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Ultra-high performance tire ratings see new models at the top

Consumer Reports News: July 13, 2011 06:08 AM

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Last fall we tested 53 models of summer and all-season ultra-high-performance (UHP) and performance winter tires suitable for sporty coupes, sedans, and all-out sports cars. Needless to say, it was a highly contested group.

In the summer UHP tire category—best suited for three-season grip on dry and wet roads—the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric, Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT, and Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tied as top-rated models. The all-season UHP tires compromise some dry and wet grip to deliver some wintry weather performance. Here the Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season and Sumitomo HTR A/S PO1 were top-rated models.

Since then, five new models arrived to the market just in time for a test update and some proved to be real eye-openers. We don't often do tire updates between our three-year cycle of testing truck, family car, and performance car tires, but with our test car, the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, and an abundance of previously tested models still available, it was feasible to add in these new models. For the update we included two new summer UHP tires: the Firestone Wide Oval Indy 500 and the Michelin Pilot Super Sport. Three all-season UHP models were included: Cooper Zeon RS-3A, Uniroyal Tiger Paw GTZ A/S, and Yokohama Avid ENVigor.

In the summer UHP category, the Michelin Pilot Super Sport sets a new standard, out-performing the previous top-rated tires. How did Michelin pull this off? Tenacious stopping and cornering grip, plus dry handling that puts the Pilot Super Sport in a league of its own with very responsive steering feel. Shod with these Michelins, the Cobalt SS threaded through our avoidance maneuver with the fastest speed of any UHP tire tested. With few compromises, the Michelin also had impressive tread life based on our extended tread-wear evaluation.

In the all-season UHP category, the newly introduced Cooper Zeon RS3-A is now tied at the top of the ratings heap. It's a huge leap from the Zeon Sport A/S that we tested in 2007, which ranked 13th out of 15 models tested. The new tire is a standout and continues the trend of Cooper tires climbing in our ratings. The Zeon RS3-A offers both all-weather performance and impressive tread life for a UHP tire. Our only disappointment is that we couldn't get our hands on the Zeon RS3-S, Cooper's newest summer UHP tire in time for testing.

Check out the Ratings of these and all of the previously tested tires. And read our tire buying advice.

Gene Petersen

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