Bridgestone's Turanza ER300 tyres are billed as a premium "touring" tyre. I take touring to mean that the tyres should have enough grip to cope with a powerful car yet have enough features to appeal to the high mileage driver - low noise, low wear rate - rather than the out and out performance driver. Judged by these criteria, they've done a damn good job and these are excellent touring tyres!!!
I've had these in size 185/60R14H on my car (Honda Civic VTEC Coupe) for the past 28,000 miles. Needless to say, the wear rate is excellent as I'm a pretty hard driver and my daily commute for the past year has been on twisty back roads. I'd expect a a more conservative driver to get well in excess of 30,000 miles out of these. Noise levels are low and the tyres make for a very comfortable drive.
Now onto the outstanding feature of these tyres... Grip in the dry is really very good. Not quite as good as some performance tryes I've driven but almost up there and certainly more than good enough. In the dry I found it impossible to spin the wheels and ABS came on rarely. Wet grip can only be described as staggering. You do get some drop-off in the wet from the dry, but relatively the overal levels of grip are excellent - far better than some "performance" tyres. Driving in heavy rain is no problems - I never felt like I was approaching aquaplaning at any time, and grip in bends and under braking is confidence inspiring. Full marks, Bridgestone!
Given the great levels of grip, you might wonder why these are billed as touring rather than performance tyres? Well, two reasons really. The first is to do with cornering stability and steering response - the tyres, when pushed hard into a corner, feel like they wobble a little bit. You have to work a bit to find your line and the response isn't that good. Then, the way the tyres behave when approaching grip limits is, ahem, not very pleasant! Lots of "scrabbling", slip-stick and general discomfort. And when they go, they really go and you know about it. No nice and progressive loss of grip, these tyres really tell you when they've had it! So, despite the high levels of grip, these aren't tyres that you feel really confortable pushing that hard.
If you're in the market for a touring tyre, you're probably not the kind of driver who's going to push things hard and you can almost completely disregard the previous paragraph because the overally levels of grip available with these tyres means you'll never approach any limits. In which case, these tyres are suberb touring tyres: lots of grip, good wear, low noise and very confortable ride. You'd be very hard pushed to get any better!
If you're after a tyre you can push a bit harder, maybe these might be right for you but I think you can get better elsewhere.
Car: MG ZT 1.8 Turbo
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza RE040 225/45R18 91W 18
It hardly seems to have been just about a year ago that I was telling you about why I was changing the tyres on my car to a new brand. For those of you new to my love/hate affair with the MG let me just recap.
I bought the MG around four years ago and it came wearing Michelin Pilot Sports tyres. I really didnt think very much about the performance of the tyres. If you have read my review of my relationship with the MG you will know that the tyres were not the first thing that concerned me. There were far more serious things that occupied my attention.
But, all things must pass and eventually I had to replace the Michelins. At that time 18 tyres were not common and the range of choice wasnt great. Basically it was Michelins or Continentals. I stuck with the Michelins because I found a tyre dealer (Roadwheel in Fleet) who could supply them much cheaper than anywhere else.
My third refit became the first time when a wider range of choice became available. This time Bridgestones were a possibility. I decided to opt for them, not because I was especially dissatisfied with the Michelins but because Roadwheel could supply them at £50 a tyre less than the Michelins. They cost £135 each.
I had managed to eke out 20,000 miles from each of the Michelin sets. Its a strange characteristic of the MG that all four tyres wear out at the same rate even thought this is a front-wheel drive vehicle, where you would expect the fronts to wear out quicker than the rears! I reckoned that even if I got less than 20,000 out of the Bridgestones I would probably still be in pocket, unless they wore out really quickly.
The Potenzas clearly havent had the Marketing Machine influence. Ever wondered why the tread patterns on tyres are the way they are? Think its got everything to do with performance; water shifting capabilities; road gripping ability? Think again. Mostly its down to the marketing guys. They usually demand a tread pattern that shouts speed. You can see how that influences the Michelins. Not so the Potenzas.
The tyre pattern is a very boring block design. Four circumferential grooves separate the individual contact areas. Other than that there really isnt very much you can say. Of course, the grooves have the wear tell-tale indicators deep in their recesses, to give you a clue as to when its about time to get the wallet out again.
From the start (well almost) I noticed that the Potenzas appeared to give better grip than the Michelins, especially when turning out of a junction and pulling away. The MG on Michelins suffered from axle-tramp in these circumstances, something that always suggested to me that the MG could really have benefited from a limited-slip differential.
I say almost because one thing I have noticed is that the Potenzas are very much more temperature sensitive than the Michelins. The Michelins appear quite unaffected by temperature. The Potenzas definitely need to warm up and in Winter this can take quite a long time. However, once they do they noticeably outperform the Michelins, though the difference is not dramatic.
In the wet I noticed no significant difference although, if pushed, I think I would give the nod to the Potenzas. On neither set of tyres did I ever get into any difficulties no matter how awful the conditions. What I did notice was that, although initially I noticed less road noise from the Potenzas than the Michelins, as time went on I feel that there is in fact little if any difference. Both can be very noisy on some road surfaces and in general are more so than on most other cars I have driven, though whether this a factor of the MG or the tyres I cant say.
But now, the time has come to replace the Potenzas and I have discovered that my concerns regarding the durability of these tyres has been realised. I have only managed to get 15,000 miles out of them. In fact, even more bizarrely, the rear pair have worn out faster than the fronts! Explain that? However, bearing in mind the difference in price this still works out better than the Michelins, just. I have got 75% of the lifespan for 73% of the price!
So, what am I going to go for next? Well, I could go back to the Michelins. Roadwheel can now get them for £165 each, a reduction of £20 a tyre. However, I still feel that these are overpriced despite the fact that they give good wear. Their F1 pedigree (and also that of Bridgestone) does not influence me.
Now there is a much wider range available in this previously very restricted tyre size. Apart from Michelin, Bridgestone and Continental there are now available models from Avon, Dunlop, Pirelli, Kankang and Kumho. The last two are new names to me, I must admit. Both are Far East manufacturers, Taiwan and South Korea respectively.
Most especially, Trade Tyres in Sandhurst can get the Kumhos at £98 a tyre. Thats a hell of a saving. At 60% of the price of the Michelins, so long as can get at least 12,000 miles out of them Im still ahead. The only concern will be how good they are in action. Theres only one way to find out.
Guess what Im going for next?
One of the great things about getting a new car is the fact that they generally come with tyres that you wouldn't ever dream of paying for out of your own pocket. Such was the case with my Honda Civic Type-R. It arrived with a brand-new set of Bridgestone Potenza RE040s with a suggested retail price of somewhere around £150 per tyre! At 205/45/R17, they're pretty big lumps of rubber. They've done their job well enough and, after just 15 months of driving they've made it down to the wear indicators. In that time I've driven them on just about every surface you could imagine (with the unfortunate exception of a race track!) and the comments you find here are my experiences of living with the RE040s over the last 18,000 miles. I'll start off with apeparances... the asymmetric tread pattern isn't particularly inspiring, lots of straight cuts and a reasonable central groove give a purposeful appearance without the swoopy tread of most other "sports" tyres. What the pattern does hint at is the fact that they are designed for dry, warm, grippy roads being driven at high speeds. Lots of rubber in contact with the road with only a token gesture at water displacement. In this case, appearances are not deceptive. On a hot summers day driving is a pleasure. Warming up very quickly, '040s are ultra grippy on pretty much any dry, solid road surface (the warmer the better). Roundabouts become a thing of the past, with the grip not even coming close to breaking at some unexpectedly high speeds. Braking is equally well-served, the ABS has never been required on a dry day, despite several attempts to wake it up! For a mediterranean summer or a blast around a race track, you would be hard-pushed to find a finer tyre. Luckily for me, the last year has seen plenty of hot weather and so I've had a fine time driving. Driving in the wet is another story. Not an entirely bad story, but certainly not as positive. Whe
n cold and/or damp it takes an age for the 040s to warm up. Wheelspin is frequent and ABS can come into play a lot more frequently than expected. It took me a while to get used to the Jekyll & Hyde nature going from hot to wet. That's not to say that they are undrivable in the wet, just that they are nowhere near as surefooted as in the dry. In VERY wet conditions (and there have been a few) I've always felt more than a little anxious, particularly of aqua-planing. It's never happened, but I put that down to an ultra-conservative approach induced by the slightly "floaty" feel that takes the wheel in very wet weather. The last weather condition you might want to know about is snow. We've not had too much of it so it's hard to comment, but based on my experience in rain I would not recommend them for snow. The tread patterns are all about rubber on the road rather than cutting through the snow, so I would expect the grip to break very easily when there's snow on the ground. In a more general sense, the low-profile gives an extremely positive feel around corners, with no hint of splashing/shearing. The trad pattern works well here, giving an excellent footprint around bends even at high speed. General steering is very responsive, although a minor complaint exists around the tramlines that HGVs leave on roads like the A1. Whether it's the tyres or the steering (or a combination of the two) I find that my Civic is tossed around like a sailboat in a storm when I stumble across rutting. It's worth pointing out that this happens at any speed, from urban to motorway. They are also very noisy. In fact it would be safe to say that they are the noisiest tyres I have ever owned. A dull rumble is present at all speeds, but at 80mph on a concrete road the stereo struggles to overcome the road-noise and conversation, while not at shouting point, takes extra effort. In closing then, the RE040s are a fine tyre for
their intended purpose i.e. aggressive driving in a warm, dry environment. In recent UK summers they have been a joy to drive. In recent UK winters they have been tolerable. They've worn down fairly quickly, but the owners manual warns of even shorter replacement times if the car is driven "enthusiastically". This must be down to the very soft compund used to provide the copious amounts of grip. So now they need replacing, will I go for the same spec? Interestingly, even Bridgestones own tyre-selector doesn't pick them... Bridgestone now recommends the nre RE050s (could it be because they cost more or am I being too cynical). Anyhow, I've got to replace them and have been told that the only tyres I can have are Michelins. The only ones I can find that anyone carries in my size are the Pilot Exaltos so expect to see an opinion on those in 12 months time (or less, depending how many miles I clock up). Safe driving.
These are by far the best tyre I've used. The performance in the wet is better than my previous tyres in the dry. They also hold onto their performance even when worn down close to the legal limit unlike a lot of tyres which seem to degrade quite early. If you shop around they aren't any more exspensive than other performance tyres. They also look good too. The downsides are trying to find someone who sells them, and they do wear down quite quickly if driven hard.
When you absolutely, positively have to stick to the road like glue in wet or dry conditions, accept no substitute. S0-2's are positively the best tyres I have ever had fitted to a high performance car. In the dry, the grip given by these tyres is astonishing - there is just no way I can get my car out of shape, and in the wet I am yet to find a safer tyre. They are quite pricey at about £125 each, although cheaper that some, and don't expect them to last very long. On a mid engined, rear wheel drive car they will only last about 10000 miles if you are rough with the car, and only about 15000 if you are careful.