In Germany annual tyre tests are the norm. Auto Zeitung is Germanys oldest and most respected trade magazine and they have just published their 2009 tyre test. Testing 16 of the latest tyres, they use the common 225/45 R 17 Y size on a VW Golf FSI with 170 hp.
During the tests, they inspect the following characteristics with both subjective (feel) and actual measured data:
Aquaplaning: The speed at which the car starts to aquaplane. Braking: 100km/h to standstill, measuring time and stopping distance. Handling: A timed lap. Subjective Handling: Assessing the feel and progressiveness of the tyre on track. Slalom: The average speed between cones 18 metres apart.
The results are interesting for a number of reasons. If you look at the most recent EVO tyre test, tyres we would expect to score well have been beaten by rather unexpected contenders. The Goodyear Eagle F1A, winner of the EVO test, scored well in raw data but was accused of being difficult to drive on the limit. This criticism was also aimed at the EVO runner up, the Vredestein Ultrac Sessanta. Pirelli must have really improved the P Zero as it usually scores in the bottom third of group tests but this time lead the pack on both measured data and subjective handling while Toyo, a tuners favourite, ended up in a surprising final place.
What can we conclude from this? Clearly the P Zero has had a significant update, and Pirelli are once again a serious contender in the replacement market. The Hankook Ventus V12 is also placed surprisingly strong, and over the next 12 months could easily steal Toyo's crown as the budget performance tyre to be on. As for the rest of the results? If you drive a Golf, or another FWD car built on the VAG platform then you can make a pretty accurate tyre choice but if you drive a different type of car, such as a RWD vehicle then, as they say, "your mileage may vary"...