So Just How Good Are China-Made Chinese Market Tires?

So Just How Good Are China-Made Chinese Market Tires?

Chinese brand tires often rank poorly in comparative tests undertaken by European publications, unable to match the performance of premium rivals.

But what sort of tires do these premium manufacturers themselves produce for the Chinese market, and how would they fare against their European market siblings? German motoring magazine Auto Bild assigned its staff the task of finding out, and the results were interesting.

Representing Europe for the purposes of the test was a ContiPremiumContact 5 in size 205/55R16, the presence of an ECE-type approval mark testifying that the Continental tire was manufactured for the European market. Up against the Conti tire were ten same-size tires from European, U.S. and Asian manufacturers, including Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear and Pirelli.

Each of the 10 tires was produced for sale in China. In theory, these tires shouldn’t be found on European roads, however some make their way here as grey market imports and are bought by consumers who may not realize exactly what they’ve purchased.

As Auto Bild informed its readers, each major regional market has its own particular regulations and environmental requirements that tires must meet. Furthermore, consumer preferences play a role when it comes to tire development. Chinese motorists, for example, consider low noise and comfortable ride the most important qualities, while at the same time, tires made for the Chinese market must also be able to stand up to the poor roads often encountered.

Western European countries, on the other hand, have many miles of improved motorway, and safety and fuel consumption are the highest priorities.

In some cases, the Chinese market tires tested by Auto Bild were scarcely discernable from their European market counterparts. The Michelin Energy, for example, is a name familiar with consumers in our region and the ‘MXV 8’ suffix (a model designation not used in Europe) only appeared in small letters on the sidewall. Nevertheless, the absence of an ECE code makes using this tire, produced in Michelin’s Chinese factory for the domestic market, illegal in Europe.

So how did the tires perform? The 10 China-produced Chinese market tires and the European benchmark were put through their paces in tests that measured handling, braking, ride comfort, external noise and rolling resistance in the dry, plus aquaplaning (on the straight and in curves), circular driving, and braking in wet conditions.

Unsurprisingly, the Chinese market tires performed well in areas important to Chinese consumers – the European market Continental tire performed worst out of the 11 when it came to external road noise, while all gained good results for ride comfort (even though the Continental tire took first place).

But it was an entirely different matter when the Chinese market tires were taken out of their comfort zone. The wet braking test separated the wheat from the chaff, commented Auto Bild. When braking from 100 km/h (62.1 mph), the Continental tire stopped in 45.8 meters, a whole 7.5 meters before the second best performing tire, the Bridgestone Turanza T001. The worst performing tire in the test, the Sumitomo Rubber Industries-produced Dunlop SP Touring T1, took an additional 23.7 meters to stop.

When it came to straight line aquaplaning and wet handling, the Chinese market Bridgestone tire also performed well, returning a better result than the European market Continental in the first of these tests. The Chinese market Pirelli Cinturato P1 also performed well in the aquaplaning test and the Goodyear Efficient Grip in the wet handling. In last place, once again, was the Dunlop SP Touring T1.

The overall average rating for the five wet weather tests saw the Continental tire on top with a ‘very good’ result. The Bridgestone tire also delivered respectable performance, followed by the Goodyear and Pirelli products. Last place was occupied by the Dunlop tire.

Average results for the five dry weather tests saw the Continental and Goodyear tires taking equal first place, with Bridgestone, Pirelli, Michelin, Giti and Yokohama brand tires close behind. Last place was a draw between the Chao Yang Radial RP26 and the Dunlop SP Touring T1; it must be pointed out that Dunlop tires sold in Asia are not produced by Goodyear Dunlop, as is the case in Europe and North America.

Commenting on Auto Bild’s findings, editor Henning Klipp stated that, “the level of performance for the Chinese market tires was far behind that of the European brand tire. Some of the wet surface results were particularly bad. The Far East tires were very convincing when it came to external road noise, however we believe that safety takes priority to comfort!” (Tyres & Accessories)

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