We tested Yokohama’s latest Advan dB series and checked out its ‘silent running’ credentials in Thailand.
Yokohama Rubber is extremely proud of its "silent" tyre, the Advan dB; thus labelling it ‘dB’ (decibel) was deemed the perfect reflection of its capabilities.
The Advan range was originally introduced in 1978 as a performance tyre, with its development cultivated through participation in a variety of motor sport events.
As you might have guessed, the Advan name is adapted from the word ‘Advance’, which in Yokohama’s perception means to ‘move forward’ and it believes that describes the profile of this tyre range.
With market demands changing accordingly to the evolvement of vehicles to meet new driving needs, Yokohama chose to introduce a silent variant to this flagship Advan range called the dB in 2011. This was the Advan dB V551.
Aimed at the higher middle class to premium cars, Yokohama found good market response to this new silent running tyre.
With more hybrid cars and EVs (electric vehicles) coming on stream as well as cars becoming increasingly quieter on the move generally, the call for a more silent tyre grew louder and louder.
Using the DNA of the V551, development of its successor, the V552, took three years and Yokohama believes it has improved the Advan dB so much that the latest tyre is hailed as the most silent tyre ever.
This does not compromise its other area of performance as the Advan dB V552 is said to provide ‘excellent’ safety performance and fuel economy and be a "premium match for premium vehicles".
Yokohama is also expanding the tyre size line-up to cater to the growing pool of vehicles, including SUVs (sport utility vehicles), which would require a silent tyre (it ranged from 155/65 R14 to 245/40 R20).
Production of the Advan dB V551, however, would continue for the smaller sizes that cater to the existing vehicle range that are still in demand.
The changes that went into the Advan dB V552 were approached from many areas such that it is more than a mere evolvement of the old.
While the first version is lauded for its excellent comfort performance (silent and mild ride), good handling and wet performance, the new targets were a softer ride feeling in heavy-weight vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, fuel efficiency and product freshness (since this tyre model is seven years old and older than the other Yokohama model series).
For the improvement in silent performance, the latest Advan dB V552 comes with a new tread pattern with ‘beautiful’ small block design, new structure with high quality parts and a new profile.
To achieve better wet performance and good fuel efficiency, Yokohama developed an all-new special compound as well as adopted a fuel-efficient compound on the sidewall that suppresses heat generation.
Similarly, the sidewall is reinforced with another layer to attain firm handling while providing ride comfort for a ‘heavy weight’ vehicle.
The end result is a 30% quieter tyre in road noise, 20% quieter in pattern noise (sound generated by the tread pattern), 8% improvement in wet stability, 6% in wet grip, five per cent in ride comfort, among others.
We had the opportunity to feel all these improvements at Yokohama’s Tire Test Centre of Asia, a sprawling 320-ha (800 acres) facility near Rayong, Thailand.
This newly improved tyre testing ground is said to be Yokohama’s largest in the region, second only to the one it operates in Japan.
It has 41km of varying road surfaces and 100,000 sq m of multipurpose terrain to put tyres fully to the test. We were to gauge the new Advan dB V552 in four routines; a quiet trial, a drive to feel the tyre in several performance areas, a wet circle experience and a handling session.
The quiet trial involved two Toyota Camrys; one fitted with the Advan dB V552 and the other with the older V551.
We started with the new before jumping into the Camry with the old; initial hearing response were mixed as we felt the new was somewhat quieter on the rough road surface and less quieter on the smooth road surface pattern run.
It was in the third run when we hopped back to the Camry with the new V552 that we could tell it was decidedly quieter than the old; perhaps we could attuned our sensory perception better after establishing the respective sound levels in the earlier runs.
The second routine was a feel of the V552 in a Honda Accord; this began with a braking session on wet tarmac at 80kph, followed by a wet slalom at 50kph, a 40kph lane change and a quicker lane change before doing a complete roundabout at the finishing stretch.
This was done over two laps to give us a better feel in experiencing the qualities of the new tyre in the respective disciplines; it did work well to expectations in that respect. The wet circle routine was done again in the two Camrys but in a different section of the sprawling test facility.
We started with the Advan dB V551 and were given free rein on speed negotiating the wet roundabout. We could hardly hold the car at 50kph, managing 51kph at best, as the car kept wanting to go straight (understeer).
Taking to the same course in the V552-shod Camry brought on a more confident poise as we could drive at a faster speed, with the Toyota holding its line nicely at 55kph (we clocked the highest speed for the group at 56.2kph).
The handling aspect was done in a Mercedes-Benz C 350 e hybrid and while there were a few tight corners taken at 50kph or so, there was a good variety of corners to push the Mercedes up to almost 100kph through a few bends.
The Advan dB V552 handled the pace well, albeit squealing some as we pushed a bit harder than usual through a few progressively tightening curves.
After all that, we had to give the Advan dB V552 the thumbs-up as an all-round performance tyre that was "dramatically silent".
The crème de la crème of the day was a gymkhana in a turbocharged Honda Civic shod with the performance oriented Advan Fleva V701.
This was a timed trial taking the Civic through a slalom course, a U-turn, a lane-change manoeuvre and a roundabout, covering two laps per run. Each of us did a familiarisation run before two timed trials; hitting a cone costs two seconds.
Despite hitting a cone, we improved our pace significantly on the second timed run to come in second quickest and having fully enjoyed driving the Civic with those Yokohama tyres under those conditions.
The Yokohamas gripped well when driven prudently at a gallop and it is little wonder that Yokohama is now supplying tyres (Advan Sport V105) to BMW as an OE (original equipment) item for the new X3.