Being a successful, profitable company in today’s challenging global marketplace is not easy.
In an industry as competitive as the tire business, that is especially true. Despite a failed merger and ever increasing onslaught from competitors, Cooper Tires is still holding on strong and this year, is celebrating a century in the tire business.
The reason for Cooper’s success stems from its ability to create products consumers want. The CS4 Touring tire was wildly successful and became the company’s all-time top-seller. But the CS4 has been around for a quite a while now and most competitors have introduced newer, better tires. In response, Cooper just released the all-new CS5 Touring series.
- The CS5 is on sale now.
- The Ultra Touring is available in 48 sizes for wheels ranging from 15 to 19 inches in diameter
- The Grand Touring is available in 30 sizes for wheels ranging from 15 to 18 inches in diameter.
- Price for a 215/65R17 CS5 Grand Touring is $121 on DiscountTire.com while a 225/45R17 CS5 Ultra Touring retails for $124.
Goodbye CS4, Hello CS5
Like the CS4, the new CS5 will be the pillar of all future products at Cooper. Much of the technology being introduced with the new tire will find its way into future products. For now there will be two main versions of the CS5 Touring: Grand Touring and the Ultra Touring. Both have a specific tread pattern and are targeted at different demographics.
The Grand Touring is a T-rated tire, which means it is designed for vehicles that can achieve speeds upwards of 118 MPH. This tire is designed for minivans and family sedans. For our testing purposes, it’s equipped to a base model 2014 Ford Mustang with an automatic transmission. Say what now? A minivan tire on a sports coupe? Well, the base Mustang V6 comes with a T-rated P215/65R17 Michelin Energy Saver tire and Cooper said a lot of people were choosing the C4S as a replacement tire when the Michelin product wore out.
The Ultra Touring CS5 is design for slightly more performance-orientated vehicles including top-of-the-line family sedans and entry level luxury cars. The tire is available in H, V and W speed ratings, the latter meaning the tire is good up to 168 MPH. For evaluation purposes, the Ultra was installed on a 2013 BMW 328i, also with an automatic.
For Everyday Driving
Although both of the test cars have some sporty flair, neither is a true sports car. The CS5 is Cooper’s premium mainstream tire positioned above the CS3 Touring and the entry level Starfire tire. Its focus is on performance for everyday driving, but not necessarily enthusiastic driving.
Safety is a primary concern with the new CS5 and Cooper has implemented many new features to maximize performance in all weather conditions. Off-set grooves called 3D micro-gauge sipes, have been built into the tire that will lock together for added strength and sidewall stability when strained under cornering force.
Giving equal cornering reassurance in the rain is Cooper’s “Stable Edge” technology that incorporates tiny rubber bumpers inserted within the some of the tire’s sipes. This prevents the grooves from closing up under cornering loads and allows water to be channeled away from the tire’s contact patch.
The Wear Square
The biggest news for the new CS5 though is the “Wear Square.” On the inside and outside of the tire’s tread, there are squares that change in appearance to show how worn the tires are as the tire wears. It begins as a complete square when the tire is new, then turns into a C-shape at 75 percent, a half square at 50 percent, followed by a single line at 25 percent. Finally, when the tire is worn out at 2/32nds tread depth, an exclamation point (!) is shown indicating it is time to replace the tire. Aside from just warning consumers the tire is wearing out, the new rubber also includes 85 percent more sipes when worn halfway compared to a CS4 with equal use.
On paper these tires sounded great, but how do they perform? To find out we went to the Cooper Tire and Rubber Test Facility in San Antonio, Texas. We’re comparing the Grand Touring tire up against the Hankook Optimo H727 that retail at nearly the same price. The Cooper RS5 rings at $121 apiece while the Hankook retails for $125 a tire for a 215/65R17 tire.
Real World Testing
In the wet, we could immediately feel how much more controllable the Mustang equipped with the Cooper tires is. The Hankook Mustang lacks the rear-end grip of the Cooper tire and during moderate speed corners does not expel water nearly as efficiently, giving up lateral grip. The Cooper equipped car can be modulated at its adhesion limits. Unlike the Hankook tire that suddenly loses all traction, there is a linear slope to the Cooper’s grip level can be controlled with careful throttle and steering input.
As well, the Cooper Mustang has far better braking ability in the wet as the driver can actually brake and steer with these tires. Although most people won’t be pushing their car’s limits on a wet autocross course, this information is relevant if an emergency situation ever does happen in the rain. The limits and controllability of the CS5 tire lend themselves to better confidence and performance behind the wheel, which is important during split second decisions.
On the dry track, the gap between the tires narrows slightly. The Cooper Mustang still has more rear-end grip and when it does get pushed beyond its limit, is more controllable. The Hankook tire feels softer and spongy in the corners and more willing to lose front end grip when a corner is taken with too much speed.
Cooper vs Pirelli
Once the thrashing testing of the Grand Touring tire in the Mustangs was over, we climbed into the BMW to test out the CS5 Ultra Touring against the premium Pirelli Cinturato P7 tire. In the wet, the gap between the Pirellis and Coopers was much closer. The Cooper has noticeably more grip and feel in medium speed sweeping corners, but rear end grip and braking felt similar. At speed, the Cooper could sustain grip longer and gave the driver more confidence. When pushed to the limit, the Cooper equipped BMW turned in a faster lap as well.
In the dry, there was not a large, noticeable difference. Grip, braking and steering feel were all similar, but the Cooper again was slightly faster, although quicker to emit an audible squeal during cornering. The reason Cooper selected this competitor is to show the CS5 Ultra Touring can perform as well as the more expensive Pirelli Cinturato P7. Listed on Discount Tire for $124 per tire, the H-rated Cooper CS5 undercuts the Pirelli’s price of $143 a tire.
The tire world is advancing rapidly, which is good news for anyone in the market to replace their rubber. Not only will the new CS5 perform throughout its tread life, but it should last for a long time. Copper offers 80,000 miles of treadwear protection on the Grand Touring tire and a 60,000 miles of protection on the Ultra (50,000 for the W rated version).
After 100 years in the industry, Cooper knows a thing or two about manufacturing tires. With innovative new technologies that perform well in real world conditions, the CS5 is poised to be a key competitor in the tire game.