Tire Test Results

The Evolution Continues in Extreme Performance Summer

June 23, 2017

Tires Tested

BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5 (Extreme Performance Summer, 245/40R18 93V)
  • What We Liked: Huge lateral grip, set the fastest average dry lap time.
  • What We'd Improve: Steering still isn't quite as sharp as the best, struggles in the wet.
  • Conclusion: Small changes made a big improvement here.
Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R (Extreme Performance Summer, 245/40R18 97W)
  • What We Liked: Brilliant steering, best-in-test dry and wet braking.
  • What We'd Improve: The ride is stiff and the tread pattern creates a lot of noise.
  • Conclusion: Took top honors, but the competition has closed the gap.
Hankook Ventus R-S4 (Extreme Performance Summer, 245/40R18 93W)
  • What We Liked: Exhibited the least amount of wear after track testing by a large margin.
  • What We'd Improve: Could use a bump in wet traction. Fades into the background despite the impressive performance.
  • Conclusion: An excellent choice for low-buck endurance racing.
Nexen N FERA SUR4G (Extreme Performance Summer, 245/40R18 93Y)
  • What We Liked: Gave a strong showing in both the dry and the wet.
  • What We'd Improve: Creates a disconnected feeling between the front and rear axles, sounds like an off-road tire.
  • Conclusion: A significant step above its predecessor.

Vehicles Used

2017 BMW F36 430i Gran Coupe

Racing has always been a proving ground for automotive technology. The fierce competition of motorsports breeds ingenuity, and the cutting-edge technology developed there often makes its way, in one form or another, into the products driven on the street. Extreme Performance Summer tires utilize many of the strategies learned through racing competition, and their performance continues to evolve closer to the levels delivered by true motorsports tires. It's survival of the fittest in the Extreme Performance Summer ecosystem, and the small fish in the pond continue to adapt and evolve to avoid being eaten and hopefully reach the top of the food chain.

BFGoodrich's g-Force Rival S 1.5 is an adaptation of its predecessor, the g-Force Rival S. Utilizing the same tread pattern, compound and construction materials, the g-Force Rival S 1.5 features a revised assembly process, with the goal of improved steering response compared to the original version.

The Hankook Ventus R-S4 evolved from the Ventus R-S3, and aside from a passing resemblance, the new tire is a clean-sheet design. With internal construction designed for handling response and durability, a high-grip tread compound and expansive shoulders to generate lateral force during high-speed cornering, the Ventus R-S4 has the right ingredients to be a serious competitor in the category.

Falling somewhere between the other two in terms of an evolutionary scale, the Nexen N FERA SUR4G maintains the same internal construction as its ancestor, the N FERA SUR4, but features a slightly modified tread pattern and a new compound designed to improve wet and dry performance in addition to coming up to temperature faster.

The Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R is the current apex predator in the category, so to see if these new releases have what it takes to survive, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing all four tires. Our evaluation used 2017 BMW F36 430i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 245/40R18 tires mounted on 18x8 wheels.

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.

Extreme Performance Summer tires represent the highest level of performance for true street tires, and they have become the default choice for autocross, SCCA Track Night in America events, time attack and grassroots endurance racing. For the last few years, the Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R has been the dominant performer, but our dry track results indicate the competition has caught up. With only fifteen hundredths of a second separating the slowest and fastest average lap times, what is ultimately fastest for you may vary based on your vehicle set-up, driving style and personal preferences.

While the Potenza RE-71R was a tenth of a second behind the BFGoodrich in average dry lap times, it was our team's subjective favorite thanks to its crisp steering response, balanced handling and excellent grip, both longitudinally and laterally. The BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5's new-found front end feel, combined with its incredible grip, allowed it to set the fastest average lap time and tie with the Bridgestone for the highest lateral g-forces around the skid pad. Its ability to put the power down when exiting turns meant speed built rapidly, but a slight tendency toward understeer made it essential to adequately slow the vehicle before the next corner entry. The Ventus R-S4 essentially tied the Bridgestone in terms of average lap times. The absolute limits were lower in the Hankook, but it is a nicely balanced package that puts everything together well, so it was easy to drive quickly. An observation that could be important for endurance racers is the Hankook was the hands-down winner in terms of wear, exhibiting what appeared to be less than half the wear of the other tires in the group by the end of our testing. The upgraded performance of the N FERA SUR4G was a welcome surprise, and when considering outright performance, this new tire is in the hunt. The steering has an unusual elastic feel to it, but it doesn't hinder forward progress, as evidenced by the Nexen's fastest average time through the slalom. Braking was another strong suit for the Nexen, with 50-0 stopping distances less than a foot behind the best-in-test Bridgestone.

The RE-71R led the way both objectively and subjectively in the wet, exhibiting high limits that were easily approachable and gentle breakaway if those limits were exceeded. The N FERA SUR4G surprised again with its impressive wet traction, posting the highest skid pad numbers and average lap times that were less than .4 second behind the Bridgestone. The steering exhibited the same elastic sensation in the wet, and while it made the tire a little difficult to read, it never upset the overall balance of the car. The g-Force Rival S 1.5 was a small step back objectively, thanks to the low water depth on our track. While the tire's wet traction is quite strong, its tread pattern struggles to evacuate water from beneath the contact patch, which makes it susceptible to hydroplaning when there is standing water. The majority of our track is simply wet, with no puddling, and in these conditions the BFGoodrich was capable, if a little vague. It was difficult to build confidence in the tire, however, due to the anticipation of encountering an area with slightly deeper water. The Ventus R-S4 struggled somewhat in the wet, with lower levels of grip than the rest of the group and an edginess at the limit that made it slightly intimidating to push the tire to the max.

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.

While many drivers are aware of the tradeoffs associated with Extreme Performance Summer tires, those new to performance driving should know what to expect in the way of compromises for the amazing capabilities tires of this type possess.

The BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5 received the highest subjective score on our road ride. Its ride quality was quite firm, but found relative favor amongst our testers. Similarly, the g-Force Rival S 1.5 is loud, but not as intrusive and without the variety of noise created by the other tires in the group. Its light handling was praised for being direct, linear and responsive but lacked weight and was a little twitchy on-center. The Potenza RE-71R owes its second-place finish to its amazing steering feel and perfectly linear build-up of effort, which earned it the highest score in the handling portion of the road ride. The Bridgestone's ride quality is stiff, and the tread creates a cacophony of noise over a variety of surfaces that floods the cabin with sound. Sound was a concern for the Ventus R-S4 as well, due to the high-pitched whirring emitted from the tread pattern. The ride was firm, and the response to steering inputs built in an unnatural way, feeling slightly unresponsive on-center and then ramping up exponentially as more steering was added. Nexen's N FERA SUR4G was arguably the loudest tire in the test, creating a drone that sounds very much like a mud tire on the road. Its ride quality was appropriately firm for the category, and the elastic-like steering feel hurt its handling score, though only relative to the others, as all the tires in the test scored very well in light handling.

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 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.

Tire Test MPG* Gallons/Year
@ 15,000 Miles
% vs. Most Efficient
BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5 27.2 551.5 -.37%
Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R 27.3 549.5 --
Hankook Ventus R-S4 27.2 551.5 -.37%
Nexen N FERA SUR4G 26.9 557.6 -1.49%
*Our evaluation used Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.

Low rolling resistance is rarely a consideration when discussing Extreme Performance Summer tires, and we recorded only a slight difference in observed vehicle fuel economy. The .4 mile per gallon disparity between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an additional 8.1 gallons of premium gasoline used per year. At the current cost of $3.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of $24.30 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

Tire technology continues to evolve, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the top levels of motorsports. Extreme Performance Summer tires are the street tires most closely related to true race tires, so they are the first to benefit from trickle-down technology. And each successive generation produces new adaptations and new strategies to achieve the ultimate goal of speed.

The Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R presents an amazing package on track, with huge grip in every direction, wonderful balance and steering precision that is second to none. Ride and noise comfort were obviously low on the priority list during the tire's development, and it may no longer be the overdog it once was in terms of outright lap times in the dry, but it is definitely a go-to choice for any enthusiast with track or autocross time in their future. The BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5 makes a strong case for its consideration with the fastest-in-test dry lap times and reasonable comfort on the road, though hydroplaning resistance is a weak point, and some may be put off by its tendency to understeer. In an interesting twist for an Extreme Performance Summer tire test, the Nexen N FERA SUR4G's strong wet performance helped it secure third place. This test's dry slalom champion produces fast laps in the dry or wet, but has an unnatural elasticity to its steering feel and is intrusively loud on the road. Hankook's Ventus R-S4 wears remarkably well during high performance use, even while setting lap times very close to the fastest in the test, but a weak performance in the wet and relatively low subjective dry track scores relegate it to fourth of four in this comparison.

Product Details

BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S 1.5 (Extreme Performance Summer): The g-Force Rival S 1.5 is BFGoodrich's Extreme Performance Summer tire developed for sports car, performance sedan and sports coupe driving enthusiasts who want their tires tuned to lower their run times in solo, autocross, time attack and hill climb events. The g-Force Rival S 1.5 is designed to raise the limits by delivering extreme grip that's extremely predictable, with improved handling response over its predecessor. However, like all Extreme Performance Summer tires, it is not intended to be serviced, stored nor driven in near- and below-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.

Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R (Extreme Performance Summer): The Potenza RE-71R is an Extreme Performance Summer tire developed for serious sports car, sports coupe and performance sedan driving enthusiasts looking for Bridgestone's fastest DOT-legal street radial. Starting with a clean-sheet approach and a virtual slick tread, all of the design features were fine-tuned to maximize performance, traction, handling and control. Performance-tuned for dry and damp conditions, the Potenza RE-71R, like all Extreme Performance Summer tires, are not intended to be serviced, stored or driven in near- and below-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.

Hankook Ventus R-S4 (Extreme Performance Summer): The Ventus R-S4 (Z232) is Hankook's Extreme Performance Summer tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sports coupes and performance sedans looking for near-motorsports levels of grip for track events, autocross and drifting in a tire that can be driven on the street. Like all summer tires, the Ventus R-S4 is not intended to be serviced, stored nor driven in near- and below-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.

Nexen N FERA SUR4G (Extreme Performance Summer): The N FERA SUR4G is Nexen's competition-proven Extreme Performance Summer tire developed for serious sports car, sports coupe and performance sedan driving enthusiasts looking for race tire-like traction on the street or for use in drifting, autocross and track events. Tuned for maximum performance in warm dry and damp conditions, the N FERA SUR4G is not intended to be serviced, stored nor driven in near- and below-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Read more.

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