Let’s understand something – tires are the most important component of any vehicle! Why is that you may ask? Because they’re the only contact patch between the road and your vehicle. Moreover, without tires vehicles would be rendered useless. Yet, consumers wait until the very last minute – when their rubber is balder than an Eagle – to swap out for a fresh set, and when they do so many opt for the cheapest set. In more severe cases some tires don’t make it to the end of their lifecycle and burst while the owner is driving at speed – a very bad scenario. Well, Goodyear doesn’t want that to happen and has introduced another proven tire dubbed Eagle Sport All-Season.
All-Season tires, as the name implies, allow drivers to operate automobiles in multi-weather conditions from hot and dry to wet and slippery. They do a little bit of everything pretty well. If you are looking for tires that perform to their full capability in a particular area, say top end performance, then you should be looking for a sport summer tire. Conversely, if it snows mostly in your region and temperatures remain consistently low for weeks or months concurrently then a winter tire is your best bet. Yet, the majority of drivers do not experience such extremes and need a panacea solution such as All-Seasons.
The technology behind tires is as sophisticated than the car itself. For example, a NASCAR race radial is built from 60 plus materials. Consumer tires see their fair share of engineering as well. This complex composite structure made of polymers fillers, curatives, steel wire, Kevlar, volcanic sand, glass fibers and more has to support the entire weight of the vehicle while absorbing road irregularities, delivering grip, traction, braking, handling and much more. It has to accomplish this task admirably and provide low rolling resistance (energy exerted while tire is in rotation) simultaneously. Of course rolling resistance is important because it affects your fuel mileage. So the role of a tire is very important. Manufacturers such as Goodyear have to meet the expectations of the car brands that use them for original equipment (OEMs), consumers and industry regulators.
In the case of the new Eagle Sport All-Season high-performance tire, which replaces the Eagle GT, Goodyear is targeting the performance tire category since it increased an estimated 23% in 2012. It was 17% in 2006 so a steady annual growth is proof enough for them to be more strategic in this sector. Another good indication is that OEMs are putting performance tires on their vehicles as original equipment. All-Season performance tires are also known for great handling and good grip in addition to their “fun to drive” characteristics. Goodyear says the goal of this tire is to embrace enthusiastic drivers who require refined handling and responsiveness, and are willing to pay more for a quality, branded tire.
To better understand how this new tire performs, we headed to Phoenix, Arizona and spent time at Bob Bondurant’s School of High Performance Driving, established in 1968 and proudly sits on reservation land. Good news is on the horizon for Bondurant as the NHRA has just signed a five-year agreement to keep bringing their races as well as the expectations of a $130 million racing facility coming in the near future. Temperatures were well over 100 degrees so meeting “dry” conditions for the tires was not an issue!
We evaluated 245/40-18 Eagle Sport All-Seasons on Audi A4s on an autocross which featured hard acceleration, dry traction, wet traction, gripping traction, cornering on wet pavement, high speed steering and braking response. It was amazing to see how well they performed, especially on the wet section of the handling course. Grip was akin to Spiders in their own webs! For comparison, we tested the Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval on the A4s as well. Launched more than a year ago, the Wide Oval A/S with the same size and tire pressure slid a bit more and required additional braking distance than the Sport All-Season.
There are six tires in the Eagle family divided into two categories: Ultra High Performance and High Performance, which the Sport All-Season falls under. Variety is offered in 47 replacement sizes and target OEM fitments and a 50,000-mile tread life limited warranty is part of the deal. The goal is to achieve excellent performance in both dry and wet handling which it does, provide a smooth and quiet ride (we need more time for further evaluation), offer enhanced ice and snow traction for all season performance which will be re-evaluated this winter. How is this achieved by Goodyear? Simple:
- Added lateral angled grooves in an asymmetric pattern for dry and wet
- Designed asymmetric grooves that are wider on inboard side vs. the outboard side
- Added asymmetric groove wall edges. Allows for better cornering and improves wear performance
- Offers more biting edges to enhance grip in snow and ice. Also helps with noise reduction
- Made a majority of the blades and sipes full-depth
- Engineered brand new and innovative tread compound that never existed in the lineup
- Designed to promote water evacuation
At the end of the day we took hot laps in Corvette Z06s outfitted with Goodyear’s Eagle F1 Super Car tires for dry handling evaluation on the nine-turn, 1.1-mile road course. The high performance tires were staggered at 275/35-18 front 325/30-19 rear which led to fascinating drift routines for a few exciting laps. Good job Goodyear!