August 03, 2012
Can Ultra High Performance All-Season tires really do it all?
In the do-it-all world we live in today, it's no surprise that many drivers of sporty coupes and performance sedans want a single tire that can do everything: provide reasonable road manners for the commute to work, responsive handling when a back road blast beckons, and even winter weather traction through slush and light snow. And while not really specializing in any one of these areas, today's Ultra High Performance All-Season tires represent the jack-of-all-trades in the performance tire world, working hard to deliver the blend of capability these drivers are asking for.
And just as evolution has made the cars, smart phones and other gadgets of our do-it-all world work better, Ultra High Performance All-Season tires as a group have improved, too. To find out how some of the best and newest drive, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position, Continental ExtremeContact DWS, Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season and Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season tires. Our evaluation used 2012 BMW F30 328i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 245/40R18 tires mounted on 18x8.0" 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 liked the refined steering feel of the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position, which felt responsive and direct without being edgy or nervous. The overall handling of the Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season was a very close second, also feeling direct and intuitive. The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season provided the most responsive steering control with an edgier feel than the Bridgestone and Pirelli tires. Handling of the Continental ExtremeContact DWS was reasonable, but not as crisp and precise as the others. Known to deliver good winter traction, the aggressive tread pattern of this tire likely trades off a little handling for improved winter capability.
The softer handling of the ExtremeContact DWS did pay back in better ride quality, as this tire was able to do a good job rounding off the edges of sharp bumps and expansion joints. The Potenza RE970AS Pole Position felt taut and well controlled, while the P Zero Nero All Season rode a little better over the smaller impacts, but felt a little firmer when encountering bigger hits from patched potholes and over broken pavement. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season rounded out the group with overall ride quality that was a bit firmer than the other three tires in our test.
The overall noise level of the ExtremeContact DWS was reasonably low with only a very faint whirr from the tread pattern at moderate speeds and minimal impact noise. The Potenza RE970AS Pole Position and P Zero Nero All Season both also did a good job minimizing tread pattern noise. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season wasn't found to be loud, but did generate a bit more impact noise and tread pattern volume than the others.
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.
Using lap time as an indicator would show all four tires are very similar with just 0.3 second separating the group, but when rated subjectively there are some appreciable differences. Coming in fourth in lap time the Potenza RE970AS Pole Position was the easiest to control and praised for its stable handling and sure-footed feel when driven at the limit. The handling of the ExtremeContact DWS felt predictable and easy to drive during abrupt maneuvers, but wasn't as responsive as the others. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric showed it has the ability to be quick, using its urgent steering response and good ultimate grip to post the fastest single lap and missing the fastest average by just 5/100ths of a second. The P Zero Nero All Season had the fastest average lap time in the test, thanks to its nimble handling in rapid transitions. However, this tire's willingness to change direction quickly also made it feel a little edgy for some drivers.
As we often find, wet conditions usually show a greater separation across the group. Such was the case this time where the Potenza RE970AS Pole Position held a clear advantage over the others. The stable handling we found in the dry carried over to the wet, along with very good overall traction. The ExtremeContact DWS was the best of the rest with stable and predictable handling and only moderately less ultimate grip than the Bridgestone tire. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season showed similar ultimate traction to the Continental tire, but didn't have quite the same level of predictability at the limit. The P Zero Nero All Season rounded out the group with noticeably lower overall traction than the others.
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|
|Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position||30.0||500.0||-4.67%|
|Continental ExtremeContact DWS||31.1||482.3||-0.96%|
|Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season||31.4||477.7||--|
|Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season||31.0||483.9||-1.29%|
|*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 1.4 mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of just over 22 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $4.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of about $89 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.
Winter weather is often unpredictable, and road conditions can change so fast that it's hard to know what waits for you around the next corner. For consistency, our snow testing is done at a dedicated winter test facility in Northern Sweden, and ice testing is done at a local hockey rink to simulate the glare ice often found at intersections and in other high traffic areas. We measure each tire's ability to accelerate and brake in both conditions, as well as gather subjective ratings of how each tire feels from the driver's seat while driving through several inches of groomed snow on a handling course.
Snow Handling Subjective Impressions: The Continental ExtremeContact DWS proved why it has earned a strong reputation for having very good snow traction, as it felt composed and very competent in the snow. Not far behind was the Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season which also impressed our drivers. The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season provided reasonable handling and traction but couldn't match the composure of the Continental and Pirelli tires. Rounding out the group was the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position, which struggled to get moving and once rolling was hard to get slowed sufficiently for the upcoming turn.
NOTE: During our ice braking test, the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position did not have enough traction to get up to sufficient speed within the space of the ice rink, or generate sufficient deceleration force to consistently trigger our Vericom VC2000 braking computer. Results are estimated from the limited data we were able to capture during the test.
As a group these Ultra High Performance All-Season tires do a pretty good job when it comes to dry and wet roads. We're looking forward to conducting snow and ice testing in the coming winter season to find out if they really can do it all.
The Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position continues to set the "three-season" standard for the Ultra High Performance All-Season category with an excellent blend of handling, road manners and overall dry and wet traction. But this tire falls well short of the other tires when it comes to wintertime traction. The Continental ExtremeContact DWS also delivers a great blend of road and track manners, and also provides very good traction in the snow. Goodyear's Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season is one of the most responsive tires in the category, while offering adequate winter weather traction. The Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season rounds out the group with reasonable ride and handling, along with good snow traction. But it doesn't seem to have quite the wet traction we remember from past tests, however.
Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Potenza RE970AS Pole Position is Bridgestone's flagship Ultra High Performance All-Season tire developed for drivers looking to combine high speed capability with all-season traction for sophisticated sports cars, sporty coupes and high performance sedans. The Potenza RE970AS Pole Position is designed to provide predictable handling, traction and control on dry and wet roads, as well as in light snow. Read more.
Continental ExtremeContact DWS (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The ExtremeContact DWS (DWS for Dry, Wet & Snow) is Continental's Ultra High Performance All-Season radial developed for drivers of sports cars, sports coupes, performance sedans and sport trucks. The ExtremeContact DWS is designed to satisfy their year-round driving needs by blending dry and wet road performance with light snow and slush traction. Read more.
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season is Goodyear's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and powerful performance sedans who want to enjoy driving their cars any time of the year. It is designed to meet challenging road conditions with confidence-inspiring all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The P Zero Nero All Season is Pirelli's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire designed to provide all-season traction and handling. It was developed for drivers who operate their vehicles in America's various weather conditions, including in light snow. Read more.
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