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Performance tyres: 2013 tyre test

What's the best performance tyre on the market? Here are the results from our latest tyre test

Performance tyres: 2013 tyre test

The phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ might not have been coined for tyres but it’s a pretty good rule of thumb. As numerous evo tests have shown, cheap tyres typically fall well short of premium tyres, and usually in the most vital tests – those concerning wet-weather performance.

This year in the evo summer tyre test we are putting eight different sets in the popular 225/40 R18 size through their paces. They range vastly in price but they all have an asymmetric design and will all be put through the same rigorous tests.

Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 - £107.81
The Goodyear put in a consistently strong performance, beating the others by never dropping lower than fourth in any test. However, it also excelled in the subjective tests in something that evo rates very highly indeed – steering feel. It always let you know how much grip you were using in both the dry and the wet, which then let you work right up to and over the limits of the tyres with real confidence.

Yokohama Advan V105 - £105
There was a point when adding up the scores that it looked like the Yokohama might win, but a close second place is still an extremely impressive result.  With strong performances across the board, it was only really let down by the rolling resistance test, and it shone in the lap times it set round both the wet and dry handling circuits. It also did well subjectively both in the wet and on the road, which could make it an excellent choice in the British climate.

Michelin Pilot Sport 3 - £123.94
The top three were all extremely close. The Michelin is the most expensive of the top three (and overall) and curiously suffered in both the braking tests, but it did extremely well subjectively in the handling tests. With good weight and feel through the steering, it inspired real confidence in both the dry and wet. With really impressive, even grip it was a joy to use and easy to predict in the way it would slide. It also had excellent traction, with the feeling that you could get on the power just that fraction earlier than with the others.

Continental Sport Contact 5 - £123.56
The Continental put in some extraordinarily good objective performances, particularly in the wet, with clear water between it and the others. However, subjectively it lacked a little feel and it was not only expensive but also suffered on the rolling resistance test. Road noise was also the undoing of the Continental, which damped out the bigger bumps well, but suffered in its secondary ride quality and the associated aural feedback. Overall it was a very good performance, though.

Pirelli P Zero - £118.66
Clearly ahead of the Dunlop, finishing joint fourth and middle of the table, the Pirelli put in a solid performance without really shining anywhere. Marginally happier in the dry than the wet, perhaps its most impressive performance came on the road, where it was second equal. During the dry handling test, the Pirelli felt a little less incisive and confidence inspiring compared to the best, but it was among the fastest.

Dunlop Sport Maxx RT - £108.03
Comfortable on the road, the Dunlop had a mixed performance, scoring well in the aquaplaning, rolling resistance and dry braking tests. Subjectively it also displayed good feel through the wheel on both the handling tests. However, overall grip was disappointing and too often it found itself in the bottom three, as it does overall.

GT Radial Champiro HPY - £91
Our first tyre from China put in a creditable performance in many of the tests and stuck much closer to the more premium brands. Its biggest downfall remains the sensations that you get from it, both in terms of its harsh ride on the road and the feel through the steering wheel.

Linglong Green-Max - £67.90
It might not be a great shock to see the cheapest tyre coming in last, but to be fair the Green-Max did take a clear victory in the rolling resistance test, perhaps making its more ecological intentions clear. A performance tyre it is not, however, the dry braking performance in particular letting it down.

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Test details

The car: A non-AMG Mercedes A-class might not seem like the most evo car to test tyres with, but modern Mercs have some of the best steering feel around, and the A-class is no exception. We had two identical A200s with manual gearboxes, and for the handling tests all the stability- and traction-control systems plus the ABS were turned off. This made it surprisingly willing to oversteer! With 154bhp and 184lb ft of torque from the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, there was also enough going through the front wheels to challenge the traction of the tyres out of the corners.

The track: Originally designed as a motorcycle racing circuit, and built into a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean, Goodyear/Dunlop’s Mireval complex is like a heavenly automotive playground. Imagine a slightly smaller Millbrook (it’s almost equally hilly) with considerably better weather than Bedfordshire. We saw temperatures consistently well into the 30s when we were there, so conditions were excellent but also quite taxing for the tyres, particularly on the dry handling laps.


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