In in the Asia Pacific region, the SUV segment has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 26% from 2012 to 2017.
That opens up a new volume market for tyre makers and many are clearly focusing on producing dedicated tyres to meet the driving needs of those in that market, especially in giving customers more premium options for on-road use.
Goodyear has expanded its EfficientGrip SUV range to include a performance model that it believes would cater well to this steadily expanding market, in particular the luxury SUV highway segment.
Called the EfficientGrip Performance SUV, it was launched by Goodyear at a regional event in Buriram, Thailand.
Designed with consumer-driven needs, its strengths are underlined in a quieter driving experience, maximised comfort and ‘exceptional’ wet braking performance.
Goodyear says the EfficientGrip Performance SUV is packed with advanced technology, including its QuietTred technology.
During the product information session, we were told by the experts from the Goodyear development centre in Luxembourg that this ‘innovative’ noise dampening tread design has an increased number of pitches and optimised sequence that works with the closed shoulder grooves to reduce noise generation.
It is also equipped with FlexContact Technology that Goodyear says is designed with a shock absorbing cushion layer compound with optimised formulation to provide a comfortable ride.
Supporting these technologies are new ‘innovative’ polymers tread compound that increases grip on wet road conditions to ensure ‘superior’ wet performance.
Another highlight is the improved footprint shape (the section of the tyre that grips the road surface) and pressure distribution, which Goodyear says results in less vibration and regular wear throughout the tyre’s lifetime, thereby enhancing longevity.
Adding to the comfortable ride via reducing vibrations is the ‘innovative’ hexagonal bead shape of the tyre to enhance rim contact.
Goodyear is confident that this new performance option will cut it in the luxury vehicle segment as it hails from good pedigree with the EfficientGrip SUV having earned several awards for what it could do.
During the product presentation, Goodyear also revealed the EfficientGrip Performance SUV’s superiority over some well-established tyre brands.
It was shown to outperform them all in wet handling, subjective interior noise, subjective driving comfort, wet braking and aquaplaning in a curve.
We were given the opportunity to enjoy these improvements against a rival tyre in five routines at the Buriram International Circuit.
The first one was on the main straight where a Mercedes-Benz GLC was measured for tyre noise generation and braking on dry and wet surfaces, firstly on the Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance SUV and subsequently on a rival tyre.
The same vehicle was used as a matter of consistency and all four tyres were changed on the spot for the respective runs.
The eventual result was lower noise generation from the Goodyear of 74.1dB against 76.3dB for the rival tyre, and a metre difference in stopping distance in favour of the EfficientGrip Performance SUV.
Our first drive session was to experience the high dynamic quality of the tyre in a rear-wheel drive BMW X1.
This experience was gained first through a lane change course at about 80kph and then taking a sharp corner at 50-60kph.
The idea was to let us feel how confident the Bimmer would take dynamically to the respective sections with the EfficientGrip Performance SUV tyres.
The second experience was a public road drive to experience the quieter and comfortable ride but the Malaysian contingent was not allowed to drive as none of us brought along an international driving licence; we decided to skip this.
Session three was a slalom course, beginning with a wet one followed by a dry section, but the speed we were supposed to do that was miscommunicated and we went in a bit too fast in the first one, knocking the first cone away.
Other than that, the good grip provided by the EfficientGrip Performance SUV was enjoyed through the dry slalom course.
The final discipline was to demonstrate the EfficientGrip Performance SUV’s wet lateral grip in which we were to take a gentle curve by lifting off the accelerator at an approach speed of 60kph.
We did this in successive Mercedes-Benz GLCs as a matter of comparing the Goodyear tyre performance against that of a rival.
As expected, we took the artificially wet corner without deviating from the chosen line with the EfficientGrip Performance SUV while with the rival tyre, the Merc drifted wide on exiting the curve.
All these disciplines would have been well and good if the communication in approach speed for the respective sections was better communicated.
It would have given us a better overall impression of the EfficientGrip Performance SUV but as it were, Goodyear definitely has the tyre for premium SUV owners who want more out of their tyres.
This tyre is available for wheel sizes of 17-inch to 20-inch and there are 20 sizes to cater to the market in general.