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We always look forward to testing new Max Performance Summer tires. As the proverbial running shoe for your car, today's Max Performance Summer tires deliver an impressive level of dry and wet traction that even the best all-season tire can't match. Ride quality and noise levels during everyday driving are kept at a reasonable level, too. The athletic nature of Max Performance Summer tires makes them the perfect companion for any driving enthusiast who wants to exercise the handling of their car without too much compromise in ride and noise comfort.
Products in this performance category represent the pinnacle in tire technology, blending the latest in tread compounds and internal components with highly engineered designs. To find out how they drive we selected several of the best and two of the newest designs to compare side-by-side. The Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position debuted in 2011 and by design is intended to be highly capable while remaining predictable and easy to control at the limit. Drivers are finding the same as we did in our last test -- that this tire delivers on both. The Michelin Pilot Super Sport also rolled out in 2011 and immediately set a new standard for overall performance in the category. Packed with technology inside and out this tire features multiple compounds across the tread pattern intended to optimize dry and wet traction. The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 is, as its naming suffix implies, a second-generation design that is new this year. Goodyear uses a motorsports-derived tread compound and internal construction materials to help maximize performance. The Toyo Proxes 1 is also new, and like the Michelin, utilizes two different compounds in the tread area to optimize cornering power and braking performance.
To find out how they drive in the real world our team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive using our fleet of four 2012 BMW F30 328i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 245/40R18 tires mounted on 18x8.0" wheels.
What We Learned on the Road
Our 6.6-mile loop of expressway, state highway and county roads provides a great variety of road conditions that include city and highway speeds, smooth and coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt. This route allows our team to experience noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling, just as you would during your drive to school or work.
Max Performance Summer tires by design handle very well. All four of our test candidates displayed direct steering feel and stable handling in the everyday driving environment of our road ride loop. The Michelin Pilot Super Sport felt very direct, responding quickly to steering inputs and felt stable around sweeping off-ramps. The Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position also drove very well, with direct and predictable steering response and stable tracking around big curves. Our team was somewhat split on which they preferred next, the subtly slower and more relaxed-feeling steering response of the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 or the urgent initial steering of the Toyo Proxes 1. Both drive well, but with somewhat different personalities.
Ride comfort and overall noise levels were pretty similar across the four tires, with only small differences between them. The Pilot Super Sport had a small advantage in ride quality, particularly when soaking up the smaller bumps, while tread and impact noise levels were moderate. The Potenza S-04 Pole Position also gave a controlled ride, but our team noticed a subtle hum from the tread pattern heard at most speeds. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 and Proxes 1 tires both rolled down the road with minimal tread noise and only a slight pinging sound when encountering sharp, staccato impacts.
What We Learned on the Test Track
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, a five-cone slalom and simulated expressway ramps. Run in both dry and wet conditions, the test track allows our team to experience the traction, responsiveness, handling and drivability normally only encountered during abrupt emergency avoidance maneuvers or competition events.
On our handling track in dry conditions, the Michelin Pilot Super Sport once again showed why it's regarded as the current benchmark in the Max Performance Summer category, posting the fastest lap time and highest lateral g-forces of the test. Steering response is crisp, peak traction is quite high and once the limit is reached the reserve grip keeps hanging on. From there the three other tires were tightly grouped and a notch back from the Pilot Super Sport. Subjectively, the Potenza S-04 Pole Position received good ratings thanks to being easy to control and drive at its limit, but its ultimate lap time was just behind the Goodyear and Toyo tires. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 felt a little less predictable than the Bridgestone tire, but showed it has the grip to get around our course quickly. Lap times for the Proxes 1 were surprisingly close to the other tires in the test, thanks to quick steering and nimble handling. At the limit this tire displays a higher slip angle than the other tires, which took a little getting used to.
In the wet things were tightly grouped at the top. This time the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 led the way with the best overall traction and predictable handling. The Pilot Super Sport was able to lap our handling course in nearly the same time as the Goodyear, displaying some chattering understeer as it reached the limit. The Potenza S-04 Pole Position felt noticeably more composed and balanced, but in the end didn't have quite the ultimate grip of the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 or Pilot Super Sport. The Proxes 1 trailed the others somewhat, despite its quick steering response. Its limiting factor came at the rear of the car, where this tire was particularly sensitive to application of the throttle and would easily spin when accelerating away from each corner.
Fuel Consumption Results
Our Real World Road Ride features a relatively flat 6.6-mile loop of 65 mph expressway, 55 mph state highway and 40 mph county roads along with two stop signs and one traffic light every lap. Our team drove each tire just over 600 miles over the course of several days. Since we wanted to compare fuel consumption results that typical drivers would experience, our drivers were instructed to maintain the flow of traffic by running at the posted speed limits and sustain the vehicle's speed using cruise control whenever possible. They did not use hypermiling techniques to influence vehicle fuel economy.
In this test we didn't find a significant difference in observed fuel consumption between any of the four tires.
It's important to note our test's fuel consumption measurements follow consistent procedures designed to minimize variables that could influence the results, however they do not represent an exhaustive long-range fuel consumption study. While our procedures require the test vehicles in each convoy to run under the same prevailing conditions, the week-to-week differences in ambient temperatures, barometric pressures and wind speeds that we experience over a season of testing can influence vehicle fuel consumption and prevent the absolute mpg values of this test from being compared directly against those of others.
Larger differences in consumption between tires may indicate a difference that might be experienced on the road, while smaller differences should be considered equivalent. As they say, your mileage may vary.
You probably wouldn't wear your running shoes to a business meeting at the office. And so, too, Max Performance Summer tires aren't appropriate for every occasion. But when you want your tires to deliver athletic performance, Max Performance tires fit the bill. The Michelin Pilot Super Sport has once again demonstrated that it's the reigning king of the hill in the category with impressive handling. The Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position takes a different tact, providing confidence-inspiring handling that is a little easier to maximize for most drivers. The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 offers excellent traction, especially in the wet, but could benefit from a small improvement in predictability. And the Toyo Proxes 1 feels very bright and lively, but needs just a bit more ultimate traction to match the capability of the others.
Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position (Max Performance Summer): The Potenza S-04 Pole Position is Bridgestone's Max Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of ultra high performance sports cars, coupes and sedans who want to feel the rush of driving their vehicle. Potenza S-04 Pole Position tires are designed to perform in warm, wet and dry conditions. However like all summer tires, they are not intended to be driven in near freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 (Max Performance Summer): The Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 is Goodyear's Max Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of high performance sports cars, coupes and sedans. In addition to being designed to deliver improved handling and steering response, the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 features Goodyear ActiveBraking Technology to enhance stopping performance on dry and wet roads. However, like all summer tires, it is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Michelin Pilot Super Sport (Max Performance Summer): The Pilot Super Sport is Michelin's Max Performance Summer tire initially introduced as Original Equipment on several of the world's most sophisticated performance vehicles, including the exclusive, limited edition Ferrari 599 GTO, Ferrari's fastest road car ever. Developed for drivers who care about how tire technology enhances their vehicle's performance and safety, Pilot Super Sport tires expand the Max Performance Summer tire performance envelope by delivering durability, handling and traction while increasing tread life. Read more.
Toyo Proxes 1 (Max Performance Summer): The Proxes 1 is Toyo's Max Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of the most powerful cars in the world. The flagship for the company's Proxes family of high-performance products, the Proxes 1 is Toyo Tires' most technologically advanced tire, developed with a focus on high-speed performance, cornering and braking 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.