August 26, 2016
February 10, 2017 (Winter Update)
You prefer the taut, sporty ride and responsive steering of a performance tire over something more touring-oriented, but you don't necessarily push your car to the limit of adhesion and aren't willing to accept the tradeoffs that come with an Ultra High Performance product. High Performance All-Season tires typically provide a more comfortable ride and longer tread life than their Ultra High Performance counterparts, and they often deliver superior traction in light snow, as well. If you like to have some fun behind the wheel, but consider your driving style to be somewhat lively as opposed to spirited, a High Performance All-Season tire may fit that need.
As part of an extensive revitalization of their passenger car lineup, Firestone recently introduced the High Performance All-Season Firehawk AS. To see how this new addition compares to some popular existing tires in the category, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive featuring the Firehawk AS, along with the Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season, Kumho Ecsta PA31 and Sumitomo HTR A/S P02. 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.
On the road, all four tires scored favorably with our testers. The Firestone Firehawk AS combined tight on-center steering feel and connected handling with a taut, yet forgiving ride to narrowly edge out the Kumho Ecsta PA31 for top honors. The Kumho had the most weight to its steering and a comfortable ride that had some slight reverberation after impacts. The directional pattern created a light tread growl, but it was unobtrusive and faded into the background. Sumitomo's HTR A/S P02 was a close third, with linear and responsive handling, a firm, performance-oriented ride and a noticeable whirring sound from the tread over nearly all road surfaces. The Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season rounded out the group with light and eager steering response and a broad, but relatively loud tone as it rolled down the road.
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.
This group of tires delivered remarkably similar results in our dry testing. The spread between the fastest and slowest average lap times was only two tenths of a second, lateral grip was virtually identical among the four tires, and a little over three feet separated the shortest and longest 50-0 mph stopping distances. The Firestone Firehawk AS was our testers' favorite, and the Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season stood out with its quick steering response, but all four tires delivered acceptable performances in the dry.
Testing on the wet track separated this group considerably. The Kumho Ecsta PA31 posted top marks in every category and laid down the fastest average lap by a significant .8 second margin. The Sumitomo HTR A/S P02 and Firestone Firehawk AS came next, with the Firestone providing a shorter average stopping distance from 50mph and greater lateral grip, but the Sumitomo was more adept at blending its abilities on the track, and as a result posted the faster average lap time and earned higher ratings from our team. At the back of the pack was the Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season, which demonstrated modest limits that could likely be reached while driving on the street in the rain.
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.
When it comes to getting moving or coming to a stop on snow, all four of the tires in this group delivered reasonable, and very similar, performance. Only a few feet separated shortest and longest among them. Cornering traction and controllability during our handling test showed a similar trend, with the Sumitomo HTR A/S P02 and Kumho Ecsta PA31 feeling a little superior to the Firestone and Goodyear tires.
When put to the test on ice, all four tires again performed similarly, and with only moderate traction, as is typical for all-season tires. None can match the ice traction of a dedicated winter 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 three stop signs every lap. Our team drove each tire 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|
|Firestone Firehawk AS||29.6||506.8||-3.4%|
|Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season||30.6||490.2||--|
|Kumho Ecsta PA31||29.1||515.5||-5.2%|
|Sumitomo HTR A/S P02||29.2||513.7||-4.8%|
|*Our evaluation used Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.|
Low rolling resistance and its impact on vehicle fuel economy can often play a role in the purchase decision for High Performance All-Season tires. Within this group we found a noticeable difference in observed vehicle fuel economy, with a 1.5 mile per gallon disparity between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy. This difference would result in an additional 25.3 gallons of premium gasoline used per year. At the current cost of $3.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of $75.90 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're looking for an added dose of sportiness for the daily drive but don't want to make some of the compromises that go along with an Ultra High Performance product, one of the four High Performance All-Season tires in our test could be just the ticket.
The Kumho Ecsta PA31 capitalized on its best-in-test wet performance to achieve a narrow victory. With a sporty nature, light snow performance that meets expectations and pleasing on-road behavior, the Kumho is a well-balanced option that delivers what we expect from a High Performance All-Season product. With athletic handling and a composed ride, the Firestone Firehawk AS received the highest marks for both the Road Ride and Dry Track portions of this test, and it demonstrated satisfactory capability in the snow, but its merely acceptable performance in the wet kept it out of the top spot. Sumitomo's HTR A/S P02 presented itself well, but didn't demonstrate any significantly positive or negative standout traits. The Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season was respectable in light snow, displayed eager steering response and delivered the fastest average lap around our dry track, but had the lowest wet performance by a considerable margin, which relegated it to fourth of four in this test.
Firestone Firehawk AS (High Performance All-Season): The Firehawk AS is Firestone's High Performance All-Season tire developed for drivers of performance sedans, sports cars and sporty coupes who desire performance handling in dry and wet conditions and want to be able to drive their vehicle all year, even in light snow. Read more.
Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season (H- or V-Speed Rated) (High Performance All-Season): Goodyear's Eagle Sport All-Season tire line includes H- and V-speed rated High Performance All-Season radials developed for the drivers of sports cars, coupes, sedans and performance-oriented light trucks looking to combine sporty handling with all-season traction. Eagle Sport All-Season tires are designed to offer drivers all-season versatility in dry and wet conditions with year-round traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Kumho Ecsta PA31 (High Performance All-Season): The Ecsta PA31 (Performance All-Season) is Kumho's High Performance All-Season tire developed for drivers of mid-level sports cars, sporty coupes and high-performance sedans looking to combine everyday street performance with treadwear. Designed to provide high performance handling in wet and dry conditions, the Ecsta PA31 delivers Kumho's unparalleled combination of ride comfort, low noise and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Sumitomo HTR A/S P02 (H- or V-Speed Rated) (High Performance All-Season): The Sumitomo HTR A/S P02 (High Tech Radial, All-Season, Premium 2nd Generation) tire line includes H- and V-speed rated High Performance All-Season radials developed to meet the year-round driving needs of sports car, sporty coupe and performance sedan drivers by blending dry and wet road performance with all-season wintertime traction. The HTR A/S P02 radials use Sumitomo's high-tech materials and manufacturing methods to blend high performance with all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
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