And there won’t be a single tyre pun, as they fall flat…
Chinese tyres have never had the best reputation. Cheap and cheerful, but lacking in grip and wearing out quickly, it was generally considered best to pass over the various Eastern brands and stick to one of the big names like Continental, Michelin or Bridgestone.
I was wrong, so the Landsail press officer told me. In fact, their tyres have won group tests against the brands above, and are a match for anything the market leaders can produce. I was sceptical, but Landsail put its money where its mouth is and offered up a set of tyres to test on one of my own cars.
The Corvette needed a new set of boots but, sadly, foot-wide rubber is beyond Landsail’s product range, despite the fact that they make tyres suitable for a Boeing 737! Instead, I looked at the little Renault Twingo parked outside, with three different brands of tyres on it, a couple of which were beginning to crack.
A set of Landsail LS388 tyres was dispatched, and the 145/70R13 rubber was fitted to the 18-year old Renault by my local tyre fitters, ready to put to the test.
Cosmetically, the tyres sit well. The tread pattern, something that really should be designed for effectiveness rather than prettiness, is neat and balanced, while the sidewalls react well to a spray of tyre shine. There’s nothing in the way of flowers or clouds embossed on the side, so that’s good news.
Of course, it’s how the tyres work that matters. On the limit-handling, lift-off oversteer, tyre smoking burnouts – all things that you really can’t do in an 18-year old Renault Twingo, but that’s not to say the tyres weren’t thoroughly tested.
Outright grip levels are decent, with the Twingo able to be thrown around corners with near-complete disregard for overstretching the tyres ability. When the front end does eventually push wide, it’s a gradual, controllable break of traction rather than a momentous collapse of grip.
In the wet, it’s much the same. You can feel the tyre compound cutting through standing water and biting into the tarmac and, while there’s obviously less grip than in the dry, there’s no worrying loss of traction.
Under extreme braking, the tyres behave impeccably, the car remaining evenly balanced between left and right. The Twingo’s brakes aren’t strong enough to block the tyres in the dry, and it’s tricky in the wet, which bodes well for more enthusiastic driving.
I’d love to say that the tyres are unusually quiet or abnormally loud when driving, but the tinny Twingo with its fabric roof is boomy enough to mask all but the most intrusive of noises, so I’ve no idea how cacophonous the tyres are.
As for wear, while the Twingo doesn’t put the greatest load on the tyres, after a few thousand miles there’s barely a perceptible amount of wear.
Officially, the Landsail LS388 tyres are labelled ‘E’ for fuel economy, while they get a wet grip rating of B. A noise level of 69dB is very good.
Which all goes to prove what Landsail say – that its tyres are competitive with the premium brands in the UK. They’re also significantly cheaper. A fitted set of Continental EcoContact 3 tyres come in at £220 from one retailer, while the Landsail’s total just under £140.
My own experience suggests you can now go for a budget tyre and expect to have a safe set of boots on your car, and that’s something you couldn’t have said a couple of years ago.