Ultra High Performance Tyres
Posted by: Dan on 11/01/2017
With over 18 million cars on Australian roads, there are plenty of options in the marketplace when you are looking to buy a new set of tyres. It’s finding the right set that can prove challenging, from the size of tyre that suits your vehicle, to the brand you like, and even deciding whether to buy new or used.
Beyond these decisions, though, many motorists often wonder about ultra high performance tyres (UHPs). How are they different when compared to the regular kind, officially called ‘Touring Tyres’? And are they worth the money? Here are some of the pros and cons of UHPs to help you decide whether or not they are right for you.
While car fans gush over a new engine here, a turbo kit there, and all other sorts of performance enhancements under the bonnet – it's often overlooked how vital tyres are to a car’s performance. This certainly applies to matters of safety – a black spotted or balding tyre can be a real danger – but also to areas where you can enhance your car’s overall operation.
With a lower profile that gives enhanced steering capabilities and a more responsive feel when behind the wheel, UHP buyers gravitate toward this type of tyre for the intuitive feel and responsiveness it can provide the driver.
A Touring Tyre is designed to do exactly what it’s advertised for: standard duties. Regular motoring, day in and day out, on regular roads. These tyres and the demands on them form the backbone of the tyre industry. While they don’t have the complexity of UHP tyres in terms of their construction, even your everyday spare tyre remains a modern work of cutting-edge science.
A motorist who goes beyond a Touring Tyre and acquires a set of UHPs is driven by need. If you have a need for UHPs, then regular tyres simply won’t meet the safety and performance demands that your driving will put your car through.
While we all know a questionable driver who we perhaps think really needs a set of UHPs, in practice the tyres do not depend on a driver’s style so much as the driving demands placed upon them. So, even if you admit to being the world’s worst driver when it comes to navigating car parks, a set of UHPs are not necessary and will not help you become a better driver by default.
Instead, UHPs find their ideal use in racing and high-demand driving. If you regularly take your car out to a track day – or perhaps are even lucky enough to own a car you race regularly – then a set of UHPs is absolutely essential.
Furthermore, if your local area also regularly requires you to drive at relatively high speeds and with a lot of sharp corners, then UHPs can be worthwhile. This would be quite a unique circumstance – especially in Australia, where our urban living more often requires 40 km/h speed limits in a built-up area rather than driving like an extra in the Italian Job.
If your motoring is generally done on suburban streets and in light traffic under 60 km/h, then the latest set of UHPs on the market would not be a great boost to your driving. The same applies if you occasionally take a weekend drive out to the coast. Sure, you may be hitting speeds of 110 km/h a couple of times a month, but such infrequency won’t factor into general wear and tear.
This is all the more true as performance tyres really prove their value in racing and high speed cornering. So while you may be going over 100 km/h on the freeway, if this is done in straight stretches of road, the difference between standard and UHP tyres will be minimised. Without a real need for the benefits of UHPs, many motorists are happy to just buy a conventional set of tyres for driving.
For all the reasons you may think that UHPs are not for you, there’s one reason that can win the day: sometimes life is about having fun. An expensive watch does the same thing as a cheap one, but there is a certain cool factor surrounding a Rolex that makes many people happy to pay extra money to get greater enjoyment out of its use. The same applies to cars.
If you really love the idea of performance tyres and their presence will make you enjoy your motoring more, then go ahead and buy a set. Even if they are not used much in your daily drive right now, you may find a greater use for them down the road.
Whatever tyres you decide to buy, keep in mind that they are not just a basic purchase for your car. Instead, tyres are often the last line of defence if your car plays up, and the first point of contact between your vehicle and the world around you when driving. Maintaining them to ensure they keep you safe is vital.
Be sure to keep a good spare tyre, maintain your tyres by regularly rotating them, and be quick to repair and replace them when an issue arises. Do all this, and whatever set you use, you’ll be sure to enjoy a regular driving experience that is drama-free and fun.
Do you have ultra high performance tyres? Why did you get them? Share your experience in the comments below: