It’s almost a cardinal sin, but in general most of us don’t give the tyres on our cars too much thought, except for when the time comes to replace them.
Then, we can experience ‘tyre shock’, as Korean brand Kumho terms it.
High-end performance tyres don’t come cheap, and replacing a full set of boots can, in some cases, set you back anywhere from $2500–$3500, depending on the brand, size and specification.
Kumho is looking to combat this tyre shock with its new performance rubber, the Ecsta PA51, which has joined the brand’s line-up of rubber in tyre shops across Australia this month.
We had the chance to test the new PA51, as well as the more performance-focussed PS71, at Marulan’s Pheasant Wood Circuit recently.
Any meaningful comparisons between the Kumhos and its stated rivals from Continental, Michelin and Bridgestone are reserved for a full-blown tyre test, but initial impressions of both the PA51 and PS71 are good.
Booted on to a pair of Korean sporty sedans – an eye-searingly orange Kia Stinger GT and a more demure silver Genesis G70 2.0T – the short (1.4km) yet technical track offered a variety of exercises, both wet and dry, to gauge how Kumho’s new rubber performs.
Testing the Kumho Ecsta PA51 tyres on the Kia Stinger
Hit our gallery (or click any of the photos above) for more photos of the Kumho PA51 and PS71 tyres on test.
As Kumho’s Performance All-season (hence, the PA in the designation) tyre, the PA51 is designed to be used in all conditions, including light snow.
The asymmetrical tread pattern and rigid outside shoulder are claimed to offer better grip in all conditions, as well as offering a quieter, smoother ride.
It’s difficult to gauge noise suppression on a racetrack while trying to induce a loss of grip through a series of exercises, including both a wet and dry full-stop brake test, a dry slalom, and a series of reasonably fast wet and dry corners.
Did we lose grip? Nope, the PA51s under the Stinger are a match for Kia’s halo sports sedan.
Kumho’s rubber was up to the task, providing a decent level of surety and confidence, even when pushing harder with each successive lap and its varied challenges.
Swapping over to the Genesis G70 shod with Kumho’s performance-spec PS71, the differences are immediately apparent.
Its performance-focussed composition makes for a softer compound designed for even more grip, albeit at a cost of durability. That’s not an issue on this day, the G70 remaining sure-footed throughout all tests.
The PS71s did feel grippier by the seat of the pants, but that was counteracted somewhat by the softer suspension tune of the G70, which displayed a little more body roll than its sportier cousin from across the garage.
Kumho has increased its OEM footprint recently, adding the BMW X3 and 5 Series, as well as Mercedes-Benz G-Class to its portfolio that also includes Chrysler, Holden, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Renault, Skoda, SsangYong and Volkswagen.
The Korean brand, though, sees its biggest market opportunity for the PA51 in combating the dreaded ‘tyre shock’ when car owners need to replace their OEM rubber for the first time, and are suddenly confronted with the prospect of a tyre bill sometimes in excess of $3000.
The Kumho Ecsta PA51 is likely to cost around $1500 a set, and comes in a huge range of sizes, from 15-inch to 21-inch.
NOTE: Hit our gallery (or click any of the photos above) for more photos of the Kumho PA51 and PS71 tyres on test.