Owning a performance car is a pricey proposition. More so, when you consider the on-costs of actually using your car's performance in a manner that is both enjoyable and rewarding.
Apart from the mechanical maintenance requirements, which include brake and engine fluid changes, the most expensive consumables are indeed brake pads and tyres. And performance tyres are by no means cheap.
The solutions are vast and varied. One can have a specific set of rims with track specific tyres, but this really only makes sense if you have both the storage solution and the patience to make it work. Not to mention that the initial cost of a set of rims is only really justifiable if track sessions are frequent.
What if though, you do own a performance car and you enjoy the occasional track session but also very much keen on mountain runs? Do you simply stick with the set of tyres that came with your car or do you look further afield to other options. This is a vexed question and one we have been asked far too many times, so it was time to find the answer.
Manufacturers will of course tell you that sticking with their choice of tyre is ideal as the car has been developed to work with that tyre only. This is accurate in some rare instances, where high-end performance cars are actually designed to work with a specific tyre. However in most instances, it's not the case.
Testing tyres is a meticulous process that requires a great deal of consistency to ensure the test results are accurate and reliable.
To ensure consistency, we had elements of this test that remained the same. The car, the driver and passenger were the same through each test, as were the test conditions (with everything performed on the same day with a temperature variance of less than two degrees).
The cars were allowed to cool down for identical periods of time to ensure braking performance was not compromised.
The driver was former World Rally Championship driver Chris Atkinson, the cars were the CarAdvice Audi S1 as well as the Aston Martin Vantage and the passenger was CarAdvice senior road tester, Paul Maric. Paul was also in charge of taking down the results and operating the VBox (and not throwing up). At the same time Alborz double-checked the results of all distance-tests using old school measurements.
We tested the following performance tyres which covered a vast range of prices and performance offerings. And for examples we could find, we have also included actual cheapest pricing at the time of publication, which in most cases differs quite a lot to the recommended retail price provided by the tyre manufacturers:
Audi S1 – 225/35/18 all around
|Pirelli P Zero Nero GT (OEM tyre – $262 each, actual price)|
|Toyo T1 Sport ($309 each – actual price $265)|
|Bridgestone Potenza S001 ($409 each – actual price $304)|
|Goodyear Eagle F1 ($399 each – $350 actual price)|
|Continental ContiSport 5 ($339 each, actual price)|
Aston Martin Vantage – 235/40/19 front – 275/35/19 rear
|Bridgestone Potenza RE050A (retail: $529F/$599R)|
|Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 (retail: $569F/$651R)|
We looked to include the best performance tyres from Kumho, Dunlop and Federal in this test, but those companies did not wish to participate. We suspect this was largely due to the high level of well-known brands that provided performance tyres to compete against.
We were also very keen to include the Pirelli P Zeros in the test however, despite making the tyres for the Vantage in size, they were not homologated in Australia to be used on anything other than the Porsche 911, and the Italian company does not produce the tyres for the Audi S1's size.
All available tyres were tested across a range of conditions with the following conducted multiple times per tyre to gain an average reading.
- Cornering g test.
- This test involved sharply entering a corner in second gear and accelerating to cause the vehicle to reach its maximum grip and traction potential.
- The maximum g value recorded here was our result. The higher the number, the greater the grip potential of the tyre.
- Dry braking from 80km/h.
- This test would evaluate the tyre’s ability to stop in dry conditions from 80km/h (as indicated by the VBox and double checked with physical measurement). We recorded both stopping time and distance.
- The shorter the stopping time and distance, the better. While this is a great test, it does have its flaws. Unlike a skid test, we rely on the car’s stability control system to stop the car and it operates differently (only minutely) each time it’s used.
- Wet braking from 80km/h.
- This test was conducted to evaluate the tyre’s ability to stop in wet conditions from 80km/h. This test also recorded stopping time and distance.
- Likewise with the dry braking test, the shorter the stopping time and distance, the better. This test evaluates the effectiveness of the grooves and channels in the tyre. A tyre with ineffective channelling will be unable to disperse water to create a contact patch for the tyre; the end result will be a longer stopping distance. As with the dry braking test, the vehicle’s stability control plays a part in pulling the car up effectively.
- Slalom test in second gear with 60km/h entry
- This test involved Chris entering a set of cones in second gear at around 60km/h and trying to increase speed until the tyres exceeded their grip limit.
- The quicker the time through the cones, the better. This would test the tyre’s ability to load laterally and change direction.
- Wet circular g test
- The wet circular g test was performed on the circular skidpan in wet conditions to simulate maximum grip and traction potential during cornering in the wet.
- The higher the number, the better the tyre at handling cornering in wet conditions at an increasing speed. The strategy here was to travel in a circle at constant speed and gradually increase speed until reaching the maximum g.
- Dry circular g test
- The dry circular g test followed the same procedure as the wet circular g test, with the exception being that the skidpan was dry.
- The higher the number, the better the tyre at handling cornering in dry conditions at an increasing speed. The strategy was the same as the wet circular g test, where the objective was to measure the maximum g achieved.
- Decibel Sound measurement test
- The decibel test was conducted at 80km/h on the same stretch of track with the vehicle in its highest gear. Each tyre is built differently, so the intention of this test was to gauge how much noise came through the cabin due to tyre construction.
We used a decibel meter in its peak setting, so the highest value attained was displayed on the screen.
It's important to note that we used the Pirelli tyres as a control tyre, as they are OEM on the Audi. We tested the car with those tyres at the beginning and at the end of the day to note variance in performance to note any environmental factors, of which we found a negligible variance.
Audi S1 Data:
Cornering g test:
- Continental ContiSport 5 – 1.04g
- Goodyear Eagle F1 – 1.02g
- Toyo T1 Sport / Bridgestone Potenza S001 – 1.01g
- Pirelli P Zero Nero GT – 0.99g
- Bridgestone Potenza S001 – 2.2 seconds – 23.6m
- Continental ContiSport 5 – 2.3 seconds – 24.4m
- Goodyear Eagle F1 – 2.4 seconds – 24.9m
- Pirelli P Zero Nero GT – 2.4 seconds – 25m
- Toyo T1 Sport – 2.4 seconds – 25.1
- Goodyear Eagle F1 – 2.5 seconds – 25.8m
- Bridgestone Potenza S001 – 2.6 seconds – 26.3m
- Continental ContiSport 5 – 2.6 seconds – 26.4m
- Toyo T1 Sport – 2.7 seconds – 27.2
- Pirelli P Zero Nero GT – 2.9 seconds – 30.4m
- Bridgestone Potenza S001 – 4.93 seconds
- Continental ContiSport 5 – 5.01 seconds
- Goodyear Eagle F1 – 5.18 seconds
- Toyo T1 Sport – 5.43 seconds
- Pirelli P Zero Nero GT – 5.86 seconds
- Goodyear Eagle F1 – 1.02g
- Toyo T1 Sport – 1.01g
- Continental ContiSport 5 Contact – 0.99g
- Bridgestone Potenza S001 / Pirelli PZero Nero GT – 0.98g
- Continental ContiSport 5 Contact – 0.94g
- Goodyear Eagle F1 / Bridgestone Potenza S001 – 0.93g
- Toyo T1 Sport – 0.91g
- Pirelli P Zero Nero GT – 0.89g
- Pirelli P Zero Nero GT – 78dB
- Continental ContiSport 5 Contact – 79dB
- Bridgestone Potenza S001 – 80dB
- Toyo T1 Sport – 82dB
- Goodyear Eagle F1 – 83db
There wasn't much between the Toyo T1 Sport and the Pirelli P Zero Nero GTs. Both consistently performed below the other three and are very similarly priced. The Toyos are an ideal alternative to the Neros if you can't get a good price on the Pirellis.
Perhaps not surprisingly though, the three most expensive tyres on the test from Goodyear, Bridgestone and Continental, were also the best. Separating them, though, was a little harder.
The ContiSport 5s managed to win two categories, came runner-up in a further three with bronze as its poorest result.
The Potentza S001s managed two wins, two runner-ups with a third- and a fourth-place to round it up. The Eagle F1s did equally as well, with two wins, to runner-ups, two thirds and a fifth.
All three tyres performed exceptionally well and if you can find one of the three brands cheaper than the others, you won't be disappointed.
On the whole, though, it would be between Continental ContiSport 5 Contacts and the Bridgestone Potenza S001 as they both delivered excellent results in different areas, so it comes down to personal requirements. Considering the Bridgestone's are $140 cheaper for a set, they would be our performance tyre pick of the lot.
Aston Martin Vantage Data
Cornering g test:
- Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 – 1.17g
- Bridgestone Potenza RE050A – 1.13g
- Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 – 2.1 seconds – 23.6m
- Bridgestone Potenza RE050A – 2.2 – 24.2m
- Bridgestone Potenza RE050A – 2.4 seconds – 25.9m
- Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 – 2.6 seconds – 26.7m
- Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 – 5.06
- Bridgestone Potenza RE050A – 5.38
- Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 – 1.05g
- Bridgestone Potenza RE050A – 1.02g
- Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 – 0.93g
- Bridgestone Potenza RE050A – 0.89g
It's important to note here that these two tyres are very different. The Bridgestones are the sort of tyre you can run as a daily for around 20,000km before they show major signs of degradation while the Michelin's much softer compound would see you smiling if you managed 7000km from a set and probably less if driven hard.
In that regard, it comes down to personal circumstance. If the tyres are going on a high-end performance car that is only occasionally driven – or if money is not an issue – then the Pilot Sport Cup 2s make perfect sense. They are known to provide the best dry grip of any road-legal performance tyre. They are not as good in the wet, but certainly not as scary as previous generations have been.
In the case for the Potenza RE050As, these are the all rounders, the tyres that will wear well and provide amazing grip in both dry and wet conditions. Ideally, these are the more logical choice if you're after a high end performance tyre that isn't kilometre restricted.
*All tyres were offered for return to manufacturer post test.