235/55R17

Promobil 2021: Commercial Summer Tire Test R17

Not all campervans are ponderous wheeled boxes that slow traffic. The German magazine tested tires for van-based vehicles that deliver driving dynamics approaching those of passenger cars and SUVs.

List of models tested:

For its new tire test, the specialist publication Promobil, dedicated to motorhomes, chose as the test vehicle a Volkswagen T6.1, a van that can be used both for commercial operations and for camping. The test team opted for the tires in «passenger» size 235/55 R17 because it had a goal of finding the best possible option for modern powerful campervans.

The tires were tested using Volkswagen T6.1.
The tires were tested using Volkswagen Transporter 6.1.

When van-based vehicles are operated on construction sites or used for courier delivery, they need special heavy-duty «curb-resistant» tires capable of withstanding extra loads, and these reinforced tires are marked «C», which stands for «commercial». Compared to regular passenger tires, the C-versions usually feature stronger sidewalls and wear-resistant tread compounds — something that is often achieved by sacrificing ride smoothness. In addition, the tread life extension often compromises the tire’s braking performance and overall wet grip, while the passenger tires are optimized for maximum efficiency in such conditions.

For the T6.1 and some of the predecessor models, the C-tires are usually offered in sizes 215/65 R16C and 215/60 R17C that are recommended for commercial vehicles or heavy campers up to 3.5 tons. For vehicles of the latter kind, a specialized class of tires was developed, marked as «CP». Tires of this category are also capable of withstanding heavy loads and are extra sturdy, yet, when developing these tires, instead of increasing tread life, the engineers chiefly focused on maximizing wet traction.

The camper tires also have a number of other specific requirements posed to them, and, for example, they must have increased UV resistance, which is important in sunny southern regions. They must also be less prone to developing flat spots during extended periods of parking in the wintertime, and their construction is further improved to prevent slow loss of internal pressure, which directly affects driving safety.

Although tires with a CP mark may be considered the optimum choice for motorhomes, they are only available in a limited number of sizes, which were essentially developed for the Fiat Ducato, frequently used for camping. At the same time, these tires are not yet produced in sizes that fit a VW T6.1, so this option is off the table.

Test discipline: Wet handling. Source: promobil.de
Test discipline: Wet handling. Source: promobil.de

As for the tire width, the PM experts noted that the T6.1 can be fitted with tires in size 255/45 R18, originally developed for heavy passenger cars and SUVs, and making the visual appearance of the minivan more sporty. One way or another, a large fitting diameter inevitably diminishes the sidewall height, which may compromise ride smoothness and tire strength, i.e. the sporty 18-inch tires will be appropriate on a tuned-up minivan, but they are not recommended for motorhomes.

That leaves one practical option, and this is tire size 235/55 R17 that meets the carrying capacity requirements, and, besides, is offered with very high speed indexes W and Y (270 and 300 km/h respectively). According to experts, tires of this size have the necessary sturdiness, their compound ensures optimum grip, and their profile is at the same time not as low as to compromise ride smoothness. Thus, 17-inch tires can be safely recommended for powerful and fast campervans, and such models as VW California will demonstrate dynamic performance comparable to that of passenger cars, without sacrificing the ride comfort.

Tires in size 235/55 R17 are quite abundant on the market, and, when choosing a set of tires for a motorhome, you must first of all pay attention to their load index. Such campervans as California need tires with a load index no less than 103 (875 kg per tire), which slightly narrows down the selection. For the test, the PM experts selected eight tire models, priced (in Germany) from 90 to 160 Euro a tire. Tires of different classes were included into the pool, from premium Continental and Michelin to inexpensive Maxxis and Sava, which also passed the wet and dry elimination tests. According to the PM evaluation method, if a tire scores less than six points in a discipline that has to do with driving safety, it loses one point in the final standings, but this time around none of the competitors allowed itself such a thing. At the same time, the differences in some tests were more than substantial.

 

In the most important discipline — wet braking — the first place, with equal results, was scored by Continental and Michelin, which became the main contenders for victory. The poorest result in this discipline was shown by the inexpensive Sava tire, and we must note that the test involved a still less expensive model — Maxxis — which showed a much better result, and even was able to surpass Goodyear.

In the wet lateral stability test, both Sava and Maxxis scored good points, the best results being shown by the Nokian model, and the worst by Bridgestone.

The best handling performance was demonstrated by the Falken model, which was initially developed for SUVs; the Sava tire had a few issues, but, again, nothing critical.

The hydroplaning resistance was evaluated both on a straight track and in corners. The indisputable leader was the Goodyear model, while Sava from the same manufacturer also showed quite decent results. The worst results in both disciplines, quite unexpectedly, were demonstrated by the Michelin tire, the most expensive one on test.

In the dry braking test, the Michelin tire redeemed itself to a certain extent, quickly bringing the van to a standstill, but still falling short of Bridgestone. Last place was scored by Nokian, but generally all tires showed good results.

 

The Falken tire from the Japanese Sumitomo made a surprise by proving that its handling performance surpasses that of all of the competitors not only on wet, but also on dry pavement, while the bottom lines in this test were scored by the budget Sava and Maxxis models.

Besides the handling performance, fuel efficiency was also evaluated, and this was the first time that the performance of one of the tires was rated as unsatisfactory. The reason for that was the high rolling resistance of the Goodyear model.

The noise was measured outside of the vehicle (in accordance with the EU label standards), and the best tires turned out to be Michelin and Continental. At the same time, the Bridgestone model was the noisiest one on test. Another thing that was measured was the weight of the tires but it did not affect the tire’s position in the final standings.

Verdict

Thanks to short dry and wet braking distances, as well as good fuel efficiency combined with a smooth and noiseless ride, first place was scored by the Michelin Primacy 4, while the silver was shared by the Continental PremiumContact 6 and Falken Azenis FK510 SUV. The Continental model fell slightly short of the Michelin tire in terms of dry braking, but surpassed it in terms of steering precision and ride comfort, while the inexpensive Falken model, although unable to stop the van as fast as the other leaders, demonstrated the best handling performance in any conditions.

Commercial Summer Tire Test Summary, Promobil 235/55R17, 2021. Places 1–8. Click to enlarge.
Commercial Summer Tire Test Summary, Promobil 235/55R17, 2021. Places 1–8. Click to enlarge.

The Bridgestone Turanza T005 also showed good overall results, but it was failed by an unpleasant whining noise, audible even when the maneuvering was performed at relatively low speeds. The fourth line was scored by the Nokian Wetproof SUV, which demonstrated a well-balanced performance, yet, ironically, contrary to its very name, a relatively long wet braking distance; it was followed by the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5. The Goodyear tire demonstrated excellent hydroplaning resistance, but due to a less-than-perfect braking performance on wet pavement and very high rolling resistance, it won only 0.1 points over the budget model Maxxis Premitra 5, which demonstrated a well-balanced overall performance.

And, finally, the last line was scored by the Sava Intensa UHP 2, which was good on dry pavement and ensured good riding comfort and fuel efficiency, but lost points in the key wet braking test. One way or another, the PM experts noted that the Sava model was up against some pretty strong rivals, and, in spite of the last line in the final standings, it received a verdict «still recommended».

1st place: Michelin / Primacy 4
Quick Take
85 66
Comfort Dry Performance Wet Performance Price/Quality Handling Treadwear
  • Year Released: 2017
  • Regions for sale: Mexico, Central & South America, Europe, Russia+, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Oceania
Michelin Primacy 4
  • Very short braking distance on wet and dry pavement
  • Low noise emission
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Low hydroplaning resistance
  • Highly recommended

2nd place: Continental / PremiumContact 6
Quick Take
89 72

Continental PremiumContact 6

Dry Performance Price/Quality Wet Performance Handling Comfort Treadwear
  • This tire replaced Continental / ContiPremiumContact 5
  • Available Sizes in Line: 263
  • Original Equipment (OE) tires for:
    • • Toyota C-HR Facelift [2019 .. 2021]
    • • Mercedes-Benz C-Class Br205 [2015 .. 2021]
    • • BMW 3 Series VII (G20/G21) [2018 .. 2021]
    • • BMW 5 Series VII (G30/G31) Facelift [2020 .. 2021]
    • • Mazda CX-5 KF [2016 .. 2021]
    • • Ford Kuga III [2020 .. 2021]
    • • Renault Koleos II (CMF-CD) [2016 .. 2021]
    • • Subaru Forester SK [2018 .. 2021]
    • • Renault Megane IV (9A) [2016 .. 2021]
    • • Volvo XC40 [2017 .. 2021]
    • • Skoda Superb 3V Restyling [2020 .. 2021]
    • • Volvo V60 Cross Country II [2018 .. 2021]
    • • Mercedes-Benz X-Class D23 [2017 .. 2021]
    • • Audi A6 C8 [2018 .. 2021]
    • • Volvo S60 III [2019 .. 2021]
    • • Renault Alaskan D23 [2016 .. 2021]
    • • Volvo V60 II [2018 .. 2021]
    • • Jaguar I-Pace [2018 .. 2021]
    • • Ford Fiesta VII [2017 .. 2021]
    • • Ford Mustang Mach-E [2020 .. 2022]
  • Recommended Tire by Tests
  • Year Released: 2016
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe, Russia+, Japan, Oceania
Continental PremiumContact 6
  • Good riding comfort
  • Low noise emission
  • Very short wet braking distance
  • A less-than-perfect result in an elk test
  • Recommended

3rd place: Falken / Azenis FK510 SUV
Quick Take
90 35
Wet Performance Handling Comfort Dry Performance Treadwear
  • Available Sizes in Line: 53
  • Original Equipment (OE) tires for:
    • • Porsche Macan Typ 95B Facelift [2019 .. 2020]
  • Recommended Tire by Tests
  • Year Released: 2017
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+, East Asia, Oceania
Falken Azenis FK510 SUV
  • Excellent lateral stability on dry and wet pavement
  • Low external and internal noise
  • Excellent value for the money
  • Somewhat delayed steering response
  • A less-than-perfect result in an elk test
  • Recommended

4th place: Bridgestone / Turanza T005
Quick Take
83 67

Bridgestone Turanza T005

Price/Quality Dry Performance Handling Wet Performance Comfort Treadwear
  • This tire has run-flat model:
  • Available Sizes in Line: 233
  • Original Equipment (OE) tires for:
    • • Audi A7 4G9 [2018 .. 2020]
    • • Volkswagen Tiguan
    • • Volkswagen Caddy IV [2020 .. 2021]
    • • Skoda Superb
    • • Volkswagen Transporter
    • • Jeep Renegade
    • • Renault Captur
    • • Nissan Juke
    • • Ford Kuga
    • • Nissan Micra
    • • Volkswagen T-Roc [2017 .. 2021]
    • • BMW 1 Series
    • • BMW 3 Series
    • • BMW 8 Series
    • • MINI Clubman
    • • Audi A6
    • • Audi A3
    • • Audi SQ2 GA [2019 .. 2021]
    • • Audi A1
    • • Audi A4
    • • Audi A5
    • • Mercedes-Benz S-Class
    • • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
    • • Mercedes-Benz A-Class
    • • Mercedes-Benz B-Class
    • • Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
  • Recommended Tire by Tests
  • Year Released: 2018
  • Regions for sale: North America, Central & South America, Europe, Russia+, China, Southeast Asia, Oceania
Bridgestone Turanza T005
  • High level of driving safety on wet and dry pavement
  • Very short dry braking distance
  • Very low rolling resistance
  • Fuzzy whining sound when cornering
  • Recommended

5th place: Nokian / Wetproof SUV
Quick Take
82 36
  • Available Sizes in Line: 27
  • Recommended Tire by Tests
  • Year Released: 2020
  • Regions for sale: Europe
Nokian Wetproof SUV
  • Well-balanced performance on dry and wet pavement
  • Excellent lateral stability in the wet
  • Relatively weak straight hydroplaning resistance
  • Slightly delayed steering response
  • Recommended

6th place: Goodyear / Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5
Quick Take
88 66

Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5

Price/Quality Dry Performance Wet Performance Handling Treadwear Comfort
  • This tire replaced Goodyear / Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3
  • Available Sizes in Line: 134
  • Original Equipment (OE) tires for:
    • • Audi e-tron GT [2020 .. 2022]
  • Recommended Tire by Tests
  • Year Released: 2018
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, Oceania
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5
  • Well-balanced performance on wet and dry pavement (not counting the less-than-perfect wet braking performance)
  • Excellent hydroplaning resistance
  • Relatively long braking distance on wet pavement
  • Very high rolling resistance
  • Conditionally recommended

7th place: Maxxis / Premitra 5 HP5
Quick Take
77 43
Dry Performance Wet Performance Handling Comfort Treadwear
  • Year Released: 2015
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+, Oceania
Maxxis Premitra 5 HP5
  • Good results in the key safety disciplines
  • Delayed steering response
  • A less-than-perfect result in an elk test
  • Increased noise
  • Increased rolling resistance
  • Conditionally recommended

8th place: Sava / Intensa UHP 2
Quick Take
76 38
Treadwear Wet Performance Dry Performance Handling Comfort
  • Year Released: 2017
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Sava Intensa UHP 2
  • Good results on dry pavement
  • Good riding comfort
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Excellent hydroplaning resistance
  • Long braking distance and less-than-perfect handling response on wet pavement
  • Conditionally recommended

Price