Bottom line – tyres are the only contact between your car and the road. And if you think car companies work hard at R&D, you should visit the team at Hankook tyres.
Not content with R&D facilities at home in Korea as well as China and Japan, Hankook has just opened a new facility in Hanover, Germany. The German operation makes sense – lots of high-performance cars are made in Germany and Hankook has just completed its first year as the official tyre supplier to the high-tech, high-speed world of the German Touring Car Championship (DTM).
Hankook is the world’s seventh-largest tyre company and, despite its products being world-acclaimed, is something of a quiet achiever. However that is changing – last year Germany’s authoritative Auto Motor Und Sport magazine undertook an exhaustive test of more than 100 high performance tyres using an E-Class Mercedes-Benz as the subject vehicle and the Hankook Ventus S1 evo emerged as the best tyre outright on both dry and wet roads.
And Hankook tyres are now fitted OE (original equipment) to the BMW 3 Series.
Now Hankook has raised the bar again with the new Ventus S1 evo2 tyre, created to cater for premium high performance vehicles. Car Showroom has just spent the day as a tyre test driver for Hankook doing back-to-back tests over purpose-built courses at Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway with the new Ventus S1 evo2 and its predecessor fitted to both Audi A4 and Holden Commodore SV6.
While not purely scientific in the realm of white coats and laboratories, we were able to see measurable improvements in both grip, steering response on turn-in and shorter braking distances.
Here’s the thing – Hankook, like other OE tyre suppliers, is tasked by automotive engineers to win in conflicting requirements – maximum grip, reduced fuel economy, optimal comfort and minimum noise.
Hankook has attacked the challenge with innovations and technology in the new Ventus S1 evo2 which are impressive to say the least. For example, rectangular dimples on the sidewall smooth the airflow at speed for reduced noise and NVH (the new tyre is eight per-cent quieter than its predecessor) and a triple tread radial system combines with new compound technology for better grip in both wet and dry conditions.
Heat build-up – often a killer in high performance tyres – has been tackled with three finer ribs within the four main channel grooves dissipating internal heat and ‘intercoolers’ (crater-shaped indentations on the shoulders) used to diminish external temperature.
Fuel consumption will be improved thanks to the new Hankook Ventus S1 evo2 providing rolling resistance which is an impressive 25 per-cent better than the previous tyre.
Hankook says one of the reasons for the improved response we detected during testing at Sandown is a new tyre construction which aims to maintain a stable footprint when cornering.
Hankook’s development of race tyres for the DTM and other series throughout the world (including the V8 Supertourers in New Zealand and a similar series in Italy) has been the catalyst for many of the innovations evident in the new Ventus S1 evo2 tyre.
It was Bell crash helmets who justified the price tag of its products with the line: “If you have a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet.” So it is with tyres.
For Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon size vehicles, the appropriate Hankook Ventus S1 evo2 tyre retails at $435 – that’s great value when compared with rival high performance tyres from Japan and Europe.
You can’t buy good quality running shoes for less than $150 and with your family’s safety riding on your car tyres, this really isn’t an area to cut corners.