available information on how various brands of tyre perform is very sparse.
Each manufacturer will have lots of comparative information which is used
internally in for R&D of its own products. Not surprisingly, this
is never revealed either to the trade or public. The only source of comparative
information on tyres is the JD Power Tyre Customer Satisfaction Index
study exclusively published in Autocar India at the beginning of each
year. This survey is based on owner feedback though it is not necessarily
a reflection of the true properties of a tyre alone.
Tyre design and performance involves a lot of compromise. It is very important
to understand that maximisation of one aspect of performance will lead
to a drop in performance in another area. For example, a design which
reduces noise levels might result in worse handling in wet conditions.
Thus there is a need to maintain a trade-off in key characteristics of
which the following are the most important: Comfort, Life, Performance
On the other side of the spectrum are the psychological factors which
are equally important that is the design and packaging, brand image, the
price and the aftersales service available which would include the warranty
Based on market feedback, it would be fair to generalise the following
brands of tyres as under.
The tyre which basically stands out is the Amazer XL available for the
Maruti 800, Esteem, Escort and Lancer. The advantages are a rugged design
with adequate speed rating.
Apollo also has a range of upsize tyres for most vehicles which are also
available as tubeless. The unconditional warranty policy, which covers
everything from small cuts to blow-outs, is the best among all tyre manufacturers
and makes Apollos a good-value-for-money buy.
The main two brands are the S248 (for 80 aspect ratio) and S322 (for 70
and 65 aspect ratios). A maximum 'S' speed rating (180) makes them unfit
for faster cars. The Bridgestone B350s using DONUT technology are higher
performance tyres, though not high speed ones, and are best for extensive
driving over variable road conditions without compromising on speed. The
B350, especially on the Zen, seems to be a noise-prone tyre. Bridgestone's
wider tyres for the mid-size and luxury cars, Potenzas (RE88) come with
an H speed rating and Turanzas (ER30) with a V speed rating, both offering
terrific performance. Tubeless tyres are also available. The warranty
covers five years against only manufacturing defects - and Bridgestones
are quite strict about enforcing it.
Initially, a pattern called the 'Maestro' was introduced, which they are
currently phasing out for the new Formula 1 SB RB and the Formula 1 SB
BT. Both these tyres are available in the 'T' speed rating and come with
a polyester carcass; the difference lies in their tread
pattern. The Formula 1 SB RB is my preference as the ride is more comfortable
A state-of-the-art plant in Aurangabad produces a wide range of tyres.
The GPS2 is the main tyre and is available from the Maruti 800 to the
Lancer. The GPS2 is known to be one of the better tyres in its class as
it is particularly quiet and offers a soft ride. However, it is sensitive
to mechanical irregularities which can cause them to wear out fast. These
tyres are again only available in the 'S' speed rating.
The GT770+ is a 'T' speed-rated tyre and is longer lasting than the GPS2
but is only available in two sizes for the Maruti 800 and Esteem! Goodyear
also boasts of a large range of tubeless tyres and in fact has been at
the forefront of promoting the tubeless concept in India. The high Eagle
NCT tubeless tyres with an 'H' speed rating are a good choice for those
looking for high speed performance.
The JK range essentially covers the Ultima, Ultima XP and Tornado series.
All JK tyres have a nylon carcass thus making the tyres unnecessarily
heavy. JKs can last up to seven to eight years, but it is advisable to
change tyres after five. JK tyres would do well in slow speed conditions
for typical stop-go driving. They are noisy tyres and over a period cause
a wobble and irregular wear in the event of suspension and braking in
The range essentially consists of the Zigma CC, ZVT and ZVTS in nylon
casing with an 'S' speed rating. All are basically of a block pattern
design giving the tyres long life in terms of mileage covered. The problem
though is the nylon casing which over time tends to lose its shape leading
to a wobble that in turn sometimes result in belt distortion. The ZVTS
is the most comfortable tyre among all the patterns with a very soft and
pliant ride, but it is noise-prone. MRF have a 'T' rated tubeless tyre
in the 195/65-R-15 size.
Michelin have really studied the Indian markets and road conditions well
to come up with tyres meant for India. The Certis, which is the premier
range, covers vehicles from the Unos and Santros to the Qualis. The pattern
is a unique asymmetric design which is basically meant to counter the
forced camber angle between the road and the vehicle. And it comes with
a very safe 'H' rating. Among the top-of-the-line high performance tyres
Michelin have are the Vivacy, the MXF Sports and the Pilot series, which
are available in low profile as well.
Pirelli P400s and the P44s stand out as tyres best suited for India and
are available in the size 175/70-R-13, which is an ideal upsize to the
Maruti Esteem. Among their top-of-the-line tyres are the P Zeros, the
ultimate performance tyre which is fitted on Brabus Mercs. The P6000 Energy
tyres come with proven fuel savings as they have a very low rolling resistance.
However, these tyres are best on smooth roads and could get fatally damaged
on rough surfaces. The low profile range have a rayon casing and thus
have to be inflated to their required pressure or they are prone to cuts
and damages that cannot be repaired.