I really wanted to test drive the boats on the San Antonio River Walk. They look like a lot of fun… except for that awkward steering.
My lesson on the mechanics of Starboard and Port Tiller Steering would have to wait. It was time to head to The Cooper Tire & Vehicle Test Center for day #2 of the Cooper CS5 Media Ride-N-Drive. (Read about Day #1 here if you missed it)
Cooper Tires is headquartered in Findlay, Ohio and employs 13,000 people, some of whom I was privileged to meet. Cooper bands include Mastercraft, Starfire and Mickey Thompson, among others. Truck fans know the latter quite well. In 1952, Cooper debuted the Weathermaster and they are still sold today. Cushion Ride, a tubeless tire, was released in 1954 and nearly 50 years later, the Zeon surfaced. I will explain what those do on a Corvette in my next installment! Oh baby…
Yet, the star of the show is the new CS5. Cooper unveiled these to commemorate 100 years and I took a century of design and innovation and forced it to the limit.
The Dry Handling Circuit
I took my initial run in one of two 2014, 3 Series BMWs. One equipped with Cooper CS5 Ultra Touring tires and the other with Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires. The size was 225/50R17.
As a result of my dealership background, I am very familiar with the 3 Series. Since I have much experience with this particular car, I felt very comfortable behind the wheel. And I wanted to, for the sake of really testing the tires, use that to my advantage.
The CS5 tires absorbed the movements in the corner much better.
The Cooper CS5 did a better job accentuating the suspension and handling, a powerful selling point of the BMW brand. During my time at Luxury Automall of Sioux Falls, I heard many customers comment positively on the ride of their BMW. These were not race car drivers with access to tracks like Cooper’s Dry Handling Circuit. They were everyday consumers but with power; power to change the entire auto industry in how they spend their dollars.
Putting a less capable tire on a BMW they purchased (and willingly paid more for than the average vehicle) would compromise the ride quality they so deeply desired. Dry Handling Course aside, the tire I would recommend in this case is the CS5. In addition, any driver, regardless of car, will be much better off with a tire, like the CS5, in the event of an evasive maneuver. Now we are not only talking about a tire supporting the ride but the traction control system, specifically designed to lessen yaw, roll and pitch during such situations.
A paramount distinction.
During my run in the red BMW, with the Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires, I spun around completely and destroyed several cones. The tires did not handle the way I needed and it should be noted: my knowledge of the BMW 3 Series didn’t prevent me from spinning out. That said, the right tires are a critical piece of the puzzle. What if I had suddenly needed to make that evasive maneuver to avoid, say a child running after a ball rolling into the street?
It’s an unpleasant but necessary consideration.
On a softer note, one of the reps from The Zimmerman Agency decided to ride with me for this run. I don’t think she was ready for the little twisty twister incident we encountered. Sorry Christa… I didn’t mean it. I still hope we are friends?
Wet Vehicle Dynamics Assessment Pad
After lunch it was time for round two…
We made this run in Ford Mustangs, the pride of Flat Rock, Michigan. One Mustang was up fitted with Cooper CS5 Grand Touring tires and the other with Hankook Optimo H727 tires.
Like the BMW, my dealership experience allowed me special insight into the Ford Mustang. At one time, I used to sell them and when the 2011 5.0 arrived at Sioux Falls Ford, I spent extensive time studying and driving the car. I know how it behaves and handles. I know the amount of work Ford has done over the years to get the Mustang to its current stature
And I know a less than perfect tire will hinder the performance.
Just like the BMW 3 Series, the Ford Mustang is also subject to this rule.
When it came to wet driving, even though I was in a controlled environment, I felt much safer with the CS5 tires. They filtered the water better and did not slide as easily. I gained more trust in the Cooper CS5 tires than the Hankook Optimo H727 tires. Since driving on a wet track will automatically reduce confidence, I was really looking to the tires to compensate and the Cooper CS5 filled that void admirably.
Why Cooper CS5 Tires?
While I may have visited the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Test Center, not everybody gets a chance to compare competing tires like this. When I was a Service Advisor, tires were the biggest confusion for my customers. When I took over in management, I subsequently noticed tires where the biggest confusion for my Service Advisors.
Everybody was trying to make sense of a myriad of rubber circles on the wall that after awhile, all looked the same.
When that happens, the ones with the biggest rebates gets sold, regardless of if that set of tires is actually the best for that customer. I wish I had this experience with Cooper Tires even just a year ago.
It would have changed how I approached this issue.
As part of a dealer group, I found everyday people have a different definition of “shop talk” than us car buffs.
The engine and transmission need no other features, outside of dependability. A car, to most, requires safety, affordability and fuel economy to justify purchasing. Burning rubber is left in a distant fantasy because keeping the kids safe is priority. Green light drag racing machines are nice but having one sends family finances into the red.
This is car talk for everyday people.
And it sounds like this specifically: “Mr. and Mrs. Customer, the Cooper CS5 is going to give you maximum traction in all weather conditions, especially if you have to make an unexpected maneuver or swerve out of the way of traffic. I believe it to be one of the best tires out there for the money and I would trust it for my family as well as yours.”
With regard to the photo above: The 3D Micro Gage-Grooves allow the tread to interlock while turning corners and driving curvy roads. This means more control, increased safety and overall improvement in how the tires respond on wet and snowy surfaces. The 3D Micro-Guage Grooves are then partnered with Stabiledge, located at the edge of every CS5. Small bumpers keep larger grooves open which translates to greater response and a more steady feel, especially around corners.
The Cooper CS5 Media Ride-N-Drive was organized, promoted and sponsored by Cooper Tires and The Zimmerman Agency. However, the thoughts and opinions of this series are my own. While there are some universal truths to all dealerships, I acknowledge my experiences in the car business may not be shared by others who held (or currently hold) similar positions as I did. I am open to healthy and mutually beneficial discussions on this and the other topics I have presented in this piece, via e-mail: [email protected]
In my next installment:
The people behind Cooper Tires.
Running hot laps in a Corvette with an IndyCar Series driver.