BOWMANVILLE, ON – Automakers can develop engines that crank out awesome power and design sophisticated suspension systems and electronic stability and traction control systems to transfer that power to the road, but ultimately, the effectiveness all those efforts hinges on just four small patches of rubber.
A vehicle’s tires are the only means of connecting it to the road – the vehicle’s ability to launch, handle and stop depends on those four contact patches, which is why one should be diligent when it’s time to replace the original-equipment tires.
Price alone shouldn’t be the deciding factor – the replacement tires need to match the specific requirements of your particular vehicle.
This fact is even more critical when choosing replacement tires for a performance vehicle. Whether it’s raw American muscle, highly-tuned European or Asian imports or even high-end exotics, it’s essential that appropriate tires are applied to ensure the vehicle continues to deliver to its maximum capabilities.
BFGoodrich has been a leader in the high-performance tire market for decades. The company made a commitment to become involved in motorsport in 1970 when it introduced radial-ply tires to the race track. [EDITOR'S NOTE: I drove a Camaro on BFG T/A radials in the 1970 Sundown Endurance Race at Mosport – six hours on a single set of tires!)
The T/A radial immediately set a new benchmark for performance tires and the knowledge gained on the track since then has been the foundation for the brand’s ongoing reputation as a leader in ultra high performance street tires.
Now, BFGoodrich is introducing a new line of tires that are said to meet the high demands of enthusiasts and their vehicles, as well as delivering that high performance in all weather conditions.
Sounds like a tall order! "All-weather" and "performance" are not words that typically go together as tire descriptors. But we were open to being convinced.
The new g-Force COMP-2 A/S line is a Z-speed rated tire with "all-season" capabilities. BFGoodrich says it delivers the best traction in wet or dry conditions, stops the vehicle in a shorter distance than the competition and provides more control in all seasons, including light snow.
That said, the company emphasizes the point that in Canada “all-season” really means “three-season” – dedicated winter tires are still the best choice when our climate chills.
These claims of being “best” look good on marketing brochures, but how do they stand up when the rubber really meets the road?
To find out, BFGoodrich let a group of auto journalists see for ourselves, staging a testing session at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport), near Bowmanville, Ontario.
Using identical cars, we were able to compare the performance of the g-Force COMP-2 A/S with competitive brands back to back over the same test courses.
Three different test courses were set up – a dry autocross layout, a braking lane with wet and dry surfaces and a water-soaked autocross circuit. The results were impressive, indeed.
The dry autocross trial pitted the BFGoodrich tires against the more costly Continental DWS and General’s G-MAX AS-03, all mounted on new Ford Mustangs. The course included a typical high-speed slalom component and a decreasing radius turn, followed by a set of kinks leading to a straight stretch to the braking box.
I didn’t notice much difference among the brands on launch, but as the speed increased the ability to stick – or lack thereof – became increasingly apparent. The decreasing radius right-hander was especially telling as the Continentals felt like they were rolling over as grip slipped away, while the Generals delivered understeer in major servings.
In fact, the consensus among the journo drivers was that the Generals were the most fun because they lost their grip so readily. There was a noticeable difference bringing the Mustang to a halt as well, with the BFGs stopping in a shorter distance and feeling more secure while doing it.
The next testing session confirmed those seat-of-the-pants results. A trio of Nissan Altimas were fitted with the BFGs, Continentals and Yokohama AVID ENVigor tires, then accelerated to about 80 km/h and full panic braking applied.
The first passes were done on dry pavement, with the results recorded by Vbox testing equipment. The g-Force COMP-2 A/S consistently stopped on average at 20.4 metres or so, while the Yokohamas required 22.6m and the Continentals slid on to 24.2m. The BFGs also felt more planted, more secure during the maneuver than the other brands.
The braking box was then wetted down and the tests repeated. The BFGs again excelled, stopping in 21.6m, while the Continentals brought my Altima to a halt in 24.3m. The Yokohamas drifted on in the wet for 25.2m before stopping.
Obviously, a variance in stopping distance of three or four metres can be significant – the difference between hitting something (or someone) and avoiding contact.
High-speed wet autocross
The final comparison test was a high-speed autocross laid out on a wet surface. Audi A4s were used for this exercise and the challengers facing the BFGs were Yokohama and General.
Not surprisingly, the theme from the previous tests continued. The grip level in the wet for the g-Force COMP-2 A/S tires exceeded the competition, especially the Generals which again induced significant understeer throughout the course.
Performance as advertised
Based on our testing, the claims of superior traction, braking and control with the g-Force COMP-2 A/S tires seem well-founded, although not all competitive tires were included for comparison.
According to the company, this tire's performance is due to lessons learned on the race track that have been incorporated into its design. For example, its Performance Racing Core, a technology adapted from BFG’s racing tires, provides crisp, responsive control while cornering and at speed.
The directional tread design has larger, more rigid tread blocks and squared off shoulders that distribute the stress across the tire footprint and enhance the shape of the contact patch, that critical connection between the vehicle and the road.
Sidewall inserts add stiffness to resist deflection for immediate turning response, yet allow a decent level of ride comfort. Traction is enhanced by the high silica content in the rubber compound, which also is specially formulated to allow cold-weather flexing.
The BFG g-Force COMP-2 A/S tires, which replace the g-Force Super Sport line, will be offered in 59 sizes, fitting 16- to 22-inch rims. The size range includes 31 new offerings previously unavailable in the Super Sport lineup, with 50% of those newly available sizes in the increasingly popular 19-, 20- and 22-inch rim diameters.
The g-Force COMP-2 A/S tires, which come with a six-year quality warranty against defects and a 70,000-kilometre limited tread-wear warranty, are made at BFG’s plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
[NOTE: The test program described was organized by and vehicles and tires were provided by BFGoodrich Canada.]