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March 13, 2012
Accelerate faster. Corner harder. Brake shorter.
These words sound pretty good to any performance driving enthusiast. And what gearhead doesn't want more of a good thing? Well, more of a good thing is exactly what BFGoodrich is promising with the launch of the new g-Force Sport COMP-2 Ultra High Performance Summer tire. At first glance, this second-generation tire doesn't look so different from the original, featuring the same directional tread pattern and only a mild change in sidewall styling. But just as you can't judge a book by its cover, one must look inside the g-Force Sport COMP-2 to find out how good the story really is.
The COMP-2's improvements start with a solid foundation, something BFGoodrich calls the Performance Racing Core (PRC). A robust internal construction is supported by g-Control sidewall inserts, wedge-shaped pieces of stiff rubber that rest atop the bead wire and help sharpen steering response and improve sidewall stability during cornering. The two layers of body cord fabric are oriented in such a way as to improve overall stability, while the enhanced ETEC System of spirally wound reinforcement placed above the steel belts help stabilize and optimize the tire's contact patch for better performance and more even wear. Resting atop the Performance Racing Core is a new silica-infused tread compound, which is derived from racing technology and designed to improve tread block rigidity for more precise handling while also increasing dry and wet traction versus the original g-Force Sport.
Select members of the Tire Rack team were given an advance look at the g-Force Sport COMP-2 before it was available to the general public, with the opportunity to drive on production-spec tires and compare them to several other popular Ultra High Performance tires already in the marketplace.
Performance Challenge 1 – Dry Autocross
The dry autocross course featured a long, 9-cone slalom followed by an S-turn on the way out to a slightly decreasing radius, 180-degree left-hand sweeper that led to a number of high-speed offsets, culminating in a tightening chicane that finished with a stop box. All combined it offered plenty of variety to challenge the acceleration, cornering and stopping power of the tires.
We were given two different comparison experiences, the first using a pair of Subaru WRX STis with nimble handling and plenty of boosted acceleration to compare the BFG COMP-2 with the Kumho Ecsta SPT KU31. The Ecsta SPT responded quickly in the slalom, and seemed like a reasonably good fit for the Subaru. But when charging through the fast offsets and into the tightening chicane at the finish this tire felt somewhat unsettled at the rear of the car. In comparison the g-Force Sport COMP-2 felt more composed through all of the maneuvers and our drivers were able to carry more ultimate speed through the fast offsets and finish section.
Next up were a pair of Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 modern muscle cars to drive the COMP-2 alongside the Yokohama S.drive. Compared to the nimble Subaru STi it took some work to hustle the big Challenger through the tight sections of the course. The S.drive felt reasonably responsive, but would ultimately end in gentle understeer as the front tires saturated under the load of the Challenger. It was also pretty easy to tickle the traction control when accelerating away from the start line and exiting the 180 at the far end of the course. The g-Force Sport COMP-2 really fit the personality of the Challenger. Steering response was good, as was cornering and acceleration traction. This tire made the Challenger feel like a muscle car rather than just an overpowered heavyweight.
Performance Challenge 2 – Dry Stopping Distance
This demo featured two Dodge Challenger SRT8 392s and the COMP-2 going up against the Yokohama S.drive. Once the car was rolling in second gear it was foot to the floor, running right up to the rev limiter at 62 mph. Then it was hard to the brakes for an ABS-assisted stop using a Racelogic PerformanceBox GPS datalogger to record the distance. The datalogger starts its measurement as the car passes 60 mph on its way to zero to eliminate any variation in when brakes were applied. While not a scientifically controlled test, all of our team members found a 5-7 foot advantage in dry stopping distance for the g-Force Sport COMP-2.
Performance Challenge 3 – Wet Autocross
The wet autocross course layout was very similar to the dry circuit with a long slalom leading to an S-bend then constant radius, 180 left, followed immediately by relatively tight 90-degree right and left corners, which opened into high-speed offsets that funneled down to the finish area stop box. "Rain" was supplied by a water truck making periodic laps around the course. Our runs were all driven in damp conditions, with very few puddles as any standing water quickly drained off the surface. Also, like in the dry, we made two separate tire comparisons, this time using Volkswagen GTis for all runs.
The first comparison was with the g-Force Sport COMP-2 versus the Kumho Ecsta SPT. In the damp conditions of the test course the COMP-2 showed better front-end traction in the transitions of the slalom and a more balanced and predictable feel as it made its way through the fast offsets headed towards the finish line.
After a re-wetting of the course we made the second comparison, this time driving the COMP-2 and the Hankook Ventus V12 evo. The COMP-2 again showed its poise, stability and overall grip. By comparison the V12 evo just couldn't match the front-end traction nor the lateral grip and predictability in transition of the COMP-2.
During our brief time with the g-Force Sport COMP-2 it showed that in this environment it can certainly corner harder, accelerate a little faster and brake shorter than the competition. Unfortunately our drive didn't afford the opportunity to experience the COMP-2 out on the road to evaluate its ride and noise comfort. We'll be conducting a full test at Tire Rack headquarters in the summer of 2012 as we run the COMP-2 through our full battery of tests. Stay tuned for that report coming soon.
BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2 (Ultra High Performance Summer): As BFGoodrich's Ultra High Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes, performance sedans and modern muscle cars looking for the next level of control and fun, the g-Force Sport COMP-2 is designed to accelerate faster, corner harder and brake shorter in dry and wet conditions. However, like all summer tires, it is not intended to be driven in near freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110 (Max Performance Summer) The Ventus V12 evo K110 is Hankook's Max Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and high performance sedans. The Ventus V12 evo is designed to combine comfort and control in dry and wet road conditions. However like all summer tires, the Ventus V12 evo is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Kumho Ecsta SPT (Ultra High Performance Summer): The Ecsta SPT (KU31) is Kumho's Ultra High Performance Summer tire developed for sports cars, coupes and sedans. The Ecsta SPT was designed to offer grip, handling, comfort, wear and good looks in order to provide enthusiastic drivers the ability to "Drive Hard, 'Go Big,' Look Good." Ecsta SPT tires are not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Yokohama S.drive (Ultra High Performance Summer) The S.drive ("Sport drive") radial is Yokohama's Ultra High Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and performance sedans. The S.drive radial is designed to use Yokohama's technological advancements to deliver extraordinary grip and handling on both wet and dry roads. Like all summer tires, the S.drive radial is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.