To find out which of these new ultra high performance tyres are best, I use a VW Golf GTI wearing 225/45 R17 tyres and test the dry, wet, comfort, noise and rolling resistance of nine sets of performance tyres, to see if the new PS5 or Asym 6 can retain their crowns as two of the best tyres on the market, or whether another brand of tyre will prove to be best!
|Best Dry Braking:||Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6|
|Best Dry Handling:||Continental Premium Contact 6|
|Best Subj. Dry Handling:||Continental Premium Contact 6|
|Best Wet Braking:||Hankook Ventus S1 evo 3|
|Best Wet Handling:||Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6|
|Best Subj. Wet Handling:||Semperit Speed Life 3|
|Best Straight Aqua:||Michelin Pilot Sport 5|
|Best Subj. Comfort:||Bridgestone Turanza T005|
|Best Noise:||Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6|
|Best Rolling Resistance:||Bridgestone Turanza T005|
I'm going to start with dry, as let's face it, that's what everyone is here for! These are UHP tyres and we care what they feel like to drive fast with!
Only two tyres were in the 94 second range, and that was the Semperit and the budget Rotalla. While their times were similar, the Rotalla slightly ahead on pace, the Semperit definitely had the edge subjectively, but both had significant delays in steering response with high levels of understeer and low feedback compared to the best, with the Rotalla having the least feedback of the group.
Next up was the Bridgestone and Hankook, I'm glad these two are together on time as they were subjectively surprisingly close. Both tyres immediately felt soft coming out of the garage, the steering was lighter, you needed more steering angle to get the car turned, and you could feel the car moving around on the sidewalls of the tyres just coming off the ramps.
Once up to speed on track, both tyres had high levels of understeer, once they were sliding they took a long time to recover, and both tyres gave up all their grip on the first lap then started getting too hot and lost about a second a lap. The Hankook was consistently very good on the brakes, where the Bridgestone seemed to struggle even more, especially when trying to brake and turn. It was just vague and imprecise. But it's a touring tyre, so let's not make it feel bad about itself. It is of course some of the most comfortable dry handling laps I've ever done.
The Giti was next in fifth place and the first tyre of the group I'd actually call sporty! It had nice positive steering and was well balanced, grip seemed good laterally but perhaps a little weaker on the brakes, we'll see in the braking results.
The new Michelin Pilot Sport 5 was fourth, but we are only 1.28 seconds away from the fastest tyre now. It seemed to pick up exactly where the Pilot Sport 4 left off - easy to drive, safe understeer balance, GREAT levels of grip… but just not that sporty. To be fair to Michelin, even though the tyre has the word sport in its name, they never claim to be a tyre which should be used on track, they have the 4S line for that, but I am a little disappointed there isn't a little more… sport from the pilot SPORT 5. It wasn't quite at the Hankook or Bridgestone levels, but it wasn't at the level of the best in terms of steering feel and response.
One tyre that definitely deserves sport in its name is the Yokohama Advan Sport V105, as it finished an impressive third and was one of the best in terms of steering and sportyness. The steering was well weighed, quick and linear, the car was playful and I really enjoyed being back on this tyre in the dry, as it's been a long time since I've driven it and this is the first time I've tested it against rivals! It's an old tyre now, and technically already replaced by the v107, but a great tyre in the dry.
Goodyear managed second place overall, it had the fastest first lap pace, nice sporty feeling steering response and felt like a weapon on the brakes, with the average of the three laps just 0.2 seconds slower than the best. As always with Goodyear tyres, it was a real pleasure to drive and I'm glad Goodyear have retained this for the new product.
But the fastest tyre, and the most sporty was ironically once again one of the few tyres without the word sport, F1, race etc in its name, the Continental PremiumContact 6. I was really happy this tyre performed well again, I had my suspicions it was the Conti when testing as it had excellent dynamic steering with a nice weight, really quick sharp reactions, and great levels of grip across the three laps. The PremiumContact 6 might be getting on in its years, but it's still totally fabulous as a dry handling tyre!
The new Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6 had an impressive lead in dry braking, with the Rotalla struggling to stop the Golf.
As wet grip is so important for tyres, and I had a little spare time, I actually ran wet handling twice, once using a Golf 8 GTI and again on a Golf 7 GTI in reverse order, then averaged out the two sets of times. Fortunately there were almost no changes in position, other than when mere fractions of a second separated sets, and trust me, some of these tyres are close!
The slowest tyre in the wet was once again the Rotalla. It didn't actually handle that badly, almost no aquaplaning, I've certainly driven worse, but the limit of grip was peaky meaning once you were sliding it was tricky to recover, and the braking felt really poor.
The Giti was way ahead of the rotalla, just 2.2% off the best and like in the dry a really nice tyre to drive, good feeling progressive steering, no aquaplaning, it was just missing a little grip of the best laterally and on the brakes.
As in last years 18" test, the sporty Continental PremiumContact 6 struggled slightly in wet handling, as did the Yokohama. Both these tyres were only two percent off the leaders, but their ultimate grip levels couldn't match the best. If anything, it felt like Conti had a little more grip of the two so I'm assuming it will do better in wet braking, but there was too much lateral aquaplaning. The Yokohama had less issues with lateral aquaplaning so was easier to drive as long as all four tyres were the same temperature, but it did seem to like a bit of warmth more than the rest of the tyres meaning for the second lap, where the fronts were warmer than the rears, there was some oversteer.
Fifth and fourth were the Hankook and Bridgestone pair again, and if you're a fan of understeer, these are the tyres for you. They were both easy to drive at the limit as the limit was all front end so no surprises, you just had to be really patient with the turning and throttle. Like in the dry they both featured slower steering and less feedback.
The Semperit might have struggled in the dry but it was EXCELLENT in the wet, with almost no aquaplaning in a straight line or while turning, and great grip. The Semperit is picking up where the uniroyal rainsport left off, both are sister brands run by Continental, and it had that familiar soft steering and good wet grip the rainsport always has.
The final two tyres are, who'd have guessed, Michelin and Goodyear. While the times were very close, the delivery was quite different! As in the dry, the Goodyear was noticeably the sportier feeling with quicker steering, better feedback and a sharper front end, but the goodyear certainly had more aquaplaning of the two, especially in a straight line! The Michelin was a more relaxing drive, one of the easiest tyres to drive fast and had buckets of grip, but like with the PS4 it was slightly numb grip. On both cars the Asym 6 had the slightly faster one lap pace and the fastest ideal time across the five sectors, but both times the average of the 4 laps was in Michelin favor as the tyre was more consistent over the run.
When everything was combined together and averaged, the result were as close as they could be, with both tyres again having totally different personalities, but ending up in a similar place.
Hankook once again aced wet braking, stopping the Golf a full 1.6 meters shorter than the Continental in second place. Michelin and Goodyear were close in third and fourth.
The new Michelin Pilot Sport 5 had an impressive straight aquaplaning performance, leading the pack where the new Asymmetric 6 struggled.
The Goodyear had the lowest passby noise of the group, with the Rotalla and Giti also performing very well. I'm a little surprised at the Bridgestone being the noisiest of the group given its category, but we tested noise at two speeds (50 and 80 km/h) and it was the noisiest both times.
I did get time to run some comfort testing, not a full program but a reasonable cut down program using some rough roads and impact bars, and as usual there was a loose correlation between handling and comfort. The best of the group in terms of rounding off the harsh impacts like potholes was naturally the Bridgestone, but the Michelin, Semperit and Rotalla were up there too. The Goodyear, Hankook and Giti were a little below, and the Conti and Yokohama were the most noticeably firm. I'd only really call the final two marginally uncomfortable tyres, the rest I'm sure you'd be happy with.
Bridgestone had a significant lead in rolling resistance, I knew it would be good given its category, but wow. The best UHP tyre, which was the Goodyear, was 18% lower. That said, given the grip levels from the Goodyear in the dry and wet the Goodyear is doing an amazing job, as is Michelin. Yokohama is showing its age in this test as it was way off the best, I'm sure the V107 improves this.
Sporty dynamic handling and excellent grip in the dry with the shortest dry braking, short wet braking with a very fast wet handling lap, lowest noise on test, lowest rolling resistance on test (of the UHP tyres.)
Low aquaplaning resistance, average comfort.
The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6 is another impressive tyre from Goodyear, building on what we already loved from the Asym 5 while improving the dry braking and considerably lowering the rolling resistance and noise levels. Unfortunately this has come at the expense of worse aquaplaning resistance, but as it's one of the few tyres that can combine good levels of grip in the dry and wet with low rolling resistance, while still retaining sporty feeling handling, the Asymmetric 6 is still leading the way in the ultra high performance segment.
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Excellent grip in the dry and wet, short braking distances in all conditions, the highest aquaplaning resistance of the test, good rolling resistance, good levels of comfort, extremely attractive sidewall design.
Average external noise, non-dynamic handling qualities with high levels of understeer.
The Michelin Pilot Sport 5 picks up where the Pilot Sport 4 left off, by being a tyre that does almost everything well! It's only slight weakness across all the tests was an average passby noise, but it offered excellent grip during braking and handling and had the highest aquaplaning resistance of the group. Unfortunately, like the Pilot Sport 4, the PS5 sporty dynamics were midpack, with less direct steering and high levels of understeer than the best on test.
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Extremely short wet braking distances, short dry braking, low noise, safe handling balance.
Undynamic handling with high levels of understeer and poor feedback in the dry and wet, higher rolling resistance.
The Hankook Ventus S1 Evo3 once again proves to be a tyre with extremely high levels of safety by having by far the shortest wet braking distance, short dry braking, and a safe understeer balance in handling. However having tested the Evo3 in the same test as the touring bias Bridgestone Turanza T005, the tyre feels dynamically closer to touring tyre than UHP tyre, so is one to pass on if you're looking for a sporty feeling drive.
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Dynamic sporty handling with the fastest dry handling pace, short dry braking, very short wet braking distances.
Lower grip during wet handling, high noise, average rolling resistance, low comfort.
Once again the Continental PremiumContact 6 proves to be a sporty dynamic tyre with excellent handling and high levels of grip in the dry. It also has good wet braking in this size, but couldn't maintain that grip for the wet handling lap. It does have high levels of noise and reduced comfort, so isn't the tyre to pick if you're after a smooth quiet ride, but is certainly the tyre to pick if direct steering and good handling is important to you.
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Very low rolling resistance, stable wet handling with good grip, high levels of comfort.
Numb dry handling with very high levels of understeer, longer wet braking distances than the best, very low aquaplaning resistance, very high passby noise.
The Bridgestone Turanza T005 might be a touring tyre in an ultra high performance test (Bridgestones choice, not ours), but it did hold its own in wet handling and dry braking, had a significant lead in rolling resistance and the highest level of comfort on test. Naturally, due to the category of tyre, its handling was the least dynamic of the pack, but the differences were smaller than expected when compared to some of the UHP tyres.
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Excellent wet grip with easy to drive wet handling, high aquaplaning resistance, excellent comfort levels, low rolling resistance.
Dull dry handling with high levels of understeer, poor grip in dry handling and dry braking.
The Semperit Speed-Life 3 is a wet specialist with good levels of comfort. Sadly this comes at the expense of the dry performance where it had lower grip and poor dynamics. This tyre feels very similar to its sister tyre, the Uniroyal Rainsport 5 and certainly isn't the sportiest tyre on test.
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Dynamic sporty handling with good feel and direct steering response, excellent grip in dry handling.
Longer braking distances in the dry and wet, lower levels of grip in wet handling, high pass by noise, low levels of comfort, very high rolling resistance.
The Yokohama Advan Sport V105 might be an aging tyre, but it still shows off its sporty credentials with excellent handling in the dry and wet, and excellent grip around the dry handling lap. Unfortunately the tyre can't match the dry handling performance in dry braking, or either of the wet grip tests, and has very high rolling resistance and noise levels. Hopefully the new Advan Sport V107 retains the dry handling performance while improving the wet grip and rolling resistance.
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8th: Giti GitiSportS2
Good dry handling, very good aquaplaning resistance, low noise, good rolling resistance.
Long wet and dry braking distances, lower levels of grip during wet handling.
The Giti GitiSport S2 is an enjoyable tyre to drive, with a good blend of comfort and handling, however it needs to improve its grip in the wet, especially wet braking to move up the order.
9th: Rotalla RU01 S Pace
Good aquaplaning resistance, low noise, good levels of comfort.
Undynamic handling in the dry and wet, long dry braking, extremely long wet braking, high rolling resistance.
The Rotalla S Race SU02 might be a quiet comfortable tyre, but with long braking distances in the dry and wet, and soft imprecise handling, this is one we'd avoid.