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Budget vs. Premium Tires: Here’s the Difference

From econoboxes like the Opel Corsa up to exotic machinery such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, tires can make a huge difference. And yes, handling is the name of the game here.
Budget vs. premium winter tires 10 photos
Budget vs. premium winter tiresBudget vs. premium winter tiresBudget vs. premium winter tiresBudget vs. premium winter tiresBudget vs. premium winter tiresBudget vs. premium winter tiresBudget vs. premium winter tiresBudget vs. premium winter tiresBudget vs. premium winter tires
But first, what does handling mean in automotive jargon? To me, it’s not how easy the car is to drive. It is about how the car reacts to my inputs, the surface on which I’m driving, and the weather. Hardly believable it may be to some, but a lot of that comes from the tires, a vehicle’s only connection to the road. Acceleration, cornering, and braking depend on how good the tires is. By good, I’m referring to more than one criterion.

Tire type, tread depth, rubber compound, all of these things matter. As proven by Autoblog.nl with discount and premium winter tires, brands matter too. As the temperature gets closer to freezing point, many of us are in the market for a set of winter tires. Don’t, however, go cheap because you’ll get what you paid for the tires: pretty much nothing.

Take, for example, an evasive maneuver. Wouter Karssen of Autoblog.nl does just that with two identical Audi A4s. The one equipped with the cheap set of winter tires swerves almost as quickly as the Audi A4 fitted with the premium rubber, but “getting it straight again is hopeless.” In real-world winter driving conditions, that would translate into a crash.

Other than tread, another reason for the cheap tire’s inferiority is the compound. The low-quality rubber tends to warp during hard braking or cornering, the rear end stepping out and losing control. Acceleration is another area where warping doesn’t help the cheap tire’s cause.

Bottom line is, do bear in mind that premium tires are miles better than discount tires. Michelin, Pirelli, Goodyear, and Bridgestone are safe bets, as is Vredestein, the premium brand featured in the adjacent video demo.

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