Best car tyres: evo performance tyre test

This year we put the most popular 19in performance tyre, the 235/35 R19, through evo’s uniquely demanding test

If you’re driving a car fitted with 19in rims, it’s probably a performance car made in the last few years, a car still in its prime in terms of performance and dynamics. Chances are that it’s fitted with 235/35 R19s, the tyre size we’re putting through the demanding evo test in 2018. 

We will again be rating our contenders objectively and – uniquely – subjectively, with subjective assessment contributing 40 per cent of the overall mark. So we can offer a complete picture, telling you which tyres deliver outstanding dry-road grip, which are exceptional in the wet, which offer the sharpest feel, which are most comfortable and which offer a measured blend of characteristics.

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Our contenders include most of the premium brands, though there are some notable absentees. Bridgestone declined as their contender is still the S001, which wasn’t great the last time we tested it, while Hankook couldn’t supply due to stock issues, and Kumho, Pirelli and Vredestein all said they had new spec tyres in this size imminent. A final note: you can get a 235/35 R19 91Y Extra Load for just £50, which is half the price of our least expensive contender, but be aware that these budget tyres do little more than keep the alloys of customised VW Transporter vans off the asphalt… 

The car

The front-drive Ford Focus ST has a lot going for it as a platform to test tyres, principally grainy, detailed steering feel and a chassis that is calm and well balanced and offers the option of a small amount of tail movement to help get the car turned in. This will reveal the composure of our test tyres at the limit while the generous torque of its turbocharged 2-litre engine - a hefty 265lb ft at just 2000rpm - will test traction, and its 247bhp will deliver plenty of speed too. Inside, wing-back Recaros help locate the driver securely at the centre of the action.

The track

It’s been a few years since we’ve been to Goodyear’s Mireval test track near Montpellier in the South of France. Its location delivers a hot, stable climate and spectacular, panoramic view of the shimmering Med. Since our last visit, the demanding wet handling circuit has been resurfaced and now offers more consistent friction, all the better to test grip and composure. The one-time race track that serves as the dry handling circuit does the same, with its high speed, high-commitment turns and low-speed technical challenges.

The tyres

These are the tyres competing in our 2018 evo tyre test. As mentioned above, there are some notable absenses, but with new versions immenent from Pirelli, Kumho and Vredestein, our field this year is made up from the six competitors below, in no particular order. 

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Continental SportContact 6 - 235/35 R19 91Y XL  £141

Dunlop SportMaxx RT2 - 235/35 R19 91Y XL  £127

Falken Azenis FR510 - 235/35 R19 91Y XL  £102

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Goodyear Eagle F1 Assymetric 3 - 235/35 R19 91Y XL  £123 

Michelin Pilot Sport 4S - 235/35 R19 91Y XL  £160 

Toyo Proxes Sport - 235/35 R19 91Y XL  £101 


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