September 6, 2007
Because of their contribution to vehicle appearance and performance, the popularity of using low profile tires and large diameter wheels on sports cars, sporty coupes and luxury performance sedans as Original Equipment (O.E.) or Plus Sized replacements continues to grow. However since many of today's sportiest vehicles come from the factory with summer tires that concentrate on increasing dry and wet traction only, the drivers that will only face occasional light snow during the winter months are creating a parallel need for appropriate Ultra High Performance All-Season tires as well.
In order to address the needs of those drivers with tires designed specifically for them, Goodyear developed the Eagle F1 All Season tire line that represents their next evolution of materials and tread design technologies. Carbon Fiber Technology reinforced sidewalls help maintain tread contact with the road for control when cornering while TredLock Technology incorporated into the tread design blends stability on dry roads with hydroplaning resistance on wet roads and all-season traction on snow-covered roads.
In order to confirm how tires featuring Goodyear's latest technologies measure up to today's popular Ultra High Performance All-Season tires, we compared the Eagle F1 All Season to Bridgestone's Potenza RE960 A/S Pole Position, Michelin's Pilot Sport A/S and Pirelli's P Zero Nero M&S tires. 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 in this test delivered ride quality appropriate for the Ultra High Performance All-Season category, isolating many of the road's bumps without disconnecting the driver from the driving experience. The Pirelli P Zero Nero M&S displayed a slight advantage in ride quality over the others in this test, doing a good job absorbing the medium- and large-sized impacts along our route. The Goodyear Eagle F1 All Season and Michelin Pilot Sport A/S were both close behind, followed by the Bridgestone Potenza RE960 AS Pole Position. Like the Goodyear and Michelin tires, the Bridgestone was similarly comfortable over the small- to medium-sized bumps, but transmitted more impact noise when encountering the larger bumps and patched surfaces.
The asymmetric, non-directional tread pattern of the P Zero Nero M&S was found to be fairly quiet over most road surfaces, but did produce several noticeable pitches in the 35-45 mph speed range when driving on smooth asphalt. The other three tires with their highly directional tread patterns all produced non-distinct, white noise volumes that were similar, although the Eagle F1 All Season has somewhat of a growl at higher speeds and across the coarser road surfaces.
The Michelin and Bridgestone tires were scored first and second for overall road handling, feeling taught, responsive and well connected to the road. The Pirelli was a little slower to respond to initial steering inputs as an apparent trade off for its ride quality advantage. The Goodyear handled well, too, possessing crisp initial steering response. But as the Goodyear-shod vehicle continued to turn into the corner it displayed a slightly elastic feel as the cornering load increased or changed with bumps and road surface undulations.
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.
Previous tests have shown the Pirelli P Zero Nero M&S (sharing its tread pattern with the summer-only P Zero Nero tire) will deliver high levels of grip and responsive handling capable of posting quick lap times on our dry handling course. And while this test showed us once again how well the Pirelli handles when pushed hard, the Goodyear Eagle F1 All Season was able to post the fastest overall lap time, highest average cornering g forces and quickest slalom sector time. Subjectively, the Goodyear did not feel as composed as the Pirelli when driven hard, but it was apparent to our team that the Goodyear possesses plenty of dry grip. We did observe that this came at the price of tread wear (under the extremes of our track test drive), showing more wear than the other tires in the test. The Michelin Pilot Sport handled well, but was not quite up to the level of the Goodyear or Pirelli. The Bridgestone was a close fourth, right on the heels of the Michelin.
We usually see larger differences in the wet than in the dry, and this time was no different. Here, too, the Eagle F1 All Season was the class of the field, setting the top mark for slalom time, cornering g forces and total lap time. The Potenza RE960 AS Pole Position was next, feeling well balanced overall but not quite the match of the Eagle F1 All Season. The Pilot Sport A/S was close behind the Bridgestone, exhibiting some gentle understeer at the limit. The P Zero Nero M&S rounded out the test group, lacking the wet grip to challenge the Goodyear or Bridgestone.
Bridgestone Potenza RE960 AS 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.
Goodyear Eagle F1 All Season (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Eagle F1 All Season featuring Carbon Fiber Technology is Goodyear's Ultra High Performance All Season tire designed to give sports car, sporty coupe and performance sedan drivers piece of mind in virtually any weather condition. It was developed to combine crisp responsiveness and confident handling with year-round traction, including in light snow.
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.
Pirelli P Zero Nero M&S (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The P Zero Nero M&S is manufactured for the North American market by molding an all-season tread compound into the non-all-season P Zero Nero summer tire's tread design. While this combination enhances the tire's dry road handling and comfort, it results in a scarcity of snow and ice traction enhancing sipes. Our experience has been that this tire is best suited for drivers who only encounter occasional light snow. Read more.
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