Tire Test Results

Testing Ultra High Performance All-Season Tires: Single-Focus Specialists or Well-Rounded Athletes?

August 9, 2014

Tires Tested

Continental ExtremeContact DWS (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 245/40R18 97Y)
  • What We Liked: Comfortable ride (for a UHP A/S tire) and good wet and winter traction
  • What We'd Improve: Sharpen steering response and tighten handling at the limit
  • Conclusion: An older tire that still satisfies most drivers' needs with enough performance and good overall traction
Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 245/40R18 97W)
  • What We Liked: Pretty good at most things
  • What We'd Improve: Increase wet and snow traction somewhat
  • Conclusion: Delivers good all-around ride and handling
Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 245/40R18 97W)
  • What We Liked: Reasonable road manners and impressive wet traction
  • What We'd Improve: Soften the edge of sharp impacts just a bit and add more winter performance
  • Conclusion: A very capable and well-rounded UHP All-Season tire for drivers who don't need strong winter traction
Yokohama ADVAN Sport A/S (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 245/40R18 97Y)
  • What We Liked: Responsive handling
  • What We'd Improve: Soften the ride somewhat and improve snow traction
  • Conclusion: This is a great choice if you want a tire that feels very responsive and nimble during the summer months

Vehicles Used

2014 BMW F30 328i Sedan

You drive a sporty coupe or sedan, want responsive handling along with good overall traction, and need one tire to do it all. Your tires need to help you enjoy the sporty nature of your car during warmer summer months, and still be able to cope with the cold, slush and light snow of winter weather. But even the implied promise of the do-everything world of Ultra High Performance All-Season tires doesn't settle on a single solution that works for every driver. In past tests we've found diversity in the personalities of the established options that are constantly challenged by a steady stream of new candidates vying for the top spot in the category and hoping to strike a chord with drivers.

One of the newest is the Yokohama ADVAN Sport A/S. In addition to a new and aggressive-looking tread pattern, the ADVAN Sport A/S features one of Yokohama's most advanced all-season tread compounds fortified with silica to enhance wet and winter traction. Also new is the Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus, which like the Yokohama, packs much of its performance-improving technology on the inside with new proprietary polymers and chemicals mixed into the tread rubber to enhance traction while also improving wear life.

To learn more about the personalities of these two new options, we conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing them with two other popular options in the Ultra High Performance All-Season category, the Continental ExtremeContact DWS and Hankook Ventus S1 noble2. Our evaluation used 2014 BMW F30 328i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 245/40R18 tires mounted on 18x8.0 wheels.

What We Learned on the Road

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.

Out on the road the differences were small, but the four tires in our test group exhibited individual traits. Our team rated the overall handling of the Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus as best, noting that its direct feel was in perfect sync with driver inputs. Also feeling very responsive was the Yokohama ADVAN Sport A/S, which turned with authority when given larger steering inputs. The Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 felt positive and direct, but without the reassuring feel of the Pirelli or urgency of the Yokohama. The Continental ExtremeContact DWS ranked fourth among the group, and certainly didn't respond as quickly as the others or feel as connected when driving straight ahead. But it still felt appropriate for the category; and its long-term popularity in our owner survey shows it's plenty good enough in the handling department.

On the flip side, the ExtremeContact DWS did the best job softening the bumps, potholes and sharp edge of expansion joints. The P Zero All Season Plus also felt surprisingly supple, somewhat to the contrary of the typical tradeoff in ride comfort that's expected to come with the nimble handling it displayed. The Ventus S1 noble2 proved adequate for the job without any harsh tendencies, but not quite as comfortable as the Continental and Pirelli tires. The ADVAN Sport A/S seemed to trade off a little ride comfort to get its responsive handling, feeling a little firm, but not objectionably so.

Overall noise levels were reasonable for all four tires. The ExtremeContact DWS generated a little bit of a distinctive tone when rolling across some surfaces, but produced minimal noise or boom when encountering impacts. Again the P Zero All Season Plus was right behind, generating minimal impact and tread noise. The ADVAN Sport A/S and Ventus S1 noble2 rounded out the group; both produced a little more cabin noise than the other tires.

What We Learned on the Test Track

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.

From a measured performance standpoint it was effectively a three-way tie for first with just a few feet and 2/100ths of a second in lap time separating the Yokohama ADVAN Sport A/S, Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 and Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus. The Yokohama displayed very direct steering and stable handling when driven at the limit. The Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus didn't feel as well anchored as the Yokohama, but had a great front/rear balance that paired good front end authority with rear stability that had both ends of the car working in unison during cornering and transitions. The Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 did a good job matching the pace of the Yokohama and Pirelli tires, hanging on with good traction and responsive handling. Like we've found in the past, the Continental ExtremeContact DWS has plenty of ultimate grip, but its internal design and tread pattern don't provide the anchoring stability found in the other tires, despite the fact that its lap time was within a few tenths of a second of the other three tires.

In the wet the P Zero All Season was clearly superior to the others, lapping our course over one second faster than the next quickest, and stopping the car in our 50-0 mph panic stop test a full 10' shorter than the next best tire. The softer handling of the ExtremeContact DWS wasn't a hindrance in the wet, as this tire held on to be the best of the rest following the strong performance of the Pirelli tire. The ADVAN Sport A/S trailed the Continental tire somewhat, feeling a bit edgy at breakaway, but displaying reasonably quick recovery once a slip or slide occurred. Rounding out the group was the Ventus S1 noble2, where it just didn't have the ultimate traction to match the grip of the other three tires.

Driving in Winter Conditions

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.

In a tire category known to offer modest levels of winter traction, the Continental ExtremeContact DWS continued to show it bucks the trend with relatively good overall traction and handling control (but still well below a dedicated winter tire, or even the best Touring All-Season tires). After that it's a three-way tie for next best, albeit at a considerably lower overall traction level than the ExtremeContact DWS. The Yokohama ADVAN Sport A/S held a very small advantage over the Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 and Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus tires.

Fuel Consumption Results

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.

Tire Test MPG* Gallons/Year
@ 15,000 Miles
% vs. Most Efficient
Continental ExtremeContact DWS 29.6 506.8 -0.34%
Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 29.7 505.1 --
Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus 29.7 505.1 --
Yokohama ADVAN Sport A/S 29.1 515.5 -2.06%
* 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 small difference in observed vehicle fuel economy across the group. 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 just over 10 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $3.50/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of about $35 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.

Summary

Ultra High Performance All-Season tires deliver plenty of handling, traction and control in dry and wet conditions. Overall the Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus does a great job striking a balance between responsive handling, reasonable ride and noise comfort, and very good dry and wet traction, but it falls well short of the best for winter traction. The Continental ExtremeContact DWS continues with its traditional balance of traction, comfort and handling and continues to lead the category in wintertime snow traction and handling. The newcomer Yokohama ADVAN Sport A/S leans a little away from the balanced approach, with a strong emphasis on handling and dry weather performance, with winter traction taking a lower priority. The Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 also offers a relatively balanced approach to comfort, traction and handling, but can't quite match the overall performance of the other tires in the test, and doesn't have the snow traction to come close to the best.

Product Details

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.

Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Ventus S1 noble2 (H452) is Hankook's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and performance sedans looking to combine on-road performance with all-season traction in dry wet and wintry conditions. Designed to provide Hankook's ideal ultra high performance all-season balance, the Ventus S1 noble2 blends handling and cornering performance with all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.

Pirelli P Zero All-Season Plus (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The P Zero All Season Plus is the Ultra High Performance All-Season member of Pirelli's P Zero tire family. Developed for driving enthusiasts behind the wheels of powerful sports cars, coupes and sedans looking for Pirelli prestige and year-round performance, the P Zero All Season Plus is designed to be driven in all seasons, even in light snow. Read more.

Yokohama ADVAN Sport A/S (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The ADVAN Sport A/S is Yokohama's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire developed for sports car, sporty coupe and luxury sedan drivers looking for year-round performance. Designed to offer smoother ride comfort for a more enjoyable drive, the ADVAN Sport A/S provides traction in dry, wet and wintry conditions, even light snow. Read more.

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