Such well-known tire makers as Michelin, Goodyear, or Bridgestone, in addition to the more expensive premium-class tires, offer less expensive alternatives, manufactured under subsidiary brands. Is it worth your while paying attention to such inexpensive options, whilst you can buy tires that bear a flagship brand name, so precious to the manufacturer? Will such tires ensure an adequate level of safety?
In this article, this question is answered by the experts of GTÜ (Germany’s largest officially recognized inspection organization of freelance vehicle inspectors), ARBÖ (Austrian motor club), and ACE (European motor club), who joined efforts to test, in size 215/55 R17, the tires of the so-called «second lines» Sava, Fulda, Kleber, and Firestone.
To make the test still more «comparative», the experts extended the pool of tested tires with models produced by the tire makers from the Southeast Asia, Taiwan, and South Korea — Maxxis, Apollo, and Hankook.
List of summer models tested:
- Toyo Proxes Sport
- Sava Intensa UHP 2 — subsidiary of Goodyear
- Maxxis Premitra HP5
- Kleber Dynaxer HP4 — subsidiary of Michelin Group, a test debut
- Hankook Ventus Prime3 K125
- Fulda SportControl 2 — subsidiary of Goodyear
- Firestone Roadhawk — subsidiary of Bridgestone
- Avon ZV7
- Apollo Aspire XP
The test was performed in November 2019 on the Bridgestone test facility in Italy.
Results of the summer tire test
Moderate braking performance in the wet
At the outset, the ACE test group conducted on the most important tests — the wet braking. All of the nine models showed quite decent results. Braking from a speed of 80 km/h at a temperature of 20°C, the tires needed from 26.5 to 28.8 meters to bring the test car, Audi Q2, to a standstill.
The most efficient wet braking was demonstrated by the Fulda SportControl 2 and Toyo Proxes Sport models, while the longest braking distance was recorded from the Firestone Roadhawk.
Parallel to that, again, for the sake of comparison, the test experts also used a set of really budget tires, although still approved for the European market, whose brand name and model they chose not to disclose. Their braking distance neared the 33-meter mark, which again goes to show that this money saving can backfire on you later on while driving.
Dangerous situations during the load change
Based on the performance demonstrated on the wet handling track, the test experts conditionally divided the participants into three groups.
The lagging group included Kleber Dynaxer HP4, Firestone Roadhawk and Hankook Ventus Prime3 K125, failed by their weak grip on the road at high speeds, understeer, and poor lateral stability. Their «bite» on the pavement is not as strong as a driver would want it to be, and, essentially, they just propel the front axle forward.
Apollo Aspire XP, Toyo Proxes Sport, and Avon ZV7, who constituted the middle group, turned out to be generally well-balanced, and maintained their handling capabilities until a rather high threshold. At the same time, during an abrupt load change, for example, during the elk test, they could send the car into a skid.
The Maxxis Premitra HP5 model also had similar issues, although not as prominent as with the above-mentioned trio.
The products of two subsidiary brands of Goodyear — Fulda SportControl 2 and Sava Intensa UHP 2 models — got the highest scores in this discipline. They provide crisp steering response and are characterized by good lateral stability. According to the GTÜ/ARBÖ/ACE experts, these tires could provide tough competition to premium-class brands.
Issues with lateral hydroplaning
Any driver sooner or later will be confronted with a situation when puddles on the road will stop him from fast and confident cornering. The tires may lose grip on the road surface, sending the car into a skid. The best lateral hydroplaning resistance was put up by the Maxxis Premitra HP5. It started losing the grip on the road surface covered by a 7-mm-deep water layer only at a speed close to 90 km/h, while Hankook Ventus Prime3 K125 was only able to stick it out under 80 km/h.
No problems with puddles
Hydroplaning is dangerous not only while cornering but on a straight line as well. The good news is that the summer tires of the medium segment are quite resistant to straight hydroplaning in still water: the Maxxis Premitra HP5 loses grip almost at 80 km/h (which, as it turned out, even 2 km/h better than the referenced premium-class model), while for most of the test participants this figure stays within the range of 76 to 78 km/h.
Even the worst in this discipline, Avon ZV7, Hankook Ventus Prime3 K125, and Kleber Dynaxer HP4 were able to develop a speed of just under 74 km / h in the water layer.
Nonetheless, in real life, the hydroplaning effect may occur at much lower speeds. A lot depends on the tread depth. With a minimum allowed tread depth of 1.6 mm, at a speed of 75 km / h, only 16% of the of the tire contact patch stays in actual contact with the road. Effectively, this means that the hydroplaning effect occurs much earlier (at least 10 km/h) than with the new tires with full tread depth.
Kleber lives up to its name
The dry braking tests of summer tires exhausted both the test experts and the tires themselves: at least ten accelerations to 100 km/h and brakings to a full stop for each model.
The premium-class summer tires with their average braking distance of 35 m were again used as the reference point. The Maxxis Premitra HP5 and Kleber Dynaxer HP4 models ensure almost as good a braking performance, while Apollo Aspire XP, Fulda SportControl 2, Sava Intensa UHP 2, Firestone Roadhawk, and Hankook Ventus Prime3 K125 need an extra 1.5 meters, even though their results quite satisfied the GTÜ/ARBÖ/ACE experts.
The braking distance ensured by Avon ZV7 and Toyo Proxes Sport is markedly longer. To fully stop the compact SUV Audi Q2, these tires need not one and a half, but at least three meters more (38 meters). The difference from the best result almost equals the length of a car, so, the designers do have something to think about.
Nevertheless, none of the participants really «failed» this summer tire test 2020 in terms of braking. All the nine models ensured a braking distance under 40 meters, which is still a good result: winter tires and most of all-season models fall way short of achieving that.
A small difference in «dry» handling
All the tires involved in this test demonstrated extremely convincing performance on the dry handling track, the differences between them being all but negligible. In order to come to the final decision, the experts had to push the car to the point of losing grip during every run. But even in such conditions the winner was elicited by barely palpable nuances.
The tires Maxxis, Sava, Hankook, Fulda, and Toyo ensured crisp steering response and stable performance even on technically complex stretches. The quickest one of them was again the Maxxis Premitra HP5. The results shown by the other tires were also on a par with those of the premium-class models.
The Apollo, Avon, Kleber, and Firestone tires were less effective on the handling track, but, as the ACE/ARBO/GTU test experts pointed out, in everyday life they are quite competitive, even if you sometimes do have to do some precision steering. When pushed to the limit, they still showed sufficient safety margin.
The experts’ feedback on the tested summer tires
The tires of subsidiary brands of the world-famous tire makers showed quite decent results. However, the maximum total competitive edge was demonstrated by the Maxxis Premitra HP5. This has to do with its excellent traction in the wet in the and dry, which is on a par with that of premium-class models.
In addition, in 2020, Maxxis summer tires made a sharp qualitative leap forward. Besides the leadership in this 215/55 R17 summer tire test from GTÜ/ARBÖ/ACE, Maxxis also scored two third places in the ADAC tests 2020 in sizes 225/40 R18 (Victra Sport 5) and 235/55 R17 (Premitra 5), and made it into the final round of the big Auto Bild comparative test 2020 with Maxxis Victra Sport 5.
If you want to save up without compromising the tires’ performance, the models Sava Intensa UHP 2 (2nd place) and Fulda SportControl 2 (3rd place) will also be a good choice, just as the Apollo Aspire XP, and the Toyo Proxes Sport, which, although devoid of any prizes, still got a «Recommended» verdict.
As for the «conditionally recommended» five, which includes the Kleber Dynaxer HP4, Firestone Roadhawk, Hankook Ventus Prime3 K125 and Avon ZV7, it is very strange to see the Hankook product in it. Its wet traction was the worst on test, which made this model plunge to the eight position in the final ranking. Probably, it’s high time for this Korean tire maker to launch the successor of the Ventus Prime3 K125 model in the nearest possible future. Since last year, this model dropped another two points, and this considering the fact that in 2019 its rivals were the flagship-brand tires.
Tips on economical consumption and better performance
In the sum total of the secondary aspects, i.e. not directly affecting the driving safety, such as rolling resistance, noise, and price, the scatter of results among the participants of the test turned out to be considerable.
Even in rolling resistance the difference between the best tires (Firestone) and the worst (Toyo) amounted to almost 25%, which in real life corresponds to a 0.3 liter / 100 km greater fuel consumption by the vehicle, driving on the Toyo tires.
Regretfully, the lowest rolling resistance on test came at a price of compromising the outside noise level. With their 69 dB noise, the Firestone tires were nicknamed «hoover» by the test experts, while the five tire models — Apollo, Avon, Fulda, Kleber and Sava, with a 66 dB volume were considered to be as loud as a casual conversation or a living room TV working at a normal volume level.
Still, however, the most common reason for buying medium-segment tires is their affordable price. The price of the tires that were involved in this test ranges from 63 to 97 Euros per tire. The only available cheaper options are retreaded tires or budget tires from China. How good a choice these tires are is something that the ACE experts promised to share about in one of the next articles.
The tire pressure is yet another factor that directly affects their performance. If the pressure is too low, it leads to an increase in fuel consumption and premature wear; if the pressure is too high, it negatively affects the tire’s grip on the road surface. Therefore, motorists should check tire pressure as often as possible.
Besides the trio of ACE, GTU and ARBO tests, there are plenty of tests performed by other industry publications available on our website. All summer tire tests.