June 6, 2014
Continental PureContact w/EcoPlus Technology (Grand Touring All-Season, 215/60R16 95V)
Michelin Premier A/S (Grand Touring All-Season, 215/60R16 95V)
Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus (Grand Touring All-Season, 215/60R16 95V)
Premier adjective (\pri- 'mir)
: first in position, rank or importance*
Grand Touring All-Season tires are designed to deliver a blend of refined ride comfort, good traction and handling, long tread wear and all-season capability. That blend of characteristics makes it a popular choice for drivers, and a key category for the tire manufacturers. It's full of good choices, and brings high expectations from drivers who want the best from their tires. Michelin has set their sights on being the leader in the Grand Touring All-Season category, and has aptly named their latest tire Premier A/S.
Michelin tires have a reputation for delivering long wear and a smooth ride. They've designed the Premier A/S to build on that by emphasizing wet traction, and not just when new, but through the tire's life when wet performance traditionally falls off versus a new tire.
Premier A/S uses several new technologies to accomplish the goal. The foundation is a high-traction tread rubber compound, featuring extreme levels of silica and sunflower oil to aid wet and cold weather traction. Michelin has also found a way to mold the tread pattern in such a way that the main circumferential rain grooves get wider towards the base rather than narrower like in traditional tire designs. This helps minimize the restriction of water flowing through the tire footprint as the tread gets shallower. Premier A/S also has emerging grooves in the shoulder blocks that transition from a thin, slit-like sipe to an actual groove, also helping give water a place to go when the rest of the tread is getting shallower.
To find out how well Premier A/S drives and performs, we conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing it with the top three performers in the Grand Touring All-Season category - the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus, Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology and the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus. Our evaluation used 2014 BMW F30 328i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 215/60R16 tires mounted on 16x7.5 wheels.
Our 6.0-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.
Grand Touring All-Season tires are a treat to drive out on the road, thanks to their blend of comfortable and quiet ride and reassuring handling. Our team found the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus to be very smooth and quiet, absorbing bumps and expansion joints well and producing minimal tread pattern noise. The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity followed, also doing a nice job of cushioning the ride over rough and jarring sections of our route. The tread pattern is relatively quiet, but this tire did produce a bit more noise than the Pirelli when encountering larger impacts. The Michelin Premier A/S was also smooth-riding and relatively quiet, except when rolling over the cross-grooved concrete expressway section, where its tread pattern generated a hint of a distinctive tone discernable over the ambient noise from wind and surrounding traffic. Rounding out the group was the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology. The ride of the PureContact is very appropriate for a tire in the Grand Touring All-Season category, and is by no means harsh or stiff riding. It's just slightly firmer than the others when compared side-by-side.
The payback for the PureContact comes in the form of steering response and precision. This tire drives very well and follows driver inputs with exacting precision. Our team also liked the overall handling of the Premier A/S, thanks to its very stable feel when tracking straight ahead, which made coping with cross winds effortless. The Cinturato P7 All Season Plus and Turanza Serenity Plus both also handled well, feeling stable and predictable.
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.
On the track in dry conditions the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology felt the most stable and responsive, netting a small advantage in braking, cornering traction and overall lap time. The other three tires were similar in performance and tightly grouped, just a little behind the level of the PureContact.
In wet conditions we found a greater separation across the group, with the Premier A/S and PureContact providing very similar and high levels of overall traction and stability. Somewhat behind the lead pair was the Turanza Serenity Plus which felt stable, but with lower overall traction. Back another step was the Cinturato P7 All Season Plus, feeling somewhat slippery in comparison to the other tires in the test.
Winter weather is often unpredictable, and snow-covered roads change with every passing vehicle as they churn snow into slush or pack it down to polished ice. A constantly changing test surface makes side-by-side comparisons difficult, so we use a dedicated winter testing facility in Northern Sweden with acres of groomed snow that provides the consistency we need to get reliable acceleration and braking comparisons. This facility also has a prepared snow-handling course where we evaluate the stability and control of each tire during abrupt maneuvers. To simulate the icy conditions found at intersections or the black ice experienced out on the highway, we use ice at a local hockey rink and measure acceleration and braking traction.
The Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus delivered good snow traction and exhibited good control and stability during handling maneuvers. The Michelin Premier A/S also provided good snow and ice traction and handling. The Continental PureContact with Eco Plus Technology also performed well in the snow, but didn't have the cornering traction or handling balance of the Pirelli and Michelin tires. The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus lacked the snow traction to match the others, particularly under braking where it took just over 30 feet longer to stop from 20mph than the best tire in the test.
Our Real World Road Ride features a relatively flat 6.0-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 each tire approximately 400 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 Turanza Serenity Plus||31.1||482.3||-1.9%|
|Continental PureContact w/ Ecoplus Technology||31.4||477.7||-1.0%|
|Michelin Premier A/S||31.4||477.7||-1.0%|
|Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season||31.7||473.2||--|
|*Our evaluation used Linear Logic ScanGauge II automotive computers to record fuel consumption, and Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.|
Based on our results, the 0.6-mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of slightly more than 9 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $4.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of just under $37 for drivers driving 15,000 miles per 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.
After driving on all four tires it's easy to say it's a tight race for the top spot. Any one of these tires will deliver a nice driving experience out on the road. While we didn't have the ability to simulate worn tire performance, Michelin has put some new technology into the Premier A/S that should help it maintain it's strong wet weather performance over time. (See additional test results.) This tire also performs well in winter conditions. The Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology also focuses on delivering excellent traction in dry and wet conditions along with good snow traction. The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus strives to strike a balance across all areas, and delivers a good overall blend of three-season capability, but falls somewhat short in winter conditions. The Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus excels in providing a smooth and comfortable ride, along with test-leading winter traction, but doesn't have the wet traction to match the capability of the others.
Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus (Grand Touring All-Season): The Turanza Serenity Plus is Bridgestone's Grand Touring All-Season tire developed for drivers of mid-level and premium luxury coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles. Compared to its predecessor, the tire offers longer wear, greater snow traction and lower rolling resistance, which contributes to better vehicle fuel economy. Designed to provide Bridgestone's ultimate in luxury, elegance and comfort, Turanza Serenity Plus tires blend long wear with dry, wet and wintertime traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Continental PureContact w/EcoPlus Technology (Grand Touring All-Season): The PureContact with EcoPlus Technology is Continental's Grand Touring All-Season tire developed for the drivers of luxury performance sedans, sporty coupes and crossover vehicles. PureContact tires are designed to balance long wear, a comfortable ride and low rolling resistance with wet grip and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Michelin Premier A/S (Grand Touring All-Season): The Premier A/S is Michelin's Grand Touring All-Season tire developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans and minivans looking for tires that deliver category-leading wet grip when new and when worn. And even when worn, Premier A/S tires are designed to stop shorter on wet roads than leading competitors' brand-new tires, as well as provide all-season traction on wintry roads, even in light snow. Read more.
Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus (Grand Touring All-Season): The Cinturato P7 All Season Plus is Pirelli's Grand Touring All-Season tire designed for the drivers of touring and luxury touring cars looking for tires offering predictable handling, everyday comfort and all-season traction. Developed to be environmentally friendly, Pirelli's EcoImpact icons confirm the Cinturato P7 All Season Plus' contribution to the environment with regards to energy efficiency, clean air, low noise and long wear. Designed to be driven in America's diverse weather conditions, the Cinturato P7 All Season Plus features lower weight, less rolling resistance and reduced noise while enhancing wet braking and year-round traction, even in light snow. Read more.
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