While most of the world’s tire companies have been faced with falling sales, closed plants and laid-off workers, one US manufacturer has seen a 77% growth in the past three years.
Thanks to good sales performance from its Exclaim and Altimax lines, as well as a huge push with Grabber tires in off-road racing and the SUV market, General Tire is on a roll.
This has led to the introduction of the new G-Max AS-03 all-season tire, with G-Max being the umbrella for a number of high-performance tires that could also include summer tires in the future.
As always, you can predict the type of product you’re about to sample by the environment in which it’s offered. And with General renting Infineon Raceway for the AS-03 introduction, things were looking up…
To be honest, we weren’t expecting these tires to be this good. Pushed hard in wet and dry autocross, as well as fast laps of the Infineon track, the all-season rubber was hugely impressive. There can be no doubt General has benefited from a technology injection from parent Continental Tires.
On the dry autocross, we had the chance to test the AS-03 on 265hp Audi TTS models against all-season Goodyear Eagle and Yokohama ENVigor tires. If it was my money, I’d bet on the competitors but was astounded to discover the General offered more overall grip, better transitions and greater predictability.
We were so surprised by the difference, I actually asked to check the tire pressures (I was that guy!). There’s no way that a General product should outperform these brands, and yet it did. And it wasn’t
a small difference; it was a substantially marked improvement.
One of the AS-03’s benefits was its 3D Sipe Technology that allows the cold-weather sipes to interlock, enhancing stability and allowing fast steering response. These seemed to make a big difference in the dry.
In the wet, competitors from Uniroyal and Hankook were chosen based on price comparison. Once again, the AS-03 came out best, offering significantly less understeer thanks to higher grip levels. Fitted to 333hp Audi S4s, the competitors struggled to turn, but the Generals danced through the course with little fuss. We could brake hard and late, get the car turned and then drift the rear on the exit – check out the video online.
The wet weather performance is largely credited to Aquacleave technology that directs water into the large tread channels and out of the tire.
Finally, we completed a series of high-speed laps of the Infineon circuit in a variety of cars, including the TTS, Mitsubishi Evo, Mustang GT and Camaro. Infineon isn’t a track where you want lots of understeer and the AS-03 kept us pointed in the right direction. Admittedly, there was some tread “squirm” in the faster corners, but we’re talking about a racetrack. On the street or freeway, at sensible speeds, these tires will get you home in one piece, rain or shine. The limits of cornering grip, high speed stability and braking effort far exceeded our expectations.
The G-Max is offered with a 45-day trial period, so if you don’t like them; take ’em back!
It’s available in 15-20" sizes and includes clever Visual Alignment Indicators, which help identify misalignment to avoid premature wear. There’s also a stamp molded into the center rib that reads “Replacement Tire Monitor” when new. Yet as the tires wear, the indicator transforms to read “Replace Tire”.
General also worked hard to reduce road noise and it seemed to be successful. So if you’re after a reliable, tire that works well in the wet, yet can be fun in the dry, why not consider the G-Max AS-03.