In this test, we'll be finding out what the best premium touring summer tyres on the market are!
I'm going to try and keep this as condensed as I possibly can as we have 13 sets of tyres in this test including the newest and best from Continental, Michelin, Hankook, Pirelli, Bridgestone, Vredestein, Kumho, Toyo, Nankang and more! This should also be the world's first test of the Continental PremiumContact 7!
So what are we testing? Premium touring tyres are also called comfort bias tyres, or normal tyres, or high performance tyres, but whatever you call them, they're the tyres most people use day to day on their normal, non sports car, vehicles. They focus on high levels of safety in the dry and wet, good levels of comfort, low noise, and low energy use to save you money at the pumps, or extend your battery range. In fact, while none of these tyres are EV specific, some of them are marked "EV ready" meaning they've been designed with both internal combustion and electric vehicles in mind.
|▲Continental PremiumContact 7: 35.27 M
|▼Double-Coin DC99: 39.62 M
|▲Kumho Ecsta HS52: 51.58 s
|▼Double-Coin DC99: 53.39 s
|Subj. Dry Handling
|▲Continental PremiumContact 7: 100 Points
|▼Double-Coin DC99: 30 Points
|▲Continental PremiumContact 7: 31.58 M
|▼Double-Coin DC99: 46.04 M
|▲Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance 2: 84.81 s
|▼Double-Coin DC99: 96.27 s
|Subj. Wet Handling
|▲Pirelli Cinturato P7 C2: 100 Points
|▼Double-Coin DC99: 50 Points
|▲Continental PremiumContact 7: 11.5 s
|▼Double-Coin DC99: 12.84 s
|▲Vredestein Ultrac: 80.78 Km/H
|▼Double-Coin DC99: 64.55 Km/H
|▲Vredestein Ultrac: 3.7 m/sec2
|▼Double-Coin DC99: 2.28 m/sec2
|▲Falken ZIEX ZE310 EcoRun: 100 Points
|▼Kumho Ecsta HS52: 90 Points
|▲Double-Coin DC99: 70.2 dB
|▼Hankook Ventus Prime 4: 72.8 dB
|▲Double-Coin DC99: 50.12
|▼Continental PremiumContact 7: 99.69
|▲Bridgestone Turanza T005: 6.76 kg / t
|▼Nankang Econex NA1: 9.18 kg / t
Wet handling is both very important, and should be where premium tyres really make the difference, and once again this has been the case.
The cheapest tyre on test, the Doublecoin, was a disaster in terms of grip and steering and feedback. The Nankang was also pretty bad, it felt ok at first, and certainly had more grip than the Doublecoin, but there was a lot more oversteer with this tyre than any other tyre. It always amazes me how much a tyre can change the balance of a vehicle, we have tyres in this group which give huge amounts of understeer, all the way to oversteer at every turn, all on a 1.5 litre basic FWD Golf!
Now those two are out of the way, everything else ranges from good to excellent for both grip and subjective handling.
The GT Radial might not have been the quickest of the group, but subjectively it was up there with lovely steering and a nice predictable balance.
In the battle of the old school midrange brands, which i think of as Falken, Kumho, Toyo, Vredestein, Vredestein was the best as it was just a tenth of the very best round the lap and had a huge grip advantage when driving, even if the handling was a little numb. It wasn't the most fun to drive though, of the three in the wet, the most fun was the Toyo.
Hankook and Bridgestone finished close on time, but felt quite different to drive. The Hankook was enjoyable and predictable, but it just picked up a bit too much mid corner understeer, but the Bridgestone wasn't really an enjoyable tyre to drive, good grip but just a lot of poorly communicated understeer mid corner. But understeer is safe, and is the balance the Michelin subscribes to too.
Of the remaining three tyres we've not talked about, the Goodyear felt it had quite a lot of sidewall deflection on initial turn but the grip built up nicely and there was lots of grip from the front axle which made for a quick tyre. The Pirelli and the new Continental were some of the most dynamic, fun, and the fastest.
This is particularly good news for the new Continental as the previous tyre, the PremiumContact 6 was always one of the best in the dry, but in my tests I never got on with it in the wet, so good job Continental on the new product, but also you have to be impressed by the Pirelli and Goodyear, which aren't the youngest tyres anymore but still performing very well, and of course the outstanding grip of the Vredestein.
Continental had a small lead over the Michelin and Pirelli during the wet braking tests.
The impressive Vredestein Ultrac was the best tyre in straight aquaplaning, closely followed by the Falken and Michelin. The curved aquaplaning results can be found at the bottom of the page.
Naturally dry handling isn't a key factor for these tyres, and given it's quite a short course and the Golf doesn't have a huge amount of power, the times are very close. Subjectively, there are more differences.
Each set of tyres was tested below the limit for steering response and linearity, and put through multiple aggressive lane change maneuvers to test the stability of the tyres in emergency situations, and of course around the handling lap. The good news is that apart from the Doublecoin and possibly the Nankang, all the tyres passed the lane change test with flying colors. The Doublecoin was a total mess all round, and the Nankang just had a little too much oversteer.
If we cross reference dry braking and dry handling, overall the Continental had a small grip lead in the dry, followed by Bridgestone, Kumho, Pirelli and Hankook.
As for the balance and driveability of the tyres, well that's a bit more of a tricky as a lot of them are very similar, but there are still some standouts.
If you want a cheap 16" track day tyre the Nankang offers good grip, and while it had too much oversteer for perhaps the ideal balance on the road, it was a fun challenge on track.
Like in the wet the GT Radial was very good dynamically, even if it couldn't match the fastest in terms of grip, and the Kumho and Pirelli were really really good all round. But, by the smallest of margins, I'm happy to report that the Continental PremiumContact 7 was once again my favorite in the dry as it had the crispest steering, the steering built up forces beautifully and it was of the tyres you really enjoyed driving.
The rolling resistance, which is how much the tyre impacts your energy or fuel use, was a huge win for the Bridgestone Turanza T005 - it was over 10% better than the next best tyre. Given how well it performed in all other categories, this is a very impressive combination of abilities. Goodyear placed second with the EfficientGrip Performance 2 living up to its name, and Toyo was third.
Noise and comfort was, as usual, very close. The budget tyre was actually the quietest on test with the lowest passby noise, but in the car it was less refined and the least comfortable of the group. While all the other tyres were incredibly close, if noise and comfort is really your thing, the Michelin Primacy 4+ or Pirelli Cinturato P7 C2 have the smallest of edges over the field in my opinion.
The Doublecoin was the cheapest tyre on test and the new Continental the most expensive.
Highest level of wet grip overall, clear lead in wet braking with joint fastest wet handling, shortest dry braking and best dry handling.
Average rolling resistance, average aquaplaning resistance, increased external noise.
Once again Continental have dropped a new tyre to the market, and seriously moved the game on, most noticeably in the wet. Last year it was the SportContact 7, this year it's the PremiumContact 7.
This tyre had a huge lead in wet braking, was joint fastest around wet handling, and had the fastest wet circle lap. Thankfully, it also kept most of the dry handling character I loved of the PremiumContact 6 and was excellent on the brakes. It wasn't a flawless run, it was pretty average in aquaplaning resistance, external noise and rolling resistance, but the lead it had in the grip categories led it to a dominating win. Yes, it is the newest tyre, and yes, based on this test, its also the best.
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Very well balanced tyre, excellent in the dry and wet, low noise, good levels of comfort, low rolling resistance.
Average aquaplaning resistance.
The Pirelli Cinturato P7 has clearly had a significant update since I last tested it, and boy it seems to have worked. While the tyre didn't win any of the twelve categories we score on, its only real weakness was curved aquaplaning. In every other test it was within a few percent of the best, and subjectively a well balanced tyre to drive too. It's a big step forward for the Italian brand, and one I'm happy to highly recommend.
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Ok wet grip, good aquaplaning resistance, very good dry braking, extremely low rolling resistance.
Extended wet braking, sluggish dry handling, high external noise.
The Bridgestone lost a few points for wet braking, where it was pretty average, and dry handling where it felt sluggish and down on grip of the best, but this tyre absolutely crushed the rolling resistance test, a full 15% better than the second best tyre, which was the Goodyear. IF you drive an EV or plug in hybrid, this might be the best of the group. Highly recommended.
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Very well balanced tyre, excellent wet handling, great dry handling, low noise, good levels of comfort, low rolling resistance.
Slightly average aquaplaning resistance, extended dry braking.
The Goodyear was fantastic in both handling tests, proving to be the joint fastest tyre around wet handling. It was also quiet and comfortable, with a very low rolling resistance. highly recommended, another really well balanced tyre from Goodyear.
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5th: Michelin Primacy 4+
Excellent wet grip with very short wet braking and good wet handling, very high aquaplaning resistance, low noise, high levels of comfort, low rolling resistance.
Sluggish dry handling with limited grip in handling and braking.
The Michelin Primacy 4+ wasn't quite as sharp as the Kumho, or any of the tyres around the dry handling lap, but it was excellent in the wet with the second best wet braking and great aquaplaning resistance. It also had a very low noise, great comfort levels and a good rolling resistance.
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Good wet braking, excellent aquaplaning resistance, good dry handling, good levels of comfort.
Average dry braking, high rolling resistance.
The Falken Ziex ZE310 combines a very high aquaplaning resistance with good wet braking and very high levels of comfort.
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Short wet braking distances, very good dry handling, short dry braking, ok rolling resistance.
Low aquaplaning resistance, high external noise.
The new Hankook Ventus Prime 4 is very strong in the dry, has good wet handling and braking and reasonable rolling resistance, however it struggled in the deeper water of the aquaplaning tests and had a high external noise.
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8th: Kumho Ecsta HS52
Very good dry handling, short dry braking distances, good aquaplaning resistance, low external noise.
Average wet grip.
The Kumho Ecsta HS52 was the fastest tyre of the group around dry handling, though the margins were so small in the dry it didn't really affect the overall result. It was also very good in dry braking, and had great aquaplaning resistance. A very impressive tyre, and it would have finished higher if it wasn't for a high rolling resistance and average wet performance.
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9th: Vredestein Ultrac
Excellent wet handling, the best aquaplaning resistance on test, good dry braking.
High rolling resistance, high external noise.
One again the Vredestein Ultrac proves to be a wet specialist, having one of the fastest wet handling laps and amongst the best aquaplaning resistance. Unfortunately all that wet performance leaves the Vredestein a little behind the group both in dry and rolling resistance tests.
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9th: Toyo Proxes Comfort
Low noise, very low rolling resistance, good dry braking.
Extended wet braking, average dry and wet handling.
The Toyo Proxes Comfort was a fun tyre to drive in the wet, but sadly had longer wet braking distances than expected. It excelled in the rolling resistance testing, and was good in the dry.
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11th: GT Radial FE2
Good wet and dry handling with nice subjective balance, low rolling resistance.
Extended wet braking distance, average aquaplaning resistance.
The Gt Radial FE2 in eleventh was another step on from the Nankang. Once again GT have made a tyre that's enjoyable to drive, has good rolling resistance and good levels of comfort, and while it was only a few percent off in dry and wet handling, it did lose out a little in wet braking. But it was still 8 meters better than the budget.
12th: Nankang Econex NA1
Fun tyre to drive, reasonable grip during dry handling.
Low wet grip overall, long wet and dry braking distance, oversteer balance in the dry and wet which is not ideal for the road, poor aquaplaning resistance, high rolling resistance.
The Nankang Econex NA1 was next up, considerably better than the Doublecoin but perhaps not a tyre that could be classified as great as it had long braking distances in the dry and wet, poor aquaplaning resistance, high noise and a high rolling resistance. It would however make a fun 16" dry weather track tyre if you don't want to fit a semi slick.
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13th: Double Coin DC99
Low external noise.
Dangerously low levels of grip in the wet with extremely long wet braking distances, worst aquaplaning resistance, very low grip in the dry with poor balance, high rolling resistance.
In last place by a landslide was the Doublecoin DC99. If you want a tyre that is extremely quiet for the people you drive past, this is the tyre for you. For anything else, this is not the tyre as it lost every other category we tested it in, most noticeably taking 14 meters longer to stop the car from just 80kph in the wet. That means when you were stopped on the Continental, you were still doing 45kmh on the Doublecoin. Go run into a tree at 45kmh and tell me that's worth saving a bit of money on your tyres.