Good news, 2021 is shaping up to be a really a exciting year for tires. We have a brand new UUHP contender taking the fight to Michelin, Goodyearand Continental, some extreme updates of existing patterns, and the promise of new tires on the horizon later this year!
Watch on for the full exciting details!
If you'd rather read about all the new tires for 2021, here's the text from the video.
Starting with performance tires, I've just realised something. This is the fourth year of creating these tire recommendation videos, and the fourth year in a row recommending the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S and Continental Sportcontact 6. When you actually stop and think about it, 4 years later and they're still two of my top recommendations… is mighty impressive, but as I hinted at earlier, there are some new boys in town to get excited about right now!
2019 brought us the arrival of the Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport range, and like the Michelin and Continental this tire is mostly aimed at 19" and above. I actually really liked the F1 SuperSport in testing as it was a tire that felt more sporty than the Michelin, and even if no tire can ever seem to quite match the raw grip of the Michelin around a single lap, the F1 SuperSport feels fun, which for me is a big win and something I really value in a tire.
However, if you have smaller wheels you might feel hard changed. The Pilot Sport 4S is only available in ONE 18" fitment in Europe, and that's 225/40 R18 thanks to the new Toyota Yaris GR, thank you Toyota. The Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport is available in a handful of 18" sizes, and Continental only makes the Sportcontact 6 in a couple of obtuse 18" sizes, which I'm assuming are an OE fitment for a Mercedes or something. None of these tires are available in 17".
What everyone has been asking for is a new competitor to the existing trio, and for it to be available in many wheel sizes, not just reserved for the biggest and most expensive cars. Is this too much to ask?
Well, Bridgestone don't think so, and 2021 has brought the launch of the new Bridgestone Potenza Sport! This is Bridgestones first serious update to their ultra high performance range in about 150 years, and boy have they done it properly.
I'll get the best news out of the way first, the new Potenza Sport is available in seven 17" fitments, at least 20 18" fitments, and then sizes all the way up to 22" rims!
This means us drivers of cars with smaller wheel sizes don't have to feel short changed when shopping for a performance tire! Buttt, what good is a lot of sizes if the tire doesn't perform?
Well, it's early days, but things are looking very promising for the new tire. At time of filming, the Potenza Sport has been in just two tests, and reviewed by one person on the tire reviews website, it's that new.
The first test was a 20" test on a mustang by the testing masters at Auto Bild, and the new Potenza Sport won overall, beating the Continental Sportcontact 6 in second place, the Michelin pilot Sport 4s in third and the Goodyear eagle f1 supersport in fourth. While the Michelin was slightly faster around the dry handling lap, the Bridgestone was fastest in the wet and had the shortest dry braking.
The second test the potenza sport has featured in is by Sport Auto, which used a staggered 19" fitment on a Toyota Supra. In this test the Michelin pilot sport 4s won overall, and conversely the Bridgestone was slightly faster around the dry handling lap and slightly better in dry braking again! This shows just how close it is at the top of the uuhp segment, which means it looks like Bridgestone is back!
Even more encouraging news is that both tests called the new bridgestone a sporty handling tire with direct steering and high levels of precision, everything we want from a UUHP tire. Nice.
The one review on tire-reviews.com has also been very complementary too. Is this too good to be true? Well, there's two caveats I can think of.
Firstly, the price, it doesn't look like a cheap tire, but you often get what you pay for with tires and it's no more expensive than it's immediate rival from Michelin, so that shouldn't be a biig issues.
Secondly, and I might be worried over nothing, but wear has not yet been tested. As it stands, Michelin, Goodyear and Continental produce three of the best wearing ultra high performance tires on the market.
Newer Bridgestone tires such as a005 evo had excellent grip, but relatively poor wear for their categories. That, combined with the fact in 255/35 R19 the new Potenza Sport only starts with 6.7mm of tread, which is lower than the 7.4mm tread of the Michelin pilot sport 4s and 8mm of a tire like the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5, you can see which I might be worried. Time will tell, and keep an eye on tire-reviews.com for further information.
Lastly one point that hasn't yet been proven is does this new tire actually perform well in the smaller wheel sizes? Well, the good news is I will be finding out. The 2021 tire reviews summer tire test is using the popular 225/40 R18 tire size, and I've 14 tires on test, including the michelin pilot sport 4 AND 4s, the goodyear eagle f1 asymmetric 5 AND f1 supersport, and, of course the new Bridgestone potenza sport. Game on bridgestone, let's see where you sit.
Travel rules allowing, I will be testing this early April and the test should be on the site shortly after.
Speaking of the smaller performance sizes, my recommendations are still the Continental Premium contact 6 which is a really great handling tire, but perhaps not the most comfortable of the bunch, the Goodyear Eagle F1 asymmetric 5 as a solid all rounder, and the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 as a performance tire with comfort more in mind.
Outside of the premiums, the Falken Azenis FK510 is still doing really well in tests, especially in the wet and comfort categories, and the vredestein ultrac vorti r is always worth looking into.
And finally on the uuhp tires, this isn't a recommendation, but more something that's gotten me really excited. I recently drove the new M3 and BMW have finally moved away from the Michelin pilot Super sport to the michelin pilot sport 4S. This latest generation * marked 4s felt incredible with the new BMW, and is hopefully a hint of the magic michelin will be putting into the 4S replacement, whatever it will be called!
As for more comfort bias tires for everyday driving, you can refer back to last year's test for my full recommendations, however there are some tires worth talking about.
As in my test, the Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance 2 is still performing well and doing insanely well in wear testing often beating michelin in mileage which is usually unheard of, and I imagine its new brother, the EfficientGrip 2 SUV tire will be just as good, but I will be doing an SUV test later this year!
The Michelin Primacy 4 seems to be doing really well in every test it's in this year, car or SUV, as is the Continental PremiumContact 6, and if you want to spend a little bit less money, the Maxxis Premitra HP5 has just won another test which is amazing for a tire priced as well as it is, but in tests where wear it tested it's not usually the best wearing tire, but that's offset by the lower purchase price.
In terms of new tires, there's three worth mentioning. The "new" Kumho Ecsta HS51 must have had a HUGE midlife upgrade this year as it performed really well in the Auto Bild tire test, which even includes wear testing. The upgrade looks so big, I'm not sure why Kumho haven't given the tire a new name. The Auto Bild test was in the popular 205/55 R16 sizes, so does this mean all of the HS51s available on the market will be this good? Honestly, I don't know, I did reach out to Kumho for comment but got no reply, but I would guess that the updated compound will be rolled into the most popular sizes first, so it might be a bit hit and miss if you want to try and get this "new" HS51 for your car, plus there will be old stock in the market for a while yet.
The Continental owned brand Semperit launched the speed life 3 in 2020 and it's just featured in it's first tests this year,it's looking really strong in smaller wheel sizes, even beating the premiumcontact 6 in the 16" adac test, and the other new tire I know of for 2021 is the Toyo Proxes Comfort. For a new tire, this seems to be pretty disappointing, losing the sport auto 16" test and finishing 11th or 20 in the auto bild 16" test.
Finally, for all you all season tire users out there, firstly, refer to my all season test from last year ,linked below, and there will be a new one coming in september of this year, and secondly the Crossclimate 2 is finally coming out in Europe later this year, and it promises to continue the dry dominance of the CrossClimate+, while improving wet and snow performance, the two areas it was starting to lose out on.
Unsurprisingly, I will be doing a lot with this tire this year, plus a full all season test against all its main rivals which will also include the new Nokian SeasonProof, which replaces the Nokian WeatherProof. The weatherproof was always one of the best all season tires in the snow, so it will be super interesting to find out whether the seasonproof can move the performance forward in the wet and particular dry too.
And that's about it for what's new in the world of tires for 2021. Any questions please do ask below :)