Tire engineering is like rocket science. Ok, it might not be quite that complex, but its close. The technology used to create a modern, class leading tire is incredible. Aspects of a tires design, like sidewall chaffing caused near the tire bead, are things most consumers will never think about while flying down the freeway at 75 mph. The amount of engineering and technology put into a tires development is staggering.
The components used to create a tire are not unique from manufacturer to manufacturer. In fact, most use roughly the same 60-70 components when producing a tire. The secret, as Goodyear puts it, is in the cooking. Give five top chefs the exact same ingredients, chances are the finished product will come out quite different.
GOODBYE EAGLE GT, HELLO EAGLE SPORT
And it is around this point during Goodyear’s presentation at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving that we were introduced to their newest tire, the Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season.
This new tire will fall into the high performance all-season family at Goodyear. It is replacing the Eagle GT as a mid-level tire and will fall below the Eagle F1 Asymmetrical All-Season tire in the performance hierarchy, but above value-oriented tires.
With this being the 6th high performance tire in the Goodyear family, it may seem a bit overkill, but not so fast; like beards and memes, performance tires are in vogue. Currently, 23% of the North American replacement tire market is for performance tires. That is up from 17% in 2006 and experts project a 3% increase annually going forward. One of the big reasons for this increase has to do with more OEMs putting performance tires on a larger assortment of their vehicles from the factory. So when it comes time to replace the original tires, consumers are a purchasing a similar performance tire.
AN ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE TIRE
But the Eagle Sport All-Season won’t be a replacement special. Goodyear also plans to have it installed as an OEM tire on several vehicles in the future. With that in mind, despite performance drivers being the primary targeted consumer, many potential owners may not put that much weight on performance driving so the Eagle Sport needs to also be a good all-around tire too. The tire needs to be good in the dry and wet, be smooth, offer a quiet ride, handle ice and snow, and have long tread-wear life.
With these as the lofty ambitions, the engineers at Goodyear settled on an asymmetrical tire design that offers a blend of wet and dry handling. Sipes, or blades, are cut throughout the tread pattern and penetrate the entire tread depth for ice and snow traction. Goodyear claims this tire is significantly better in snow than major competitors sport all-season tires. But, since it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix during our test day, we cannot verify this claim. The Phoenix Coyotes NHL team aren’t using the Jobing.com arena this time of year, but despite our suggestion we head over there and do some donuts on the ice surface; the idea was shot down.
PUTTING IT TO THE TEST
What we are going to do is test the new Eagle Sport against the Firestone Wide Oval. The size chosen are 245/40R18 tires fitted to Audi A4 2.0T models with quattro all-wheel drive. We will be driving an Audi equipped with the Goodyear tires through a slalom course first, then follow it up by driving an Audi equipped with the Firestone tire immediately after. All tires on all the vehicles are set to 35 Psi as to not distort any results. The test course set before us is an autocross-style event that includes hard acceleration, slalom, wet cornering, wet braking, dry cornering and threshold braking.
Although seat time is limited and we are only driving these tires on the short autocross course, it is immediately apparent that the Eagle Sport has more grip in the corners. Wet or dry, the front end does not wash out as quickly as it does with the Firestones. Acceleration and braking feel similar between the two tires, but wet weather handling favored the Eagle as well. The lateral grip in the Eagle Sport allowed for greater speed to be carried through a corner and the Audi’s responses are more predictable on these tires.
FAST FACTS: Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season Tire 1. Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season replaces Goodyear Eagle GT. 2. Tire includes latest Goodyear TripleTred, ComforTred, Fuel Max, TredLock and Durawall technologies. 3. Much improved snow and ice performance over old Eagle GT. 4. Eagle Sport carries a 50,000-mile tread life limited warranty.
5. Prices start at $100 a tire.
AND FOR EVEN MORE PERFORMANCE
Goodyear also brought along the Eagle F1 Asymmetrical All-Season to showcase as last year, when it was all-new, they gathered a group of us automotive writing hacks together outside Seattle to demonstrate the tire. During testing it did nothing but rain, a lot, so we had no dry weather performance impressions of the tire. Bringing it to Phoenix in late spring is a fairly safe bet that the weather will be dry and sure enough the weather cooperated.
Goodyear strapped the tire to Cadillac CTS-V sedans and coupes and we set off on a short road course. Being a tight course, the heavy, brutally powerful CTS-V is a bit too much car for the facility. Cornering grip is impressive, but we’re unsure how much of that is attributed to the CTS-V’s amazing suspension set-up versus the actual tire. One thing that does surprise us though is how well planted, even with traction control set to competition mode, the rear tires are. With the incredible power that the CTS-V makes, it still takes a whole of throttle to get the rear-end dancing around.
But not everyone needs the all-out performance of an Eagle F1 Asymmetrical tire, nor do they want to pay for it. That is where the Eagle Sport comes in. With a 50,000 mile warranty and good value, it still offers a decent amount of performance in a quality all-season tire. Goodyear is hoping this formula will score well with consumers.