4WD MODIFICATIONS - TYRES & WHEELS
Kumho used the harsh Australian outback as a real-life test laboratory for its MT (mud terrain) tyre, the Road Venturer MT51.
Kumho asked Outback Travel Australia to put the prototype MT51s through an outback torture test in late-2014, as part of final testing and proving ahead of validation and sign-off for production.
According to Kumho Tyre Australia’s marketing and training manager, David Basha, the Australian outback was seen as an important test location to ensure the MT51 was proved in the toughest conditions.
“The MT51 is clearly an important tyre for Kumho in Australia as well as in other markets around the world, so having an independent, validated and properly documented test across extremely harsh conditions was vital,” said David Basha.
“We invited some of Australia’s most experienced outback drivers and testers to test and assess the new MT51 and the findings were even better than we had hoped for,” he added.
“The MT51 has the opportunity to win a big share of a very important and valuable sector of the tyre market here in Australia and we believe that it will
prove to be the new standard setter in the mud terrain market.”
OTA ran three 4WDs over an extensive outback test course and compared the prototype Kumho MT51s with some of the top-selling mud terrain tyres from other brands. The vehicles covered almost 20,000 kilometres in an intensive test program with continuous measuring and gauging of performance, tread
wear and damage along the way.
Back-to-back testing against opposition brands provided a measure for the performance of the MT51 and despite the most rugged conditions there were no punctures and no tyre failures in ambient surface temperatures that topped 50 degrees Celsius.
The Kumho engineers said they wanted the tyres tested before release and OTA found some of the worst, stoniest roads in Western NSW, South Western Queensland and the far north of South Australia. OTA publisher Allan Whiting said:
“We pounded the MT51s over the rough and stony desert roads alongside some popular competitive makes and I didn’t think there would be much difference – mixed terrain tyres are mixed terrain tyres – but in reality there was a world of difference.”
In addition to this outback gravel road testing the OTA team joined a group of Kumho engineers outside Broken Hill to complete specific back to back performance tests including tarmac braking, hill climbing grip and side slip grip levels. The result was a positive affirmation of the design and engineering that has been poured into the new Kumho MT51.
The MT51 delivered better braking performance stopping almost two metres shorter than the next best performing opposition tyre from 80 km/h on dry tarmac.
It also outperformed the opposition in hill climbing tests providing better grip and less wheelspin. In side-slip tests the MT51 stayed on track, better resisting slip than the other mud terrain tyres.
“We also did a range of tests with Kumho Engineers at the end of the driving test and took the new Kumhos up a loose stony hillside and I didn’t think they would perform any differently to the opposition but they bounced less and grabbed more,” Allan Whiting said.
“We did a series of ‘spike’ stops from 60 km/h on stony gravel roads and I expected more block damage but they performed very well with minimal tearing,” he added.
“In other tests we found a very steep hill side – around 30-degrees – and drove the Kumhos and competitor tyres across this grassy and rocky slope with a fixed steering wheel angle.
“The Kumhos had more lateral grip in these conditions than the competitor tyres did.”
Since the prototype test OTA continued to bush-test the MT51s, including track testing on the Sandy Blight Junction Track, the Connie Sue, the Anne Beadell and Goog’s Track. The tyres have minimal tread marking and OTA has had not a single puncture.
The MT51s are surprisingly quiet for mud terrain tyres and have affected fuel economy by only three-five percent, compared with the best AT tyres.