You know in your heart you should do your research and buy quality, highly rated tires, right? You know that. And yet, good tires are astonishingly expensive, and the screaming deals offered by no-name brands and tire discounters can be tempting. Do you really get what you pay for? Well, all-round tire fanatic Jonathan Benson from UK-based Tyre Reviews tackled the question. (You know Jonathan from his video series, including one we highlighted back in June that had some interesting insights about wheel sizes and tire sidewall height.)
This time around, he’s testing costly name-brand tires against budget tires, comparing a set of Continental Sport Contact 6s against what he calls a “good for the budget” set called a Rotalla RU01 S-Pace. (Rotalla also markets a tire called the Unicorn. We assume it is not imbued with magical powers.)
Benson finds drifting to be much tougher with the budget tires — easier to break loose, much harder to control. “They’re not as fun, they’re not as fast, they’re not as consistent,” and he mentions the small matter of feeling like he’s “on the edge of questionable death.”
Then there’s the braking comparison. We won’t all go drifting, but at some time or another we will all need every blessed inch of braking distance we can get. The test results have to be seen. But that poor foam dude never had a chance.
There’s also a comparison of dry handling, where Benson finds some kind things to say about the Rotallas, though a lack of controllability yields slightly slower lap times.
He does conclude that, objectively, the two sets of tires are less different than he would have thought, with test data showing a performance gap of perhaps 5 percent. But he rates the subjective gap in handling predictability at 50 percent.
The price difference between these tires? About 250 pounds, or $325. That’s real money — but the stakes are really high.