Bridgestone has a gripping tale to tell.
Every motoring journalist will bang on about tyres given the opportunity. We recommend switching to winter tyres once the weather gets a tad chilly, and wax lyrical about the grip coefficients of the latest race-bred rubber. The reality out on the streets is somewhat different – many people see new tyres as a burden, something to be done only when an MOT tester says it’s time. Even then, an awful lot of people will look for the cheapest set.
That’s not necessarily the best move. Remoulds can be unproven, while second-hand tyres are untested and unknown. Cheap imported brands often offer low levels of grip, or high wear rates. But all that’s fine for most people, as they simply don’t care enough about what’s underneath them. If they’re black and round, they’ll do the job.
At least until they don’t do the job. Then people pay attention.
Bridgestone is working to make life a little easier with its new Turanza T005 tyre. I know, a series of letters and numbers and you’ve already switched off, but stick with this as they’ve done a remarkably good job.
On the data presented by Bridgestone, the frustratingly meaninglessly named T005 has achieved the equivalent of tyre nirvana; it’s a long-lasting everyday car tyre that has class leading grip and class leading wet braking ability. These things are generally a compromise – a long-lasting tyre offers less grip, a high grip tyre sacrifices fuel economy, and so on – so to bring everything together is nothing short of spectacular.
Of course, any tyre company can put a presentation together and make their tyre look good. Fortunately Bridgestone brought along a Volkswagen Golf or two fitted with the latest tyre, and sorted out access to a very cold and damp Donington Park. Handed the keys, it was time to put them to the test.
While I couldn’t check things on a perfectly sunny day with a dry surface, the cold and damp surface at Donington is arguably more representative of driving conditions in the UK. Under normal driving, they’re tyres, much like any other. Sorry Bridgestone. However, start pushing and something happens – the tyres continue to grip tenaciously, notably more so than experience with other tyres has shown. Keep pushing and there’s a final grab for grip before the tyre gives up slowly and predictably.
It’s difficult to describe just how much grip is available, but it provides more than most motorists will ever require. Only in an emergency situation will the tyre be pushed to its limits, and that’s when you’ll find out the difference between a to-rated premium tyre and something, well, less premium.
Drenching the circuit seemed a rather redundant move considering the weather conditions, but some slightly deeper standing water highlighted the effectiveness of the tread pattern and numerous sipes (the tiny channels carved into the rubber) at shifting the liquid matter out of the way. The end result is the tyre has been independently tested and found to stop quicker, grip harder and last longer than its immediate rivals.
For now, it’s arguably the best compromise for normal everyday motoring, and will suit cars with 14 to 21-inch wheels in a range of more than 140 different sizes.