The best car tyres

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Car tyre test Since 2012, it's been compulsory for manufacturers to rate the performance of their tyres and publish those ratings on labels – like those on fridges and washing machines – to help buyers make the right choice. But while tyre labelling is undoubtedly useful when buying, it doesn’t give you the full picture. Stephen Errity, production editor of Auto Express provides a comprehensive tyre guide based on nine performance tests to give a precise percentage score. It was conducted at Goodyear’s Mireval proving ground in France, where 10 tyres were put through their paces in the popular 225/45R17 size.
 

The Tests

  • Wet handling – how much grip can each tyre generate on a wet track? We measured lateral G and put each tyre against the clock. We also judged them for feel and the confidence they inspire.
  • Braking - how quickly does each tyre stop the car in both wet and dry conditions?
  • Rolling resistance - how much energy does each tyre absorb as it rolls along the road? This tells you how fuel-efficient they are.
  • Aquaplaning - one of the scariest feelings for any driver. How well does each tyre cut through standing water and find grip?
  • Dry handling - against the clock around a fast handling course. The tyres are also rated for how much feel and confidence they give the driver.
  • Road route - how the tyres perform out there in the real world, on both smooth and pot-holed surfaces. We also assessed them for ride comfort and noise.
 

How we scored the tyres 

In each test the best performing tyre was awarded 100 per cent. All the other tyres were then given a percentage score based on how close they got to the winning performance.  The tables tell you how well each tyre behaves in a variety of conditions, helping you decide which will best fit your needs.  All the scores were then averaged out for the  Final Results table .
 
Continental

Price: £94.66
Key to this tyre's success were our braking tests. In wet conditions, the Continental’s braking performance was much better than any of its competitors’. In fact, its closest rival needed an average of three metres more to bring the car to a halt, while the worst wet braking performer required over eight metres more – easily the difference between having a crash or not. And in the dry braking test, it ran out a convincing winner again. It’s not all about braking, though: the Continental was at ease in the aquaplaning tests and best of the rest behind the Goodyear and Dunlop in rolling resistance. Even where this tyre didn’t perform so well, it didn’t trail by enough to affect its overall ranking – so while it only came sixth on the wet handling track, it was within three per cent of the best.


Michelin Pilot Sport 3

Price: £98.92
The Pilot Sport 3 was the top performer across the wet road tests, while trailing the best in rolling resistance by over 20 per cent. It starred in the deep floods of the aquaplaning tests, where it was well ahead of the rest, whether in a straight line or on a curve. The tyre carried over this strong performance to the wet handling and braking. We had to work it a little harder than some to achieve fast lap times because care was needed to keep the front on line. The Pilot Sport 3 was less at home on the dry track, where it lacked the sharpness of the best performers in this category, although it held on well enough, and ended up giving away only a second or so to the winner. In the end, Michelin’s dry braking and rolling resistance scores proved decisive, but overall this is a great performance against newer designs.


Dunlop Sport Maxx RT

Price: £85.58
High-mileage drivers should consider the Sport Maxx RT, as it romped away with the honours in the rolling-resistance test. The Dunlop was also one of the quietest tyres – another major long-distance plus. Add in a second place for dry braking, and you have the most successful tyre away from the wet tests. But it couldn’t match the sharpness of tyres such as the Yokohama, and was also noisy and required lots of lock compared to the top performers. And although it finished a reasonable third and fourth in the aquaplaning tests, it came last in the cornering test because the front lacked bite and easily washed out wide on the throttle. This was also noticeable around the rest of the lap, where we had to wait to get on the power to maintain the line. However, it did mean that the rear was stable


Equal 4th: Hankook Ventus S1
Hankook Ventus S1

Price: £80.43
The S1 demonstrated Hankook's particular prowess on wet roads, where it scored a string of podiums. Only its wet cornering let the side down. The Hankook was best of the rest in wet braking, taking second, albeit three metres behind the stellar Continental. It was also best of the rest in aquaplaning, behind the Michelin. And while it was less convincing on dry roads, fourth in our dry braking test was promising. Like the Goodyear, the S1 found it hard to match rivals on the fast sweeps of the dry handling circuit. It turned in well enough, but gave up early as cornering forces built. Where it really lost out to joint-fourth Goodyear was at the pumps: the S1 uses four per cent more fuel.


 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2

This is one of the most efficient choices, finishing a close second to the Dunlop in our rolling-resistance tests. However, that was the only time the Goodyear troubled the podium. Dry handling was the one significant blot. It just didn’t hook up like other designs, pushing wide on turns, and with some juddering at the limit. The tyre lacked the sharpness on turn-in of rivals, too. It fared better on the wet handling track, narrowly missing out on a podium place, as it was less prone to run wide than some rivals and had decent grip under hard acceleration. It was a similar story in wet braking, where it was in the thick of the action behind the runaway leader. Equal fourth and sixth in aquaplaning meant it was fifth overall among the wet tests, which account for half the final results.


Yokohama Advan Sport V105

Price: £84.31
This was our handling circuit star, finishing first in the wet and second in the dry – a result that’s more remarkable when you consider that success in one usually compromises performances in the other. On the wet track, the excellent front grip meant the rear moved more than most. This was great for fast lap times, as it helped get the car turned in, but you needed to stay on top of it. That strong front-end grip also meant you could get back on the throttle hard and early during the long cornering test without fear of the nose washing wide. It hung on well on the dry circuit, too. The tyre felt sharp going into corners, but needed a little more steering lock than some close to the limit. Where the V105 was off the pace was in the aquaplaning tests, as its asymmetric tread couldn’t clear deeper water as well as the best.


Bridgestone Potenza S001

Price: £93.87
Ninth place for wet handling is simply not what you expect from one of the world’s biggest tyre manufacturers. The margins were small, but it didn’t feel as secure from behind the wheel as the best. The rear was more likely to move, with grip leaking away as more lock was applied. That’s not too worrying, as the breakaway is progressive and easily controlled, but it makes it hard to put together a quick lap. The Bridgestone was also well down the results in wet braking, where it was sixth – some way behind the standard-setting Continental. Yet it was much more at home in the deep water aquaplaning tests. The big grooves and channels that are needed to counter aquaplaning can often compromise the dry performance of a tyre, but it managed fourth on the handling circuit.


Vredestein Ultrac Vorti

Price: £83.10
This was the star of the dry handling circuit, where it felt sharp and sporty without being too sensitive. But that comes at a price in the wet, and while the long, steady sweep of the wet cornering test suited the Ultrac Vorti – it finished third there – it was short of front-end grip and lacked overall balance on the rest of the circuit. The deeper water of the aquaplaning tests did the it no favours – it came eighth in both assessments, and in the straight-line test, it lost grip at 5mph lower than the winning Michelin. More worrying was the tyre’s wet braking performance. It needed an average of seven metres longer to stop than the winning Continental and three more than the rest of the pack.


Pirelli P Zero

Price: £96.69
Despite its advancing years, this Pirelli design felt planted on a wet track, with no rear movement, despite the strong front-end grip. You could get on the throttle early, with little or no risk of the front wheels pushing wide. The Pirelli also fared well in our wet cornering and braking tests. Its limitations came to the fore in our aquaplaning tests, however. The tyre did little better in the dry, but was closer to the best in our braking tests and finished in the midfield in the handling test. Yet there was another poor showing in the rolling resistance test.


GT Radial Champiro HPY

Price: £73
Chinese company GT Radial's Champiro HPY undercuts rivals here on price, but you pay for this in other ways, particularly in the wet. On the wet handling track, it tested our car's electronic stability programme more than others. The Continental’s great showing in our wet braking test exaggerated the GT Radial’s poor performance, but there’s no disguising the fact it needed another two car lengths to stop. It also proved that poor wet weather performance doesn’t always result in impressive rolling resistance. The HPY finished fifth in that category, a long way off the remarkable Dunlop. It struggled with braking in the dry too, needing just under three more metres to bring the car to a halt. The demanding dry handling track was where the GT Radial felt best, with a sharp turn-in and good feel.

 


 

The results table

 
Cabin
noise
Tyre  %
1 Hankook             100   
2 Dunlop 99
3 Michelin 98.8
4 Goodyear 98.5
5 Continental 98.3
6 Vredestein 98
7= GT Radial 97
7= Pirelli 97
9 Yokohama 96.7
10 Bridgestone 96
Straight
aquaplaning
Tyre %
1 Michelin                 100
2 Continental 96.2
3 Hankook 95
4= Goodyear 93.8
4= Dunlop 93.8
4= Yokohama 93.8
4= Bridgestone 93.8
8 Vredestein 91.4
9 GT Radial 90.2
10 Pirelli 87.6






















 
Wet
handling
Tyre  %
1 Yokohama       100   
2 Pirelli 99.1
3 Hankook 98.2
4 Michelin                 98
5 Goodyear 97.6
6 Continental 97.4
7 Vredestein 97.2
8 Dunlop 96.9
9 Bridgestone 96.7
10 GT Radial 93.2
Wet 
braking
Tyre %
1 Continental 100
2 Hankook 91.5
3 Michelin                 88.7
4 Pirelli 86.6
5 Goodyear 86.4
6= Yokohama 83.9
6= Bridgestone 83.9
8 Dunlop 82.7
9 Vredestein 81.6
10 GT Radial 79.2






















 
Rolling resistance Tyre  %
1 Dunlop                 100   
2 Goodyear 93.5
3 Continental 80.4
4 Michelin 76.6
5 GT Radial 74.8
6 Hankook  73.8
7= Bridgestone 69.2
7= Vredestein 69.2
9 Pirelli 68.2
10 Yokohama 67.3
Curved
aquaplaning
Tyre %
1 Michelin 100
2 Hankook  94.8
3= Continental 94.3
3= Dunlop 94.3
5 Bridgestone 93.7
6 Goodyear 92.1
7 Yokohama 89.6
8 Vredestein 86.7
9= GT Radial 86.6
9= Pirelli 86.6






















 
 
Dry
handling
Tyre  %
1 Vredestein   100   
2 Yokohama 98.2
3 GT Radial 97.8
4 Bridgestone 97.5
5 Michelin 97.3
6 Pirelli 97.1
7 Continental 96.8
8 Dunlop 95.7
9 Hankook  95.5
10 Goodyear 94.7
Dry 
braking
Tyre %
1 Continental      100
2 Dunlop 97.5
3 Bridgestone 97.2
4 Hankook  95.8
5 Goodyear 95.4
6 Michelin 94.2
7 Yokohama 94.1
8 Vredestein 94
9 Pirelli 93.7
10 GT Radial 92.5





















 
Cabin 
noise
Tyre  %
1 Hankook             100   
2 Dunlop 99
3 Michelin 98.8
4 Goodyear 98.5
5 Continental 98.3
6 Vredestein 98
7= GT Radial 97
7= Pirelli 97
9 Yokohama 96.7
10 Bridgestone 96
Straight 
aquaplaning
Tyre %
1 Michelin                 100
2 Continental 96.2
3 Hankook 95
4= Goodyear 93.8
4= Dunlop 93.8
4= Yokohama 93.8
4= Bridgestone 93.8
8 Vredestein 91.4
9 GT Radial 90.2
10 Pirelli 87.6
 
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