September 11, 2014
The life of most tires, even most performance tires, can be rather mundane. Our tires spend their life rolling along, mile after mile, transporting us to wherever we need to go. But sometimes things can get a little more interesting. Our cars (and the tires they ride on) can help melt away the weight of the world with a little driving fun. Maybe it's nothing more than taking the long way home to relax along your favorite back road. It might be a romp around the cloverleaf after work, or if you really want a change of scenery it could be a weekend autocross or HPDE event at the local track.
Regardless of which of these you call fun, today's Extreme Performance Summer tires may be just the thing to help you enjoy the thrills of your sports car, coupe or sedan, day in and day out. To keep pace with competitors and the ever-moving performance target for the category, we're seeing some brands make tweaks to existing products so they can take advantage of new compound or construction technology rather than risk falling behind while they develop a new clean-sheet design.
One of the newest of such evolutions is Hankook's Ventus R-S3 Version 2. Its predecessor, the original Ventus R-S3, was popular among autocrossers and pro drifting teams thanks to its good performance in the dry when up to optimal temperature. This tire proved to be rather specialized, however, as it didn't work quite as well as some of the competition in cooler temps or especially when running in the wet. The new Ventus R-S3 Version 2 aims to solve that. The change is in the form of a new tread compound designed to work better at lower temperatures, come up to full temperature a little faster, and improve wet traction. It otherwise shares the same internal construction and blocky directional tread pattern as the original (right down to the embossed flames).
Dunlop has taken a similar path, updating the tread compound of their Extreme Performance Summer tire. The original Direzza ZII proved to have a good performance envelope, working well in the dry and wet, but for Dunlop being good wasn't good enough. The new Direzza ZII Star Spec features a new tread compound formulated to increase mechanical grip through the way the rubber conforms to the pavement texture, plus provide quicker warm up and better ultimate dry performance than its predecessor. Minor internal changes help further by improving the pressure distribution across the tire's footprint.
To see how well the Hankook and Dunlop evolutions work, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive, comparing them with the BFGoodrich g-Force Rival and Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R. Our evaluation used 2014 BMW F30 328i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 245/40R18 tires mounted on 18x8.0 wheels.
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.
Our day for dry track testing couldn't have been better, with mostly sunny skies, a light breeze and ambient temperatures ranging from the low-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit. When you look at the performance numbers, it's hard to say there is a bad tire or significant difference among the group. Lap times were spread by only 2/10ths of a second across the four tires, and measured stopping distance varied by less than 3 feet.
The Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec produced the quickest lap time and was the subjective favorite. This tire really turns down to the apex, thanks to very direct and linear steering response combined with powerful lateral grip. The BFGoodrich g-Force Rival showed strong cornering traction and a relatively forgiving nature, but didn't quite have the precision of the Dunlop. Subjectively, the Hankook Ventus R-S3 Version 2 ranked third behind the Dunlop and BFGoodrich tires, held back slightly by its lower lateral grip and less precision during rapid transitions. The Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R lapped our track slightly faster than the Hankook tire, but from behind the wheel it didn't have the forgiving nature or precise feel of the other tires.
Wet performance is not the top priority for Extreme Performance Summer tires, but it can be a tiebreaker if wet roads or running a track event or autocross is a possibility rain or shine. This time around our test format afforded us an interesting look at how wet performance is affected by temperature. Our wet track testing was done with the same tires driven on two separate days, a week apart, with vastly different ambient temperature.
Despite the warm weather, our sprinkler system had no trouble keeping up, with a steady sheen visible across all parts of the track and water spray visible behind the tires as the car made its way around the course. This felt like what you might get during an afternoon rain on a warm day.
In warm conditions, the Hankook Ventus R-S3 Version 2 stood out with strong performance and good overall grip. Also doing well on the warm day was the Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R, which repeated its display of controllability and good wet traction found the last time we tested it. The Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec felt adequate, but under these conditions could not match the grip of the Hankook and Yokohama tires. The g-Force Rival didn't have the traction to match the others, feeling edgy as it reached the limit.
Gray skies and cool temperatures made the day feel more like late spring or early fall, rather than the middle of summer.
On this cool day the overall performance and feel of the Direzza ZII Star Spec changed very little from what we found on the warm day, lapping our track within 2/10ths of a second of its performance in warmer conditions. The good grip and feel of the ADVAN Neova AD08 R from the warm day was mostly absent when conditions were cooler, as it struggled somewhat to provide the stable handling and progressive feel found on the warmer day. The biggest surprise was in the performance of the Ventus R-S3 Version 2, as it transitioned from being composed and stable on the warm day to feeling rather skittish and edgy to control when ambient temperatures were lower. The g-Force Rival was essentially unphased by the swing in daytime temperature during our testing, performing basically the same on both days, and like before, it provided relatively low overall grip with somewhat abrupt breakaway characteristics.
It's important to note these are the results of just two data points with ambient temperature separated by some 30 degrees. We didn't have the opportunity to test at various points in between, and it may be erroneous to assume the changes in performance are linear across this temperature spread. Please take these two data points as just that.
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.
Extreme Performance Summer tires are meant for the street, too, so how livable they are during everyday driving also matters to many drivers. Even driving with surrounding traffic, the light handling characteristics of Extreme Performance Summer tires can be best described as eager. All four tires in our group respond to even the smallest inputs with immediacy and precision. The BFGoodrich g-Force Rival and Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec led the group by a small margin in that regard, with the Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R close behind. A small step back was the Hankook Ventus R-S3 Version 2, which wasn't quite as crisp on initial response as the others.
On the flip side, the Hankook tire did the best job softening the bumps (albeit with a relatively firm overall ride that comes with all tires in the category). The Yokohama and BFGoodrich tires were close behind, both giving a slightly more apparent thump when driving over sharper bumps. The Dunlop rounded out the group feeling firmer than the others.
The blocky, aggressive tread patterns of all four tires produced a fair amount of overall tread noise, while their stiff internal structures helped create plenty of impact noise, too. But here again the Ventus R-S3 Version 2 led the group with the lowest overall noise level, while the ADVAN Neova AD08 R and g-Force Rival closely followed. The Direzza ZII Star Spec stood out from the others, generating the most noise of the group, particularly from its tread which produced a constant whir heard at all speeds.
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|
|BFGoodrich g-Force Rival||29.1||515.5||--|
|Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec||27.5||545.5||-5.8%|
|Hankook Ventus R-S3 Version 2 (Z222)||28.5||526.3||-2.1%|
|Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R||28.3||530.0||-2.8%|
|*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 low rolling resistance is not normally a high priority for Extreme Performance Summer tires, we did find a difference in observed vehicle fuel economy across the group. Based on our results, the 1.6 mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of 30 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $3.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of $90 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.
If you want to push your tires to the limit, Extreme Performance Summer tires deliver track-capable dry grip and handling while also possessing the modest wet weather traction and tolerable road manners many performance enthusiasts can live with every day.
The Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec is perhaps the most singularly focused tire in the group, providing impressive dry and wet traction and handling at the expense of ride comfort and noise levels out on the road. The BFGoodrich g-Force Rival strikes more of a balance between road manners and ultimate dry performance, but seems to give up wet traction to get there. The Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R is a solid performer in all areas, but doesn't quite match the strengths of the Dunlop and BFGoodrich tires. The Hankook Ventus R-S3 Version 2 is another tire that delivers solid performance, but somehow its change from the original version may have traded a little ultimate dry performance to achieve its test-leading road manners.
BFGoodrich g-Force Rival (Extreme Performance Summer): The g-Force Rival is BFGoodrich's Extreme Performance Summer tire developed for sports car, muscle machine and pro-touring car driving enthusiasts who want their tires to turn heads on the street and lower lap times at the track. Created with razor-sharp reflexes, the g-Force Rival is designed to raise the limits by delivering extreme grip that's extremely predictable. However, like all summer tires, it is not intended to be driven through snow, on ice or in near-freezing temperatures. Read more.
Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec (Extreme Performance Summer): The Direzza ZII Star Spec is Dunlop's Extreme Performance Summer tire developed for serious sports car, sports coupe and performance sedan enthusiasts looking for race tire-like traction on the street or for use in autocross, drifting and track events. As an evolution of the Direzza ZII and continuing to use the same tread design, the Direzza ZII Star Spec's tread compound helps provide faster lap times from the start by developing more traction in temperate temperatures along with consistent grip on subsequent laps when the tires are fully warmed up. While this means the Direzza ZII Star Spec's tread compound accommodates a wider operating temperature range, it is not intended to be stored or driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.
Hankook Ventus R-S3 Version 2 (Z222) (Extreme Performance Summer): Ventus R-S3 Version 2 (Z222) Extreme Performance Summer tires were developed for serious sports car, sports coupe and performance sedan enthusiasts looking for race-minded street tires that can also meet the demands of autocross, drifting and track events. Designed to further reduce the performance gap between street and track tires, the Ventus R-S3 Version 2, like all summer tires, is not intended to be driven through snow, on ice or in near-freezing temperatures. Read more.
Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 R (Extreme Performance Summer): The ADVAN Neova AD08 R (R for new Revolution in street tire tread compounding) is Yokohama's Extreme Performance Summer tire developed to excite sports car, sports coupe and performance sedan enthusiasts who have a passion for fast and fun driving. ADVAN Neova AD08 R is designed to increase grip and improve handling on dry and wet roads. However, like all Extreme Performance Summer tires, it is not intended to be exposed to sub-freezing temperatures, snow nor ice. Read more.
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