November 12, 2004
Fuzion is a new tire brand, developed by Bridgestone, who has been manufacturing tires for over 70 years. By combining performance from Bridgestone's proven tire technologies with new styling and marketing techniques, the Fuzion brand is aimed at meeting the needs of today's sport compact car, sports car and sport truck driving enthusiasts and tuners who expect their tires to deliver performance along with style and value.
The first product released with the Fuzion brand name is the Fuzion ZRi, an Ultra High Performance Summer tire. To get a better understanding of how the Fuzion ZRi performs, Tire Rack Team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive to compare the ZRi with the Avon Tech M500 and Yokohama AVS ES100 Ultra High Performance Summer tires. The Avon Tech M500 is an attractively priced and recent release in the category, while the Yokohama AVS ES100 has become a popular choice with the styling and performance to attract drivers in the tuner performance market. Our comparison used 2003 BMW 330Ci coupes, with 225/45R17 tires mounted on 17x8.0" wheels, which is a common Plus Zero size upgrade from BMW's Original Equipment tire size (205/50R17 on 17x7.0" wheels). Also, our evaluation used new, full tread depth tires.
We also included a fourth 2003 BMW 330Ci fitted with the Original Equipment 205/50R17 Goodyear Eagle RS-A High Performance All-Season tires mounted on factory 17x7.0" wheels. We have included this vehicle/tire combination in other tire evaluations, and have found it helpful to have an OE-equipped vehicle in the test, to evaluate how installing the other products impacts the vehicle's ride and handling characteristics.
The Goodyear Eagle RS-A is a High Performance All-Season tire produced with several speed ratings and in a wide variety of sizes. Its design is heavily influenced by its use as an Original Equipment tire by BMW, Volkswagen, General Motors, Chrysler and others. The Eagle RS-A features a subtle asymmetric tread design with larger tread elements in the outside shoulder intended to deliver more responsive handling, cornering, and steering. Smaller tread blocks on the inside shoulder combined with wide tread and lateral grooves are intended to enhance wet and snow traction.
Out on the road, the Eagle RS-A exhibited good road manners. Overall handling felt sporty but not nimble, while ride comfort and road noise both scored well with our team. This combination delivered a nice blend of comfort and performance, and helped illustrate why many vehicle manufacturers select the Eagle RS-A for Original Equipment fitment.
On the test track in the dry, the Eagle RS-A delivered handling that was appropriate for a tire in the High Performance All-Season tire category. But its all-season tread pattern and compound, combined with the narrower size just could not match the handling of the other three, more performance-oriented, summer tires in this test.
Under wet conditions, the Eagle RS-A has always performed well when compared with other All-Season tires, but was again at a disadvantage to some of the Ultra High Performance Summer tires in this evaluation. The higher-grip summer tread compounds and performance-oriented construction aided the other tires, relegating the all-season Eagle RS-A to the fourth place spot.
The Tech M500 is the Ultra High Performance Summer tire member of AVON Tyres' family of Tech performance tires. The attractively priced Tech M500 is designed to deliver confidence to the drivers of sports cars, sports coupes and performance sedans by providing traction, handling and control in dry and wet road conditions.
On the outside, the Tech M500 molds a silica-enhanced summer tread compound into an asymmetric, five-rib tread design to increase the tread rigidity of the outer half of the tire and help it resist deformation, thus increasing traction, steering response and cornering stability. The tread design's continuous center rib provides constant rubber-to-road contact to enhance straight line tracking while reducing noise levels. The width and location of the four wide circumferential grooves blend dry road performance with wet weather traction and hydroplaning resistance.
On the inside, the Tech M500 features twin steel belts reinforced by spirally wrapped nylon, along with a carcass that sandwiches a hard sidewall filler between polyester cord plies to help resist distortion at high speeds and while cornering.
Driving around our Real World Road Ride route, the Tech M500 delivered a good blend of performance and comfort. With a modest trade-off in road handling, there was a noticeable gain in ride and noise comfort versus the other two Ultra High Performance tires used in this evaluation. Compared to the Original Equipment comparison tire, the Tech M500 did feel a bit firmer over the bumps and expansion joints and generated some additional tread noise, as was expected, but it also delivered an improvement in handling over the OE tire.
On the dry handling course, the Tech M500 was quicker around the test track than its subjective feel would have led you to believe. The handling and steering response characteristics noticed on the road carried over to the track, where the Tech M500 did not feel quite as crisp as the other two Ultra High Performance Summer tires in this test. Our team found the Tech M500 required a little more steering input to negotiate the sharper turns or carve a tight line around the skid pad circle. But in the end, the Avon Tech M500 did prove to be fast, lapping our test course less than 0.1 second behind the first-place tire.
In wet conditions on the track, the Tech M500 felt well-connected and was easy to drive. Overall handling was well-balanced and without excessive understeer or oversteer. Accelerating around the 90° turn one into the slalom portion was easy, and the Tech M500 felt locked-in while holding a tight line around the skid pad. This combination provided greater driver confidence and faster lap times than the other three tires in this test.
The Fuzion brand has been introduced to meet the needs of sport compact car, sports car and sport truck driving enthusiasts and tuners. The first product to carry the Fuzion name is the Fuzion ZRi, an Ultra High Performance Summer tire that combines advanced UNI-T technology with affordable pricing.
UNI-T technologies focus on three primary tire components, the beads, casing and tread, which combine to influence overall performance while enhancing comfort, handling and traction. The Fuzion ZRi molds a Long Link Carbon (an advanced form of carbon black) and a silica-reinforced tread compound into an aggressive, directional tread design to enhance dry traction that also evacuates water from between the tire's contact patch and the road to improve wet grip and reduce the possibility of hydroplaning. Internally, the Fuzion ZRi's casing and twin steel belts deliver responsive handling and cornering stability. The steel belts are reinforced with spirally wound nylon to provide high-speed durability while minimizing weight and maximizing ride qualities. Rim Guard rubber ridges on its lower sidewalls function as rim protectors to help protect wheels from curb damage.
During our drive around the road loop surrounding our Indiana headquarters, the Fuzion ZRi felt sporty and ready to attack your favorite cloverleaf or twisty stretch of back roads. Overall road handling was a little softer than the Yokohama AVS ES100, but still felt well connected and provided linear steering response. Ride quality was subtly better than the Yokohama, but could not absorb the impacts as well as the Avon Tech M500. The Fuzion ZRi produced several subtle, but distinct pitches of tread noise as the vehicle slowed down to a stop.
Under dry conditions on the test track, the Fuzion ZRi delivered stable handling that was easy to read, helping the driver reach for the handling limits. Steering feel was not quite as crisp as the Yokohama AVS ES100, but was linear, delivering a constant increase in cornering as more steering input was dialed in, right up until the limit. The Fuzion ZRi felt very stable and "locked in" around the skidpad portion of the track, posting the highest level of lateral g's of this test.
In the wet, the Fuzion ZRi felt comfortable and composed. The ZRi did not turn in quite as quickly as the AVS ES100, but provided a nice balance between responsiveness and overall traction. In the end, the overall grip level and lap times were not quite able to keep up with the Avon Tech M500, however.
The AVS ES100 radial is Yokohama's Ultra High Performance Summer tire designed for drivers of sports cars, coupes and sedans. The AVS in the AVS ES100 radial's name identifies that this tire is a member of Yokohama's Advanced Vehicle System flagship family of performance tires.
On the outside, the AVS ES100 features a high-tech silica tread compound molded into a directional tread design with long tread blocks and a continuous center rib to provide traction, responsive handling, and high-speed stability. Its two, wide circumferential center channels and "high angle" lateral tread grooves effectively pump water to the sides of the tire's footprint to enhance wet traction and minimize hydroplaning. Internally, the AVS ES100 features twin steel belts reinforced by jointless, wrapped nylon stabilizing the tread area to elevate handling and high-speed capability while minimizing weight. The AVS ES100 radial's polyester cord body and steel wire-reinforced sidewalls help blend ride quality with lateral stability.
During the road ride portion of our evaluation, the AVS ES100 delivered the best handling of the test, feeling nimble and sporty. Initial steering response was particularly crisp, with the AVS ES100 responding quickly to driver inputs. While the level of tread noise was considered appropriate for the Ultra High Performance Summer category, it was a constant companion at all speeds and across all road surfaces. The biggest trade off for the sporty feel was in ride quality, where the AVS ES100 felt somewhat harsh over the choppier sections of our test loop compared with the other tires tested.
On the handling course in the dry, the AVS ES100 again delivered crisp handling and sharp steering response. Driving this tire feels very precise, feeling locked-in around the steady-state skid pad. If the tire did begin to break away, only minor adjustments of the steering wheel or throttle were required to keep the car tracking where you want it. We did notice a small amount of wheel spin when accelerating hard off a corner, where the unweighted inside rear tire would spin up while the car was still leaning (the 2003 BMW 330Ci Coupe is not equipped with a limited slip differential).
With water on the track, the AVS ES100 did not feel as connected as it had in the dry. While still quick to turn off center, the AVS ES100 would produce under steer if pressed hard around the corners. Under acceleration, the rear tires broke loose with only moderate application of the throttle. While we have experienced these basic traits in past wet tests, this evaluation seemed especially slippery for the AVS ES100 with an average overall lap time that was noticeably slower than previous events, even though the ambient temperature was in the low 80° Fahrenheit range.
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