TYRE TEST We find out which tyre is best for your SUV
TYRES ARE NOT JUST BLACK AND ROUND, THEY’RE ALSO A BLACK ART. BUT WE’VE DONE THE SCIENCE TO HELP PICK THE BEST REPLACEMENT TYRE FOR YOUR SUV
THE most effective handling upgrade you can give your sports utility vehicle is fitting a road-biased set of tyres in place of the all-surface rubber that carmakers specify as part of the light off-roading SUV promise.
And while the proliferation of the front-drive SUV has seen many makers take this measure into their own hands, the factory-issue boots on many soft-roaders still leave room for improvement.
Not the Hankooks on our Kia Sportage test mule, though; they would have finished third if they were part of the test rather than the control tyre. Like the car itself, they were a surprise package.
An SUV has a higher centre of mass than a regular sedan or wagon, but canny chassis tuning with electronic aids and safety systems means today’s breed is a decidedly safer – and more satisfying – steer than those of a decade ago. With a great set of tyres factored in, it’s a recipe for a safe family machine.
The trouble is that our tyre industry sources suggest a low price remains one of the most powerful motivators for reluctant (in other words, most) tyre shoppers. That means the buyers are likely to go in the other direction, replacing the standard tyres on their soft-roader with something cheaper and even more grip-challenged.
For those who see the value in putting a good quality product between their car and the road, which brand and pattern is best? The 2016 Wheels Tyre Test sets out to deliver the answer.
The venue was the Ian Luff driver training facility at Sydney Dragway in the city’s west, where seasoned test driver Renato Loberto put each tyre through the wringer.
Loberto was flying blind, not knowing what brand he was on, which left him to provide insightful feedback uncoloured by brand perception or bias, while the stopwatches and Racelogic Performance Box spat out the data.
Testing began with a road loop to scrub the surface of the tyres and let us record a noise figure for each set. Loberto then rolled into the slalom and braking test elements at the grippy far end of the strip before taking to the handling circuit for a series of hot laps, and a second brake test, this time on a consistently wet surface.
Each discipline is scored out of 10. To establish the final scores, noise is marked down to quarter the value of the four primary disciplines, and the totals expressed as a percentage.
We measured track temperature and logged the time before each run and the control tyre was deployed on a regular basis to gather data on track and vehicle evolution, if there was any.
The results and analysis for each brand and pattern in 225/60R17 apply broadly to the other sizes in the range.