Most enthusiasts know that the best way to improve traction is to use a summer only rubber compound; but often those tires can be very expensive and quick to wear out. Last summer, we had a chance to test a few Max Performance Summer tires to see which offered the best value. The tires tested were: the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT, Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110, Kumho Ecsta LE Sport and Sumitomo HTR Z III.
During the Real World Road Ride, the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT delivered the quickest and most direct-feeling steering of the group. The Sumitomo HTR Z III was a close second, with the Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110 and Kumho Ecsta LE Sport delivering similar overall handling and steering response but with a little more delay in the response. Overall noise levels for all four tires were similar, with all producing some amount of tread pattern hum. However, the Ecsta LE Sport and Ventus V12 evo K110 generated more distinctive tones as speeds increased.
On the track, the Sumitomo HTR Z III produced the quickest lap time, but the SP Sport Maxx TT felt more responsive at speed. The Kumho Ecsta LE Sport was able to lap our handling course nearly as quickly as the others, but didn't have the connected feel like the Sumitomo and Dunlop tires.
In this very popular category, all four of the contenders proved to be worthy threats to the higher priced options offered by Michelin, Pirelli and Bridgestone. In the overall test rankings, the tires finished in the following order:
- Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT
- Sumitomo HTR Z III
- Kumho Ecsta LE Sport
- Hankook Ventus V12 evo K110
If a Max Performance Summer tire is in your future, check out our full test report by reading "Testing Value-Priced Max Performance Summer Tires."