- Mud Flaps
- Engine Tuning
August 5, 2011
General Tire and Kumho are two manufacturers who have been long established as providing a value proposition in the market -- good performance levels paired with attractive pricing. Both have recently released new Ultra High Performance All-Season tires, so we decided to evaluate them side-by-side, along with two other value-focused tires from the category. Our Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive compared the new General G-MAX AS-03 and Kumho Ecsta 4X tires with the Hankook Ventus V4 ES H105 and Yokohama AVID ENVigo (W-Speed Rated). We used 2011 BMW E92 328i coupes fitted with new, full tread depth 225/45R17 tires mounted on 17x8.0" 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.
The road handling of the Kumho Ecsta 4X felt impressive for an all-season tire, with a tight on-center feel in the steering wheel when driving straight ahead combined with immediate response to inputs. In comparison, the steering of the General G-MAX AS-03 was a little slow to respond to the initial input, but then ramped up as more input was put into the steering wheel. The Yokohama AVID ENVigor (W-Speed Rated) followed, feeling responsive but without the immediacy of the Kumho tire. Rounding out the group was the Hankook Ventus V4 ES H105, which displayed appropriate levels of handling and responsiveness, but wasn't as nimble as the other three tires.
The softer handling of the Ventus V4 ES H105 paid back with a very comfortable ride that minimized the harshness of sharp road impacts. However, this tire also exhibited a small amount of jounce and jiggle immediately after encountering larger impacts. Like we've found in past tests, the AVID ENVigor (W-Speed Rated) also delivered a comfortable ride. The sporty Ecsta 4X felt noticeably firmer, but not too harsh as it soaked up medium and larger bumps. The G-MAX AS-03 was reasonably comfortable when it encountered smaller bumps at lower speeds, but as the speed increased and the road imperfection became larger this tire felt a little firmer than the Ecsta 4X.
The AVID ENVigor (W-Speed Rated) and Ventus V4 ES H105 both produced the least amount of tread and impact noise of the group, with a small advantage to the AVID ENVigor (W-Speed Rated). The Ecsta 4X produced a bit of a growl as it rolled along, while the G-MAX AS-03 generated several noticeable tones depending on the speed and road surface.
What We Learned on the Test Track
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, 5-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.
In dry conditions, the Kumho Ecsta 4X easily drove away from the rest of the group, feeling more like a summer than an all-season tire, with quick steering response and excellent traction. The General G-MAX AS-03 followed, providing very balanced overall handling. The Yokohama AVID ENVigor (W-Speed Rated) trailed the two leaders somewhat, displaying gentle understeer at the limit. Subjectively, the Ventus V4 ES H105 felt less responsive than the other three, but still provided direct communication of its capabilities to the driver, allowing our team to run lap times very close to several of the other tires in the test.
In the wet, the G-MAX AS-03 led the way thanks to a small advantage in ultimate traction along with being easy to control at the limit. The Ecsta 4X followed, again displaying excellent steering response along with good overall grip. The AVID ENVigor (W-Speed Rated) has a good amount of overall traction, but was hampered a bit by moderate understeer. Just as it had in the dry, the Ventus V4 ES H105 felt balanced, but lacked the ultimate grip to match the other three tires.
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 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.
During our test we found virtually no difference in observed fuel consumption among the group, with just 0.1 mile per gallon separating the best and worst, which would result in an annual difference of just over two gallons for drivers travelling 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.
General G-MAX AS-03 (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The G-MAX AS-03 is General Tire's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire developed for drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and high performance sedans looking for tires that suit their year-round driving needs. The G-MAX AS-03 is designed to combine ultra high performance handling with all-season traction in dry, wet and wintry conditions, even in light snow. Read more.
Hankook Ventus V4 ES H105 (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Ventus V4 ES H105 is Hankook's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sports coupes and performance sedans. The Ventus V4 ES H105 is designed to combine cutting-edge appearance with predictable handling, traction and control on dry and wet roads, as well as in occasional light snow. Read more.
Kumho Ecsta 4X (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Ecsta 4X (KU22) is Kumho's affordably priced Ultra High Performance All-Season tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and performance sedans who want to be able to forget about the weather forecast. The Ecsta 4X is designed to combine responsive handling, capable cornering and year-round traction to go in dry, wet and wintry conditions, even in light snow. Read more.
Yokohama AVID ENVigor (W-Speed Rated) (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Yokohama AVID ENVigor (W-Speed Rated) tire line includes W-speed rated Ultra High Performance All-Season radials developed to meet the year-round driving needs of sports car, coupe, sedan and crossover drivers by blending dry and wet road performance with all-season wintertime traction. AVID ENVigor (W-Speed Rated) tires are designed to combine performance, comfort and treadlife along with year-round traction, even on light snow-covered roads. Read more.