The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 boasts some consider performance improvements versus comparable tyre averages produced by Bridgestone, Continental and Michelin in terms of wet braking, dry braking and mileage
Goodyear’s latest Ultra High Performance (UHP) tyre offers performance that is a large step ahead of its premium competitors, company representatives explained at the online launch of the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 today (23 March 2016).
According to company representatives, who base their claims on extensive testing with TUV Sud and Dekra in addition to in-house research and development, the new tyre outperforms not only its predecessor (the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2), but also the latest comparable tyres produced by Bridgestone, Continental and Michelin in terms of wet braking, dry braking and mileage.
What’s most striking about the announcement is not the tyre manufacturer’s confidence in its product – which manufacturer doesn’t present such an impression at the launch of a product? Rather, it is the extent of the claims made. To put it down to cold, hard numbers, Goodyear reports that the TÜV Süd Benchmark Test found that the Asymmetric 3 offered 2.6 metres shorter braking distance on wet roads – that’s 9 per cent better performance compared with the average of leading premium competitors.
Dry braking was 1.3 metres shorter (4 per cent better). And wet handling was 4 per cent. The same test results also showed a 10.9 per cent better rolling resistance compared to the average of the three tested competitors, which represents the second best rolling resistance performance of the tyre brands tested. However straight line aquaplaning was found to be 2 percentage points behind the average.
Squaring the circle or rounding the triangle?
As strong as these results appear to be, Goodyear’s most impressive announcement was revelation that the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 offers 31 per cent better tread wear performance compared to its three main competitors, resulting in an impressive 11,528 additional kilometres of tyre life. Not only was this test conducted by a second independent test house (Dekra), but – as with both sets of tests – was also benchmarked against the latest premium products.
These were: the Michelin Pilot Sport 3, the Bridgestone Potenza S001, and the Continental Sport Contact 5. The tyres were tested by TÜV SÜD Product Service GmbH between Sept – Oct 2015 at the request of Goodyear Dunlop. All products were 225/45 R17 91Y and were tested on VW Golfs at test tracks Mireval, France; Papenburg, Germany and, TÜV SÜD PS Garching in Germany.
Of course we have to remember that Goodyear has largely presented its results as a comparison of its product compared with the average of its top three competitors as opposed to a head to head against the best in each category. Still, with the Asymmetric 3 tested as achieving such high levels of both wet and dry braking at the same time as rolling resistance and improved tyre wear, it suggests Goodyear is dispelling the long-standing idea of a performance triangle that polarises wet braking, drying braking, rolling resistance and wear. So how is the company doing this?
Active braking, grip booster and reinforced construction technologies
Goodyear engineers explain that they have made their improvements based on three key technological updates – the inclusion of so-called “active braking” technology, a “grip booster” compound upgrade and modified and reinforced construction.
The additional of longer should blocks as well as “active braking” technology will have done much to improve braking, especially in the wet. The clever thing about “active braking” – something that has been including on early Goodyear tyres – is that is manipulates the tread blocks into a larger contact patch under force of braking. With more compound in contact with the road, stopping is easier.
In layman’s terms, Goodyear’s “grip booster” technology refers to the addition of pine-derived resin to the tread compound. In so-doing, the resin is said to allow the compound to perform better in different conditions and therefore do its bit to contradict the performance triangle we referred to earlier.
And finally, the addition stronger, but narrower gauge steel and nylon ply fibres means the tyre is closer to the ground and offers drivers faster steering feedback.
Aiming at “care seeker” and “trust seeker” target market
Of course, UHP tyres are both a growing segment and an increasingly strategic segment in terms of value. Goodyear defines the UHP segment a bit more broadly than some other tyre makers (greater than or equal to 16-inch; less than or equal to 55 series; faster than or equal to a V speed rating), but their version of the segment is a growth market nonetheless.
In addition, Goodyear reports that it is aiming the new product at what it classifies as “care seekers” and “trust seekers” – people who want quality and are prepared to pay for it. So how is the company going to demonstrate that such discerning consumers can trust the brand after the recent tyre test revelations associated with Nokian?
In answer to Tyres & Accessories’ question, Martijn de Jonge, EMEA brand director Goodyear & Associated Brands, said: “We will not forfeit [integrity] in any tyre test”, continuing with an implicit reference to the Nokian case “the tyres submitted to TUV were the same as production tyres”, before adding that TUV sourced the tyres they tested themselves.
The fact that Goodyear has gone to the trouble of getting its latest product tested at the two best-known independent test houses and has been so transparent about what it has tested and what it has found would seem to support the firm’s pitch to “trust seekers”. Indeed, with the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 performing as well as it has in the TUV and Dekra tests, it was all but a necessity for the tyre manufacturer to engage with third-party testers.
The tyres themselves made their way into the market in December, but the official launch of them was delayed until now because more sizes are now available and therefore there is better market coverage.
The final surprise of the launch comes in the products pricing. Normally when a new tyre is launched one expects the price to go up in line with the new technology. No so, in this case. While the Asymmetric 3 boasts some significant double-digit performance enhancement compared with its predecessor, Goodyear has adopted a similar pricing methodology to the Asymmetric 2. In Goodyear parlance this essentially means the customer gets more for their money. For everyone else, this means the tyres will cost roughly the same as the Assymetric 2.