications, from mid-sized to large sedans. Developed along with the Giugiaro design center, as shown by the logo engraves on the sidewall, it boasts an asymmetric design optimized to guarantee grip in dry and wet conditions alike, thanks to a rigid structure, which ensures a uniform contact area, as well as low noise levels, through asymmetrical grooves along the sidewall. The quick water drainage, secured by four longitudinal grooves, improves resistance to aquaplaning, which guarantees great handling and driving precision thanks to Vredestein’s Handling Tuned Sidewall technology. With a European B to E rating in fuel economy, and a B for wet grip, with noise level as low as 69 to 71 dB, the Sportrac5 comes in a wide range of sizes from 165/60 R14 H to 235 / 55 R18 V.
Under the name Advan lies Yokohama’s sporty line recently enriched by the new Fleva Advan V701 version. The mission of offering safety combined with brilliant performance is made possible through a nimble and precise directional profile, guaranteed by rigid side tread blocks, with great resistance to aquaplaning and quick water dispersion qualities thanks to four central grooves and smaller side grooves, as confirmed by the A rating for all models. A rather distinct and attractive design enhances the special tread made with Blend Compound Nano technology, which replaces aromatic oils with orange extracts, reducing noise level and improving rolling resistance, earning Yokohama’s Advan Fleva a C in energy efficiency and a noise level of just 67 dB. At full capacity, the range will ensure a choice of 40 sizes ranging from 195/55 R15 to 255/30 R20, with V and W speed symbols.