To commemorate the 50th anniversary of its tire tests, the German motoring association ADAC tested 50 summer tire models in size 205/55 R16
In 2023, Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club («General German Automobile Club») commemorated the 50th anniversary of its tire tests. It all began back in 1973, when the most discussed topic among the German motorists was the ban that was imposed on habitual studded tires due to their negative influence on the road surface. How do you survive winter without spikes? And what kind of tires do you have to buy now? The answers to these questions were supposed to be given during the first ADAC tire test, in which 25 tire models competed on snow in Switzerland’s Engadin, on ice in Geneva, and on tarmac at the Pirelli test facility in Italy.
Today, 50 years later, ADAC, together with their European partners, keep testing tires, and it was decided to celebrate the 50th anniversary by conducting a grand-scale test that would involve 50 models from every price bracket, and this time around the test involved virtually every tire in size 205/55 R16 that you can purchase or order online in Germany.
The last 50 years saw progress not only in the tire and car making technology, but also in the tire testing methods, and in 2023 ADAC are introducing new criteria, the final combined score being largely formed by two main factors — safety and environmental performance. The wet and dry safety remains the key criterion with a score weight of 70%, while tread wear, fuel consumption, and noise emission are now considered as part of the environmental performance score with a 30% weight. At the same time, the ADAC experts are considering now a whole range of new factors, such as the country of manufacture (the longer it takes the bring the tire over to Europe the harder it will be on the environment), the presence of the ISO 14001, ISO 14025, ISO 14040/44, and Ecovadis certificates, the company’s participation in the United Nations Global Compact, and even the presence of rubber «hairs» that «hit the environment uncontrollably once the tire is put into operation».
10 tires ended up with a «Good» verdict, the top lines in the final standings being predictably occupied by premium models from Goodyear, Continental, Michelin, and Bridgestone, Continental even having two tires on this list — the UltraContact with extra-low rolling resistance and the PremiumContact 6. The ADAC experts noted that the Continental tire and the Goodyear EfficientGripPerformance 2, which shared the first line of the tournament bracket, are the benchmarks in terms of ensuring driving safety, and there is also a newer model, PremiumContact 7, available on the market in some of the sizes.
21 tires, including a few ones from premium brands, were rated as «satisfactory» — usually, this verdict is bestowed upon tires whose combined score is compromised because of one obvious weakness. As a rule, this has to do with a relatively poor wet (rarer dry) performance, and sometimes the combined score is undermined by the environmental factors, chiefly by the increased treadwear. An example of that can be the Apollo Alnac that received a low score of 3.5 points for expected mileage (on a scale from 5.5 being unsatisfactory to 0.6 being very good) because it took less than 30,000 kilometers to reach the 1.6 mm remaining tread depth. For comparison, the Michelin e. Primacy can cover almost 72,000 kilometers before it reaches the same tread depth.
Despite its long tread life, the Michelin e. Primacy, along with other 11 tires, scored only an «average» verdict, which again goes to show how difficult it is to successfully combine conflicting characteristics within one tire. The e. Primacy model, which, as its name suggests, was designed for EVs, has a really long expected mileage and is a great fuel saver but, on the downside, is not terribly good in rainy weather — its 80 km/h braking distance was a whopping 43.7 meters, while in the case of the Continental PC6 this figure was 34.4 meters. The ADAC experts added that, although the retreaded tires were entitled to bonus points for their environmental performance score, the only tire of this category that was involved in the test — the King Meiler Sport1 — could not show any good results, and was also rated as «Average».
The «Unsatisfactory» rating was given to seven tires, all of which failed the wet tests, even though some of them did manage to show impressive results in other disciplines, the most vivid example of that being the DoubleCoin DC99 with its incredibly long tread life. This Chinese tire can cover almost 65,000 km without any serious wear, yet at the same time its 80 km/h wet braking distance amounted to the monstrous 59.3 meters, i.e. this tire is a direct threat to road safety. The remaining speed of the DoubleCoin, compared to the Continental PC6 amounted to a whopping 52 km/h, so this tire ended up with a «not recommended» stamp.
What factors are taken into account when giving scores in accordance with the new ADAC standards:
- The tire’s behavior at the grip limit, road holding ability, steering response, emergency lane switching, ride comfort
- 100 km/h braking distance with the ABS on
- 80 km/h braking distance with the ABS on (on tarmac and concrete)
- Hydroplaning resistance, straight and lateral (the layer of water 7 and 5 mm respectively)
- Handling performance: subjective evaluation by two test pilots combined with the lap time
- Lateral grip
- The expected mileage was evaluated upon covering the first 15,000 km on two identical cars. Each 2,500 km, the tread depth is laser-measured along the entire circumference of the tire.
- Bench running. Simulation of a 5000-kilometer drive. The tread depth is measured every 1250 km.
- Evaluation: Calculation of the distance required to reach the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6 mm.
- The degree of abrasion of the tread in milligrams per kilometer per vehicle weight in tons
Weight of the tire:
- The effect of the tire weight on the dynamics of movement in terms of the spin inertia during acceleration
- Fuel consumption: Calculating the actual fuel consumption when moving at a constant speed of 100 km/h.
- Cabin noise: Subjective evaluation by two people when moving by inertia from 130 km/h down to 30 km/h on tarmac and concrete.
- External noise: Measuring the noise at 80 km/h with the engine off.
- The country of manufacture: The longer the tire travels the bigger the impact on the environment.
- The presence of the ISO 14001, ISO 14025, ISO 14040/44, and Ecovadis
- Participation in the United Nations Global Compact
- The presence of rubber debris («hairs»), which uncontrollably enters the environment, once the tire is put into operation
- The weight of the tire from the point of view of using the resources
- Retreaded tire (bonus points for the environmental performance)
- The manufacturer offers a system for returning tested tires.
- The presence of contactless identification, such as RFID tags.
1st place: Continental / PremiumContact 6
The Continental PremiumContact 6 is impressive in all respects, ensuring a very high level of driving safety. On dry pavement, the tire provides good steering response, very effective braking performance, and excellent handling characteristics. At the same time, this Continental model has a relatively weak hydroplaning resistance, as well a heavy weight, which directly affects its fuel saving capability. The noise level is satisfactory.
1st place: Goodyear / EfficientGrip Performance 2
On dry pavement, this Goodyear tire ensures good steering response and effective braking performance; it is also quite safe on the grip limit, while on wet pavement it also quickly stops the car and ensures excellent handling performance. On the downside, its hydroplaning resistance is only average.
This tire also has a long tread life, small weight, and low rolling resistance. The noise level is satisfactory.
3rd place: Michelin / Primacy 4+
On dry pavement, this Michelin model demonstrates a less-than-perfect steering feedback, but it still behaves quite confidently on the grip limit and has good braking capabilities. At the same time, on wet pavement, this Michelin model also demonstrated effective braking performance, as well as good handling response and hydroplaning resistance, and the tire has a well-balanced overall performance.
This Michelin tire also has a very long expected mileage.
4th place: Bridgestone / Turanza T005
This Bridgestone model ensures a very high level of driving safety. On dry pavement, the tire demonstrates acceptable steering feedback, reliable behavior on the grip limit and a short braking distance, while on wet pavement it has good braking performance, good handling response, and good straight hydroplaning resistance. At the same time, the lateral hydroplaning resistance could have been higher.
In terms of environmental performance, the tire has low weight and low rolling resistance, but its expected mileage was rated simply as «good».
4th place: Continental / UltraContact
This Continental model ensures an acceptable level of driving safety — on dry pavement, everything is fine with steering feedback, grip limit behavior, and braking performance, but on wet pavement (for the exception of handling and braking performance, which are also good) the tire has issues with hydroplaning resistance, particularly in corners.
This Continental tire is at the same time extremely environmentally friendly because it has a long expected mileage, low weight, and low rolling resistance.
4th place: Falken / Ziex ZE310 Ecorun
This Falken model ensures a very high level of driving safety on dry pavement, and at the same time is pretty effective in the wet. In the first case, the Falken tire demonstrates exemplary steering feedback, reliable behavior, and a short braking distance, and in the second — good braking performance, strong resistance to lateral hydroplaning, and good handling response. There were only minor gripes about the straight hydroplaning resistance.
The Falken also has a long tread life but its heavy weight compromises its fuel saving performance.
4th place: Nokian / Wetproof
This Nokian tire is very effective on dry pavement (it has plenty of steering feedback, totally safe behavior on the grip threshold, and a short braking distance) and on wet pavement as well (short braking distance, good straight hydroplaning resistance and good handling response), but it has a relatively weak hydroplaning resistance in corners.
Thanks to its low weight and low rolling resistance, this Nokian tire is indeed energy-effective but it emits a large quantity of harmful particles.
8th place: Kumho / Ecsta HS52
This Kumho tire ensures good handling response on wet and dry pavement alike, yet it has low resistance to lateral hydroplaning. On the upside, the tire has a long expected mileage, but its large weight negatively affects its energy efficiency.
9th place: Hankook / Ventus Prime 4 K135
This Hankook tire is equally effective on dry and wet pavement, but you need to keep in mind its reduced hydroplaning resistance. This tire also has a long tread life, but, since it is on the heavy side, this compromises its fuel saving performance.
9th place: Nexen / N Fera Primus
This Nexen tire is good on dry pavement, and it also has a short wet braking distance and high hydroplaning resistance, but there were a few complaints about its handling performance. In addition, its tread life is not the longest one around.
11th place: Fulda / EcoControl HP2
On dry pavement, this Fulda tire ensures a good level of safety, but on wet pavement the situation is not as good. While on dry pavement the tire has average steering feedback, compensated by safe behavior on the grip limit and a short braking distance, its wet grip is not as strong, which directly affects braking and handling performance. At the same time, the tire has strong hydroplaning resistance.
This Fulda tire may still be rated as environmentally friendly thanks to its low weight and rolling resistance combined with long expected mileage.
11th place: Kenda / Kenetica Pro KR210
This Kenda model is effective on dry pavement; on wet pavement it also has good handling performance and hydroplaning resistance, but a relatively long braking distance. The tire is also pretty energy efficient, but has a reduced tread life.
11th place: Kleber / Dynaxer HP4
On dry pavement, this Kleber model demonstrates a less-than-perfect handling feedback, and can be pretty unreliable during an emergency maneuver, but, on the other hand, it has a short braking distance. At the same time, on wet pavement this tire effectively combats the hydroplaning effect, yet it lacks the desired grip to ensure a really good handling performance and shorter stopping distances. Kleber’s expected mileage is reasonably long.
11th place: Toyo / Proxes Comfort
Despite its less-than-perfect handling feedback, this Toyo tire ensures a good level of driving safety on dry pavement, while on wet pavement it demonstrates only average braking performance and hydroplaning resistance (even though there are no complaints about the handling response as such).
This tire has a long expected mileage; its low weight and low rolling resistance make it a good fuel saver. At the same time, the tires are shipped directly from Japan, which increases the environmental impact.
15th place: Debica / Presto HP2
On dry pavement, this Debica tire demonstrates average steering feedback, which makes it hard to figure out which steering angles are required during the maneuvering. The handling performance also could be better, although the stopping distance is short enough. On wet pavement, this Debica tire also has issues, and, although its hydroplaning resistance is reasonably good, the reduced grip compromises handling and braking performance.
This Debica model has a short tread life, while its low hydroplaning resistance and low weight improve its energy efficiency.
15th place: Dunlop / Sport BluResponse
This Dunlop tire is good on dry pavement, and it does have strong hydroplaning resistance, but its poor grip negatively affects braking and handling performance.
The tire is light and has low rolling resistance but its tread life was rated as only average.
15th place: Pirelli / Cinturato P7 (P7C2)
This Pirelli tire is good on dry pavement, but it has a less-than-perfect wet grip, which negatively impacts braking distance and handling performance. At the same time, the tire has strong hydroplaning resistance.
Its tread life is reasonably long, the weight and fuel consumption are low, but the emission of harmful particles is high.
15th place: Sava / Intensa HP2
This Sava tire ensures only average level of driving safety. On dry pavement, it has a short braking distance but less-than-perfect feedback and behavior on the grip limit, while on wet pavement it has only average braking and handling performance, despite its good hydroplaning resistance.
Its expected mileage is not very long either, but, on the positive side, the weight and rolling resistance are pretty low.
15th place: Semperit / Speed-Life 3
This Semperit tire has a short dry braking distance but it is prone to understeer during an emergency maneuver (the feedback and behavior on the grip limit are also only average). At the same time, on wet pavement it has a short braking distance and good handling response and hydroplaning resistance.
From the environmental point of view, this Semperit tire has a long tread life and fuel saving capabilities, but it is pretty noisy.
20th place: Firestone / RoadHawk
This Firestone tire is very good on dry pavement, but its wet grip is not as reliable, which affects handling and braking performance. At the same time, there are no problems with hydroplaning resistance.
The expected mileage is average, the weight and rolling resistance are low.