Aquaplaning

How quickly do the top tyres lose control in severe wet conditions?

Our straight line and cornering tests name the rain masters. As a tyre’s ability to shift water is the focus of this test, it was the rubber which has a directional tread pattern that excelled – as would also be the case in our wet handling assessment.

In the straight line test, Fulda took a clear victory, with its Carat Progresso enabling the car to touch just over 50mph before it lost control. And it’s a one-two for the Goodyear Dunlop group, with the HydraGrip taking the runner-up spot. The HydraGrip backed up its wet handling performance with another great result.

On wet roads, the Goodyear and Vredestein were never far apart, and the Dutch brand’s Sportrac3 was up next – albeit trailing by some way. Further down, BFGoodrich just held off Uniroyal to round out the top five, and Pirelli headed the asymmetric patterns, finishing in sixth. The fact it lost control at 7mph slower than our champ proves how effective a directional tread is in a downpour.

Dunlop was seventh, ahead of the Toyo, Maxxis and Continental. Kumho was last – more than 10mph behind our winner. Equally, Michelin won’t be pleased to finish so far behind its main rivals, in 15th.

It is one thing for a tread to work in a straight line. But in corners, the design can be distorted – closing or reducing the channels that pump out water. In our curved aquaplaning test, the tread blocks came under intense pressure as we ran through our special strip at up to 56mph. The Goodyear was miles ahead – it was so good, we could feel it from behind the wheel. Again, Vredestein and Fulda were next in line.

Yokohama finished fourth here, even though it’s best known for its dry track expertise. There was little to separate Uniroyal and Dunlop in fifth and sixth, while Continental will be pleased to get closer to the top of the table. The Pirelli, the best asymmetric tread in the straight line test, brought up the rear. While our Goodyear champion still had some grip at 56mph, the P7 tailed off at 50mph. Worrying.

Kumho repeated its poor form from the straight test, finishing just ahead of the Pirelli. Others with work to do are BFGoodrich, Hankook and Matador.

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