The weather in the past few weeks have been extremely wet. Certain parts of Peninsular Malaysia have been experiencing thunderstorms and flash floods almost every other evening, which brings us to our timely public service announcement – when was the last time you’ve checked your tyres?
Those black, round rubbers on our cars don’t look like much, but those four patches of rubber – each no bigger than the size of your palm - are the only thing that is keeping your car safely planted on the road. All of the world’s most advanced automotive safety system fitted on a car would be rendered useless if these patches of rubber fail to provide sufficient traction, so never ever try to skimp on tyres.
I for one, usually replace my tyres even before the tread wears down to their tread wear indicator, as research has shown that a tyre’s braking performance diminishes considerably even though the depth of the tread pattern is still within legal limits.
So when it was time to replace my set of Goodyear Excellence tyres, I decided to give the Bridgestone Ecopia EP200 a try. I have had a brief experience with the Ecopia EP200 back in 2013, at the Bridgestone Proving Ground in Ayutthaya, Thailand, and came back pretty impressed with it.
My requirements were simple – the tyres had to deliver a balanced performance on all weather conditions. I am pretty relaxed driver, and the tyres will be fitted on a rather mundane Toyota Prius, so it didn’t have to grip like a Potenza RE003. It however, needs to have low rolling resistance without any compromise in noise, cornering grip, and wet weather performance.
Having a balanced, all-round performance is very important to me. I’ve had a set of Continental Comfort Contact CC5 on another car before but that was a one-hit wonder tyre – good at delivering a quiet ride but is below average in all other aspects. The Goodyear Excellence had pretty good grip on wet surfaces, but was rather noisy. I am not interested in a tyre that’s good at only one specific area, so I was hoping that the Bridgestone will deliver a more well- balanced performance.
Many have the misconception that low rolling resistance tyres have poor braking performance but in truth, the opposite of low rolling resistance is actually noise and ride comfort. Apart from heat, energy from a rolling tyre is lost every time the tyre deforms as it rolls along the changing road surface.
To combat this, silica is commonly added to reduce the likelihood of tyre deformation. However, this can also makes the tyre to be a little too stiff, emits higher noise than usual, and heats up faster.
I am happy to note that the Ecopia exhibits none of the drawbacks commonly associated with eco tyres, thanks to Bridgestone’s proprietary Nano Pro Tech compound, which uses nanotechnology to literally modify the arrangements of the tyre compound’s molecular structure to minimise the common drawbacks when silica content is increased.
On rougher stretches of tarmac, the new set of Bridgestones were noticeably quieter than my previous Goodyears.
The ride is also slightly less stiff, but throw it into a sequence of fast slalom style hard left-right turns, the sidewalls will bend rather quickly, exaggerating whatever understeer tendencies that the car has.
It’s definitely no Potenza RE003, but that’s a rather extreme driving condition, done in the name of science. As far as everyday driving is concerned, I have no complaints about its road holding even on fast sweeping corners.
On paper, Bridgestone’s internal test data shows that the Ecopia EP200 cuts rolling resistance by 8.1 percent (compared to a regular Bridgestone Turanza AR10 tyre).
In real-world driving conditions, a smaller three to five percent improvement in fuel economy is more realistic. In theory, higher improvements are possible but this would require some adjustments in driving habits. Having gotten used to the typical coasting distance of the Goodyears, I noticed that I had to make some adjustments to my throttle control, lifting off earlier to make better use of the Ecopia’s superior coasting distance.
My previous set of Goodyears were rather average in terms of comfort, but I was quite satisfied with its performance on wet surfaces. Having driven under some rather wet conditions with the Ecopia EP200, I am pleased to say that the Bridgestone’s performance in the wet didn’t left me wanting for more. Short of comparing them on a skidpad, it’s hard to tell which is superior, but the Bridgestone is definitely comparable to my previous Goodyears in the wet – a typical forte of Goodyear tyres.
Overall, I am very pleased with the Ecopia EP200. In fact, this is the third car in my household to use Bridgestone Ecopia EP200. With their good all-rounded performance, there is little reason to look elsewhere, unless you are looking for something that’s a bit more focused on driving performance. If that’s the case then we would recommend that you look towards the Michelin Pilot Sport 3 or Bridgestone Potenza RE003 – both offer very good value for money and sporty driving performance.
If you are looking a mid-range class tyre that’s not too expensive, while delivering good performance in all key areas, the Ecopia EP200 is highly recommended. Prices start from RM215 for 195/55 R15 size, to RM492 for 215/55 R17 size.