I was terribly curious about the Kumho Ecsta PS91. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about this ultra high performance summer tire. Some are even saying that it performs quite as well as the Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position, but the Kumho undercuts the Bridgestone by at least $90 each.
The Kumho Ecsta PS91 sounds like the real deal. Is this the right summer tire for your sports car, supercar, or Nurburgring-tuned German sedan? In this Kumho Ecsta PS91 review, I was interested to find out if a tire tuned for maximum grip is not just a one-trick pony with alarmingly low levels of comfort and refinement.
Ultra-high performance summer tires are usually engineered to compromise tread wear and comfort in exchange for maximum traction and grip. Call me old school if you like, but I want my supercar or sports sedan to behave nicely on normal roads, and the tires used will definitely spell the difference between highway comfort and a sore back.
It is only fitting to test the Kumho Ecsta PS91 tires on a proper sports car. Sadly, I had no access to a Porsche 911 Turbo or Audi R8 V10, so I had to make do with the original supercar slayer – the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. In this case, it was a 2014 MR sedan equipped with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
My test car is fitted with the usual cold air intake and street-tuned coilover suspension. It is also fitted with aftermarket 18-inch wheels which gave the car a drool-worthy appearance. I used to dream about owning an Evolution during my younger years so I was very anxious to get behind the wheel of this pampered Japanese high-performance sedan.
The owner of the Evo is in his late 30’s. He fitted the Kumho Ecsta PS91 tires about five months ago. The car used to be his daily driver but is now strictly a weekends-only machine, particularly on track day runs with his buddies who drive equally exceptional Japanese sports cars like the Honda S2000 and Subaru Impreza WRX STi. This is the reason that the tires were already showing signs of wear.
Kumho engineered a handful of technological advancements into the Kumho Ecsta PS91. Inspired by the demands of Formula 3 racing, the Kumho Ecsta PS91 was constructed with a carbon black and silica compound along with max grip performance resins to deliver the ultimate in traction and grip.
This tire is also equipped with a continuous center rib and an asymmetric tread design with 3D dimple designs to keep the tires cool and composed even during extreme duress. There are four extra-wide circumferential grooves that are designed to easily dissipate water for enhanced wet handling.
The sidewall of the Kumho Ecsta PS91 has a checkered flag design that clearly portrays the ultra-high performance intent of the tire. Admittedly, the Ecsta PS91 is not the best looking tire in the business. In fact, it looks a bit ordinary. But thanks to the checkered flag indentations on the sidewall, the tire manages to acquit itself well in terms of looks.
The owner of the Evo was brave enough to hand me the keys. I was given the entire afternoon to test the capabilities of both the car and the Kumho Ecsta PS91 tires. But as luck would have it, it was raining the whole afternoon and the roads were soaked to the brim. However, this was not a hindrance to test the capabilities of the Kumho Ecsta PS91.
Like I said, it was raining pretty much during the entire time I was testing the Kumho Ecsta PS91. I asked the owner regarding the dry traction of the tires and he was quick to reply that these are one of the best tires that he ever bought for his Evo. He used to play around with Dunlop and Bridgestone tires but decided to go for a cheaper brand due to budget constraints.
It’s no secret that the handling of the Evolution X can be compared to driving a car on rails. This thing is basically a point-and-shoot machine, and the same can be said even if you are driving in the rain. Of course, I didn’t get the chance to drive the car at illegal speeds in the wet, but traction and grip were never absent as I sped on the rain-soaked highway. The Kumho Ecsta PS91 is a true summer tire and is not designed to be used in cold climates or near-freezing temperatures.
It would be an overstatement to call the Evolution X as a comfortable car. Yes, the suspension offers a reasonable amount of compliance on smooth and straight roads, but city driving is a different story altogether. The Kumho Ecsta PS91 tires offered acceptable levels of comfort, but it is hard to accurately judge the tire since my test car is fitted with aftermarket coilovers, albeit it’s the street-tuned variety.
Surprisingly enough, the Kumho Ecsta PS91 were particularly silent on average cruising speeds. It’s a shame that I didn’t get the chance to perform a high-speed run on dry tarmac, but I always give credit when it’s due. The tires were above average in terms of road noise, and that’s saying a lot.
Given that my test car has seen a lot of track days, it is understandable that the Kumho Ecsta PS91 tires will be showing signs of wear. But given the pocket-friendly nature of these tires, I have to say that the wear qualities are good for the price.
The rain was not enough to stop me from savoring the experience of driving a Lancer Evolution X. Of course, I was a bit disappointed the heavens were pouring down during the entire time I had the car, but at least I was able to test the capabilities of the Kumho Ecsta PS91 in the wet. For all those out there who happen to be lucky enough to drive a sports car, supercar, or high-performance sedan, the Kumho Ecsta PS91 is a stellar summer tire that won’t burn a large hole in your pocket.
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Alvin Reyes has expertise in automotive evaluation. He collaborated with famous newspapers and is still making efforts in tire review for DrivingPress.com