We’ve attended a lot of tire events over the years. It’s always the same old thing when a manufacturer wants to show off the latest and greatest rubber. Three things are guaranteed at an event like this. First, there is a presentation highlighting the advanced design and technology of the new tire. Second, there will be supervised track time. And finally, a known inferior (and usually out of date) competitor’s tire is brought along to highlight how great this new tire is. So, when Sailun invited us to Palm Beach, FL to test their high performance all-season, we expected much the same. Yup, there was a presentation and yes, we were at a racetrack; Palm Beach International Raceway (PMIR). But something was different. Rather than allowing us to switch our minds over tire-testing cruise control, Sailun changed things up on us. We wouldn’t know what tire we were testing.
A BLIND TEST
For each of the three testing procedures we would drive two vehicles. One with the Sailun Atrezzo Z4+AS tire installed and one with a competitors tire installed. The names molded into the tires sidewalls were scrubbed off so we didn’t know which tire we were testing. Sure, one look at the tread pattern would give it away, but what fun is that?
- Grooved Tread Block Walls reduce pipe resonance for a more comfortable and quiet ride.
- Available in 16-inch to 20-inch diameter sizes.
- Every tire is factory inspected for quality.
- V-shaped tread grooves enhance wet handling and hydroplane resistance.
Sailun isn’t a typical tire company. The manufacturer’s goal is not to make the best tires in the world, but rather focus on producing tires that can compete with the best in the industry, at a far lower price point. Sailun is in what the manufacturer calls the value tier of the tire world. In the USA, 25% of replacement tire purchases are made within the value tier. Dozens of companies compete in this segment with most holding less than 1% of the total tire market. Sailun’s goal is to be the king of the value market segment.
MEET SAILUN TIRES
And the company may just be able to accomplish that. Sailun is not a fly by night tire company. Currently, Sailun tires are sold in 50+ countries worldwide on six continents. 30 million tires are pumped out a year from Sailun’s three factories. Each tire is tested off of the assembly line to ensure quality before being shipped off to the consumer.
The main factory and test facility is located in China, but there is also an engineering team here in America. Sailun claims these are not Chinese tires designed for the Chinese market that are then being sold in the USA. No, these tires are designed for the American market from the start.
THREE UNIQUE EXERCISES
But enough about the company; are the tires any good? Our test day is divided into three separate exercises. First, we will take two cars, one with the Sailun tires and one without, on a city driving course that includes highways, rail crossings, speed bumps and side roads. Next up is an autocross-style course that includes slaloms, sweeping corners and threshold braking. This course will be tackled first in the dry, and then with the road completely soaked. Finally we will get to drive the entire two-mile PBIR road course. The vehicles we are using are 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 sedans. All tires are set to 34 Psi, and remember, the names were scrubbed off so we do not know what tire we are driving on.
Now let’s take a quick fast forward for a second here to the end of the day where we learn that the competitor tire is the Continental XtremeContact DWS. This will make the rest of the article easier to follow instead of having to keep referring to ‘Tire 1’ and ‘Tire2’.
PUTTING THE TIRES TO THE TEST
As mentioned, the day starts with us driving these two tires on the road. As expected under normal conditions, the differences between the Sailun and Continental are minimal at most. There is slightly less road noise and more steering feel from the Continentals, but the Sailuns isolate road vibrations better. Comfort is a dead heat between the two.
Once on the autocross course, the differences between the tires, although still minimal, become more apparent. The Sailun required less stopping distance and has more lateral cornering grip in the dry, but the Continentals feel more predictable.In the wet these traits are amplified. The front Sailun tires grip hard; hard enough to allow the rear of the car to rotate freely if the driver gets a little too enthusiastic. Again, the Continentals are more predictable, but lack overall grip a bit.
Finally, it is time for the large road course. With pylons set up to limit our speed, the absolute limits of either tire cannot be approached. But it doesn’t matter. These tires are not going to be bought for track use. In total, 71% of all Sailun tires are equipped to ‘regular’ cars like the Toyota Camry, Ford Focus and Honda Civic. Sailun’s goal is to produce a tire as good as the competition, for a fraction of the price. At the end of the day we are all given several surveys to rate the performance of the two tires and surprise, surprise; it’s a near dead heat. At roughly 40% less money, the Z4+AS seem like a great bargain, as long as they can hold up over time.
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