Tire Test Results

Ultra High Performance Meets All-Season Capability

April 14, 2006

Tires Tested

Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS Pole Position (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 225/45R17) Continental ContiExtremeContact (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 225/45R17) Michelin Pilot Sport A/S (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 225/45R17) Yokohama ADVAN S.4. (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 225/45R17)

Vehicles Used

2006 BMW 325i Sedan

Drivers who only encounter occasional light snow when they drive their high performance cars through winter have a hard time justifying the cost of using a set of dedicated winter / snow tires. However there was a time when Ultra High Performance tires and winter traction just wouldn't go together at all.

Fortunately for today's drivers, new tire designs and tread compounds have been combined to offer the Ultra High Performance All-Season tire alternative that offers predictable dry and wet road handling with light snow traction. Tires in the Ultra High Performance All-Season category are constantly evolving and today's Ultra High Performance All-Season tires are able to provide a level of handling approaching that of summer performance tires of a few years ago.

Bridgestone and Yokohama have both released their next generation of Ultra High Performance All-Season tires for North American driving enthusiasts. The Potenza RE960AS Pole Position tires utilize Bridgestone's dual-layer tread compound technology that is designed to keep poor weather traction up even as the tread wears down. Yokohama's ADVAN S.4. is designed to provide high levels of performance along with civilized ride and noise comfort.

In order to find out how these two new products perform, Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive in Northern Indiana's cool springtime conditions. We included two other popular tires from the Ultra High Performance All-Season category for comparison, the Continental ContiExtremeContact and Michelin Pilot Sport A/S.

Our evaluation used four identically-equipped 2006 BMW 325i sedans, with new, full tread depth 225/45R17 tires mounted on 17x8.0" wheels.

What We Learned on the Road

Our 5.6-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.

As a group, ride quality was firm but not harsh, and there was also some level of tread noise heard at all speeds across the variety of road surfaces along our road ride route, both of which are normal for tires in this category. Overall ratings for ride comfort were very close, with our team scoring the Yokohama ADVAN S.4. just slightly ahead of the other three.

Each tire seemed to produce its own unique blend of tread noise as it rolled across the various surfaces along our route. The Michelin Pilot Sport AS scored well, and was relatively quiet at higher speeds, but did produce a subtle growl at speeds below 45 mph. The Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS Pole Position did a good job avoiding any annoying constant tones, while the ADVAN S.4. did produce a few distinct low volume pitches at various speeds. The aggressive tread pattern of the Continental ContiExtremeContact was found to be the loudest of the group.

All four tires delivered responsive handling appropriate for the category with some subtle differences felt when we compared them side-by-side. The Pilot Sport AS was praised for its solid feel, responding with authority to steering inputs. The Potenza RE960AS Pole Position responded smoothly feeling well connected to the road. The ADVAN S.4. delivered very crisp response with the initial input to the steering wheel, but became less precise as additional input was put into the wheel to negotiate a tighter turn. The Continental ContiExtremeContact handled appropriately for the category, but felt less precise on initial steering input, and somewhat less stable around the sweeping corners and on-ramps of our route.

What We Learned on the Test Track

Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, lane changes and simulated expressway ramps. 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.

The Ultra High Performance side of this group showed itself on our test track with all four tires displaying solid handling and producing quick average lap times, with less than 0.5 second separating the group.

The quick steering response combined with good dry traction allowed the Yokohama ADVAN S.4. to produce the fastest average lap time of this test. This tire also showed the least wear after the harsh conditions of our track test. The balanced feel and overall performance of the Michelin Pilot Sport AS allowed it to finish a close second behind the Yokohama. To our surprise, the ContiExtremeContact was able to produce an average lap time just 0.1 second behind the Michelin, despite having subjectively softer handling and slower responsiveness. In the severe wear conditions of our dry track test, the ContiExtremeContact showed the most wear as the tire sacrificed itself to produce traction. Bridgestone's Potenza RE960AS Pole Position rounded out the group.

The differences between the tires were more noticeable in the wet, where the Potenza RE960AS Pole Position showed a clear traction advantage that helped it post the fastest average lap time and the highest average cornering g's. The Pilot Sport AS was second quickest, averaging 0.6 second behind while still feeling responsive and predictable. The ContiExtremeContact and ADVAN S.4. rounded out the group third- and fourth-fastest, respectively.

Product Details

Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS Pole Position (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Potenza RE960AS Pole Position with UNI-T AQ II Technology is the Ultra High Performance All-Season member of Bridgestone's Potenza family of performance tires for the drivers of sports cars, sports coupes and performance sedans. The Potenza RE960AS Pole Position is designed to provide year-round driving flexibility by offering predictable handling, traction and control on dry and wet roads, as well as in light snow. Read more.

Continental ContiExtremeContact (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Continental ContiExtremeContact is an Ultra High Performance All-Season radial that was developed to satisfy the year-round driving needs of sports car, coupe, sedan and light truck drivers by blending dry and wet road performance with light snow and slush traction.

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Pilot Sport A/S is an Ultra High Performance All-Season tire member of the Michelin Pilot family of low profile, high-speed tires. The Pilot Sport A/S was developed for the drivers of sports cars, coupes and sedans who desire year-round traction, including in light snow. The Pilot Sport A/S is designed to minimize dry and wet driving compromises while maximizing all-weather traction.

Yokohama ADVAN S.4. (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The ADVAN S.4. is the Ultra High Performance All-Season tire member of the Yokohama Tire ADVAN family of Ultra High Performance tires. While available in large wheel diameter, low profile sizes with V-, W-, or Z-speed ratings, the ADVAN S.4. was purposely designed to provide a more civilized ride and improved noise characteristics compared to any other ADVAN products. The ADVAN S.4. was developed for the drivers of premium performance coupes and sedans who desire year-round traction, including light snow. Read more.

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