Forget tuning your car, you know – intercooled turbochargers, suspension kits, and all other go-fast goodies. The two ultimate ways to make your car quicker without breaking the wallet are a set of super-sticky tyres and a serious upgrade of the organic software (the driver).

Now, we don’t know much about the organic software, but we have tips on the sleek rubber you’ll need.

Tyres first

If you want to go quicker, fit top-flight tyres lest you waste money on engine and suspension upgrades. Also, they are the only line at the edge of safe thrill, before airbags and seatbelts can save you.

It means nothing if you don’t have good tyres

Based on your driving environment; twisty racing circuit or pull-away in a drag race, a set of sticky tyres can ensure the extra 50, 100, or even more horsepower is delivered to the ground. Slippery tyres won’t allow a car to translate its power advantage into cornering force and acceleration. This is complicated with modern day traction control which will crop the power at the slightest tyre slip.

Speed costs money

Tyre companies spend huge budgets to develop rubber for a car like the Maserati Ghibli Trofeo. The result will have unimaginable grip, slice through standing water, and give the driver ample warning they’re approaching their adhesion limit.

Know your equipage

In your search for stickier tyres, stay far, far away from all-season tyres, even “ultra-high-performance all-season tyres.” All-season tyres give up dry and moist road grip for traction at below freezing temperatures. Look for a “summer” or, more accurately, a “three-season” tyre.

The term ultra high performance originally referred to tyres that offered the highest grip. Not any longer. Now some manufacturers have created terms for tyres that have far more traction than the old UHP nomenclature. “Max performance summer” is a big leap above those labeled UHP. Tyres that are even stickier are sometimes called extreme performance summer.

Watch out for ratings

Tyremakers are compelled to compare their products with a reference tyre, and then self-rate their tyres with minimum estimates for: –

  1. how long they’ll last (tread wear)
  2. how much grip they have (traction rating)
  3. Temperatures they’ll survive.

You can find this info on the tyre’s removable label, and on the tyre company’s website. Any tyre that an enthusiast would consider is capable of earning AA for traction, an A for temperature, and a 400 rating for tread wear. (Because tyres gives up tread wear for grip, performance tyres usually last no more than four times as long as the reference tyre, which is what the 400 rating means.)

It’s important to know what all this means, but don’t put heavy importance in these ratings. Organic software should be able to determine “vitu kwa ground”. For one thing, the tyremaker is free to grade its tyres lower but not the other way round. And often, these ratings aren’t consistent within even a single manufacturer. They’re conducted in specific conditions that might differ from actual user environment.

Do not turn a blind eye to speed ratings.

Sky is the limit

Tallest, widest tyre will put the most rubber on the ground.

21 inch tyre on Porsche Panamera (photo: credit)

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