Hankook Ventus V4 ES
Hankook Ventus V4 ES. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Jeff Burry

Let’s face it: when it comes to tires there are as many varieties in the marketplace as there are ice cream flavours at your local Baskin-Robbins. Most people tend to buy the OE (original equipment) tire for replacements on their vehicle as they realize it was chosen by the vehicle manufacturer for a reason, and by people “in the know.” Still others will shop around for the very best price.

Recently I was presented with the opportunity to try out a set of Hankook tires. Upon learning that the ones being sent to me were UHP (Ultra-High Performance) tires, I decided to put them on my Honda S2000.

Now, I have owned various sports cars, family sedans and SUVs over the years and I suspect that I’ve driven on just about every brand of tire in my 33 years (not including the time I took my father’s Chevelle for a rip at the age of 13) behind the wheel. However, I can honestly say I have never had Hankook rubber wrapped around any wheel of mine.

When people are faced with the reality that they require new tires, there are a number of factors to be considered, such as ride, safety, wear, and the type of tire (all-season vs. summer, etc.) required. There are a few other things that one can consider too, but this is a tire review and not a lesson on what to look for or consider when buying tires.

Upon equipping and driving my S2000 with the Hankook Ventus V4 tires (P235/45ZR/17) rear and (P215/45ZR/17) front, I noticed that the ride seemed to be a little less harsh than the tires that my S2000 was originally equipped with. Could this be?

Hankook Ventus V4 ES
Hankook Ventus V4 ES. Click image to enlarge

Upon reviewing the documentation of the Hankook Ventus V4, I also noticed that Ventus V4s were an Ultra-High Performance All-Season tire. Because of that, the ride is indeed slightly more comfortable, and that goes a long way on a car with X-frame construction that usually provides its owners with a rather stiff ride.

The literature for the Ventus V4 suggests that they provide twice the amount of winter performance of typical summer UHP tires and provide excellent handling in all weather conditions. Personally, when facing a Canadian winter (at least in eastern Ontario), I would slap on a true set of winter tires, which I have chosen to do for my daily year-round driver.

Speaking of all-weather conditions, while I obviously did not have the opportunity to drive on snow-covered roads, I have had the opportunity to drive in both dry and wet weather conditions since mounting the Hankooks in early May.

While the tires I removed had less than 5,000 km on them, I immediately noticed that the Hankook Ventus V4 tires provided for a smoother ride and the cornering was also tighter, providing the car with an even more agile feel. This is perhaps due to the softer rubber compound providing more “grip.”

In terms of braking, in both dry and wet weather conditions, the Hankooks enabled me to bring my nearly 2,900-pound (1,300 kg) vehicle to a halt sooner than expected. This was really noticeable in wet weather conditions, with the tread pattern quickly and easily disposing of any H2O trapped between the tire and the road surface.

Hankook Ventus V4 ES
Hankook Ventus V4 ES. Click image to enlarge

The opportunity to confirm this came when I took the car to a vacant parking lot one rainy Sunday morning to put the tires to the test, and frankly they performed very, very well.

Using a pylon, I brought the car up to speed applying the brakes “late” to see if I would roll over the marker. I also drove slalom-style towards the marker, quickly turning to the right and left as I approached it. In both instances the tires safely redirected the S2000 with purpose and agility.

In terms of road noise and handling, again this is a tire that delivers, especially considering I am driving around in a small two-seater convertible. The V-rating of the tires suggest a speed capability of up to 240 km/h (for the P235/45ZR/17). That’s plenty of speed to get to the local Baskin-Robbins for one of those Rocky Road flavours. Speaking of rocky roads, you should notice those slightly less on the Hankook Ventus V4.

The tires I was supplied with retail for $250 (P215/45ZR/17) and $266 (P235/45ZR/17) respectively – slightly more than the competition; these prices are comparable with other brands manufactured by Michelin and Bridgestone.

Michelin Energy ZE 912s UHP All-Season tires retail for approximately $236 per tire while the Bridgestone Potenza RE96 UHP All-Season tires retail for approximately $252 per tire. Once you apply taxes, the difference is negligible and most likely will just come down to personal preference.

The folks at Hankook have definitely applied all their knowledge and technical expertise in designing this state-of-the-art UHP All-Season tire – and they should know a thing or two about high-performance: The Hankook-Farnbacher Racing Team achieved second place in the GT2 class at the 2010 24 Hours of Le mans, one of the world’s most prestigious racing events.

So if shopping around for a new set of rubber, include the Hankook Ventus V4 tire in your search. For ride comfort, safety and performance they offer a very competitive alternative. For further information on Hankook tires, check out their web site at HankookTire.ca.

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