ULTRAC VORTI SUBSTANCE IN GIUGIARO CLOTHING
TESTING VREDESTEIN’S NEW SUMMER TYRE
The new UHP summer tyre launched in Hungary by Vredestein of Holland targets premium coupés and sports cars: positive impressions about a tyre with well-balanced performance, ready for homologation on the Mercedes C 63 AMG and Aston Martin Virage.
Mino De Rigo
TWO YEARS to complete the design, development and engineering of 13 models and 18 compounds that were tested on 1500 prototypes: this was the road taken by the new Ultrac Vorti, the latest arrival at Vredestein of Holland. An UHP summer tyre, the result of a collaboration with Giugiaro, which once again has signed the tread to give the Ultrac Vorti the touch of glamour that can contribute to making the difference, even in a market segment that is fiercely competitive when it comes to performance. And all the more so if it is true that, according to the numerous comments by the test drivers at Hungaroring (the race track in Budapest), nobody has accused it of over-design or even that such great artistry has not been not matched with appropriate levels of performance. Which means that not only was it homologated “in itinere” on the Mercedes C 63 AMG and the Aston Martin Virage, it also made a good impression on sector press guests like ourselves who sat next to the test drivers on programmed laps of the Hungarian circuit chosen by Vredestein for the international product launch, and then were able to get behind the wheel for a close up and personal experience of the new tyre on dry and wet surfaces. There can be no doubt that, its accredited speed rating (Y) apart, the character of the Ultrac Vorti was well represented by the premium sports coupés that were used as a laboratory.
A sporty character
Beginning with the Mercedes C 63 AMG (457 HP, V8 engine, 1,655 kg) in which we experienced some stretches of the track as passengers. This was followed by the same thing but in a Jaguar XKR-s (550 HP, 5.0 V8, 1,753 kg). We liked the latter more because it immediately appeared to be in tune with the character of the tyres whereas the former showed suspension limitations that were not ideal for the circuit. Grip and rear-wheel traction emerged vividly and convincingly. The feeling we had in the Jaguar was of good support when going into the corner and with the relevant travel. In general, equally positive was the impression of a tyre that discharged power to ground smoothly and showed substantial absence of wear, even after numerous laps of the track. After we left the main stretch we began the tests behind the wheel. A smaller circuit created in an area next to the main circuit and an Aston Martin Virage (497 HP) ready for the test: a flat out start followed by sharp braking at 150 metres to take a tight s-bend bend, a slalom and then foot down again on the last stretch before stopping.
Result: a feeling of being fully in control and of faultless handling with the addition of adherence and sideways hold without any hesitation or slipping, even with the most aggressive acceleration. Substantial dynamic behaviour especially on the wet in an Audi S5 3.0 V6 TSFI 333 HP along a similar route, with balanced performance, stability when braking with blocked wheels, resistance to aquaplaning and a gradualness that is, without doubt, an added value. Featuring an asymmetric tread pattern and a 4-radius contour designed to increase shoulder contact area when cornering and give better pressure distribution, the new Ultrac Vorti is also characterized by the particular shape of the two central grooves: “The outer walls of these grooves” – explained Peter Snel, director of R&D at Vredestein – “have a double angle to better compensate for sideways forces when cornering and to ensure even rolling characteristics, which also benefits tyre durability. The compounds are very stable at high temperatures, while hold with lateral accelerations takes advantage of a casing stiffened with a double layer of nylon”. Available in 11 sizes for 18” to 20” rims (6 of which are for the rear only), the Ultrac Vorti joins the market together with another new product also developed by Vredestein in collaboration with Giugiaro.
Sportrac 5, the other new product
It’s the Sportrac 5 summer tyre with an asymmetric tread pattern. The successor of the Sportrac 3, it targets the mid-size segment with a range of 14 sizes with V rating from 185/55 R15 to 205/50 R17. Development focused on reducing rolling resistance and on comfort, as we found out during a short drive through the towns around Hungaroring in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Good steering and handling on dry roads (we can’t comment on wet handling as we weren’t able to try it) and even better smoothness. These tyres were designed for efficiency and, therefore, fuel economy, which is also helped by a 15% reduction in weight compared to the previous model. The imprint of the designer is now an established custom for premium products and it should soon be seen also in corners and outlets for more immediately recognizable and significant brand identity. “We are working” – admitted Fabrizio Giugiaro, joint chairman and styling director of Giugiaro Italdesign – “on new ideas in addition to developing tyres, which we will be following with an S version of the Ultrac Vorti”. An easily predicable challenge in the wake of a look that is minimalist, tasteful and, once again, of assured effect.
• Vredestein Italia figures
“It has never done so well since we opened the Italian subsidiary of Vredestein in 1995: the 2011 balance sheet results show that it was a record season” – said CEO Giovanni Masinelli. “And this year we are counting on growing again by 2.5%, we are not interested in going higher. Our revenues of around 20 million euros almost all come from car tyres, but we are now ready to push the agricultural segment as well. Our trump cards include unique products like the Quatrac 3, the all-season with a dual tread and dual compound, and Quatrac Lite, the ‘green’ version: they are both strategic because they sell all year round and above all they free drivers from having to have two sets”.