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Run flat tires are pretty new on the market, with several manufacturers pushing for them in their recent vehicles. The biggest advocate of these tires is BMW, the car manufacturer that wants to give its customers the ultimate driving experience. In order to have the ultimate driving experience, the driver shouldn’t waste time replacing the wheels while on the road – that’s probably why BMW puts run-flat tires on almost every new car you will buy in the dealership. Except for the glorified M models and electrified “i” models, that is.
The reason behind their reasoning is simple – run-flat tires are heavier than normal tires. On performance cars, heavier tires can take away from acceleration and dynamics or range in electric vehicles. That said, most BMW SUVs and sedans are powerful enough to mitigate the disadvantages of heavier run-flat tires.
On the other hand, the most attractive thing about run-flat tires is that you won’t need to replace them immediately after a puncture. Sure, you will need to replace them at some point or repair the punctured tire, but you’re free to drive up to 50 miles and at speeds up to 50mph. Run flat tires are also less likely to explode during a puncture, which means that they are also much safer than normal tires in those circumstances.
The thing is, there are not a lot of good run-flat options available on the market today. Sure, you can shell out a ton of cash and buy premium tires, but what if you own an older BMW and want to save some money? To help you choose the best run flat tires for BMW, we created a Top 10 list of the best products on the market right now. The list will be divided into several categories simply because BMW sedans don’t use the same tires as BMW SUVs or sports coupes.
After the list, you will be able to learn more about run-flat tires. Things like their advantages and disadvantages and pick out the best run flat tires you can buy, but also the types of tires that are used for various types of vehicles. In other words, we will explain why we divided the list into those categories.
Run Flat Tires Advantages and Disadvantages
Apart from the added weight, run-flat tires have some other disadvantages that make them the worse choice for some people. Here is the full list of their advantages and disadvantages:
- It can be driven up to 100 miles and for speeds up to 50mph without any pressure after single or multiple punctures.
- Run-flat tires are generally safer during a blowout or fast loss of pressure, thanks to the stiffer sidewalls that can support the vehicle and give the driver enough responsiveness to get out of trouble.
- Without a spare tire, the weight of the whole vehicle will be lower.
- No spare tire also means more space in the cargo area, which is always welcome.
- The higher unsprung weight hinders performance and dynamics but also fuel economy on some models.
- Run flat tires have shorter treadlife than normal tires. The difference is not very big, though – you will get about 5,000 miles less from the same model of tire.
- The ride quality with run-flat tires is worse, especially at lower speeds, when the wheels seem like bouncing over smaller imperfections on the road.
- Not a lot of models are available in the run-flat form. There are some great tires that you might lose on if you want to go the run-flat way, both from premium and budget manufacturers.
- The price of run-flat tires is much higher. If you compare the same model from a premium manufacturer, one with stiffer run-flat sidewalls and the other one a normal tire, you’re looking at over $150 difference for a set of four tires. That’s a lot for the convenience of driving without worrying about changing tires in the middle of nowhere.
Top 10 List of The Best Run Flat Tires
Best Grand-Touring Run-Flat Tire
- Smoothest-riding run-flat tire currently on sale
- Quiet for a run-flat tire, even at higher speeds
- Longest treadlife and highest treadwear warranty of any run-flat tire
- Responsive steering
- Excellent longitudinal traction and lateral grip in dry conditions
- Good traction in rainy conditions
- Solid longitudinal traction on light snow
- Oversteer at the limit on wet tarmac
- Understeer at the limit on light snow
- Not usable on icy roads
The DriveGuard Plus is Bridgestone’s latest iteration of its run-flat-only tire that bridged the gap to regular grand-touring all-season tires in terms of comfort. The upgraded “Plus” model brings it closer to its rivals and makes the switch to run-flat tires as painless as possible.
For the first time for a run-flat tire, the DriveGuard Plus is a comfortable tire in general, not for a run-flat tire, but for any tire. Sure, if we go deep into nitpicking, the ride over sharp cracks and potholes feels a bit stiff, but honestly, we’ve sampled worse regular tires over bad roads. And on smoother roads, the ride quality is as good as you would get on regular tires – it’s even better than some!
We were also impressed with the noise quality of the DriveGuard Plus. The sound is high-pitched but not very loud, even on the highway. In general, Bridgestone’s Turanza QuietTrack is quieter and more comfortable, but that tire would give you a hard time when punctured, potentially leaving you stranded. So, when you combine the convenience and comfort levels, the DriveGuard Plus is unbeaten!
The good news is that Bridgestone’s brand-new tun-flat tire also performs well regarding traction. On dry roads, it is very responsive and linear, mainly thanks to the stiffer sidewalls that allow for quicker steering. There is enough grip for a more spirited drive, and the longitudinal traction (braking and acceleration) is very good for a grand-touring all-season tire.
You also won’t notice a significant performance drop when it rains, as the DriveGuard Plus has enough traction to keep your vehicle planted. Still, unlike some regular grand-touring all-season tires, like Bridestone’s own Turanza QuietTrack or Continental’s PureContact LS, the DriveGuard Plus feels a bit nervous at the limit and exhibits oversteer. Not a big issue if you drive carefully on wet roads, but vital if you need to make an evasive maneuver.
On snow, the DriveGuard Plus performs excellently in a straight line, providing good acceleration and braking. Still, the lateral grip is lower than some regular grand-touring all-season tires, and you will experience an understeer when entering a corner too hard. Also, the ice traction is pretty abysmal, though most all-season tires would struggle on ice-covered roads.
Another critical area where Bridgestone made significant improvements in the DriveGuard Plus is treadlife. Due to the stiffer sidewalls of run-flat tires, manufacturers usually employ softer tread compounds to maximize comfort, which harms durability.
But regardless, Bridgestone engineered a compound that provides excellent comfort and a long treadlife. As a result, the company provides a 65,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is by far the highest in the category. For comparison, the Michelin Primacy MXM4 ZP run-flat tire only comes with a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty.
All things considered, if you drive a compact, mid-size, or luxury car or crossover, there is no better run-flat tire than the DriveGuard Plus. Sure, the tire still has some minor disadvantages, but as a whole package, it is unbeatable in its category.
The only downside of the DriveGuard is the slightly worse snow traction.
Another Great Grand-Touring Run-Flat Tire
- Good lateral grip and strong braking on dry roads
- Very balanced handling and easy to control at the limit in dry, wet, and snowy conditions
- Usable wet traction
- Good treadlife for a run-flat tire and a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Very quiet, even on coarse roads
- It doesn’t ride as well as some newer run-flat tires
- Performs worse on wet and snowy roads than its newer competitors
The Primacy MXM4 is a very old tire by now, launched back in 2010. When Michelin first showed the tire to the world, it was easily the best grand-touring all-season tire on the market. Today, the same is not true, as newer models offer better overall performance, longer treadlife, and a more comfortable ride.
Still, the ZP (Zero Pressure) version of the Primacy MXM4 remains one of the best run-flat grand-touring tires. Michelin made some improvements to the Primacy MXM4 ZP so that it covers the deficiencies of the regular tire, just like it did with its OE EV version, the Primacy MXM4 T1.
As such, the Primacy MXM4 ZP handles daily duties very well. The dry grip is comparable to some more modern grand-touring all-season tires, with a handling balance that beats most of its newer rivals. Still, while the steering is linear, we wish it was quicker to react to the driver’s input. Longitudinal traction is excellent, though, which translates into short stopping distances.
With that said, the Primacy MXM4 ZP trails behind the DriveGuard plus on wet tarmac. The stopping distances are longer, and there is not much lateral grip in the corners. In defense of Michelin’s run-flat tire, the handling is very balanced, and the behavior at the limit is very natural, but there is no getting around the fact that the traction levels are lower.
It’s the same with snow traction. The Primacy MXM4 ZP is usable on light snow, as it provides enough traction to give you a safe ride, but there is no question that the more modern competition will work better. Again, the handling is balanced, and your vehicle will be easy to control, but you’ll need to drive more slowly.
As for comfort, the Primacy MXM4 ZP is still a remarkably quiet tire, even on coarse roads and at higher speeds. The ride quality isn’t as smooth as on the DriveGuard Plus, which is by far the most comfortable run-flat tire, but still very solid for a tire that gives you zero-pressure capabilities.
Lastly, although it’s a run-flat tire, the Primacy MXM4 ZP still comes with a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty. Owners are also generally satisfied with the real-life treadlife. Still, the DriveGuard Plus is again the nemesis of this tire, as it comes with a superior 65,000-mile treadwear warranty.
Best Crossover/SUV Touring Run Flat Tire
- Good lateral grip and solid braking on dry tarmac
- Very good traction and predictable handling in wet conditions
- Quick and linear steering
- Supremely quiet, even at highway speeds
- Good ride quality for a run-flat tire
- Low treadlife and no treadwear warranty
- It could use more traction on light snow and ice
The Continental CrossContact LX Sport SSR (Self-Supporting Runflat) is a decade-old tire by now, but it still impresses with its performance. It’s the brand’s sportier touring all-season tire for fast SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5 equipped with run-flat tires. Unfortunately, the German tiremaker still hasn’t replaced this tire, though in all honestly, the CrossContact LX Sport SSR is still pretty good.
On dry roads, Continental’s run-flat tire for SUVs and crossovers performs as well as its newer rivals. The braking distances are very short, and there is enough grip in the corners to keep your vehicle planted in the corners. Not to mention, the steering is also very responsive and linear, giving you even more confidence when driving on a twisty road.
Furthermore, the wet traction of the CrossContact LX Sport SSR is very good for a run-flat tire. You will have a better experience with some newer regular tires, but this model is easily the best as far as run-flats go. And from what we found, it is excellent on public roads, thanks to the excellent hydroplaning resistance, short stopping distances, and balanced handling.
Still, the CrossContact LX Sport SSR would struggle on snow-covered roads, especially compared to the more modern competition. You will get some traction to drive on roads covered with light snow, and the handling will feel decent. However, the current crop of regular touring all-season tires for crossovers and SUVs will run circles around the CrossContact LX Sport SSR on snow, particularly when it comes to longitudinal traction. Unfortunately, you will lose the run-flat convenience with those tires, so maybe pairing the CrossContact LX Sport SSR with winter tires is a good idea.
On the other hand, the CrossContact LX Sport SSR is very comfortable for a run-flat tire – no wonder Porsche chose it for the Cayenne! Noise is never an issue, even at higher speeds, and the ride feels smooth on most roads. The ride might be a bit fidgety on a broken tarmac, but still not too objectionable.
The biggest issue with the CrossContact LX Sport SSR, though, is treadlife. Continental doesn’t provide a treadwear warranty, which is okay, considering this is a run-flat tire. However, owners of this tire report below-average treadlife for an all-season tire at around 20,000 miles. While that is not worse than other run-flat tires for crossovers and SUVs, it is much lower than what you’d get from a regular all-season tire.
Best Performance Summer Run-Flat Tire
- Outstanding grip in the corners on dry roads
- Very strong braking and excellent acceleration traction in dry conditions
- Drives in the wet with stability and exceptional traction
- The only max-performance summer run-flat tire with a treadwear warranty
- Pretty comfortable for a run-flat performance summer tire
- Surprisingly, road noise isn’t an issue, even at higher speeds
- Thanks to its excellent treadlife and overall grip, it is usable as a track/autocross tire
- Understeer in the rain kills the fun
- The steering isn’t very responsive for a max-performance tire
Want a run-flat tire that will match your enthusiast aspirations and give your performance sedan or crossover the grip it deserves? Look no further than the most popular max-performance summer tire at the moment, the Pilot Sport 4S ZP. Michelin’s successor to the almost mythical Pilot Super Sport brings many improvements across the board and now comes in a run-flat form for compatibility with most premium vehicles.
This tire is no joke, guys. Michelin engineered it so well that it provides a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty to its customers. You must think that most other tires also come with warranties, but not max-performance summer tires. These tires are made from sticky rubber compounds designed to give you maximum grip but at the expense of treadlife. Thus, every other max-performance summer tire has no treadwear warranty, which puts the Pilot Sport 4S ZP in a unique spot in its category.
Fortunately, Michelin’s engineers didn’t sacrifice grip to extend the treadlife of the tire. Although one of the oldest premium tires in its category tires, the Pilot Sport 4S ZP still competes with the big dogs when it comes to lateral grip. It also provides excellent longitudinal traction, meaning short stopping distances and excellent acceleration out of a corner.
Furthermore, the Pilot Sport 4S ZP feels stable under braking and balanced in the corners. Thus, you can easily play with your car and force oversteer when you want without worrying that your car will snap at you or surprise you. That said, we wish the steering was a bit more responsive, even on the ZP run-flat model. It is quicker than on a regular touring tire but less sensitive than its rivals. You probably won’t notice this on the road, but we thought mentioning it would be important for potential buyers.
The Pilot Sport 4S ZP is equally capable in rainy weather, with traction far surpassing any all-season tire, especially in warmer conditions. The performance might seem counterintuitive since the Pilot Sport 4S ZP has few grooves or sipes, but the sticky tread compound also plays a significant role on wet tarmac. And don’t worry – the Pilot Sport 4S ZP is resistant to hydroplaning, even when you drive through puddles of water.
As a result, you can drive pretty fast in the rain without worrying about losing control of your vehicle. The Pilot Sport 4S ZP not only has an outstanding lateral grip in the rain but also stops ferociously and accelerates easily. However, Michelin’s max-performance tire exhibits slight understeer in the rain, which is safer than oversteer, but somehow kills the fun too soon. Not a big issue in daily driving scenarios, but important to note if you want to have fun in the rain. Besides, the Pilot Sport 4S ZP would be faster without the understeer on a wet track.
Finally, we come to the most surprising aspect of the Pilot Sport 4S ZP – it is comfortable! Of course, you will get a smoother ride if you opt for the regular tire, but the run-flat ZP model also isn’t too bad. Notably, the ride is taut, which is to be expected from a performance tire, but it is still very well-controlled and never harsh. Noise is also not an issue. While you can hear the Pilot Sport 4S ZP’s tread growl, it’s never too intrusive and blends well with the wind/engine noise.
Another Excellent Performance Summer Run-Flat Tire
- Feels agile and balanced when driven hard (dry conditions)
- Excellent lateral grip and good braking on dry tarmac
- Best rain handling in the max-performance category
- Strong braking and high lateral grip in wet conditions
- Minimal noise on the highway
- Solid treadlife for a performance tire (though no treadwear warranty)
- The steering isn’t as quick as we would’ve liked from a performance-oriented tire
- Harsh ride over sharp cracks and potholes
Pirelli’s latest max-performance summer tire competes in a crowded category against some exceptional tires like the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, Bridgestone Potenza Sport, and Continental ExtremeContact Sport and does very well. In fact, it is the most balanced tire in its category, making it a great choice for drivers of sports sedans that want to combine performance and comfort.
The Italian tire manufacturer also offers the P Zero (PZ4) in a run-flat configuration, so drivers of premium BMWs, Porsches, Audis, and Lexus vehicles won’t be left out. Fortunately, the zero-pressure model carries most of the benefits of the regular tire, like the very balanced handling in all conditions and solid comfort.
Notably, the P Zero Run Flat (PZ4) rides well over smoother roads without the harshness you would associate with other performance run-flat tires. It is also exceptionally quiet – surprisingly so, given its performance credentials. With that said, the ride feels a bit harsh over sharp undulations, like broken tarmac or potholes. But we guess that is something owners of run-flat tires are already accustomed to.
As for the driving experience, the P Zero Run Flat (PZ4) is a very communicative tire with natural steering. However, we wish the steering was a bit quicker – even the soft-ish Pilot Sport 4S has a more responsive steering. Still, this is not something you’d notice on the road – as a whole, Pirelli’s max-performance tire feels enjoyable to drive.
And the biggest reason for that is how the P Zero Run Flat (PZ4)’s handling. This tire feels very balanced and natural when driven hard while also being very agile and light at its feet. Corner entry, mid-corner, corner exit, braking, or acceleration – the P Zero Run Flat (PZ4) feels nimble and controllable everywhere! Pirelli knows a thing or two about building well-behaved performance tires – it provides tires for the Formula One championship, after all!
The spirited driving experience is accompanied by very high levels of longitudinal traction and lateral grip. The P Zero Run Flat (PZ4) will provide you with a lot of reserves on dry roads, even when you are very aggressive. The lateral grip is particularly impressive – you can achieve dizzying speeds with a set of these tires on your sports sedan or coupe.
What we liked the most about the P Zero Run Flat (PZ4) is that it continued to put a smile on our faces on wet tarmac. The handling again feels very agile yet controlled, providing you with the best driving experience in the category. The traction is also exceptional – the P Zero Run Flat (PZ4) feels glued to wet roads. On top of that, hydroplaning is not an issue, even in very heavy rain.
Lastly, owners report solid treadlife, though Pirelli doesn’t offer a treadwear warranty. That is not too uncommon for the category, but Michelin offers a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty on the Pilot Sport 4S.
Another Solid Performance Run Flat Tire
- High lateral grip on dry tarmac
- Very direct and quick steering that provides a lot of information from the road
- Excellent stability under braking and short stopping distances in dry and wet conditions
- Progressive loss of traction at the limit on dry and wet roads
- Feels very stable at higher speeds
- Owners report below-average treadlife
- Noisy on the highway and uncomfortable over bumps
Bridgestone has recently replaced the Potenza S001 with the exceptional Potenza Sport. However, the Japanese tiremaker left the run-flat version of the tire without a replacement for the time being. So, if you own a vehicle with run-flat tires and want a Bridgestone max-performance summer tire, your only choice is the Potenza S001 RFT.
Although it’s based on older architecture, the Potenza S001 RFT remains an excellent performance tire. On dry roads, it still performs very well, with grip levels that match its more modern rivals. The tire is particularly good in the corners, where it enables some very high velocities, accompanied by natural behavior at the limit.
There is also enough acceleration traction to keep your vehicle glued to the ground, though the stopping distances are longer than what you’d get on the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S ZP, for example. This shouldn’t be an issue for most drivers, though, because the Potenza S001 RFT still stops way shorter than the current crop of budget performance tires.
Meanwhile, the wet traction is excellent for the category, even when compared to this tire’s more modern rivals. The stopping distances are very short, but the way this tire handles in the corners is what impressed us the most.
Namely, the Potenza S001 RFT has an outstanding wet grip in the corners, but more importantly, it feels nimble without being too twitchy. In other words, you can have fun without losing stability. The Potenza S001 RFT loses traction progressively at the limit and will never snap on you. And on top of that, we didn’t have any issues with hydroplaning.
The steering is also very quick and linear. It’s also more granular than on other max-performance summer tires, meaning it gives more information to the driver and is more communicative.
The Potenza S001 RFT isn’t without its issues, though. Notably, buyers weren’t particularly impressed with the treadlife, and Bridgestone doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty for the tire. Moreover, according to other tests online, the rolling resistance of this tire is particularly high, so expect a slightly worse fuel economy.
Another issue we had with the Potenza S001 RFT was comfort – or lack of it. The tire definitely shows its age here, as it doesn’t feel as refined as Bridgestone’s newer run-flat tires, like the DriveGuard Plus. In particular, the ride feels choppy over broken pavement and transmits quite a lot of vibrations and harshness into the cabin. Moreover, the Potenza S001 RFT is noisy, especially on coarse tarmac and at higher speeds.
Still, if you have a sports car and don’t care about the harsh and noisy ride, the Potenza S001 RFT is an excellent run-flat option. It drives very well on dry and wet roads and has direct and linear steering that many max-performance summer tires fail to match.
Best Performance All-Season Run Flat Tire
- Best-in-class snow traction
- Easy to drive on snow
- Excellent lateral grip and longitudinal traction in rainy conditions
- Strong grip on dry tarmac
- Agile handling in dry and wet conditions
- Very responsive and linear steering
- Good treadwear warranty for a UHP all-season run-flat tire
- Uncomfortable over broken tarmac
- Noisy on the highway, especially on coarse tarmac
Michelin’s ultra-high-performance all-season tire is currently one of the best offerings on the market, competing directly with the Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 Plus and Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS+. The run-flat version of the tire carries most of the benefits of the regular tire, like excellent traction in all weather conditions, but also some disadvantages.
Namely, in an effort to make the Pilot Sport All Season 4 more responsive and enjoyable to drive, Michelin made the tire less comfortable. The issue is even more pronounced on the ZP run-flat model, which isn’t particularly smooth. This is particularly true on bad roads, where the ride is harsh and unsettled. You can also hear some road noise on the highway, more so than with the main competitors of this tire.
But besides the comfort issues, the Pilot Sport All Season 4 ZP is an exceptional tire. It is super fun to drive, with quick and natural steering and provides excellent grip on dry roads. The handling is also very balanced and agile, putting a big smile on your face when pushing the tires to the limit.
We were also impressed with the wet traction, which is among the best in the category. The stopping distances are short, and the lateral grip is the highest in the category. Again, the Pilot Sport All Season 4 ZP feels very agile in the corners and behaves naturally at the limit, i.e., you’ll have more time to react than with most other UHP all-season tires.
But the most surprising aspect of the Pilot Sport All Season 4 ZP is how it performs on light snow. Sure, it won’t replace a proper winter tire, but it is as good as you will get from a UHP all-season tire. Notably, the Pilot Sport All Season 4 ZP provides the shortest stopping distances in the category; it is also the quickest from a stop and can achieve the highest speeds in the corners. Not to mention, the handling is also natural, and when the tire breaks traction, it does that progressively.
Michelin slashed the treadwear warranty from 45,000 to 30,000 miles for the run-flat version of its UHP all-season tire. The move is pretty typical, as run-flat tires usually have softer compounds to combat the stiffer sidewalls and still give you a smooth ride. Still, this means that apart from the higher price, you will need to replace your run-flat tires more often, which further adds to the cost. Still, the treadlife should be better than other UHP all-season tires with run-flat capabilities.
Best Street/Sport Run-Flat Tire for Performance Crossovers and SUVs
- High lateral grip appropriate for the category
- Very short braking distances in dry and wet conditions
- Balanced handling and predictable behavior at the limit
- Performance in the rain is excellent
- Sporty-feeling steering with good response
- Very smooth ride for a run-flat tire
- Quiet on the highway, even on rough tarmac
- Low treadlife and no treadwear warranty
- It becomes noisier as it wears down
Bridgestone designed the Alenza 001 RFT specifically for the modern performance crossover. Thus, you can find it on many of the latest gas and electric crossovers with 400+ hp as an OEM installment. Naturally, if the tire is designed for your particular vehicle, it’s a good idea to replace it with the same model when it wears down, and that is especially true for the Alenza 001 RFT.
Bridgestone’s latest performance summer tire for SUVs will give you the longitudinal traction and lateral grip that you would expect from a modern product. We were impressed by how it handled road duties, thanks to the natural and balanced handling. The Alenza 001 RFT is also impressive at the limit of traction, giving you enough time to react and catch the slide.
You won’t be reaching that point often, though, as the lateral grip is outstanding. With a set of these tires on your SUV or crossover, you can pretty much attack any corner and not worry about losing control of your vehicle. Moreover, the Alenza 001 RFT stops very strongly and accelerates without too much wheel slippage. Basically, there is more than enough grip for a spirited drive on public roads.
You can also rest assured that the Alenza 001 RFT will keep you safe when it rains, too. Thanks to the sizeable circumferential and lateral grooves, Bridgestone’s tire has excellent hydroplaning resistance, even in very heavy rain. Crucially, though, it provides the driver with very high levels of traction and very balanced handling at the limit.
Notably, the Alenza 001 RFT stops like the best regular-performance summer tires for SUVs and crossovers and accelerates without too much drama. Moreover, there is enough grip in the corners to keep your crossover/SUV planted and allow you to drive faster without worrying about losing control. And even when you cross the traction limit, the tires will allow you to correct the slide easily.
While the dry and wet traction is impressive, Bridgestone really showed its run-flat prowess in the comfort department. Just like the DriveGuard Plus, the Alenza 001 RFT provides a reasonably smooth ride over bumps. The ride is a bit choppy over very bad roads, but it is still better than other run-flat tires we’ve sampled before. Notably, the Alenza 001 RFT is one of the reasons the latest electric crossovers that have run-flat tires ride so well.
You will also have a hard time hearing the Alenza 001 RFT, despite its performance credentials. Noise is not an issue at urban speeds, and the tires are only slightly audible at higher speeds. However, some owners report that the Alenza 001 RFT becomes noisier as it wears down, though that’s not too uncommon for performance tires.
Sadly, Bridgestone doesn’t offer a treadwear warranty on the Alenza 001 RFT. That is not unusual for an OEM tire, but it would’ve been nice to add it for peace of mind. Also, owners have mixed reports about treadlife, which is only average for the category.
Another Excellent Street/Sport Run-Flat Tire for SUVs and Crossovers
- High lateral grip and very agile handling on dry roads
- Very short stopping distances and exceptional acceleration traction in the dry
- Outstanding longitudinal traction (braking and acceleration) in rainy conditions
- Responsive and linear steering
- Long treadlife for a run-flat tire with a performance summer compound
- Noisy at higher speeds
- Choppy ride over broken tarmac
- Lower lateral wet grip than some newer premium summer performance tires
Continental refreshed its performance summer tire for crossovers and SUVs with the CrossContact UHP but still only offers its older model, the ContiSportContact 5 SUV, in run-flat SSR (Self-Supporting Runflat) configuration. While it is a shame that drivers that own run-flat tires don’t get the newest model, the ContiSportContact 5 SSR SUV is still an excellent tire that deserves its place on your crossover’s wheels.
Notably, the ContiSportContact 5 SSR SUV is still one of the best tires in its category on dry roads. We were impressed by the grip on offer, which is on par with some newer premium summer performance tires for SUVs. You can achieve some dizzying speeds in the corners with this tire, making it at home when installed on the current crop of performance SUVs.
But it’s the way that the ContiSportContact 5 SSR SUV is even more impressive. The tire makes any SUV feel more agile in the corners without hurting the handling balance. Moreover, thanks to its sticky compound, this tire will give you very short stopping distances and almost no slippage during acceleration.
The braking and acceleration are outstanding in rainy conditions as well. In fact, despite being an older model, the ContiSportContact 5 SSR SUV still provides some of the shortest stopping distances in the category. It also feels very agile and balanced in the corners, with predictable behavior at the limit.
However, you will reach that limit sooner than on some newer premium summer tires. The ContiSportContact 5 SSR SUV can still give you a safe ride and solid lateral grip, but the newer competition can do it better. On the other hand, the hydroplaning resistance is excellent, meaning you won’t have stability issues when it pours outside.
But ContiSportContact 5 SSR SUV’s biggest drawback, probably related to its age, is the comfort. The tire will still work well on SUVs that were designed with run-flat tires in mind, but we still feel like the ride is choppy, especially over broken tarmac. Noise can also be an issue at higher speeds, especially on coarse surfaces. The ride and noise issues are nothing new for a run-flat tire, particularly not one with performance credentials.
As you might expect from a summer performance tire, the ContiSportContact 5 SSR SUV doesn’t come with any treadwear warranty. Still, owners are generally satisfied with the treadlife, reporting that a set of these tires should last 30,000 miles on average with regular rotations and balancing.
Best Winter Run Flat Tire
- Excellent lateral grip and braking in dry and cold conditions
- Outstanding lateral grip and good braking in wet conditions
- Responsive and linear steering
- Short stopping distances and good lateral grip on snow
- Easy to drive on snow-covered roads
- Solid braking and acceleration on icy roads
- Noisy at higher speeds, especially on coarse roads
The Sottozero 3 is Pirelli’s latest winter performance tire and the best one available in a run-flat configuration. It is an excellent tire for owners of performance vehicles from BMW, Porsche, and other brands that offer run-flat tires from the factory, but also for any driver that wants the added convenience.
Notably, the only possible disadvantage with the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 is that it isn’t very comfortable over bumps, and it can be noisy on the highway. The ride quality issue is mainly due to the run-flat construction of the tire, meaning it is not worse than similar tires. Besides, most cars that will fit this tire already have smooth-riding suspensions and excellent sound insulation, so this shouldn’t be a big issue.
With that out of the water, drivers will be rewarded by choosing the Winter Sottozero 3. Although it features a softer winter compound, the tire still feels agile and light on its feet, with quick and natural steering. Thus, you can continue enjoying the driving characteristics of your sports sedan in the winter.
But the best thing about the Winter Sottozero 3 is that the enjoyment will continue whether it is dry, wet, or snowy outside. This tire works well in all conditions without some significant drawbacks. For instance, the lateral grip in dry conditions is excellent for a winter tire, and the stopping distances are very short. Of course, you’ll get a much higher grip with a set of summer performance tires, but not below-freezing temperatures.
Wet traction is also outstanding – the Winter Sottozero 3 is the class leader on wet and slushy roads. The lateral grip is again exceptional, you won’t experience too much slip under hard acceleration, and your car will feel stable under braking. The handling balance is also excellent, and we had no issues keeping everything tidy at the traction limit.
Furthermore, the snow traction is as good as you can get from a performance winter tire. Namely, regular winter tires might perform slightly better, but that’s only in very harsh winter conditions. The Winter Sottozero 3 will be more than good enough for regular driving.
What we liked about the Winter Sottozero 3 Run Flat is that it doesn’t lose its agility on snow. You can push this tire to the limit and have fun on an empty road, yet it also has enough traction to keep you safe and planted. It also provides very short stopping distances, which is great for safety, and excellent acceleration traction, meaning you won’t get stranded.
Since the Sottozero 3 Run Flat is a winter tire, it provides usable ice traction on par with other performance winter tires. Still, it will struggle on inclines and declines, so approach those carefully.
Pirelli doesn’t provide a treadwear warranty on the Winter Sottozero 3 Run Flat, but that is not surprising since not many winter tires come with warranties. Still, owners of the run-flat version of the tire are generally satisfied with the treadlife and longevity of the tire.
Best Run Flat Tires: Buying Guide
1. Grand-Touring Run Flat Tires are the Best Choice for Lower-End Vehicles
If you drive a BMW 1-Series or 3-Series, chances are you will need a set of grand-touring tires. These tires are specifically designed to offer a balanced driving experience on models without too much power under the bonnet but cars that still offer an engaging driving experience. Grand-touring tires are a tad more expensive version of touring tires, which are made for slower mid-size sedans, compact cars, and sub-compact vehicles. We think that grand-touring tires are a better choice for BMW owners.
The main advantage of grand-touring tires is their outstanding treadlife. The best tires in this category often come with a 70,000-mile treadwear warranty, which means that you can use them for up to 6 seasons without worrying about replacing them. Grand-touring tires are also very quiet and comfortable, and that’s true even for run-flat models. This makes them a great choice for people that drive a lot with their BMWs or use them for long road trips.
On the performance side, grand-touring tires are adequate for the average driver. They don’t offer the most engaging driving experience in the world, but can still be driven hard in most circumstances. Grand-touring tires are also excellent when it rains, especially in very heavy rain, thanks to their outstanding hydroplaning resistance. Most all-season grand-touring tires today can also provide traction in light snow, which is another great advantage.
That said, if you own more powerful versions of the BMW 1-Series or 3-Series, these tires won’t cut the mustard. They simply lack the ultimate sharpness, traction, and grip for very fast driving in the corners.
2. Crossover/SUV Touring Tires are the Best Choice for Regular Crossovers and SUVs
Crossover/SUV touring tires are similar to grand-touring tires, only made specifically for crossovers and SUVs. In the BMW lineup, the BMW X1, X2, X3, X4, and X5 work great with these tires, albeit only the less powerful models. If you own some of the turbocharged inline-6 models or, even worse, the M models, then you will need different types of tires.
Like grand-touring tires, crossover and SUV touring tires last very long, with treadwear warranties that range from 60,000 miles to 80,000 miles, depending on the model. They are also very comfortable and quiet and provide the driver with enough traction, grip, and braking power for most circumstances. As expected, touring tires aren’t the best choice for performance driving, but you are also not able to find them in dimensions made for sporty versions of BMW crossovers and SUVs.
3. High-Performance Tires are the Best Choice for Sporty Vehicles
BMW doesn’t offer run-flat tires on all of their performance models, but most of them still come with this new technology. High-performance tires, as their name suggests, are specifically made for fast, performance cars. They are more focused on performance rather than comfort.
Thanks to that, high-performance tires are much more responsive than grand-touring tires – the moment you turn the wheel, the car turns. Then, high-performance tires also have much better traction, especially on more powerful cars, a much better grip in the corners, and stronger braking performance. Overall, these tires will give you, by far, the best driving experience of all types.
While we are at it, let’s mention ultra-high-performance tires and max-performance tires. These tires have an even more aggressive compound than high-performance tires. For “M” cars, we recommend ultra-high-performance tires if you mostly drive on the street or max-performance tires if you use your BMW sports car on track days.
Whatever performance tires you choose, be prepared for a shorter treadwear warranty than what you’d get on grand-touring tires. High-performance tires are good in this regard, with some models getting even to 60,000 miles warranty, but ultra-high-performance tires (40,000 miles) and max-performance tires (no treadwear warranty) are much worse.
Performance tires also have worse ride quality than grand-touring tires due to the stiffer sidewall and produce more noise at higher speeds. On top of that, they are also much more expensive than grand-touring tires. Driving a sports car has always been expensive, anyway.
4. Street/Sport Tires are the Best Choice for Performance Crossovers
BMW is one of the few manufacturers that offers sporty crossovers, some even with the “M” badge. If you happen to own one of those vehicles, then you will need Street/Sport tires. These tires are specifically designed for fast crossovers and are similar in most regards to high-performance tires. Compared to Crossover/SUV Touring tires, these have worse ride quality and more noise on the highway but also a much more responsive ride.
The best tires in this category have high levels of traction and grip and also excellent braking performance. That said, they mostly come in very big sizes (over 18 inches), and are very, very expensive.
5. What About the Weather?
That’s a very important aspect when choosing a set of tires, if not the most important. See, the rubber compound in your tires is specifically designed to operate in one temperature window. If it gets too cold, the tire becomes hard and brittle and loses the ability to grip the road well. If it gets too hot, the tire becomes too soft and unresponsive. That’s why choosing a set of tires that will operate best in your area is of paramount importance.
That said, all-season tires are the best choice for most people. These tires are designed to work in a wider temperature range and can genuinely work most of the time. They are especially good in the summer, fall, and spring, and some of them even work in wintry conditions, even snow. All-weather tires are a version of all-season tires that are designed for harsher wintry conditions. They also work better in snow. Both all-season and all-weather tires work great in heavy rain, thanks to the outstanding resistance to hydroplaning.
Winter tires, as their name suggests, are designed to work best in the winter. The rubber compound in these tires is softer and more pliable in very cold conditions, providing outstanding traction, grip, and braking performance. Thanks to the deeper tread and a lot of sipes in the tread blocks, winter tires also work excellently in light and deep snow, packed or unpacked. If you live in areas with a lot of snow in the winter, these tires are the way to go.
Summer tires, on the other hand, are specifically designed to give you the best performance in the summer. Compared to all-season tires, summer tires have much better traction, grip, and braking performance in warmer conditions. They simply stick to the road better. Most ultra-high-performance and max-performance tires are also summer tires simply because they provide the driver with the best possible handling on faster-performance vehicles.
Sure, there are some all-season ultra-high-performance tires, but they pale in comparison to summer tires. Suffice to say, if you own an “M” car, you’d want high-performance summer tires in the summer and high-performance winter tires in the winter.
As you can see from the list above, we only included high-quality run-flat tires. The main reasoning is that very cheap tires won’t provide you with the handling you would want on your BMW, but also because most of them are unsafe, especially in the wet. To get a top-notch driving experience from your BMW or any other car with run-flat tires, high-quality tires are a necessity. That’s why always choose the best run flat tires from reputable manufacturers!