Horsepower, wheels and suspension aside, enthusiasts also love talking about high-performance or sporty tyres.
To those who are less familiar, this obsession over rubber seems illogical. After all, aren’t “all tyres the same”?
Most tyres used by the majority of cars are what we call “normal” tyres. They are not engineered for high grip or high speeds.
Sporty tyres or high-performance tyres are built for that. They are a breed apart, and offer keen drivers some very distinct advantages.
HIGH-PERFORMANCE TYRES OFFER GRIP. LOTS OF IT.
High grip means a big improvement in braking power. That means shorter stopping distances, even in the rain.
This is a great advantage, especially when you’re carrying a full complement of passengers.
In an emergency, that extra metre or two that you save might mean the difference between a fender-bender and a serious mishap.
SPORTY TYRES MEAN FASTER CORNERING SPEEDS.
The high grip exhibited by high-performance tyres also allows higher cornering speeds.
(Please don’t treat public roads as racetracks, though!)
These tyres can take more before they’ll eventually squeal and lose their grip.
Another key feature that sporty tyres have are stiffer sidewalls. Though this means less comfort, it enables the tyre to exert more grip by keeping the contact patch flat against the road.
The sidewalls on a regular tyre, on the other hand, will flex more while cornering.
YOU CAN PUT THE POWER DOWN, EVEN IN WET CONDITIONS.
Due to their grippy nature, high-performance tyres let you put the power down, even if it’s raining.
In a car with regular tyres, the lack of grip might cause slip or wheelspin. This will cause the traction control or ESP system to intervene and reduce torque.
As a result, you might feel that the car cannot accelerate. But in a car with high-performance tyres, this is less of a problem.
DO HIGH-PERFORMANCE TYRES MAKE A CAR GO FASTER?
Technically, yes, thanks to their additional grip, which lets you corner faster and brake later.
However, if you’re just driving on public roads, high-performance tyres should be seen as an additional safety feature and not a tool to go faster.