Burning rubber in San Antonio: why tires are important
I really want to test drive the boat on the San Antonio Riverwalk. They look interesting...except for that clumsy steering.
Left is right and right is left? Ain’t nobody got time for that...
My lesson on the mechanics of Starboard and Port Tiller Steering would have to wait. It was time to head to The Cooper Tire & Vehicle Test Center for day #2 of the Cooper CS5 Media Ride-N-Drive. (Read about Day #1 here if you missed it)
A group photo as we arrived. Can you tell which one I am? That’s right. The bonehead with the long sleeves on in Texas. Well, in Michigan our seasons are different with winter running from January to June, then summer is from June to July and winter returns from August to December.
Cooper Tires is headquartered in Findlay, Ohio and employs 13,000 people, some of whom I was privileged to meet. Cooper bands include Mastercraft, Starfire and Mickey Thompson, among others. Truck fans know the latter quite well. In 1952, Cooper debuted the Weathermaster and they are still sold today. Cushion Ride, a tubeless tire, was released in 1954 and nearly 50 years later, the Zeon surfaced. I will explain what those do on a Corvette in my next installment! Oh baby...
Yet, the star of the show is the new CS5. Cooper unveiled these to commemorate 100 years and I took a century of design and innovation and forced it to the limit.
Ariel view of the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center located south of San Antonio on Interstate 35. The Wet Vehicle Dynamics Assessment Pad is the black, 14 acre square in the upper left corner. The Dry Handling Circuit begins at the large oval, just behind the central building. There is also a two mile race track and an off road test course. The facility totals 1,000 acres.
The Dry Handling Circuit
Wet Vehicle Dynamics Assessment Pad
Why Cooper CS5 Tires?
The Dry Handling Circuit
Don’t hit the cones on this road course...like I did.
I took my initial run in one of two 2014, 3 Series BMWs. One equipped with
Cooper CS5 Ultra Touring
tires and the other with Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires. The size was 225/50R17.
The red 3 Series, seen in the background, had the Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires. This reminded me of something out of National Geographic. The second an animal is born into the wild, predators arrive. The CS5 is like that – released into the wild and already Pirelli looks to attack.
As a result of my dealership background, I am very familiar with the 3 Series. Since I have much experience with this particular car, I felt very comfortable behind the wheel. And I wanted to, for the sake of really testing the tires, use that to my advantage.
Me taking a run in the 3 Series and making the tight turns as laid out by the cones.
The brake/throttle combination was key on the Dry Handling Course. As I approached each corner with the CS5 tires, I felt them pull me back to the ground, in light of the car’s momentum. The Pirelli tires on the red 3 Series, during my second run, were nice but more prone to excessive sway.
The CS5 tires absorbed the movements in the corner much better.
The Cooper CS5 did a better job accentuating the suspension and handling, a powerful selling point of the BMW brand. During my time at Luxury Automall of Sioux Falls, I heard many customers comment positively on the ride of their BMW. These were not race car drivers with access to tracks like Cooper’s Dry Handling Circuit. They were everyday consumers but with power; power to change the entire auto industry in how they spend their dollars.
Putting a less capable tire on a BMW they purchased (and willingly paid more for than the average vehicle) would compromise the ride quality they so deeply desired. Dry Handling Course aside, the tire I would recommend in this case is the CS5. In addition, any driver, regardless of car, will be much better off with a tire, like the CS5, in the event of an evasive maneuver. Now we are not only talking about a tire supporting the ride but the traction control system, specifically designed to lessen yaw, roll and pitch during such situations.
A paramount distinction.
Me making a run in the BMW 3 Series with Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires. Notice the cones just ahead that are knocked over...
During my run in the red BMW, with the Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires, I spun around completely and destroyed several cones. The tires did not handle the way I needed and it should be noted: my knowledge of the BMW 3 Series didn’t prevent me from spinning out. That said, the right tires are a critical piece of the puzzle. What if I had suddenly needed to make that evasive maneuver to avoid, say a child running after a ball rolling into the street?
It’s an unpleasant but necessary consideration.
On a softer note, one of the reps from The Zimmerman Agency decided to ride with me for this run. I don’t think she was ready for the little twisty twister incident we encountered. Sorry Christa... I didn’t mean it. I still hope we are friends?
Wet Vehicle Dynamics Assessment Pad
After lunch it was time for round two...
The Cooper Team studies a number of things, including hydroplaning and the characteristics of it, on the Wet Vehicle Dynamics Assessment Pad. The water flow is uniform and the track is slightly inclined to recycle it via drains at the perimeter.
We made this run in Ford Mustangs, the pride of Flat Rock, Michigan. One Mustang was up fitted with
Cooper CS5 Grand Touring
tires and the other with Hankook Optimo H727 tires.
The silver Mustang with Cooper CS5 Grand Touring Tires, size 215/65R17. A black Mustang was parked not far behind this one with Hankook H27 tires.
Like the BMW, my dealership experience allowed me special insight into the Ford Mustang. At one time, I used to sell them and when the 2011 5.0 arrived at Sioux Falls Ford, I spent extensive time studying and driving the car. I know how it behaves and handles. I know the amount of work Ford has done over the years to get the Mustang to its current stature
And I know a less than perfect tire will hinder the performance.
Just like the BMW 3 Series, the Ford Mustang is also subject to this rule.
Here I am, making a run with the Hankook H27 tires in the black Mustang. I struggled, despite knowing the car as well as I do. At the end of this straightaway, the sharpest corner on the entire pad presents itself and it was nearly impossible to make without the help of the CS5 tires.
When it came to wet driving, even though I was in a controlled environment, I felt much safer with the CS5 tires. They filtered the water better and did not slide as easily. I gained more trust in the Cooper CS5 tires than the Hankook Optimo H727 tires. Since driving on a wet track will automatically reduce confidence, I was really looking to the tires to compensate and the Cooper CS5 filled that void admirably.
Why Cooper CS5 Tires?
The Cooper CS5 Ultra Touring, as equipped on the BMW 3 Series.
The CS5 endured the mileage equivalent of driving from New York to Los Angeles 400 times during development. Over 1,100 batches of silica were made for a total of 270,000 lbs. of tread compound, all to fabricate the tire pictured here. The right balance of silica was essential to Cooper engineers who ultimately subjected their laboratory creations to over 20,000 individual tests. The final result is a CS5 tire with 4 times the amount of silica than its predecessor, the CS4. That spells better handling in both wet and dry conditions, more gripping ability and better fuel economy.
While I may have visited the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center, not everybody gets a chance to compare competing tires like this. When I was a Service Advisor, tires were the biggest confusion for my customers. When I took over in management, I subsequently noticed tires where the biggest confusion for my Service Advisors.
Everybody was trying to make sense of a myriad of rubber circles on the wall that after a while, all looked the same.
When that happens, the ones with the biggest rebates gets sold, regardless of if that set of tires is actually the best for that customer. I wish I had this experience with Cooper Tires even just a year ago.
It would have changed how I approached this issue.
Tires are one of the most routinely serviced parts of any vehicle, from rotation and tread depth inspection to overall replacement. Roberto Ocampo, pictured here, was one of many technicians I counted on to help educate customers on the importance of tires.
As part of a dealer group, I found everyday people have a different definition of “shop talk” than us car buffs.
The engine and transmission need no other features, outside of dependability. A car, to most, requires safety, affordability and fuel economy to justify purchasing. Burning rubber is left in a distant fantasy because keeping the kids safe is priority. Green light drag racing machines are nice but having one sends family finances into the red.
This is car talk for everyday people.
And it sounds like this specifically: “Mr. and Mrs. Customer, the Cooper CS5 is going to give you maximum traction in all weather conditions, especially if you have to make an unexpected maneuver or swerve out of the way of traffic. I believe it to be one of the best tires out there for the money and I would trust it for my family as well as yours.”
The Cooper CS5 Grand Touring as equipped on the Ford Mustang.
About the photo above: 3D Micro Gage-Grooves allows the treads to interlock when turning and driving on winding roads. This Means more control, greater safety, and overall improvement in the way tires respond on wet and snowy surfaces. 3D Micro-Guage Grooves then works with Stabiledge and is located on the edge of each CS5. Small bumpers make it easier The large groove stays open, which brings better response and a more stable feeling, especially in the corners.
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