Skip advert
Advertisement

Vredestein Ultrac Pro 2024 tyre review – a worthy alternative to the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S?

New high performance tyre claims unique blend of grip and ride comfort. We put it to the test

For ex-Formula 1 star Giancarlo Fisichella this might be a mere side-hustle, but he’s not leaving anything on the table. The braking seems impossibly late, the Ferrari 488’s huge carbon-ceramic brakes pulsing with ABS and the tyres squealing as ‘Fisi’ steers hard right for the very late apex. I’m hanging off the seat on my belts, straining to keep my crash-helmeted head from obscuring his view of the apex… which he hits perfectly before mashing the throttle again and wrestling the Ferrari to the next brake point, where the process is repeated. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

It’s an outrageous, intense lap-and-a-half that leaves me agog at Fisi’s skill and commitment, the 488’s on-limit ability and the grip of the tyres being mercilessly exploited. And it’s Vredestein’s new UUHP (Ultra-Ultra-High Performance) tyre, the Ultrac Pro, that we’re here at the Monteblanco circuit, Spain, to experience and test for ourselves. 

> Best car tyres: evo performance tyre test

Vredestein says the Ultrac Pro is a genuine breakthrough in UUHP tyres, being the first to offer class-competitive grip with class-leading ride comfort. It claims that the Ultrac Pro matches the biggest-selling UUHP tyres for grip and matches the same makers’ less sporty tyres for ride quality. Think Michelin Pilot Sport 4S for grip and Michelin Primacy for ride comfort; you get the idea. For independent, objective evidence, Vredestein employed the Idiada proving ground to test the Ultrac Pro against three top brands. It declines to name them but the data shows that in the 245/45 R18 size, the limit of grip of the Ultrac Pro was pretty much equal with two and a fraction ahead of a third rival, while compared with the three less sporty tyres its impact absorption was on a par. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

To see for ourselves, we experienced a varied road route in a BMW 4-series convertible and also lapped the main circuit at the wheel of a Porsche Cayman and Mercedes-AMG GT. The 500bhp, rear-drive Merc demands a lot of its tyres, the rears especially, with plenty of turbocharged torque testing the traction and lateral grip. On the Ultrac Pro it was impressive, diving keenly into corners and powering out strongly, with progressive slip when the high limit of grip was breached. The Cayman was just as much fun, up on its toes with a malleable, predictable and exploitable balance. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

Running a hand over the tyres of both cars after they’d done a morning’s lapping, they were simply lightly buffed. Even the tyres of Fisi’s 488 were in good shape. Again, the rears were merely buffed – no rubber migration, no chewed edges – while there was some mild serration of the tread on the left front tyre, the one most under pressure. 

The choice of convertible BMWs for the road route didn’t offer much in the way of fine steering feel, and track driving doesn’t demand nuanced feel and feedback, so we can’t say for sure how good the tyre is in this respect. We can say that noise levels were low on a variety of surfaces, that the Ultrac Pro was good over impacts and also that on some fabulously twisty and perfectly surfaced hill roads it was easy to get into a very satisfying flow and nail every apex in the BMW. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Vredestein’s innovation with the Ultrac Pro is a more robust bead design that significantly increases torsional stiffness where the tyre meets the rim. It says this gives the control to deliver exploitable grip while allowing the use of a thinner, more flexible sidewall to lessen the effect of impacts. The Ultrac Pro succeeds the Vorti, Vredestein’s original UUHP tyre, launched in 2012 and systematically improved over the years. The Ultrac Pro brings an ‘A’ wet rating and improved aquaplaning performance, while rolling resistance has improved from a ‘D’ to a ‘C’ rating in more than half the sizes offered. Also, on average the tyres are ten per cent lighter. 

Vredestein is keen to get itself established in this segment of the summer tyre market because it’s a growing slice of the pie, up from around ten per cent a decade ago to almost a third now, and also because it believes ‘If you want to win in Europe, you have to win in this segment’. The Ultrac Pro is tasked with lifting the profile of the brand in key European markets, particularly those countries that have the highest use of summer tyres, which its data suggests are the UK, Spain and France. 

The company is proud of its growing portfolio of OE (Original Equipment) contracts with German brands, including BMW, Audi and Mercedes, not only because it’s an endorsement of its tyres but also because it drives quality and robustness of process within the business in general. These OE contracts don’t yet include high-performance models but the Ultrac Pro came an impressive third in an AutoBild tyre test last month. We hope to include it in our own summer tyre test this year. 

Currently aimed at the replacement market, the Ultrac Pro goes on sale this summer in 48 fitments from 215/45 R18 to 355/25 R24, with another 54 arriving a year later, and will be priced to undercut its main rivals by as much as a quarter.

This story was first featured in evo issue 321.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars
Used mid-engined bargains
Group tests

Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars

Everyone should own a mid-engined car at least once in their life, and the S2 Elise, Mk3 MR2 and 987 Boxster S are brilliant places to start
15 Jun 2024
McLaren Artura Spider 2024 review – Ferrari 296 rival just got a whole lot better
McLaren Artura Spider
Reviews

McLaren Artura Spider 2024 review – Ferrari 296 rival just got a whole lot better

More power, comprehensive chassis updates and a new Spider model has resulted in McLaren’s Artura being impossible to ignore for those in the junior s…
16 Jun 2024
Ferrari F430 v Lamborghini Gallardo v McLaren 650S v Audi R8: The best used mid-engined supercars
Affordable mid engined exotics
Group tests

Ferrari F430 v Lamborghini Gallardo v McLaren 650S v Audi R8: The best used mid-engined supercars

For most of us, owning a mid-engined supercar is the ultimate. And because of the numbers built in the last 20 years, the dream is more attainable tha…
16 Jun 2024