Newest Review: ... on going on a road trip to paris so whilst getting my car prepared i had some new tyres and had four way tracking done to all the wheel... more
Great value for money
Member Name: grahamt
Advantages: Very economically priced and with good wear
Disadvantages: Out and out performance does not compare with the best
Tyres: Kumho Ecsta SPT 225/45ZR18 91 Y
For those of you who have been following my saga of the MG, you will know that I have used several different brands of tyres over the years. As each set wears out I review the market to see what is available. In the past the choice was very limited; Michelin and Continental were the only manufacturers who made tyre in this then unusual 18” size. More recently, far more choices have emerged, the last set but one that I bought having been Bridgestone.
The most recent set have been from a manufacturer that was new to me, Kumho of South Korea. Kumho tyres (tires?) are not commonplace but I discovered them, not at my preferred outlet (Roadwheel in Fleet, Hants) but at Trade Tyres in Sandhurst. They advertise in the local rags and also enclose flyers in the give-aways that get circulated. They seemed to offer good prices so I gave them a call to see what they could do for me.
In the past I have been paying extortionate prices for these tyres. The first time I had to replace a tyre was only days after I bought the car. I found a nail through a rear tyre in a place where a repair just wasn't an option, not that a repair would be my choice on a car as high performance as mine anyway. The car came with Michelins and the best price I could find, until I went to Roadwheel, was £248 (yes, for just ONE tyre). However, Roadwheel got me one for £180.
The choice was not limited to Kumho though. I could have gone back to Michelin. Their prices had come down to £165 a tyre whilst the Bridgestones were £135. But the Kumhos were an unbeatable £98 each so I calculated that so long as I was able to get more than 12,000 miles out them I was in profit. The only question would be, how would they perform? Would the reduced price be at the cost of quality?
The tyre pattern on the Kumhos is pretty much in line with most performance tyres, not that the tyre pattern makes a significant difference to their performance. Mostly the design is a marketing matter. The pattern needs to make the tyres “look” fast for the marketing machine to be happy. The Ecstas have a central ridge about a couple of centimetres wide into which is engraved the name Ecsta. This very quickly wears away of course. On either side are another couple of ridges of about the same width, gullies between being the rainwater runoff “drain”.
The outer shoulders have angled grooves which probably perform the same function. The design is symmetric rather than the modern trend for asymmetric designs but the tyres are still “directional”; they can only be fitted one way round.
My initial impression was that they performed well when I drove the car home in dry and warm weather. Of course, I didn't immediately put them through their paces as all new tyres have a lubricant on the surface that enables them to be easily removed from the mould in which they are cast so it is wise to be careful for the first hundred miles or so.
Once I'd had a better chance to see what they were like it became apparent that they were not up in the league of the Bridgestone Potenzas I had previously been using, these being the best performing tyres I've had on the car. Ultimate grip was not as good as the Bridgestones, which seemed to be capable of sticking to any surface, although temperature has a big effect on the Bridgestones as far as this is concerned.
In the wet the grip was also not up to the standard of the Michelins, the best wet weather tyres I have used but, nevertheless, there was never any feeling of insecurity. It was just that, pushed to the limit the Kumhos would start to slide before the Michelins would have and even the Bridgestones. Like the Michelins though, the Kumhos demonstrated good all-round performance, without any noticeable difference in different conditions.
Road noise with wide, low profile tyres such as these is always a problem. I've never had a quiet set of tyres on this car, no matter the make, although most of the cause is actually the road surface itself rather than the tyres. The difference is very noticeable, especially on motorways, and the Kumhos are no better, no worse than any other manufacturers I have used.
I have now done 12,500 miles on the Kumhos and still have around 0.5cms of tread left so I'm guessing I'll get another 3 to 4,000 miles out of them before I have to replace them. This definitely means that they are the best value for money tyres I have had so far. You may assume that this is at a price of performance from reading my review but, let's be fair about this, the difference in performance is not dramatic and certainly doesn't represent a difference where I would consider the higher priced alternatives worth the extra.
For out and out performance in ideal conditions the Bridgestone Potenzas come top at 10 out of 10. For best all-round performance the Michelin Pilots come second at 9.5 out of 10 and they definitely offer the best wear. I got 15,000 miles out of the Bridgestones but 20,000 miles out of both sets of Michelins. The Kumhos I would rate at 8.5 out of 10 in comparison. They are probably going to do about the same mileage as the Bridgestones but at about 70% of the price.
The Kumho Ecstas are good tyres, make no mistake. In any sort of conditions and at “normal” speeds achievable on UK roads the Kumhos will be more than good enough for the vast majority of users. If you are looking for a track tyre then you should be looking at the Bridgestones.
Will I go for another set of Kumhos when these wear out? I would have absolutely no qualms about doing so but, as usual, I shall look around to see what is available this year. I now have other possibilities, including Avons and Dunlops. They'll have to go some to be as good value as the Kumhos though!
Summary: Great value tyres that will be more than good enough for most users