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Testing Grand Touring All-Season Tires with a Sporty Edge



May 24, 2013

Tires tested:

Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS (Grand Touring All-Season, 215/60R16 95V)
  • What We Liked: Reasonable ride and noise comfort
  • What We'd Improve: Tighten up on-center steering feel and increase wet and especially snow traction
  • Conclusion: A tire that doesn't stand out from the rest

Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology (Grand Touring All-Season, 215/60R16 95V)

  • What We Liked: Direct steering feel and excellent wet weather traction plus good snow traction
  • What We'd Improve: Reduce road noise a little
  • Conclusion: One of our sportier Grand Touring All-Season tires

Michelin Primacy MXV4 (Grand Touring All-Season, 215/60R16 95V)

  • What We Liked: Good road manners and reasonable snow traction
  • What We'd Improve: A small improvement in dry handling
  • Conclusion: A good option for drivers wanting the traditional traits of a Grand Touring All-Season tire

Pirelli Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus (Grand Touring All-Season, 215/60R16 95V)

  • What We Liked: Civilized road manners and stable dry handling plus good winter performance
  • What We'd Improve: A bit more traction and handling in wet conditions
  • Conclusion: This tire ups dry handling a little without compromising winter weather capability or ride quality too much

Vehicles used:

2012 BMW F30 328i Sedan

As with most things these days, when it comes to tires for your car there are lots to choose from. Drivers wanting good ride quality along with better handling than offered by regular Passenger All-Season tires can look to the Grand Touring All-Season category as a way to help narrow down the choices. By their nature Grand Touring All-Season tires are designed to provide reasonable tread life while blending the smooth and quiet ride of a passenger tire with the looks of a performance tire. If you're looking for a tire that can also deliver a little of a performance tire's handling, too, then it's worth considering a small, but growing sub-group that blends it in. These "sporty" Grand Touring All-Season tires still try to emphasize the smooth and quiet side of the equation, but can also deliver reassuring handling and good traction.

Slotting directly into this sporty sub-group are several new offerings. One is the Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS. The Potenza family name implies it's a performance tire, but Bridgestone assures us it has been tuned to deliver a combination of ride comfort and handling commensurate with a "sporty" Grand Touring All-Season tire. Also new is the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus, designed as a no compromises, do everything Grand Touring All-Season tire, blending handling with comfortable road manners. For comparison we included the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology and the Michelin Primacy MXV4. Our evaluation used 2012 BMW F30 328i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 215/60R16 tires mounted on 16x7.5 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.

The Michelin Primacy MXV4 delivered a nice level of ride comfort, doing the best job at smoothing the sharper bumps and expansion joints along the route. However, some drivers commented on feeling that this tire would reverberate after encountering some of the sharper impacts. The Pirelli Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus followed closely, delivering a smooth and well-refined ride. The Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology and Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS also rode well, but both delivered a slightly firmer ride than the Michelin or Pirelli tires.

Overall tread and impact noise for all four tires was found to be modest. Here the Michelin again led the way, but only by a small margin over the Potenza RE97AS, which also rolled along with minimal tread noise. The tread pattern of the Pirelli was found to generate relatively low volume, but the impact sounds were just a little more apparent than those heard from the Bridgestone tire. The PureContact with EcoPlus Technology delivered appropriate levels of road noise, but it did produce somewhat more tread noise than the others as it rolled over the rougher road surfaces along our test route.

During the light handling of our road ride, the PureContact with EcoPlus Technology felt the most direct and responsive. Very close behind was the Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus, which also handed very well. The Primacy MXV4 could be described as having "typical" handling for a Grand Touring All-Season tire, feeling direct but relaxed as it responded in a linear manner, but without the urgency of the Continental or Pirelli tires. The Potenza RE97AS rounded out the group displaying a small dead band in response when the steering wheel was within a few degrees of center, but then responded quickly as more steering angle was put in.

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.

During the extreme maneuvers of our handling track in dry conditions, all four tires delivered predictable and stable handling. The responsive steering displayed by the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology out on the road carried over to the track where this tire felt a little more nimble than the others. The Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS felt well balanced and stable, while the Michelin Primacy MXV4 and Pirelli Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus were quick enough around the track, but took just a little more effort to negotiate it.

In the wet the differences were more obvious as the PureContact with EcoPlus Technology showed a clear traction advantage over the other three. The Primacy MXV4 didn't have the ultimate grip of the PureContact, but was relatively easy to control when driving at the limit. The Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus and Potenza RE97AS followed close behind the Pirelli with reasonable stability at their overall lower level of ultimate traction.

Driving In Winter Conditions

Winter weather is often unpredictable, and snow-covered roads change with every passing vehicle as they churn snow into slush or pack it down to polished ice. A constantly changing test surface makes side-by-side comparisons difficult, so we use a dedicated winter testing facility in Northern Sweden with acres of groomed snow that provides the consistency we need to get reliable acceleration and braking comparisons. This facility also has a prepared snow handling course where we evaluate the stability and control of each tire during abrupt maneuvers.To simulate the icy conditions found at intersections or the black ice experienced out on the highway, we use ice at a local hockey rink and measure acceleration and braking traction.

The Pirelli Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus delivered good snow traction and exhibited good control and stability during handling maneuvers. The Michelin Primacy MXV4 also provided good snow and ice traction and handling. The Continental PureContact with Eco Plus Technology offered good acceleration and braking traction in the snow, but displayed noticeable understeer during handling tests. The Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS lacked the snow traction to match the others, particularly under braking where it took 40 feet longer to stop from 20mph than the best tire in the test.

Fuel Consumption Results

Our Real World Road Ride features a relatively flat 5.5-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 approximately 400 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.

Tire Line Test
MPG*
Gallons/Year
@ 15,000 Miles
% vs. Most Efficient
Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS 30.0 500.0 -2.33%
Continental PureContact w/Eco Plus 30.7 488.6 --
Michelin Primacy MXV4 30.2 496.7 -1.66%
Pirelli Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus 30.6 490.2 -0.33%
*Our evaluation used Linear Logic ScanGauge II automotive computers to record fuel consumption, and Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.

While none of the tires in this test were designed with low rolling resistance as a high priority, we did find a difference in observed vehicle fuel economy across the group.

Based on our results, the 0.7-mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of 11 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $4.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of just over $45 for drivers driving 15,000 miles per year.

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.

Summary

The Michelin Primacy MXV4 strikes the Grand Touring All-Season tire category's traditional balance between road manners and handling along with good snow traction. The Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology gives up a little ride comfort to deliver sporty handling and very good wet traction while maintaining good traction in winter weather. The Pirelli Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus offers good road manners with a little more sport than traditional category favorites without making big compromises in snow traction. The Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS doesn't stand out in the group, doing some things only reasonably well while struggling in winter weather.

Product Details

Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS (Grand Touring All-Season): The Potenza RE97AS is Bridgestone's Grand Touring All-Season tire developed for the drivers of luxury coupes, touring sedans and sporty crossover vehicles looking for a bit more performance from their all-season touring tires. Designed to provide a blend of both tire categories, the Potenza RE97AS combines touring tire fundamentals with the enhanced steering feel of performance tires, as well as all-season traction in dry, wet and wintry conditions, even in light snow. Read more.

Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology (Grand Touring All-Season): The PureContact with EcoPlus Technology is Continental's Grand Touring All-Season tire developed for the drivers of luxury performance sedans, sporty coupes and crossover vehicles. PureContact tires are designed to balance long wear, a comfortable ride and low rolling resistance with wet grip and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.

Michelin Primacy MXV4 (Grand Touring All-Season): Primacy MXV4 tires are Michelin's Grand Touring All-Season tires developed to meet the needs of coupes and sedans, as well as family minivans and crossover utility vehicles. Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires are designed to offer a quiet, comfortable ride, long tread life, responsive handling and all-season traction, including in light snow. Read more.

Pirelli Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus (Grand Touring All-Season): The Cinturato P7 All Season Plus is Pirelli's Grand Touring All-Season tire designed for the drivers of touring and luxury touring cars looking for tires offering predictable handling, everyday comfort and all-season traction. Developed to be environmentally friendly, Pirelli's EcoImpact icons confirm the Cinturato P7 All Season Plus' contribution to the environment with regards to energy efficiency, clean air, low noise and long wear. Designed to be driven in America's diverse weather conditions, the Cinturato P7 All Season Plus features lower weight, less rolling resistance and reduced noise while enhancing wet braking and year-round traction, even in light snow. Read more.




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