June 28, 2011
When looking for a value, one doesn't often find maximum performance. And when you want the absolute maximum in performance, it's rare to find a real value. That is unless you're shopping for tires where sometimes these two opposing criteria can be rolled together in the same product.
More specifically, there is a group of value-priced tires delivering handling that lands them solidly in our Max Performance Summer category, bringing together a blend of excellent traction and reasonable pricing. To get the full understanding of how well some of these value-priced Max Performance Summer tires perform, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT, Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110, Kumho Ecsta LE Sport and Sumitomo HTR Z III. Our evaluation used 2011 BMW E92 328i coupes fitted 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.
From the first turn onto our road route it was apparent the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT delivers the quickest and most direct-feeling steering of the group. If you like immediate response then this is the one of the group for you. The Sumitomo HTR Z III followed, with a relatively light but taut feel to the steering wheel, responding quickly to driver inputs. The Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110 and Kumho Ecsta LE Sport delivered similar overall handling and steering response, but displayed a small amount of lag in the initial response to driver inputs.
The HTR Z III did the best job softening the edges of sharp bumps such as patched pavement and expansion joints. The SP Sport Maxx TT feels a little bit firm in comparison, but controls each bump impact to a single motion. The Ventus V12 evo K110 and Ecsta LE Sport both displayed moderate harshness when driving over the rougher portions of our route, feeling a little less refined than the Sumitomo and Dunlop tires.
Overall noise levels for all four tires were similar, with all producing some amount of tread pattern hum and impact boom. The HTR Z III disguised its noise the best, producing a relatively broad sound, while the Ecsta LE Sport and Ventus V12 evo K110 generated more distinctive tones as speed increased. The SP Sport Maxx TT also generated a somewhat constant tone as it rolled along, but like the others was not found to be objectionable.
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, the Sumitomo HTR Z III showed poise and delivered responsive handling allowing it to produce the quickest lap time of the event. The Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT felt more responsive, but in the end didn't quite have the speed to match the lap time of the Sumitomo. The Kumho Ecsta LE Sport was able to lap our handling course nearly as quickly as the leaders, but didn't have the connected feel or instill confidence to the same degree as the Sumitomo and Dunlop tires. Rounding out the group was the Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110 which didn't have the ultimate grip or feel as stable and precise as the others.
We often find performance in the wet to be the tie breaker among otherwise similar tires, and this time around proved no different. The SP Sport Maxx TT held a clear traction advantage over the others, feeling stable, predictable, and able to drive around the track with relative ease. The HTR Z III followed with good initial steering response, but didn't have the ultimate grip to keep up with the Dunlop. Close behind was the Ecsta LE Sport which was easily controlled at its limit, albeit below the Dunlop and Sumitomo tires. Trailing the group was the Ventus V12 evo K110, which was hampered by its relatively narrow peak in traction, making it somewhat more challenging to maximize its performance.
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 approximately 500 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.
@ 15,000 Miles
|% vs. Most Efficient|
|Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT||27.2||551.5||--|
|Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110||27.0||555.6||-0.74%|
|Kumho Ecsta LE Sport||26.9||557.6||-1.12%|
|Sumitomo HTR Z III||27.0||555.6||-0.74%|
|*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. Based on our results, the 0.3 mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of about 30 gallons of premium gasoline. At a cost of $4.00/gallon, it would amount to about $24 for drivers traveling 15,000 miles a 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.
All four of the value-priced tires in our test deliver sporty handling appropriate for the Max Performance Summer category. The Sumitomo HTR Z III proved to be refined by delivering excellent road manners and capable handling. The Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT is the nimble handling leader, with excellent response to driver inputs. The Kumho Ecsta LE Sport and Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110 are capable, but don't have quite the refinement or poise of the others.
Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT (Max Performance Summer): The SP Sport Maxx TT (Touch Technology) is Dunlop's Max Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and high performance sedans. Dunlop Touch Technology combines sophisticated tire development and manufacturing techniques to enhance road feedback and driving precision. Like all summer tires, the SP Sport Maxx TT 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 K110 is designed to combine comfort and control in dry and wet road conditions. However like all summer tires, the Ventus V12 evo K110 is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Kumho Ecsta LE Sport (Max Performance Summer): The Ecsta LE Sport is Kumho's Max Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and performance sedans who want dynamic handling performance on dry and wet roads. The Ecsta LE Sport offers a sophisticated European-inspired design that delivers a blend of ride comfort and cockpit quietness. Like all summer tires, it is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Sumitomo HTR Z III (Max Performance Summer): The HTR Z III (High Technology Radials-3rd generation) is Sumitomo's Max Performance Summer tire developed for sports cars, sporty coupes and high performance sedans. It is designed to showcase Sumitomo's technical resources by providing high speed handling stability along with traction on dry and wet roads. Like all summer tires, it is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
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