May 22, 2015
Ultra High Performance All-Season tires are tuned to emphasize nimble handling, good traction in dry and wet conditions, and provide at least some wintertime traction along with reasonable tread life. For the driver who wants to enjoy the sporty nature of their performance car and needs one tire to serve their needs driving through all four seasons, Ultra High Performance All-Season tires are a logical choice.
This broad range of capabilities makes Ultra High Performance All-Season tires popular with driving enthusiasts, and a favorite target for the marketing department at most tire companies. It's fun to develop performance tires for an enthusiastic audience, and the wide range of often opposing performance targets makes developing a new UHP A/S tire an interesting design challenge for the development engineers.
After somewhat of a dry spell, BFGoodrich has recently stepped back into the Ultra High Performance All-Season category with the g-Force COMP-2 A/S. Styled to help stand out from the crowd, the COMP-2 A/S features a very aggressive directional tread pattern. BFG goes deeper than just good looks, using robust internal construction to provide a strong foundation along with a high-silica tread compound blended to deliver traction in wet and cold conditions.
Dunlop has also updated their offering with the new Signature HP. In comparison to the BFGoodrich tire, the Signature HP looks noticeably milder, with an asymmetric tread pattern. But like BFG, this Dunlop tire also packs plenty of technology on the inside with a high-performance all-season compound riding atop a stable and responsive internal structure.
To find out how well the BFGoodrich and Dunlop tires drive and perform, we conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing them with two popular options in the category, the General G-MAX AS-03 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.
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, all four tires in the test delivered responsive everyday handling. Among the group, our team praised the BFGoodrich g-Force COMP-2 A/S' quick steering response and connected feel through the steering wheel. The Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 also responded quickly to driver inputs, feeling light in the driver's hands and needing minimal effort to turn the steering wheel. The General G-MAX AS-03 responded quickly like the Hankook tire, but required a little added effort to turn the wheel. Rounding out the tightly bunched group was the Dunlop Signature HP which initiated turns quickly, but didn't have quite the connected feel of the other tires.
The payback for the Signature HP came in the form of a more compliant ride when encountering bumps. This tire did the best job absorbing the sharper bumps along our route. The COMP-2 A/S also did a good job softening the ride, as did the Ventus S1 noble2. The G-MAX AS-03 wasn't overly harsh riding, but did let more of each impact make its way to the driver.
The combination of tread pattern and impact noise levels were moderate for all four tires. Coming as somewhat of a surprise was the relative quiet from the g-Force COMP-2 A/S' aggressive directional tread pattern, which was rated as a close second behind the leading Signature HP. The Ventus S1 noble2 also rolled along in relative quiet. The blocky pattern of the G-MAX AS-03 did generate a steady growl heard as it rolled over smoother surfaces.
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 dry handling track, all four tires performed well with lap times spread across just over half a second and braking distances separated by a few feet. Among the group, the BFGoodrich g-Force COMP-2 A/S displayed very high overall grip levels combined with quick steering response, using both to turn the fastest lap time of the group. It's only challenge came towards the end of our five-cone slalom, where the multiple rapid transitions could unsettle the car. The Dunlop Signature HP felt like the best-sorted package for this activity, with good communication, precise handling and good stability during all maneuvers. If only it had a little more ultimate grip to hang on like the BFG tire did. The Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 drove much like the Dunlop, feeling very well tuned, easy to control and comfortable to drive at the limit. Not too far behind was the General G-MAX AS-03. Like the others, it showed quick steering response and good overall handling, but just didn't have quite the ultimate traction level of the others.
In wet conditions, the two newest tires led the group. Again the Signature HP felt composed, communicated very well and was easy to control at the limit. Very close behind was the g-Force COMP-2 A/S which had plenty of overall grip, but didn't feel quite as composed as the Dunlop tire in the slalom section of the course. The G-MAX AS-03 hung on with good grip but felt a bit edgy when reaching the limit. The Ventus S1 noble2 rounded out the group with confident handling, but at a slightly lower overall level of grip than the others.
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.
Traction in winter weather has typically been at a premium for most Ultra High Performance All-Season tires. But we're beginning to see a small but growing number of tires that are able to deliver at least reasonable snow traction, in addition to already good dry and wet performance. The BFGoodrich g-Force COMP-2 A/S is one of those tires, providing strong (for this category) snow acceleration and braking traction along with good handling. The General G-MAX AS-03 followed, providing good overall traction. Trailing noticeably were the Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 and Dunlop Signature HP, which took nearly 20' longer to stop from 25mph than the test-leading BFGoodrich tire.
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 COMP-2 A/S||29.4||510.2||-3.0%|
|Dunlop Signature HP||30.1||498.3||-1.0%|
|General G-MAX AS-03||29.9||501.7||-2.0%|
|Hankook Ventus S1 noble2||30.4||493.4||--|
|*Our evaluation used 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 moderate difference in observed vehicle fuel economy across the group. Based on our results, the 1.0 mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of almost 17 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $3.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of just over $50 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.
Steady evolution of new products in the Ultra High Performance All-Season category continues to raise the performance level ever higher, with the newest products feeling the most refined while also delivering the highest performance levels.
Among this test group, the two newest tires lead the pack with the sporty BFGoodrich g-Force COMP-2 A/S standing out thanks to high levels of overall dry and wet traction and surprisingly civilized road manners given its aggressive appearance. The Dunlop Signature HP may not look as flashy as the BFG tire, but does deliver excellent handling, traction and manners on the road. The Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 also drives well, but is being eclipsed by newer designs. General's G-MAX AS-03 does an admirable job, but as an older design it isn't quite as capable or refined as the latest options.
BFGoodrich g-Force COMP-2 A/S (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The g-Force COMP-2 A/S was developed for sports car, sporty coupe, performance sedan and modern muscle car driving enthusiasts looking for BFGoodrich's best Ultra High Performance All-Season tire yet. Significantly improving wet handling/braking and snow traction over its predecessor, the g-Force COMP-2 A/S is designed to Accelerate faster, Brake shorter and provide more Control in all seasons to deliver BFG's ABCs of Ultra High Performance All-Season driving, even in light snow. Read more.
Dunlop Signature HP (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Dunlop Signature HP tire line includes V- and W-speed rated Ultra High Performance All-Season radials developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and high-performance sedans who want to take command of their vehicle and experience the thrill of the road. Designed for drivers who love having both power and control at their fingertips, Signature HP tires are designed to combine a stylish design with all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
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 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.
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