Big corporate cars need tires that excel in every situation Stick to, stay on track, high speed resistance and athletic.It should roll comfortably and have little rolling resistance, So that the fuel consumption is correct.
The fleet manager wants the cheapest possible tires for his company’s cars, which also roll with little resistance and thus go easy on the fuel budget. On the other hand, employees place more importance on being fast and safe on the road, even when it’s wet, not being surprised when the brakes are applied and not bothered by loud road noises. And the car and tire manufacturers? They are trying to reconcile all this.
On the side of the car, this is achieved with separate chassis elements, electronically controlled shock absorbers and air suspension, as shown on the Audi A6 used to test tires. But in the end, it is the tires that contribute to the desired driving safety and driving dynamics, as well as to provide audible and tactile comfort.
Therefore, many car manufacturers involve tire manufacturers early in the development and coordination of the car. With the aim of further defining the character and driving dynamics of the vehicle model in question. Tires resulting from this collaboration and equipped with previous work are called original equipment tires or original equipment tires.
So if you order the A6 as a company car, it will be delivered with Continental’s Premium Contact 6, a premium tire. Such designs should stand out from the tires of the Ultra Performance (UHP) class significantly more sporty in terms of design with better driving comfort and more attractive characteristics for long distances.
While the large tire manufacturers have premium and UHP products in one tire size, smaller tire manufacturers are often limited to just one universal product. Against the Conti Premium Contact 6 AO (the original Audi part), which was developed with Audi in 2019 and built unchanged since then, we have nine other candidates of different, more comfortable price segments. All nine tires are called replacement market tires that fit all vehicles with a specified tire size and do not have a vehicle manufacturer’s abbreviation. The price range is from about 110 to 175 euros per tire.
Maximum safety through short braking distances is the top priority in the tests carried out for Firmenauto by “auto motor und sport”: the often underestimated kinetic energy of the car must be quickly dissipated in critical situations. Although there is only about three meters between the new Goodyear tire, which works well here, and the cheaper but also weaker tire (GT Radial) when braking from 100 km/h on a dry road, the differences when idling in wet weather are large on a scale wider. Here there is a frightening five meters between the best (hankook) and the weakest (radial GT), although we only brake from 80 km/h to avoid the effects of a potential aquaplaning.
Good stability when braking also supports the effectiveness of electronic control systems such as ABS and ESP, which stabilize the vehicle in critical situations primarily through targeted braking interventions.
The continental is no longer the measure of all things
We also examine how the car, tires and control system work together in everyday life and in wet cornering, handling and aquaplaning tests. Rest tests, track change tests and racetrack trials completed under dry conditions complete the picture.
The different tires are driven in quick succession. This shows how well the car, chassis, tires and control system work together. It is quickly noticed that the Conti Premium Contact 6, designed specifically for Audi, and the A6 are team players.
However, the newer brands are overtaking OE-Conti, which is specified in terms of construction and mixing technology. The new Goodyear, for example, can’t be beat with its excellent grip on wet and dry trails. And the Bridgestone (best in the wet) is particularly fuel-efficient. Hankook also shows excellent braking performance. However, it loses weak points in handling and protection against aquaplaning.
Photo: INGOLF POMPE
With the newly developed Nexen as well as with the no less secure revised Nokian, only the details are annoying, but they cost points in total. It is expected to be balanced, but a little outdated and no longer up to date in terms of performance: the Michelin Pilot Sport 4, which is often offered at a high price, but a successor has already been announced.
And how do the fairly cheap tires from Maxxis, Falken and GT Radial work? In terms of driving dynamics in particular, it lags significantly behind established brands. While the Falken can still be rated “good” with acceptable braking performance, the Maxxis, which brakes about two meters longer when wet, and the GT Radial, which weakens on both braking systems, should be lowered.
And what driving comfort is particularly relevant for vehicles of this class? We can only rate it subjectively in our test in the “Riding comfort / interior noise” category: How well do the tires absorb shock, eg from driving over manhole covers or transverse joints? How well does road noise carry inland, or is there any annoying noise when turning in curves?
Here, the Conti, which was technically upgraded at Audi’s behest, has an advantage. Unlike the competition, it comes with two extras: insulating foam inserted into the tires that reduces the transmission of road noise to the interior, and a gel-like coating that prevents loss of air pressure, for example after nail punctures.
Comparative test: ten summer tires 245/45 R 19 Y for SUVs and large sedans:
The combination of the two makes tire test cars look quiet, smooth and comfortable. But while the advantages of sealing technology can also be experienced in other vehicle models, the insulating foam effect is less transferable. There are only noticeable effects if they exactly match the normal vibration behavior of the vehicle and chassis components. Therefore this add-on tire is not offered for the universal fitting of aftermarket tires.
So what framework should command the management of the fleet? The test result is unequivocal: the standard Audi Premium Contact 6 tire from Conti provides maximum comfort with decent performance. Bridgestone has earned high marks for its excellent water-repellent safety. But the smallest in the field triumphed in the test: the new Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6 convinces with very good wet properties, precise handling and is easily controlled, especially in dry areas.