Finally Tested: Kumho’s Latest Extreme-Performance Tire

Although we’ve tested many of the current 200-treadwear extreme-performance tires this season, one contender has been conspicuously absent: the Kumho Ecsta V720. It was introduced last year, but it was on backorder when we put together our recent tests. Now that the supply chain has finally been refilled, it’s time to see how the Kumho stacks up against the benchmark.

THE CAR: Our test mule should look familiar to longtime GRM readers. It’s the Mazda Miata we developed for Street Touring competition over the course of several issues in 2006. After winning a couple of championships for Andy Hollis, the Miata spent time with Neal Bellamy.

Reigning Street Touring FWD champ David Whitener recently became its latest owner, and he’s already applied some of his innovative suspension ideas to the Miata. Oh, and he drove it to an SCCA Tour win the same weekend as this test session.

THE BENCHMARK: Automotive Specialists mounted our 225/45R15 Kumhos on 15×9-inch 6UL wheels built by 949 Racing. We compared the Kumhos against the winner from our earlier test, the revised BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S. Though not a legal combination for the STS class, this setup made the car more comparable to the STR-class 1999 Mazda Miata we used for our previous test.

THE COURSE: Our test course featured an open figure eight composed of a four-cone slalom, a crossover, a 270-degree sweeper, another crossover and a pair of offset gates. The layout allowed each tire to demonstrate its skills in transitioning, steady-state cornering and off-corner acceleration.

A tight deadline and fully booked autocross sites led us to our friends at the Evolution Performance Driving School. They let us share their date in College Station, Texas. The surface there is fairly clean and flat WWII-era concrete made with round-stone river rock.

THE INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: We scrubbed in the Kumhos with a few runs and then switched on the timers. Andy quickly settled into runs between 26.5 and 26.6 seconds, commenting that the V720 delivered really good grip and progressive breakaway at the limit. He placed the transitional response somewhere between the Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R and the BFG Rival S.

David then took the wheel and cranked off very similar times. He noted that the V720 didn’t like to be driven over the limit for a sustained amount of time, thus requiring his constant attention.

THE COMPETITION: Next we mounted the revised BFGoodrich Rival S tires. Andy dropped a couple of tenths into the 26.3-second range, while David cranked off a series of high-25-second runs. David typically prefers tires that he can overdrive a bit, and the Rival S really delivered on that. Andy’s style is to creep up on the limit, so he prefers a livelier tire without regard to breakaway downsides.

THE CONFIRMATION: Did changing conditions throughout our session favor one tire over the other? To find out, we retested the V720. Times for both drivers only improved a tenth of a second, confirming the veracity of our data.

THE CONCLUSION:

The BFGoodrich Rival S posted faster times, but it’s also a more expensive tire. In our 225/45R15 test size, the BFG retails for about $145 each–about 20 percent more than the $115 Kumho.

With its attractive price point and very generous contingency program, the Kumho V720 deserves serious consideration in the Street and Street Touring autocross ranks.

SOURCES

949 Racing: wheels, 949racing.com, (949) 716-3111

Automotive Specialists: tire mounting, automotive-specialist.com

BFGoodrich Tires: tires, bfgoodrichtires.com, (877) 788-8899

Evolution Performance Driving School: site help, evoschool.com, (804) 380-0091

Kumho Tire: tires, kumhousa.com, (800) HI-KUMHO

Texas Track Works: tire mounting, texastrackworks.com, (817) 926-8863

Join Free Join our community to easily find more Mazda articles.

Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
NickD
NickD Dork
10/12/16 1:46 p.m.

Any chance of seeing a test of the new 200TW from Nexen, the N'Fera SUR 4? Curious to see how that one performs.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
10/12/16 2:17 p.m.

N'Fera SUR 4s are UHPS tires, a couple classes below EPS tires (and then you could consider "cheater EPS" to be another class...)

CyberEric
CyberEric Reader
10/12/16 3:18 p.m.

Very good stuff, thanks for the info! Nice to see this tire compare favorably at a lower price point. Anyone have an idea how it does in the rain or in daily driving in terms of noise?

BTD
BTD New Reader
10/12/16 3:37 p.m.
GameboyRMH wrote: N'Fera SUR 4s are UHPS tires, a couple classes below EPS tires (and then you could consider "cheater EPS" to be another class...)

That's not how I've seen them marketed. Tire Rack has them in the same category as all the other tires in this thread and 200TW would indicate that's their target market:

Tire Rack Link

mazdeuce
mazdeuce UltimaDork
10/12/16 3:40 p.m.

I'd love to know how they do in the wet. I drive to events on tires in this class and in Houston that means water sometimes.

drdisque
drdisque HalfDork
10/12/16 4:24 p.m.
BTD wrote:
GameboyRMH wrote: N'Fera SUR 4s are UHPS tires, a couple classes below EPS tires (and then you could consider "cheater EPS" to be another class...)

That's not how I've seen them marketed. Tire Rack has them in the same category as all the other tires in this thread and 200TW would indicate that's their target market:

Tire Rack Link

Have you watched Tire Rack's video on the Nexen?

They basically said that it's a good first try, but considering it's not much cheaper than the Kumho, it's slightly inferior to it and has far worse road manners than any other 200TW tire (including the RE-71R and Rival S).

The only reason I can see it making sense to order it is if you didn't want to spend the money on the RE-71R and the Kumho wasn't made in the size you want.

It seems like they simply didn't do a lot of R&D on it (which makes sense considering it's Nexen). They just threw together a very stiff construction with a very soft compound with a very standard EPS tread pattern without actually testing it. The result is a tire that provides decent grip but poor feel and feedback and has poor road manners and transitions poorly.

Trackmouse
Trackmouse Dork
10/12/16 4:48 p.m.

Am I the only one that wants to see a sh!tty tire test??? I mean come on, some of us commute here!

drdisque
drdisque HalfDork
10/12/16 11:57 p.m.

In reply to Trackmouse:

The issue then is how shirty are you willing to go. Say I recommend the BFG Sport Comp-2. Is that shirty enough for you? Do you really want an autocross test for no-name Chinese all-season tires? That would be like deciding which bike from Walmart is the best for the Tour de France.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
10/13/16 7:50 a.m.
drdisque wrote: In reply to Trackmouse: The issue then is how shirty are you willing to go. Say I recommend the BFG Sport Comp-2. Is that shirty enough for you? Do you really want an autocross test for no-name Chinese all-season tires? That would be like deciding which bike from Walmart is the best for the Tour de France.

Hey now, I run the Sport Comp-2 as a dual-purpose tire. It's my DD tire that does great on the street and sticks very well in the wet. I drive it to the autocross, add some air, and take beat out a lot of the cheater 200-treadwear tires. Then drop pressures and drive home. They have outlasted the OEM Bridgestones by a fair margin already, and were easy on the wallet...I just stopped at Costco and bought a set. IMHO, a great tire.

mazdeuce
mazdeuce UltimaDork
10/13/16 7:56 a.m.

If we test E36 M3ty tires we need to do a 'skid pad until it's bald' test.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
10/13/16 8:07 a.m.
BTD wrote:
GameboyRMH wrote: N'Fera SUR 4s are UHPS tires, a couple classes below EPS tires (and then you could consider "cheater EPS" to be another class...)

That's not how I've seen them marketed. Tire Rack has them in the same category as all the other tires in this thread and 200TW would indicate that's their target market:

Tire Rack Link

Ah I see. Info I found was on the SU4. Didn't find the Tire Rack page through Google.

BTD
BTD New Reader
10/13/16 9:11 a.m.
drdisque wrote:
BTD wrote:
GameboyRMH wrote: N'Fera SUR 4s are UHPS tires, a couple classes below EPS tires (and then you could consider "cheater EPS" to be another class...)

That's not how I've seen them marketed. Tire Rack has them in the same category as all the other tires in this thread and 200TW would indicate that's their target market:

Tire Rack Link

Have you watched Tire Rack's video on the Nexen?

They basically said that it's a good first try, but considering it's not much cheaper than the Kumho, it's slightly inferior to it and has far worse road manners than any other 200TW tire (including the RE-71R and Rival S).

The only reason I can see it making sense to order it is if you didn't want to spend the money on the RE-71R and the Kumho wasn't made in the size you want.

It seems like they simply didn't do a lot of R&D on it (which makes sense considering it's Nexen). They just threw together a very stiff construction with a very soft compound with a very standard EPS tread pattern without actually testing it. The result is a tire that provides decent grip but poor feel and feedback and has poor road manners and transitions poorly.

I have watched it. They praise the RT615k in that video, which gives me pause form the start. Those aren't bad tires, but they're certainly not as good as they make them out to be.

During the video they say the SUR4 has "Massive Grip Levels" but get a "little unsettled" when changing directions because it "takes a moment before it takes a set".

I don't disagree that ultimate grip levels are a tad below the RE71r, but that's somewhat to be expected given their price. The Kumho V720 is below those grip levels as we saw in this very thread, so the question then becomes how far behind is it?

I almost bought the SUR4's because every other major extreme performance tire isn't made in the size I wanted (275/40/18). I wound up going with a more street friendly tire, but if I ever do make the step up, the Nexens will be on the list just because they're significantly cheaper than the other options in comparable sizes.

Rodan
Rodan New Reader
10/13/16 9:37 a.m.
CyberEric wrote: Very good stuff, thanks for the info! Nice to see this tire compare favorably at a lower price point. Anyone have an idea how it does in the rain or in daily driving in terms of noise?

In 215/45-17 on our NC Miata, they were very loud. Did OK on the highway in rain, didn't run them on a wet track. Got a bit greasy after 5-6 laps in hot (95*F) weather. I switched to RE-71R and was much happier.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
10/13/16 9:44 a.m.

Hmm I see the SUR4 is available in 225/45/15, and so is the V720, those could be an option for me when I move up to 15x8s.

rslifkin
rslifkin Dork
10/13/16 9:45 a.m.

Having ridden in an NA Miata with V720s on it, they're LOUD. Like airplane taking off kind of loud until you get above 50 mph, then they quiet down a little.

ross2004
ross2004 Reader
10/13/16 10:15 a.m.

I saw a set start to delaminate in the center at an autox this past weekend.

mndsm
mndsm MegaDork
10/13/16 10:47 a.m.
mazdeuce wrote: If we test E36 M3ty tires we need to do a 'skid pad until it's bald' test.

Some of us want to know how E36 M3ty the wanlis really are. I'm in.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
10/13/16 12:10 p.m.

Any grassroots drifter could probably tell you how long the various cheapo Chinese tires last, because that's all they run on their back wheels.

kb58
kb58 Dork
10/13/16 12:26 p.m.

I want to know what the best space-saver spare is for auto-X...

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/15/16 11:09 p.m.
ross2004 wrote: I saw a set start to delaminate in the center at an autox this past weekend.

I've had quite a few reports of that. These are an autox only tire that I think has severe heat management issues - the article mentions that. Don't even think about taking them to the track.

iadr
iadr Dork
10/16/16 12:51 p.m.
mndsm wrote:
mazdeuce wrote: If we test E36 M3ty tires we need to do a 'skid pad until it's bald' test.

Some of us want to know how E36 M3ty the wanlis really are. I'm in.

You want a cheap tire search out the GT Radial MaxTour. We have less punitive import duties in Canada, so Chinese tires have been a thing for more years than in the US....and those things are crazy good for a non-enthusiast daily. Probably really close to a Mich Defender for half the price.

Separately, chump car guys have great results with a Primewell (PZ700? it was something that seemed a copy of a Pirelli designation), which is another brand from that corporation.

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
10/16/16 2:49 p.m.
mazdeuce wrote: If we test E36 M3ty tires we need to do a 'skid pad until it's bald' test.

That's a good idea. How long will the tire last under constant abuse?

Someone who is interested in buying a sh... cheap tire is going to want a tire that lasts a while.

It'd also be interesting to compare a more expensive tire with the same test, to see how the dollar/laps stacks up.

Vracer111
Vracer111 Reader
10/17/16 7:56 p.m.
kb58 wrote: I want to know what the best space-saver spare is for auto-X...

That's easy...none...evrahting out tha trunk!

Grassroots Motorsports Magazine

Subscribe Today

Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine!

Learn More
4rMUQPrlRCJCIiHXzgZdZB3nZAbJ9SV1