Eco tyres versus normal tyres

PUBLISHED: 12:49 15 June 2016

2016 Seat Mii FR Line (Matt Kimberley/PA)

2016 Seat Mii FR Line (Matt Kimberley/PA)

Archant

They’re standard on more and more new cars these days, but have you ever wondered what difference low-rolling-resistance tyres make? Wonder no more, writes Matt Kimberley

Bridgestone Ecopia low-rolling-resistance tyre (Matt Kimberley/PA)Bridgestone Ecopia low-rolling-resistance tyre (Matt Kimberley/PA)

You don’t often get the chance to drive two near-identical cars back-to-back, where the only noteworthy difference is low-friction tyres.

The car in question is the Seat Mii. The two best Miis right now are the FR Line, a sporty little number with dark grey body graphics and a dinky roof spoiler, and the plum-trimmed Mii by Mango, which for a short time you can get in this Limited Edition guise. Both have the 74bhp 1.0-litre engine, and both of our test cars have covered around 800 miles from new, both allegedly weigh the same (despite having different door counts) and both have the removable Garmin-based infotainment system, complete with comprehensive trip computer readouts (including fuel economy).

But while the sporty FR Line runs on 16-inch wheels and Bridgestone Turanza T001 tyres, the Mango uses funky 15-inch purple rims wearing low-rolling-resistance Bridgestone Ecopia rubber. Both tyres plant a 185mm-wide footprint on the road. In theory, the difference in the way they drive should be minimal. But all is not as it seems, as I quickly realise after sending the FR Line back home and settling into a few miles in the Mango.

The FR Line, with its red-trimmed black seats and matching dashboard, is a little firmer over bumps. Bigger wheels plus the same suspension equals a smidgeon of added harshness.

On the other hand the little red charger grips like a mountain goat, its lower-profile (and stiffer-sidewalled) Turanzas giving such a solid hold on the road that to un-stick it you’d have to be unhinged. Even in the wet you can throw it around like a rag doll. On its eco-boots the Mango gives up the ghost sooner, although still not until you’re pushing it hard. Worth mentioning but, fair enough, it’s rarely relevant since both grip well.

The biggest difference is fuel economy - and the split is massive. Driving the same route in both, in near-identical weather and traffic conditions, sees just under 55mpg in the FR Line but a few tenths over 65mpg in the Mango. That’s close to a 20 per cent boost. Remember, the only relevant difference is the wheel and tyre combination. Tyre pressures were correct on all eight corners.

It’s technically possible that other factors are involved, if you like clutching at straws. Maybe the FR Line’s engine isn’t running quite as sweetly as the Mango’s. Maybe a few tolerances are at their limit and it needs more miles to loosen up fully. Maybe the Mii’s diddy size and weight accentuates the eye-opening difference the tyres make. But, from this real-world evidence, perhaps buying efficiency-minded tyres might do more for your wallet than you’d have thought.

More news stories

12:34

A man is in a critical condition in hospital after a crash on the A505 between Melbourn and Royston yesterday, police have now confirmed.

Council leader Steve Count is planning a “gesture of unity” by handing back part of his allowance in support of the 1,800 county council staff forced to take unpaid leave this Christmas as part of cost saving measures.

06:55

Some of Bassingbourn Village College’s young bookworms showed off their literacy skills at the annual Kids’ Lit competition.

Yesterday, 17:04

The A505 near Royston has been reopened following an earlier crash.

Most read stories

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Royston Crow e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Royston Crow weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy