wheels/tires part 2
In the past Kumho had two top contenders the V700 victoracer and the Ecsta V700. Hoosier countered with the A3 series culminating in the brilliant bias ply A3S03. In the Hoosier vs Kumho tire wars, its always been a Hoosier advantage. The Kumhos are Good, but if you wanted that extra tenth of a second and you were willing to sacrifice cost/wear it was always the Hoosier, no questions asked.
At the same time many Subaru owners were looking for a wider tire than the 245/45/16. Kumho had a 255/45/16, but (while good for their short gearing) made the cars too tall, raising the already tall CG. With a lage ownership and online community they petitioned both Kumho and Hoosier for a shorter, wider 16" tire. Something like a 265/40/16 (24.3"). With the subarus being strut suspended cars, I was hopeful that they would be successful with their petition as I could also use such a tire. Unfortunately their requests fell on deaf ears. The consumer car market had long since gone past 16" wheels as standard fare...17"s, 18"...even 19" were more commonplace. Kumho, being primarily a passenger tire maker couldnt see a 16" race tire on their radar. Hoosier is a race tire maker and is smaller and more flexable, but with a barrage of championships and tires that worked, an oddball 16" size wasnt at the top of their list of things to do.
A couple years passed and a few things happened. The Subaru WRX STi came to the shores of the USA. The previous folks who had non-turbo and WRX model subarus graduated to the new car and left thoughts of 16" wheels in the past. Kumho introduced the Ecsta V710 to replace the aging Victoracer. Hoosier introduced the new radial A3S04 to replace the old bias ply S03....it was a disaster for Hoosier. The grip was actually worse than the S03 and the tire wore like soft cheese. Many stock class cars went to the cords in mere runs. The V710 however was proving to be a success. The grip was phenominal and the wear seemed impossibly low. Its didnt hurt that the tire was cheaper than the Hoosier offering as well. Hoosier sales stumbled a bit while Kumhos stock rose. Hoosier countered the next year with a revised offering the A3S05. It had improved grip, better construction and more rubber in critcal areas that tended to cord quickly. Still, it wasnt the answer to the V710. The hoosier still wore quickly and was too easy to run to the cords in fast order. Finally with new construction and compounds, Hoosier introduced the A6 series. This was the answer hoosier was looking for. It was still more expensive than the V710 and still wore faster, but it had more traction than the V710 and the cording issues were finally solved....but the damage to hoosiers reputation was already done. Once there was no question to hoosiers superiority, but with 3 years of solid V710 performance their stock had slipped a bit.
Its my opinion that at this time Hoosier needed something to regain the marketshare it lost...but how? Hoosier and Kumho both had similar size offerings. Hoosier is a smaller and more flexable company, it could make up the difference in "tweener" sizes, but which ones? The subaru voices had dimmed down as time had moved them to STis. Right about this time a fellow by the name of Craig Wilcox started a campaign for a tire that would benefit his Mini Cooper S for Street prepared. He wanted a wide 15" tire, something like a 245/40/15, a tire neither manufacturer had to offer. Its,again, my opinion that Hoosier saw this opportunity to regain marketshare by making a tire that only it offered. They went to their factory and added a spacer to the mold for their 225/45/15 tire and created a 275/35/15.
Last edited by gavin; 6-3-08 at 22:58.