You shouldn’t have to follow motorsport to appreciate the critical importance of tyres when it comes to not just performance but also safety.
You could have enormous power, the sharpest chassis and Jupiter-sized brakes, but you couldn’t call your performance car effective if the rubber between it and the road wasn’t up to scratch.
And it’s not true that car makers always fit their vehicles with the best rubber possible. Reality is, they’ve got to balance a number of factors including fuel consumption, noise, ride quality, wear resistance/life, supply logistics and cost.
Current F1 tyre monopolist Pirelli features in our tortuous 2016 Tyre Test, joined by former grand prix racing suppliers Michelin, Goodyear, Dunlop and Continental. Also here are Korean brands Hankook and Nexen; from humble beginnings in the Aussie market these brands have established respected reputations.
Toyo and Nitto are Japan’s only representatives, Bridgestone benched because its new tyre relevant to this test wasn’t yet available. China’s HiFly rounds out the list and here’s hoping it fares better than last year’s last-placed compatriot, Winrun.
We’re testing a 235/35 R19 this year, chosen for its popularity in the ever-burgeoning compact, high-performance car segment.
That makes the new Audi RS3 an apt choice as our workhorse for cycling through the five driving disciplines on 10 sets of boots. Not only will its 270kW, 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine ensure each set of tyres is given a thorough workout, but the quattro all-wheel drive system reduces a variable in the testing process by spreading the drive loads between all four tyres.
Our test regime comprises four disciplines run in the dry – slalom, braking, motorkhana, lateral G – and one in the wet. Wet-braking is designed to expose any tyre that might be a one-trick, almost-a-slick, track-attack competition special rather than a real-world all-rounder that performs no matter the conditions.
A control tyre was tested periodically to establish a reference point for all our competition rubber. This allowed us to assess whether any tyre was able to gain an advantage by running at a time of day that happened to be optimal conditions.
Our number one gun Warren Luff captains the driving side again, and we’re using our pinpoint-accurate Racelogic timing gear.
We wouldn’t trust anyone but the efficient and effective JAX Tyres and Eagle SMF teams to man wheel guns, pressure gauges and swap rubber.
And in our ongoing efforts to improve the Test, we’re completing dry disciplines on the more real-world bitumen surface of Sydney Dragway’s enormous car park, a departure from Sydney Motorsport Park’s concrete testing surfaces.
We have more control over the spread of water this year, too, improving consistency. (But sadly we couldn’t control the amount of dirt on the surface, as you’ll see.) With everything locked and loaded, it’s time to get stuck in.
It’s Europe vs Asia in one super-heated rubber run-in
*Prices for one 235/35R19 tyre
HIFLY HF805 CHALLENGER DSRT
MICHELIN PILOT SUPER SPORT
DUNLOP SPORT MAXX RT
GOODYEAR EAGLE F1 ASYMMETRIC 3
PIRELLI P ZERO
CONTINENTAL CONTISPORT 5P
Origin: Czech Republic
NEXEN N FERA SU1
TOYO PROXES T1 SPORT
HANKOOK VENTUS S1 EVO2
THE TYRE TESTS
Cone-weaving – or slalom by its more technical name – is a classic tyre test exercise (and exercise run during almost any performance driving course you care to mention).
It’s probably best the Sydney Dragway grandstands were empty during our testing, avoiding mass head-scratching as a car tried to do the opposite of the traditional action and slow as quickly as possible.
It’s fair to say our version of a gymkhana wouldn’t get the kind of YouTube views enjoyed by Ken Block.
Going around in circles doesn’t always mean you’re lost. MOTOR found the answers it was looking for in its final dry-bitumen discipline: the lateral G test. Or circle test/cornering test, by other names.
Our fifth and final discipline isn’t a foregone conclusion, regardless of the relentless success enjoyed by the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT so far. If our previous tests were ideal-world conditions, this one is real world.
THE TYRE TEST RESULTS
BANG FOR YOUR BUCKS
Which tyre offers the best performance for the least outlay?
A worthy winner sweeps the board in all categories.