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Tire Reviews: Best Car Tires to Buy Now 2022

Tire Reviews: Best Car Tires to Buy Now 2022

With automakers mounting bigger wheels on their latest cars, it was about time we returned to 18-inch rims. And it was not just a return to this wheel size, which we last tested in 2016, but also some sort of normality, as this year’s program was unaffected by the pandemic.

We also went back to Bridgestone’s Aprilia testing ground in Italy to assess the tires. There were no returnees from our 2016 test, but a few regulars were missing due to inventory issues or new designs imminent.

Since this size overlaps with larger, more sport-oriented versions, we asked tire manufacturers to nominate their UHP (ultra high performance) offerings instead of the UUHP (ultra ultra high performance) tires that we tested separately.

Whenever possible, we’ve bought tires to make sure we’ve tested what you can buy, and we’ve added a cheap Far Eastern brand. The main driving and braking tests were performed by Auto Express drivers, with the rest completed by ground crew testing in Aprilia. Rolling resistance was assessed at Bridgestone’s nearby Castel Romano R&D centre.

What we tested

We opted for the best-selling 18-inch tire size, 225/40R18, and all the models we tested had a weight of 92 and a Y-speed (up to 186 mph). We have also provided the EU tire label rating of each tire (right). Fuel Economy (RR) and Wet Grip (WG) are rated from AE, with A being the best. Passing noise (N) is expressed in decibels, so lower is better.

Austone Athena SP 7

Reviews RR:C WG:AN:72

Bridgestone Potenza Sport

Reviews RR:D WG:AN:72

Falken Azenis FK520

Reviews RR:C WG:AN:70

Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetrical 6

Reviews RR:C WG:AN:70

Hankook Ventus S1 evo3

Reviews RR:C WG:AN:72

Maxxis Victra Sport 5

Reviews RR:C WG:AN:72

Pirelli Cinturato P7

Reviews RR:B WG:AN:70

How we tested

While tire label ratings only rate three areas of performance, our test provides a more comprehensive assessment of a design’s capabilities. We look at eight disciplines, covering not only the wet but also the dry and the cabin noise. Multiple runs were made for the wet and dry tests and an average was calculated after any outliers had been removed.

Wet

An important area for many drivers, as these are the conditions where they are most likely to exceed the limits of their tires. We looked at braking and cornering, both in shallow depths and how the tire handles deeper standing water. As in our SUV tire test, we used the redesigned wet handling track at Bridgestone’s proving ground, where new corners were added and others modified. The 1.7km track provides a good test of traction out of tight switchbacks, lateral grip and front/rear balance through longer corners. Lap times were the result.

The braking performance was assessed from 80 km/h. Using instruments, we measured the distance it took to slow our test car to 20 km/h (12 mph); we then calculated how much further it would have taken to come to a stop to avoid any influence from the anti-lock braking system.

How the tire handles deeper water was done in a straight line and cornering. In a straight line, we calculated when the tire was spinning 15 percent faster in the water than it was in the dry. The lateral test was done by driving the car through a flooded bend at progressively higher speeds, controlling the g-force generated until all grip was lost.

Dry

As on wet surfaces, lap times were at the heart of the handling test around the track, allowing assessment of not only lateral grip, but also the balance each set provides. When braking, the distance needed to stop from 100 km/h (62 mph) was measured.

Cabin noise

While the EU label rating focuses on passing noise, for drivers the level in the car is crucial. So our test was done at 50 and 80 km/h and measured noise levels between 100-400Hz.

Fuel economy

Rolling resistance is the main factor here, determining how much fuel is needed to roll a tire at a given speed. Our test was conducted to industry standards and a one percent difference in fuel economy requires about a four percent change in rolling resistance.

Price

This plays a minor role in our test because tires are safety items. Our figures come from the test winner of our online tire retailer Blackcircles.com and its what it was charging at the time of writing. If a tire is not part of its range, the figure is what it would charge.

How we chose a winner

The results were converted to percentages to accurately reflect the differences between each band. The wet tests made up 50 percent of the result, dry 40 and noise, fuel economy and price the last 10. Within the first two categories, we emphasized handling and braking.