July 23, 2008
Goodyear has tapped a bit of nostalgia in naming their newest Ultra High Performance All-Season tire, the Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated). Continuing the sporty heritage of the original Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated) and its successors, the new Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated) is a more attractively-priced companion to Goodyear's popular Eagle F1 All-Season in the Ultra High Performance All-Season category. It is designed to blend a stylish tread design with real wet and dry performance, reasonable road manners and some all-season light snow and slush capability.
To evaluate the road manners and wet and dry traction of the new Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated), the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing the Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated) to three other top performers in the value segment of the Ultra High Performance All-Season category: the Continental ContiExtremeContact, Kumho Ecsta ASX and the Yokohama AVID W4s. Our evaluation used 2008 BMW E92 328i coupes with new, full tread depth 225/45R17 tires mounted on 17x8.0" wheels.
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.
Our team enjoyed the sporty handling of all four tires in the group. Of particular note was the crisp steering feel of the Kumho Ecsta ASX, which handled more like a summer-only tire rather than an all-season tire. Our team also liked the responsiveness and stable cornering of the Yokohama AVID W4s. Alternately, the deep and aggressive tread pattern of the Continental ContiExtremeContact has proven to aid this tire's winter traction (unfortunately not tested here), but proved to slow steering response somewhat. The Goodyear Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated) responded to a larger turn of the steering wheel, but the on-center steering felt a little numb in comparison to the others.
Ride comfort and road manners of the group were also well-liked by our drivers, especially when riding on the AVID W4s which did a nice job minimizing impact harshness. The ContiExtremeContact scored close behind as it smoothed over the smaller and medium-sized impacts. The sporty handling of the Ecsta ASX may have resulted in a modest trade off in ride quality, as this tire transmitted more road bump harshness to the driver. Rounding out the group was the Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated), feeling rather firm over even medium-sized impacts and expansion joints.
The Yokohama tire proved to be the most quiet of this group with modest levels of tread and impact noise. The Goodyear followed, producing a bit more noise volume than the Yokohama. The Kumho tire generated an audible thump when encountering some of the rougher road sections, while the Continental tire emanated a small ping as it ran over sharper expansion joints and bumps along the route. The Continental tire also produced the largest volume of tread noise, another by-product of its more aggressive tread design.
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.
On the track in dry conditions, the Goodyear Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated) and Yokohama AVID W4s had a virtual tie for total lap time with only 1/100th of a second separating the two. Both tires displayed excellent cornering grip with the Goodyear having the slightest advantage over the Yokohama. The Goodyear felt slightly more responsive than the Yokohama, but also proved slightly harder to control at the limit as its breakaway characteristics were somewhat more abrupt than the Yokohama. While not necessarily a direct reflection of the wear found during normal road driving, we noticed that both the Goodyear and Yokohama tires showed more wear from hard cornering and braking than the other two tires in the test and appeared to sacrifice themselves to provide their high level of traction during extreme maneuvers. The Kumho Ecsta ASX felt very responsive, almost to the level of a traditional summer tire, but in the end lacked the ultimate grip to keep up with the Goodyear and Yokohama. Rounding out the group was the Continental ContiExtremeContact. The deep, aggressive tread pattern that has a reputation for excellent snow and slush traction reduced steering precision somewhat. But overall grip and predictability were both well-liked by our team.
In the wet, the differences between the four tires were much more apparent. Here, the Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated) displayed a clear advantage in steering response, cornering traction and braking grip. Our team also liked the traction and comfortable balance of the Yokohama AVID W4s but found it to have a modestly lower level of overall traction versus the Goodyear. Not too far behind was the Continental ContiExtremeContact, lacking the sheer grip of the Goodyear or Yokohama, but feeling predictable and easy to control at the limit. Trailing in 4th was the Kumho Ecsta ASX which felt quite slippery in comparison to the other three tires. Care was needed when making throttle or steering inputs to not overwhelm the available traction.
Continental ContiExtremeContact (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Continental ContiExtremeContact is an Ultra High Performance All-Season radial that was developed to satisfy the year-round driving needs of sports car, coupe, sedan and light truck drivers by blending dry and wet road performance with light snow and slush traction.
Goodyear Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated) (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated) is Goodyear's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, coupes and sedans looking for style, handling and all-season capabilities. The Eagle GT (W-Speed Rated) is designed to combine an eye-catching tread pattern that delivers in dry and wet conditions along with all-season versatility, even in light snow.
Kumho Ecsta ASX (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Ecsta ASX (ASX for All-Season Xtreme) is a member of Kumho's race-proven Ecsta high performance tire family. It is an Ultra High Performance All-Season tire that was developed to meet the needs of the drivers of sports cars, coupes and sedans by blending responsive handling with dry, wet and year-round traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Yokohama AVID W4s (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The AVID W4s radial is Yokohama's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire designed to take everyday driving to a new level of comfort and confidence. The AVID W4s radial was developed to provide sporty cars, coupes and sedans with good treadwear, responsive handling and year-round traction, even in light snow.
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