EVENT: NO ‘STONE UN­TURNED

Bridge­stone ex­hausted ev­ery tech­ni­cal pos­si­bil­ity to cre­ate the new Tu­ranza T005A and demon­strated the pos­i­tive re­sults at its Ayutthaya prov­ing ground.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Bridge­stone ex­hausted ev­ery tech­ni­cal pos­si­bil­ity to cre­ate the new Tu­ranza T005A and demon­strated the pos­i­tive re­sults at its Ayutthaya prov­ing ground.

RRUBBER at the in­ter­face of in­ti­mate con­tact is the pri­mary de­ter­mi­nant of plea­sure and safety.

Shoes, for ex­am­ple. You have your run­ning shoes, your cross train­ers, your tennis shoes, your foot­ball boots... Good ones can el­e­vate your per­for­mance and en­joy­ment, crummy ones can ruin your abil­ity. Crummy shoes can also ruin your knees. And so it is with tyres.

To that end, tyre de­sign is an ex­act, ex­haus­tive, con­tin­u­ally in­no­va­tive engi­neer­ing ef­fort. To cor­ral such ex­tremes of physics as that which a car places on its con­tact points – at high speeds on all man­ner of dif­fer­ent sur­faces wet and dry – is no mean feat.

Hence, sim­ply look­ing at Bridge­stone’s press re­lease for their new flag­ship com­for­to­ri­ented tyre, the Tu­ranza T005A, what with its masses of graphs, di­a­grams, es­o­teric tech­no­log­i­cal jar­gon and sta­tis­tics, is enough to cause un­com­fort­able flash­backs to pim­ply teenage years sat in­ter­minably in the shadow of giant text­books and dron­ing lec­tur­ers. How does the com­pany de­velop, test, and to­day demon­strate the virtues of its shiny new tour­ing tyre? Why, at its very own gi­gan­tic prov­ing ground, of course! One of many owned by Bridge­stone around the world, the sprawl­ing 130-acre com­plex in Ayutthaya, Thai­land in­cludes a 3.3km high-speed perime­ter track, a multi-pur­pose test pad, dry and wet han­dling cir­cuits, and a va­ri­ety of sur­faces mim­ick­ing re­sults of gov­ern­men­tal ne­glect that your dinky lit­tle car will have to plod over in the real world.

It is here that Bridge­stone staff ea­gerly put us through a se­ries of “driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ences”, each de­signed to il­lus­trate how tech­no­log­i­cal el­e­ments in the new Tu­ranza trans­late to real, per­cep­ti­ble ef­fects.

Bridge­stone clearly be­lieves in the new T005A. Their brochure proudly presents a hexag­o­nal spi­der plot con­fi­dently pro­claim­ing im­prove­ments in all char­ac­ter­is­tics of ride com­fort, quiet­ness, wear life, fuel ef­fi­ciency, dry han­dling and wet brak­ing. Smoother, qui­eter, safer – grand claims, th­ese. We shall see.

We start off hud­dled be­neath a tent un­der the pun­ish­ing Thai sun, spec­ta­tors to a para­dox­i­cally wet strip of long tar­mac wa­tered by sur­face-level noz­zles. From afar a Camry shod with the previous-gen­er­a­tion GR-100 tyres comes bar­relling down, 4-cylin­der wheez­ing des­per­ately be­fore the driver slams on the brakes and the sa­loon comes to a halt not far away. An­other iden­ti­cal grey Camry, but be­stowed with the new-model rub­ber, does the same rou­tine, only this time ter­mi­nat­ing its screech ap­prox­i­mately a full car-length sooner.

We have it ex­plained to us that cham­fer­ing at the edges of the tyres’ tread en­sures a flat con­tact sur­face with the road

THE NEW T005A AC­QUITS IT­SELF BET­TER THAN THE OLD GR-100 IT RE­PLACES.

de­spite heavy brak­ing loads, where pre­vi­ously tread-edges had a ten­dency to de­form in­wards. By Bridge­stone’s mea­sure­ments, this yields a like-for-like 5% im­prove­ment in wet brak­ing dis­tances. The en­gi­neers smile smugly.

Back-to-back rides in cars shod with old and new tyres on the rut­ted, rough and cut-up sur­faces of the prov­ing ground’s real-world test­ing sec­tion re­veal that a com­bi­na­tion of in­no­va­tions does yield a sur­pris­ingly per­cep­ti­ble im­prove­ment in noise lev­els and smooth­ness.

Each tread block from the in­side to the out­side shoul­der of the T005A has been given its own unique pitch and pat­tern to re­duce res­o­nance and im­prove quiet­ness, while high-an­gle sipes (the di­ag­o­nal slashes that join two tread trenches) soften tyre im­pact on the road. The end re­sult is a ride that roars less on bro­ken pave­ment.

A fine anal­y­sis dur­ing de­vel­op­ment of pres­sures at the con­tact point has also al­lowed Bridge­stone to mould the T005A’s tread shapes into one which ex­erts a more uni­form pres­sure pat­tern, reap­ing clear ben­e­fits in re­fine­ment. More ro­bust side­walls also min­imise de­flec­tion of the car, and the in­struc­tors’ com­par­a­tive lack of steer­ing cor­rec­tion while driv­ing the cars wear­ing the T005A is ev­i­dent on ob­ser­va­tion.

Com­fort aside, how­ever, th­ese de­sign el­e­ments com­bine with a new com­pound in­fused with what Bridge­stone calls Nano Pro-Tech to de­liver greater sure­foot­ed­ness. Be­cause what is tyre de­sign with­out a healthy dose of ma­te­ri­als engi­neer­ing, and what is com­fort with­out a con­fi­dence of gait and con­trol?

Be­hind the sci-fi name, Bridge­stone’s trade­marked tech­nol­ogy is claimed to strengthen the bond be­tween sil­ica and poly­mer, re­duc­ing heat gen­er­a­tion and en­ergy loss.

All that sci­en­tific mumbo jumbo is well and good, but af­ter the pot­ter­ing around, we are keen to get a first-hand feel of how they all come to­gether at high speed. Bridge­stone obliges us, and we’re un­leashed on the han­dling tracks and high-speed perime­ter road, where we scoot through lane changes, slaloms and full emergency brake stops.

Does the new tyre ac­quit it­self bet­ter than the previous tyre? Yes. Does it grip harder and con­vey that all-im­por­tant as­sur­ance of safety? Yes. Is it, as its maker claims, qui­eter, smoother, safer? Yes. You might never have known how fine a science tyre-making ac­tu­ally is, but at the end of the day, mis­sion ac­com­plished for the Bridge­stone Turzana T005A, I would say.

Cam­ry­based, seatof-the-pants com­par­i­son of T005A and GR-100 showed the newer Tu­ranza’s greater re­fine­ment and bet­ter han­dling.

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