Feature Flick: Putting High-Performance Tires To The Test

Putting tires to the test.

Our colleagues at Motor Trend teamed up with Tire Rack (Automobile Magazine‘s official wheel and tire supplier) to see what impact new high-performance tires have on sports cars. To put that to the test, Motor Trend enlisted Randy Pobst put three cars through their paces at Willow Springs Raceway.

In this new episode of The Downshift, Tire Rack vice president Matt Edmunds explains that there are three key characteristics that shape the performance of high-performance tire: its tread pattern, and the size of its tread blocks; the tread compound, the recipe for which chemists keep “very, very secretive;” and the tire’s inner construction, including its belts, overlays, and sidewall wedges.

Randy Pobst first drives each of the three sports cars — a Subaru BRZ, a Ford Mustang V-6, and a BMW 328i — on their factory tires to set a baseline lap time and to evaluate the tires’ performance. Even though all three are sporty cars, Randy Pobst likens driving on their factory tires to riding on “ball bearings,” a metaphor for how quickly he runs out of grip in turns. Next, the experts from Tire Rack supply two higher-performance sets of rubber for each of the three cars. Finally, Randy Pobst takes them back to the track to see how the lap times and subjective performance changes.

To see what Randy Pobst thinks of each tire, and to see how the different tires affect the sports cars’ lap times, watch the full episode below.

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