April 15, 2005
What do Ford's 2005 Mustang GT, the MINI Cooper S and Volkswagen New Beetle all have in common? They are all modern, retro versions of milestone products. And when it comes to tires, Firestone's Firehawk Wide Oval w/UNI-T is no different.
The Firehawk Wide Oval w/UNI-T is Firestone's Ultra High Performance Summer tire for today's driving enthusiasts in much the same way that the original Firestone Wide Oval, the industry's first low profile, bias-ply performance tire, helped revolutionize high performance passenger tires in the late 1960s. Today's Firehawk Wide Oval radial tires were developed for high performance sports cars, coupes and sedans, and are designed to provide world-class handling, performance and durability on wet and dry roads. And like other Ultra High Performance Summer tires, the Firehawk Wide Oval is not intended to be driven in snow or on ice.
To find out if Firestone's modern, retro tire will again advance Ultra High Performance, we compared the road manners and handling performance of the Firehawk Wide Oval with the popular AVON Tyres Tech M500 and BFGoodrich's g-Force T/A KDW tires from the Ultra High Performance Summer category.
Our evaluation used 2003 BMW 330Ci coupes, with new, full tread depth 225/50R16 tires mounted on 16x7.5" wheels. We also included a fourth 2003 BMW 330Ci fitted with the Original Equipment (OE) 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 the impact of installing the other products.
Our 5.6-mile Real World Road Ride loop of public expressway, state highway and county roads near our South Bend headquarters provides a great variety of everyday road conditions with a mix of city and highway speeds, smooth and coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt road surfaces. This course allows our team to experience the noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling of the products we drive on, just as you would during your drive to work.
The Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval w/UNI-T delivered direct steering and responsive handling during our road evaluation, making it a good choice for drivers who want to feel connected to the road. The handling qualities of the AVON Tech M500 and g-Force T/A KDW weren't far behind, and provided a good balance of steering response and cornering traction. The Original Equipment Goodyear Eagle RS-A felt appropriate for its all-season category, but could not match the level or overall handling of the other summer tires.
When it came to noise across the variety of road surfaces in our test loop, the Tech M500 just edged out the Firehawk Wide Oval and the Eagle RS-A. The more aggressive tread pattern used for the g-Force T/A KDW generated somewhat more tread noise across all surfaces and speeds than the other tires, but was not found to be objectionable.
The Original Equipment Goodyear Eagle RS-A smoothed out road imperfections to provide the best ride quality of the group followed by the Tech M500, Firehawk Wide Oval and the g-Force T/A KDW.
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, lane changes 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.
While the three replacement tires turned nearly identical average lap times under dry conditions, the subjective difference between the test products was more meaningful. The g-Force T/A KDW felt the most responsive of the group; the Tech M500 had the highest ultimate cornering grip and the Firehawk Wide Oval offered the best all-around handling and allowed the driver to place the car the most precisely. The Eagle RS-A was not able to match the overall handling of the other three tires, delivering gentle understeer when pressed to its grip limits.
With the track wet to simulate the conditions of a moderate rain shower, the Firehawk Wide Oval delivered the best overall traction and the fastest average lap time, edging out the Tech M500 and distancing itself from the g-Force T/A KDW. The Firehawk Wide Oval was the most responsive of the group in the wet, which helped make it easier to control at its limit than the other three test tires. The water depth and average speeds of our test track do not allow us to evaluate hydroplaning resistance.
AVON Tyres Tech M500 (Ultra High Performance Summer): The Tech M500 is the Ultra High Performance Summer tire member of AVON Tyres' family of Tech performance tires. The Tech M500 is designed to bestow confidence to the drivers of sports cars, sports coupes and performance sedans by providing traction, handling and control in dry and wet road conditions. The Tech M500 is not intended to be driven in snow.
BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW (Ultra High Performance Summer): The BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW ("KDW" for Key feature: Dry and Wet traction) is the Ultra High Performance Summer tire that was developed to provide a blend of superior dry and wet road performance for the drivers of the world's hottest sports cars, coupes and sedans. The g-Force T/A KDW is not intended to be driven in snow.
Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval w/UNI-T (Ultra High Performance Summer): The Firehawk Wide Oval w/UNI-T is Firestone's Ultra High Performance Summer tire for today's driving enthusiasts in much the same way the original Wide Oval, the industry's first low profile, bias-ply performance tire, helped revolutionize high performance passenger tires in the late 1960s. Today's Firehawk Wide Oval radial tires were developed for high performance sports cars, coupes and sedans, and are designed to provide world-class handling, performance and durability on wet and dry roads. The Firehawk Wide Oval is not intended to be driven in snow.
Goodyear Eagle RS-A (Original Equipment Comparison): 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. Read more.
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