Several news features have been published recently highlighting how motorists want the best when it comes to purchasing new tyres, but often safety goes out the window in favour of savings when it comes down to a choice between premium brand or economy tyres.
The reports emanate from Bridgestone tyres invitation to a number of journalists to its state-of-the-art testing centre outside Rome, where they were given the chance to carry out a number of comparison tests in near identical VW Golfs.
According to Michael Sheridan of the Irish Times: “The 2-litre diesel machines had identical 16-inch wheels shod with 205/55 section tyres – Europe’s most popular size. One Golf wore premium Bridgestone Turanza T2001 tyres (circa €88 each) and the other Golf had Hifly HF 201 tyres, (circa €55 each). Hifly is one of 80 Chinese tyre brands currently on sale in Europe out of a total of 245. There are cheaper tyres but Bridgestone thought a closer comparison would be more credible. For testing purposes electronic driving aids were deactivated to help exaggerate any loss of traction.
“On a particularly damp day, when even Bridgestone’s dry track was wet, we managed to skid and slide our way around an infinite number of cones and special tracks to test the limits of grip and braking performance. The remarkable thing is . . . the cheaper tyre was adequate, up to the point, but then with little or no warning it wanted to take us straight to the scene of the accident.”
He added: “The Turanza tyre was able to do all the test manoeuvres quicker and with more control, while also giving more feedback to the driver. The Hifly at its limit felt similar to driving with slightly flat tyres and also felt vague at speed. Cornering was fun, but for the wrong reasons, as we found a new vocation as drift specialists – again there was no feedback to the driver on what the tyres were trying to do.”
Sheridan concluded: “Think about this when your next behind the wheel, you have just four postcard-sized patches of rubber keeping you in contact with the road. . . tyres should not be something to skimp on.”
Meanwhile, John Galvin of the Irish Independent wrote: “Ex-Ferrari Formula 1 driver, Stefano Modena, was on hand to show us how he evaluates a tyre on a carefully calibrated wet road. I made sure to get into the front passenger seat so I could watch the maestro at work. We started with the Turanza and it was sheer poetry watching Stefano ease the car through the curves. He made the point that smoothness and consistency were everything in tyre testing so that the individual characteristics and performance of each could be identified.
“When we swapped over to the Chinese tyre, it was like night and day. Even Stefano’s skilled hands couldn’t coax the car around without understeering off, despite going much slower than before.
“The price differential between a set of decent tyres and the cheapest on the market is probably around the same as a decent meal. It just depends what we choose from the menu.”
All food for thought when it comes to choosing new tyres!