August 8, 2008
Global tire manufacturer Kumho Tire has been quietly selling tires in North America for decades, long popular with motorsports drivers and niche category enthusiasts. More recently, Kumho has been making a concerted effort to raise their level of awareness among consumers, showcasing their technology with a growing professional motorsports program, a North American technical design center and an expanding range of product offerings designed to meet the needs of a broader range of drivers.
The Ecsta LX Platinum Grand Touring All-Season tire was conceived specifically for North American drivers and road conditions and designed to place its performance among product category leaders Bridgestone, Goodyear, Michelin and others. To find out just how well Kumho hit their mark, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track drive comparing the Ecsta LX Platinum with three of the top contenders in the Grand Touring All-Season category - Bridgestone's Turanza Serenity, the Goodyear Eagle ResponsEdge and Michelin Primacy MXV4. Our evaluation used 2008 BMW E92 328i coupes with new, full tread depth 225/45R17 tires mounted on 17x8.0" wheels.
Our 5.6-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 displayed excellent road manners, feeling composed and comfortable when riding over the small to medium impacts. Even larger bumps were minimized and felt more rounded over than harsh. The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity also drove quite nicely, with only a small increase in impact harshness versus the Primacy MXV4. Right on the heels of the Bridgestone was the Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum feeling civilized over all but the biggest impacts found on our test route. The ride quality of the Goodyear Eagle ResponsEdge allowed a bit more of each impact to make its way to the driver.
Our team found the Primacy MXV4 to be the quietest of the group, regardless of the type of road surface. The Turanza Serenity and Ecsta LX Platinum were close behind, producing slightly more tread noise than the Michelin. The Eagle ResponsEdge offered a reasonably quiet ride, with a few distinct tones heard at various speeds.
The Primacy MXV4 also lead the group in the road handling area, with a near-perfect balance between steering response and a light, relaxed feel appropriate for a Grand Touring All-Season tire. The Turanza Serenity was another favorite with our team, requiring just slightly more effort to turn the wheel at lower speeds, but felt reassuring and stable at faster road speeds. The Ecsta LX Platinum displayed a light steering feel, but didn't quite have the refined feel of the Michelin or Bridgestone. The Eagle ResponsEdge felt a little sluggish to initial and small steering inputs, but then brightened up and responded more quickly to larger turns of the wheel.
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, lane changes 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.
As often proves true, ultimate dry traction was found to be reasonably similar across the group. The Goodyear Eagle ResponsEdge and Michelin Primacy MXV4 generated nearly identical total lap times, with the Goodyear making it to the line first by a scant 5/100th of a second. Like on the road, the steering feel of the Primacy MXV4 felt somewhat more connected and linear than the Eagle ResponsEdge when driven in a spirited manner. The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity was close behind with a stable feel and just a hint of gentle understeer when pressed hard. The Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum rounded out the group with slightly less overall grip than the other three tires.
In wet conditions there was a clear separating line between the top performing tire and the other three. Here, the Turanza Serenity held a distinct advantage in traction, responsiveness and sheer driver confidence with the average lap time a full 1.5 seconds ahead of the next best performer. Coming as a surprise, the Primacy MXV4 was a distant second place to the Turanza Serenity. This is not what we experienced the last time we tested this tire (July 2007), but possibly the change in tire size and ambient weather conditions played a role (the Turanza Serenity was also compared in this test and its performance remained reasonably constant across both tests). In a ranking of average lap time the Eagle ResponsEdge was third, but you would not have guessed this from behind the wheel where exceeding the available grip would occur very suddenly and without much warning, then take what felt like a long time to recover. The Ecsta LX Platinum followed, feeling somewhat slippery under all conditions, but more predictable than the Eagle ResponsEdge.
Bridgestone Turanza with Serenity Technology (Grand Touring All-Season): Turanza with Serenity Technology tires are Bridgestone's Grand Touring All-Season tires developed for the drivers of sporty coupes and luxury performance sedans. Turanza Serenity tires are designed to provide Bridgestone's ultimate in ride and noise comfort while blending long wear with dry, wet and year-round traction, even in light snow.
Goodyear Eagle featuring ResponsEdge Technology (Grand Touring All-Season): Goodyear Eagle featuring ResponsEdge Technology radials are Grand Touring All-Season tires developed to enhance the capabilities of sport coupes and sedans. The Eagle ResponsEdge is designed to offer year-round traction on dry, wet and lightly snow-covered roads, while delivering a blend of responsive handling and comfortable ride qualities that allow drivers to feel the road, not the rumble.
Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum (Grand Touring All-Season): The Ecsta LX Platinum is Kumho's Grand Touring All-Season tire developed to meet the needs of sporty coupe and luxury performance sedan drivers. It is designed to blend responsive handling, long wear and a quiet ride with year-round traction including 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 a variety of vehicle types (for example SUVs, crossover vehicles and sedans). 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.
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