- Published: Monday, 11 September 2017 17:16
Putting Bridgestone’s premium SUV tyre to a 7,000km test on Singapore’s roads
Text: Deyna Chia
Photos: Deyna Chia, Derryn Wong
As reported on CarBuyer.com.sg earlier, Bridgestone introduced the new Alenza 001 tyre in March this year
To sum up our launch story, Bridgestone says the new tyre is aimed at owners of premium SUV models, such as the Audi Q5 and Q7, BMW X4, X5 and X6, Lexus NX and RX, Porsche Macan and Cayenne, Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz GLC and GLE.
It’s also the long-awaited replacement for the Dueler H/P Sport, which was a decent SUV tyre but never truly shone in any one aspect. There have been several iterations of the Dueler, but none positioned truly at the on-road performance space.
Bridgestone refers to the Alenza as a road going premium SUV tyre, so naming it to draw reference to its ultra-high performance tyre the Potenza S001. In case you're wondering, ‘Alenza’ is a made-up word consisting (AL - To/ Toward; ENZA - Elegance/ Performance/ Refinement).
The big claim here is Bridgestone's Ultimate-Eye tyre development technology, basically a virtual modelling of the tyre-surface contact behaviour in simulated dynamic driving conditions, or in short, the tyre equivalent of an F1 simulator.
Alenza’s tyre design has been optimised to improve braking performance (larger contact patch), cornering performance (chamfered pattern edge keeps tyre edge flat instead of concave), whilst improving tyre life (3D M-shaped sipes that reduce movement of tyre tread).
Compared with the Dueler H/P Sport, Bridgestone claims an 11 percent boost in terms of wear life, and carries a wet-label of A, with the Dueler taking a B. A indicates the best performance, while G represents the worst.
Having experienced the excellent Bridgestone S21 motorcycle tyre, which was also engineered with the help of Ultimate-Eye, we were excited to see if Bridgestone’s claims about the Alenza were solid.
To that end, we fitted size 235/60 R18 Alenza tyres to a 2015 Volvo XC60 T5, and lived with it for 7,000km and five months of local driving.
The reference tyre was Continental’s ContiEcoContact5 which had come as standard fitment, and endured just over 30,000km, driven only in Singapore. Both sets of tyres have the same size and load rating (103), the Alenza W-rated (270km/h) versus the ContiEcoContact5 V-rated (240km/h).
As it is with a fresh set of tyres, improved refinement was very obvious. The tyres were eerily quiet on Day One, and after five months, continue to be quiet even at highway speeds. Even the missus has noticed that tyre noise seems almost absent, however "accentuating" wind noise around the A-pillar and front windows.
Our SUV tyre test mule, a Volvo XC60 T5, is exactly part of Bridgestone's target audience for the Alenza
From our subjective guess-o-meter, tyre noise is reduced significantly, enough so that the volume from the infotainment system has also been reduced by approximately 10 percent. There is also less noise generated driving over uneven, bumpy, regular and rain -absorbing tarmac, likely resulting from improved "shock and noise damping", with a perceivable improvement in NVH. Phone calls taken with the OEM hands-free speaker phone gave the callers the impression that call was taken whilst seated in a quiet room.
Cornering grip is superior compared to the reference tyres, particularly evidenced when navigating our favourite urban test route that involves roundabouts, sweepers and relatively hard braking. Grip is enhanced to the point that body-roll has become more apparent, a reminder how tall SUVs are, especially when taking roundabouts at a healthy pace. Even navigating 90 degree turns on notoriously slippery painted carpark floors produces little squeaking compared.
It’s been a wet and heavy 2017, but the Alenza healthily proves its claim of good grip in soaked conditions. Driving through water-logged roads is still confidence inspiring, without a hint of aquaplaning. It’s probably interesting to note that the XC60 test car is front-wheel driven, and not all-wheel drive.
At the recommended 39 psi tyre pressure, we found that rolling resistance was reduced as compared with the reference tyre, improving average mileage (per litre of fuel) by 0.5km/L. While reduced noise and fuel consumption is a common benefit of changing to fresh tyres, even those of the same brand and model, the Alenza delivers on its claim on improved performance in both dry and wet conditions.
It’s also impressed us by improving both comfort and performance, two characteristics that generally don't go together, so our overall mid-term assessment puts the Alenza 001 as highly-recommended for owners of SUVs.
Currently, 44 sizes are available for the Singapore market, from 16" to 22", 215-315 section width, aspect ratio of 35-70, and speed rating of H (180km/h) to Y (300km/h). Prices start from $175, with our test rubber 235/60 R18 costing $260, without fitting.
A list of authorised Bridgestone dealers is available at Bridgestone Singapore’s website.