Uhp premium segment
When performance is pushed to the limit, fun and safety are proportional to the quality of the equipment used, first and foremost tires. Here is a run through of the Ultra High Performance segment, designed to keep the most exuberant GTs glued to the ground
As far as sales are concerned, the Ultra High Performance sector is certainly not the one that can boast the highest figures, as it represents a rather limited portion, though prestigious, of the global market. Yet, about a third of European sales volumes relate to 17” tires and above, which become almost a quarter of the total if we consider the Italian market alone. This sector has been recording a steady and uninterrupted growth over the last few years, with a 9% annual growth trend expected to continue at least until 2020.
Whether for the progressive increase of rim diameters on mid-range cars, or the increasing demand for premium products with superior performance, investing in UHP tires is, at least for the manufacturer, a profitable endeavour, and will continue to be so in the future especially for 19 and 23 inch models. Not to mention that each manufacturer relies upon its top-of-the-range models (often produced in partnership with prestigious car manufacturers as OEMs) to represent the state of the art of their production prowess.
Following, and strictly in alphabetical order, are some of the most appreciated products by quality, performance and, not least, brand reputation.
For eight years now, Bridgestone’s Potenza S001 has represented the highest technological expression of the Japanese producer’s car range, the longest running UHP product in this overview, whose debut dates back to 2010. A true flagship, adopted, over the years, as OEM by the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari and Maserati, all searching for the perfect combination of performance, comfort and safety, additionally enhanced by the RFT signature self-supporting run-flat version. The asymmetric tread design, with driving precision enhanced by stiff ‘high grip’ outer shoulder blocks and a 60° inclined inner shoulder to maximise water dispersion, shows wide longitudinal grooves to combat aquaplaning. Grip is favoured by a Nano Pro-Tech compound, obtained through polymers able to guarantee adequate grip in any condition, effectively dispersing heat thanks to its Cooling Fin Technology reducing fuel consumption while maximising the overall duration of the tire.
The wide range available includes sizes between 15 and 20 inches with speed codes V,W and Y on the European labelling system depending on the size, from B to F for fuel consumption, between A and E for Wet braking and from 67 to 74 dB for noise level.
Now in its sixth generation, dating back to the end of 2015, the SportContact range’s evolution continues. Launched in 1994 it was the first German super sport tire of the ContiSportContact series. Among the many improvements affecting all the tire’s main components such as structure, design and compound, the tire was developed to perfectly adapt to pure supercars as well as large high-performance sedans. The introduction of Aralon 350 synthetic fibre, which alternates two stiff aramid yarns with one made of nylon, produced a new adaptive hybrid cap ply able to guarantee maximum stability at high speeds. Also new is tread design, with an asymmetrical central rib to improve cornering stability and contrast great lateral forces. The unique Black Chili compound allows the tire to fill the micro-cracks of the road, producing a suction effect to maximum grip in all conditions.
The range provides for 41 sizes, besides a specific tire for Tesla’s Model S, and is approved for speeds up to 350 km/h! Additionally the SportContact6 has been chosen as OEM by Audi, Bmw, Honda, Mercedes-Amg, Opel and Renault , and is available for 19 to 23-inch wheels, with European A labelling for braking distance on wet roads, E for rolling resistance and 72 dB for external noise.
EAGLE F1 ASYMMETRIC 3
The US giant revamped its UHP range with the introduction, in 2016, of the new version of its Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3, flagship of the Goodyear brand, which was followed in 2018 by a version dedicated to SUVs. Used as OEMs on sedans, sports cars and maxi SUVs such as Alfa Romeo’s Giulia, Stelvio, Audi A8, Jaguar XF, Mercedes E-Class, Porsche Panamera and Tesla X, the Eagle F1 owes its name to world of motorsports, a long standing relationship with the American company that filled its latest range with technical solutions previously tested on race tracks.
Thanks to Goodyear’s Reinforced Construction Technology, greater stiffness was conferred to the casing to ensure better handling and quick response when cornering, favouring the even wear of the tread. The new Grip Booster compound, containing special adhesive resins, improves grip in both dry and wet conditions greatly reducing also the braking distance.
Most of the range, between 17 and 20", declares a C value on the European labelling system for rolling resistance and an A for wet braking, with acoustic emissions contained in 69 dB. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 in the SUV version is currently available for 22 inch rims.
VENTUS S1 EVO2 K117
Insiders have known it for some time now, the K117 is the UHP proposal of the only Korean company able to win a place as one of the world’s top 10 tire manufacturers. On the company’s catalogue since 2013, the Ventus S1 Evo2 was developed thanks to the know-how gained by Hankook on the German DTM racing series. Hankook’s Kontrol Technology encapsulates the philosophy behind the range, perfecting the driver, vehicle, road interaction. Great emphasis has been placed on dealing with the heat generated by friction and stress during use, resulting in a tread pattern that creates an "intercooler" effect with micro turbulence inside the grooves. Numerous prestigious OEMs customers are found in the company’s portfolio such as the Audi / Volkswagen group, Bmw, Mercedes, Chevrolet, Hyundai and Porsche Macan.
Superior grip in both dry and wet conditions, combined with reduced rolling resistance, give the K117 a B to E classification for fuel consumption, an A to C for wet grip and acoustic emissions are between 69 and 73 dB . The rather wide choice available can surely satisfy a wide range of requests, with sizes ranging between 205/60 R16 V and 305/30 ZR 20 Y, as well as a few more available with HRS run-flat technology.
PILOT SPORT 4 S
When it comes to high performance, the French manufacturer brings out its flagship range, on the market since 2017 and designed as OEM on cars such as Ferrari’s GTC4, Porsche 911 and Mercedes-Amg E-Class. Replacing the previous Pilot Super Sport, with the new Pilot Sport 4 S Michelin presents a Bi-Compound Technology tread, with an outer shoulder that enhances grip in dry conditions, while the inner section of the tread, highly enriched with silica and functional elastomers, favours grip in wet conditions. A double personality underscored by large tread blocks on the sides to promptly respond to high speed manoeuvres, and wide longitudinal grooves to facilitate water dispersion. The rim lip protection flap prevent extensive damage to the rim when hitting sidewalks. Last but not least, an exclusive aesthetic touch, highly sought after on high-end sports cars, obtained by creating a contrast zone on the outer shoulder of the tire, which creates an optical effect similar to velvet.
The range comes in 19 to 22 inch sizes, and widths from 225 to 345 mm, with shoulder ratios from 25 to 45%, and an average European classification that certifies a C in fuel economy, an A in wet braking and 71 dB noise level.
P ZERO CORSA
Obviously, how could we miss a premium product from an Italian factory with its roots firmly set in the world of motorsport. With the 2016 P Zero Corsa, Pirelli offers ultra-high performance thanks to a compound that stems directly from motor racing, chosen as OEM for supercars such as the Ferrari F12, Lamborghini Huracan, McLaren and Pagani Huayra. An asymmetrical design with small grooves clearly identifies it as a possible option for use even on tracks, although its P Zero Corsa System version is an approved road tire particularly indicated for an alternative use on racing circuits. The casing’s rigid structure includes lightweight materials able to reduce as much as possible the inertia and the friction generated by the rolling action of the tire, where the dual-compound technology comes into play with different areas designed to optimize driving precision, resistance to thermodynamic stress as well as maximum grip and traction at higher speeds.
Reserved for 19, 20 and 21 inch wheels with widths from 225 to 355 mm, the entire range can boast a speed code Y, and adding to the "basic" version a sound-absorbing layer inside the casing will further reduce rolling noise.
ADVAN SPORT V105
Thanks to the experience gained as the sole tire supplier in the WTCC World Touring Championship, Advan Sport is the Japanese brand Yokohama’s crown jewel. An UHP tire on the market for some time now, and offered in a considerably large range, thanks to sizes that include 16 to 23 inch diameters, the V105 is able to satisfy the demand of a particularly large number of motorists. Among its features the casing stands out made with Matrix BodyPly technology, which uses a thick stratification of plies and belts so as to guarantee high stability on a straight road as well as through fast corners. Grip in dry and wet conditions, in addition to adequate acoustic comfort, are guaranteed by an asymmetric design of the tread, with large drainage grooves, while the Eco Friendly compound uses micro-silica components for a more homogeneous composition. Yokohama’s eco-friendly approach is clearly defined by the BluEarth logo on the sidewall, indicating the use of Orange Oil to replace aromatic additives.
The energy label includes B and E classifications for rolling resistance, A on most of the range for wet braking performance and noise level well below the European limit reported by the two acoustic waves.