May 19, 2006
Most drivers want a tire that does it all - sporty handling, good ride quality, reasonable tread life, and year-round traction even in light snow; all at a value-oriented price. But can you really get it all?
To find out how much capability these tires deliver, Tire Rack Team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive with four of the newer and more popular High Performance All-Season tire offerings - Bridgestone's Potenza G 009, the Fuzion HRi, Kumho's new Ecsta AST, and the Yokohama AVID H4s. All of these tires have proven to be popular choices for drivers of sporty coupes and sedans who are looking for a well-balanced tire that delivers sporty handling and all-season capability at an economical price.
Our evaluation used 2006 BMW 325i E90 sedans with new, full tread depth 225/45R17 tires mounted on 17x8.0" wheels.
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.
All four tires were found to deliver good road handling with appropriate levels of ride comfort and road noise. Yokohama's AVID H4s was found to be the most quiet and comfortable of the group, with Bridgestone's Potenza G 009 rated close behind. The Kumho Ecsta AST and Fuzion HRi tires were found to be reasonably quiet and comfortable, but both produced noticeable tread noise at both low and high speeds.
The AVID H4s did feel as if it trades off some handling for improved ride comfort, as it was somewhat less responsive than the sporty Potenza G 009 and Ecsta AST. The Fuzion HRi was also found to have softer steering response than the Bridgestone and Kumho, which may be due in part to the aggressive, all-season oriented tread pattern. Unfortunately, our test did not provide the opportunity to experience the winter-time traction of these tires.
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.
As is often the case, overall dry traction and therefore dry track average lap times can be very similar between products in the same tire performance category. In this test, the Average Lap times for the group were virtually identical, separated by less than 0.03 second between all four tires. Subtle differences in their handling traits did exist, with the Bridgestone Potenza G 009 feeling composed and well balanced. The Yokohama AVID H4s was not as responsive as the Bridgestone, but displayed good dry grip, especially around the skidpad portion of the course. The Kumho Ecsta AST delivered appropriate overall handling, while the Fuzion HRi felt a little sluggish for a High Performance All-Season tire, likely due to its more aggressive all-season oriented tread pattern.
And just as many tires perform similarly in the dry, wet conditions usually prove to be the tie-breaker with traction differences becoming more apparent. The AVID H4s was able to post the fastest average lap time of this test, along with the highest average cornering g's around the skidpad. The Bridgestone Potenza G 009 and Fuzion HRi ran nearly identical lap times, right behind the first place Yokohama. The Kumho Ecsta AST felt slippery and much less predictable than any of the other three tires in the test, which resulted in an Average Overall lap time nearly 0.9 second behind the AVID H4s.
Bridgestone Potenza G 009 (High Performance All Season): The Potenza G 009 is Bridgestone's High Performance All-Season tire that was developed to meet the needs of sports car, coupe and sedan drivers who want to be associated with the performance heritage of the Bridgestone brand in racing. The Potenza G 009 combines Bridgestone's advanced UNI-T Technology with affordable pricing.
Fuzion HRi (High Performance All-Season): The Fuzion HRi, manufactured by Bridgestone/Firestone, is a High Performance All-Season tire developed for the drivers of sport cars, coupes and sedans. The Fuzion HRi was designed to combine performance, style and comfort, while providing year-round traction, even in light snow. Fuzion's Ultimate Network of Intelligent Tire Technology (UNI-T) features three core elements: CO'CS, a Computer Optimized Component System which allows design and manufacturing processes to work more cooperatively, leading to a more efficient tire that doesn't significantly sacrifice one area of performance for improvements in another; O-Bead, a more round structure that minimizes overlapped joints in the bead area for improved ride; and L.L. Carbon (Long Link Carbon) which helps the rubber compound resist microscopic tread tearing related to wear.
Kumho Ecsta AST (High Performance All-Season): The ESCTA AST is the High Performance All-Season member of Kumho's Ecsta family of performance tires for the drivers of modified coupes, sedans and sports cars. The Ecsta AST is designed to provide the exotic looks, traction and value tuners want in a tire while providing year-round traction on dry and wet roads, as well as in light snow. Read more.
Yokohama AVID H4s (High Performance All-Season): The AVID H4s/V4s radials are Yokohama's High Performance All-Season tires designed to take everyday driving to a new level of comfort and confidence. The AVID H4s/V4s radials were developed to provide sporty cars, coupes and sedans with good treadwear, responsive handling and year-round traction, even in light snow.
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