Safety still decisive in ADAC’s new format tyre test
It’s 1973. You’re German and the government has just banned the use of studded tyres in winter. How do you get through the cold months without those trusty, spikey accessories? Never fear, ADAC to the rescue with a test of 25 new, road-friendly radial tyres.
Fast forward half a century, and ADAC has published the results of a golden anniversary tyre test in which it evaluates one product for each year since entering the tyre testing game. Using a VW Golf 8 as test vehicle the motoring association looked at 205/55 R16 V – currently the most popular dimension – and rated more than half these tyres good or satisfactory, and only seven as poor. In readiness for the next 50 years and as a nod to the increasing significance of environmental and sustainability issues, the motoring organisation also overhauled its system of scoring.
“Tyre quality has improved enormously over five decades, contributing to a decisive increase in road safety and a significant reduction in road fatalities,” comments ADAC. The German motoring association believes its “detailed and differentiated” tyre tests have played a “significant role” in this regard but also acknowledges that “requirements have changed enormously” after half a century. For this reason, it is now reserving 30 per cent of the overall test score for categories such as tyre wear, weight and sustainable production, with points also given or withheld after evaluating a tyre’s lifecycle from production to recycling.
But driving safety remains the highest priority, and here ADAC found a broad and worrying discrepancy between the best and worst in the summer 2023 test: Whereas the Continental Premium Contact 6, which it considers the “safest tyre in the test,” comes to a halt after just 34 metres when braking from 80 km/h, the Double Coin DC99 required 59.3 metres to stop in the same conditions – a 25 metre difference. ADAC observes that at the point where the Continental-shod vehicle is already stationary, the car fitted with Double Coin tyres is still travelling at 52 km/h.
Ten good tyres
Relatively pricey products from Goodyear, Continental, Michelin and Bridgestone top the anniversary test table – twice in Continental’s case thanks to the performance of its relatively new UltraContact low rolling resistance tyre. Alongside Nokian Tyres and Falken, Korean manufacturers Kumho, Hankook and Nexen round off the group of tyres with the ADAC ‘good’ rating.
ADAC points out that the Continental PremiumContact 7 has begun to replace its joint winner in selected dimensions.
Satisfactory – the broad midfield
Testing resulted in 21 tyres – including many premium manufacturers’ second brands – gaining an ADAC ‘satisfactory’ rating. Most tyres here only missed out on a higher rating due to a specific weakness, and this means that depending on a driver’s specific needs and preferences, they may offer a wholly acceptable and slightly cheaper alternative.
As a rule, it was slight weaknesses in wet conditions that led to a lower score as well as points lost in the environmental balance tests, mostly due to higher wear. An example of this is the Apollo Alnac, whose tread depth reached 1.6mm in under 30,000 kilometres.
Less balance with adequate tyres
As the Michelin e.Primacy shows, even in 2023 the traditional conflicting goals of tyre development can’t always be resolved. The e.Primacy, which Michelin recommends for both combustion and electric cars, shines on the environmental balance sheet with convincing wear characteristics and efficiency performance. ADAC declares that the e.Primacy “sets the standard here” with its predicted 71,500 kilometre mileage and low rate of abrasion. However, it does not perform well on wet roads, only coming to a stop from 80 km/h in 43.7 metres. This result contributed towards an overall ‘adequate’ rating, far below its sibling the Michelin Primacy 4+.
Despite bonus points for sustainability, the only retreaded tyre in the tests – King Meiler Sport – just gained an ‘adequate’ rating as well.
ADAC: Deficient tyres no alternative
The motoring association rated seven tyres as ‘deficient’ in light of “disastrous” performance in wet conditions, even when they delivered top results in other disciplines. The high mileage, slow-stopping Double Coin DC99 is a stark example of this – it delivered mileage of almost 65,000 kilometres, one of the best of the 50 tested tyres, but still couldn’t achieve better than joint last place.