Dunlop’s new ‘high-performance’ Sport BluResponse tyre comes with a BA rating, apparently. Does that mean anything to you? Quite possibly not. It means that, on a sliding scale from A to G (though D and G grades aren’t actually being used), the Sport BluResponse gets a B for fuel efficiency and an A for wet grip. That’s pretty good for a mid-range, semi-sporting tyre, I’m guessing.
I have to admit that before last week’s launch of the Sport BluResponse in Abu Dhabi, I was only vaguely aware of the fact that, as of last November, labels are mandatory on all new tyres sold in the EU. And it seems I’m not alone.
During the presentation, the Dunlop people showed a set of figures on awareness of the new labelling system. They suggested that it was much lower in the UK than in any other major European market, at around 44 per cent, which was quite concerning. Does that mean the new system hasn’t been promoted sufficiently well here, or does it simply mean that we don’t care and will continue to buy our tyres based on other criteria, such as brand or price?
The labels are virtually identical to those found on electrical goods such as fridges and washing machines, with nice coloured bar graphs and illustrations. The difference is that the tyre labels don't focus on energy consumption, but on what have been deemed the three most important categories when choosing a new tyre: rolling resistance (which is the key to fuel efficiency), wet grip (specifically in relation to braking performance) and external rolling noise.
The latter is signified by a figure in decibels and a graphic with a series of ‘waves’, one being the quietest and three the loudest. The Sport BluResponse, for example, is rated at 68dB – good enough for a single wave.
It’s all designed to help you compare products and make a more informed decision about what you next fit to your car. The tyres are self-certified by each manufacturer, but the tests are standardised and strictly controlled, so there should be no cheating.
You could argue that highlighting just three of the many possible testing criteria doesn’t necessarily give you the full story of a tyre’s overall performance and safety, and you get a sense that there’s a certain amount of frustration within the tyre industry about that very fact, but surely it’s better than nothing. At least this way there’s a chance that more people will fit decent, appropriate tyres to their car in future, rather than just the cheapest ones they can lay their hands on.
As for Dunlop’s new tyre, the dual-compound Sport BluResponse makes use of much of the technology that goes into its ultra-high-performance Sport Maxx RT tyre to provide an impressive all-round performance. The firm says the Sport BluResponse provides 30 per cent less rolling resistance than its predecessor (which should mean a significant improvement in your car’s fuel economy) and claims it delivers superior grip in the wet compared with all of its direct rivals.
On the handling courses adjoining Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit, the tyre certainly felt terrific when fitted to a Mercedes-Benz C200 BlueEfficiency running 16-inch wheels, especially in the wet. The 205/55 VR16 rubber gripped hard in both opening-radius corners, emergency lane change manoeuvres and under braking, and when they started to run out of grip at either end, they did so in a very benign and progressive manner, inspiring immediate confidence.
Their performance on the road was harder to judge, because we were driving in the midst of a sandstorm and the C-classes were being buffeted too much to allow an accurate assessment.
The Dunlop Sport BluResponse ranges in price from £38 for a 185/60 HR14 to £192.99 for a 225/50 WR17.