For drivers who value performance, purchasing tires isn’t simply about price, brand and tread life. Performance-minded drivers understand that tires are the critical link between the car and the road, and that different tire choices can have a huge influence not only on how well the car grips the tarmac, but also on how it feels behind the wheel when cornering and braking.
But unless you have a friend with an identical car, how can you compare one tire against another, except on their looks alone? Online research is one popular source of information (so good for you, reading this article), and a knowledgeable tire retailer can be another valuable resource.
To help get the word out on its new g-Force COMP-2 A/S ultra-high-performance all-season tire, BFGoodrich invited Canadian auto journalists and tire retailers to a performance driving facility in Pitt Meadows, BC and let them put the tire through its paces in wet and dry conditions against a top competing performance tire.
While tire manufacturers will typically choose the competing tire themselves, for this comparison BFGoodrich polled the tire retailers and asked them which tire they’d like to select as the challenger. The retailers selected the well-regarded Continental ExtremeContact DWS06.
Prior to letting the assembled retailers and journalists out for the hot laps, racing drivers Andrew Comrie-Picard and Mike Johnson gave some background on BFGoodrich (we learned that before pioneering radial tires in North America in 1965, BFGoodrich made the tires used for the first ever coast-to-coast drive across the U.S. in 1903), and they explained some of the features that differentiate the g-Force COMP-2 A/S.
Key amongst these features are the tire’s race-bred Performance Racing Core and g-Control Sidewall Inserts, which provide a reinforced internal structure that maintains ride comfort in straight-line driving while resisting lateral sidewall flex during hard cornering. By maintaining sidewall positioning during hard cornering, the g-Control Sidewall Inserts help the aggressive high-silica directional tread pattern stay more squarely in contact with the pavement. This reduces squirm, which in turn increases grip and reduces tire wear.
The cars used for the performance tire test were identically-spec’ed V6 Ford Mustangs shod with 235/50ZR18 tires. On the track, we were encouraged to drive a little spirited. “We want you to feel what the tire is like at the edge and when driven a little ragged,” explained Johnson. We were also encouraged to check the tire pressures. “We set them to match the door plaque, so any difference you feel is in the tire, not the tire pressure.” Checked and confirmed.
The track consisted first of an acceleration lane, followed by a wet emergency stop. Then, after accelerating from the emergency stop there was a sharp lane change manoeuvre onto dry pavement, and then a tricky decreasing radius turn that encouraged you to come in far too hot. This led into an S-curve and a slalom, then back to the pits. With two laps in each car, I chose to run my first lap fast and smooth, driving as I would in competition, and then follow up with a spirited second lap, deliberately pushing the tires well past their limits and getting a little sideways in the S-bends.
The first observation is that the retailers chose an extremely competent challenger. The Continental ExtremeContact DWS06 is no slouch, and both tires delivered high enough levels of performance and grip that their differences are subtle. I was easily able to discern the differences between mid-market sport tires we tested on Mazda3 sedans later in the day, but my seat-of-pants sensors aren’t quite so finely tuned as a race car driver’s, so I asked for extra laps in the Mustangs – including a couple with Andrew Comrie-Picard at the wheel – to allow a more thorough comparison of the high-performance tires.