July 27, 2007
Refreshed to address the year-round driving needs of today's performance enthusiasts who may encounter intermittent light snow, the new Firehawk GT w/UNI-T High Performance All-Season tire line reestablishes the Firehawk GT name in Firestone's family of performance tires. Designed to allow drivers to feel the freedom of the road, the new Firehawk GT blends long treadwear and responsive handling with traction on dry and wet roads, as well as in light snow.
In order to confirm how the new Firehawk GT tires measure up to some of today's other High Performance All-Season tires, we compared the V-speed rated Firestone Firehawk GT to the V-speed rated BFGoodrich Traction T/A, Dunlop SP Sport Signature and Yokohama AVID V4s tires.
Our evaluation used 2006 BMW 325i E90 sedans, with new, full tread depth 205/55R16-sized tires mounted on 16x7.5" 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 our test delivered on their promise of responsive handling with comfortable road manners. As in previous tests, the Yokohama AVID V4s received praise for its comfortable ride and relatively low noise level, especially along the rough expressway section. Dunlop's Signature Sport was not far behind, also delivering a smooth ride and scoring well with our team. The BFGoodrich Traction T/A and Firestone Firehawk GT both displayed acceptable ride comfort, while generating minimal but noticeable tread and impact noise over the course sections of our test drive.
At normal road speeds, the handling scores for the Traction T/A and Firehawk GT were a virtual tie, feeling crisp and delivering quick response to the driver's input. The Signature Sport also handled well, with slightly slower initial response to steering inputs than the BFGoodrich or Firestone tires. The AVID V4s counter-balanced its advantage in ride comfort with a small reduction in responsiveness versus the other 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.
In dry conditions, the Dunlop Signature Sport felt very responsive and nimble, slicing its way through the lane change/slalom and around the tight corners. Subjectively the overall grip level didn't feel as though it equaled the tire's responsiveness, but this didn't hold back our team as this tire drove its way to the quickest overall lap time of this test. Very close behind was the Firestone Firehawk GT, which delivered stable cornering and balanced handling. The BFGoodrich Traction T/A was also easy to control at the limit, but lacked the ultimate grip needed to post the quickest lap time. Just like on the road, the trade-off in handling for ride comfort impacted the Yokohama AVID V4s' handling. Overall grip felt quite good, while steering response and cornering lacked some of the precision and stability of the Dunlop and Firestone tires.
In the wet we usually see larger differences between tires. In this case, however, the differences were not as big as often seen in past tests. Only 4/10th second separated the fastest to slowest tire, showing how close all four tires are to each other. In the wet, the BFGoodrich tire lead the way with the quickest overall lap time, fastest time through the slalom transition and highest steady-state cornering (average g-forces). The Yokohama lapped our course only 2/10ths behind, where its somewhat slower responsiveness and soft handling in the dry proved to aid feel and driver confidence in the wet by providing plenty of feedback and controllability at the limit. The responsive steering of the Dunlop resulted in a somewhat edgy feel in the wet. In close fourth place overall was the Firestone Firehawk GT, which didn't quite have the wet grip displayed by the other tires.
BFGoodrich Traction T/A (High Performance All-Season): Traction T/A radials were developed to provide four-season traction along with five-star performance by blending good treadwear, responsive handling and dependable traction on dry and wet roads, as well as in light snow.
Dunlop SP Sport Signature (H- or V-Speed Rated) (High Performance All-Season): The SP Sport Signature was developed to deliver year-round performance for the drivers of sporty coupes and performance sedans. The SP Sport Signature is designed to blend treadwear, handling and traction on dry and wet roads, as well as in light snow.
Firestone Firehawk GT (High Performance All-Season): The Firehawk GT w/UNI-T is Firestone's tire developed for sporty performance sedans and coupes. The Firehawk GT w/UNI-T is designed to allow drivers to feel the freedom of the road by blending long treadwear and responsive handling with dependable traction on dry and wet roads, as well as in light snow. Read more.
Yokohama AVID V4s (High Performance All-Season): AVID V4s radials are Yokohama's tires designed to take everyday driving to a new level of comfort and confidence for sporty performance sedans and coupes. The AVID V4s radials were developed to provide good treadwear, responsive handling and year-round traction, even in light snow.
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