Bridgestone’s Ecopia EP300 tyre will apparently save you fuel and thus, money. We put it to the test
SINGAPORE — Whenever you read a product review, only one question ever needs to be asked of the journalist who wrote it: If it were your own money, would you buy the thing in your article?
This is more valid of a tyre review than most because a) review tyres are almost always complimentary, so they cost the reviewer nothing to try, and b) motoring journalists are the last people on Earth who are willing to part with their own money for anything .
So it is with the set of Bridgestone Ecopia EP300s on test here. Provided by Bridgestone Tyre Sales Singapore, the new Ecopias have adorned the office Prius for six months now, enough time for us to put just over 5,000km on them.
We had a set of Ecopia EP300s in 195/65R15 fitted to our office Prius. But we didn’t pay for them.
The EP300 replaces the EP200 and is sold in 21 different sizes for 15, 16 and 17-inch rims, and as with eco tyres in general there are two things to assess: will these tyres actually save you fuel, and more generally, are they any good at being tyres?
What Bridgestone promises for the new Ecopias are pretty much what you expect to hear with every new tyre generation; they’re more efficient than the EP200s, and offer better wet grip with longer life.
That last point brings us to something worth mentioning: eco consciousness is very often the same as cash consciousness. Essentially, saving the Earth can save you money. The extended life and fuel savings promised by the EP300s are an obvious example; a longer lifespan means fewer tyre changes, and lower fuel consumption means less money spent at the pumps.
Bridgestone’s internal tests show the biggest improvements in the area of wet braking and rolling resistance, with smaller advances in noise and comfort.
The company took a Toyota Camry and measured braking distances from 80km/h with 2mm of water on the tarmac. Against the EP200, the EP300 stopped 1.27m shorter, trimming roughly 4 percent off the stopping distance. That might not sound like much but it’s either the difference between making contact contact with another car, or even if you do bang into someone, it’s likely enough to make a significant difference to the repair bill.
In the same test Camry, a dynamometer (or rolling road) test showed that fitting EP300s allowed the car to squeeze out 11km more per tank in urban driving conditions, compared to the EP200. Our own experience with the Ecopias against the Prius’ stock tyres from another brand actually produced more dramatic improvements than that.
The Ecopias have been noticeably quieter than the stock tyres that came with our Prius (though not as silent as Bridgestone’s Turanza range of touring tyres) and even though we keep the car’s tyre pressure slightly elevated at 36psi, the ride quality delivered by the tyres is acceptably comfy.
Perhaps the most important thing about the Ecopias is that they don’t feel like eco tyres. Instead, they simply feel like normal tyres in terms of steering feel and handling balance. In our experience, fuel-saving tyres a decade ago sometimes felt awful: wallowy and imprecise around bends, lots of early squeal, and unnervingly slippy in the wet.
The EP300s display none of those negative characteristics, except in one area. On wet cement or epoxy surfaces, such as those you’ll find in carparks, the EP300s feel much less grippy than the tyres they replaced. We’ve had plenty of rain over the last year and have had to be extra careful rolling down carpark ramps or rounding corners in a multistorey at the first sign of water.
On tarmac, however, when it’s raining the tyres simply feel normal. There’s no need to drive extra gingerly and tiptoe around corners any more than you would in a set of non-eco tyres. In that respect they’re a noticeable improvement over the Ecopia EP100 which we tested some years ago.
Overall, the EP300s are very obviously not high-performance rubbers, but they offer enough traction, cornering grip and feel to keep the driver’s confidence at a high level.
Here’s where Ecopia tyres have a clear job, and it’s been frankly astonishing how well the EP300s have done it. In our Prius (which has its fuel expenditure and consumption carefully logged), these were the fuel consumption figures logged for every tankful before the Ecopias were fitted:
|MONTH||TANK DISTANCE||TANK FILL||FUEL CONSUMPTION|
The average fuel consumption over the period was 24.94km/L, which is respectable for a Toyota Prius, given the car’s claimed fuel consumption of 27km/L.
After we fitted the Ecopia EP300s, however, we’ve seen a marked improvement that was obvious from the first fill-up:
|MONTH||TANK DISTANCE||TANK FILL||FUEL CONSUMPTION|
Needless to say, to keep things consistent we stuck to the same fuel brand throughout, and as the last five fill-ups show, the average fuel consumption for the Prius has dropped, and the car now delivers 27.38km/L; better than the factory claim (and when does that ever happen?) and about 9.8 percent better than on the car’s stock tyres.
Since fitting the Bridgestones we haven’t failed to get at least 1,000km out a tankful, and the car’s on-board data logger has shown similar results. Here’s what things were like before the Ecopias:
And here’s the consumption data after:
The Prius’ computer reads a little optimistically, but the pattern of improvement is a clear one. Perhaps the amazing thing is that the Bridgestones have managed to make an extremely fuel efficient car even more economical.
While it’s almost certain that the EP300s will reduce your fuel consumption, especially if you’re switching from non-eco tyres, there’s still a relevant question to ask: how much can you really save?
Using our Prius’ real-world numbers as an example and assuming we cover 17,500km (which, according to the Land Transport Authority, is the national average every year), with petrol costing S$1.91 per litre net of discounts, we would expect to spend S$1,221 on fuel.
On the Toyota’s previous tyres, the bill would have been S$1,340. That amounts to S$119 saved every year, or S$417 after three-and-a-half years, which is a reasonable lifespan to expect from a set of Ecopias.
That’s with an economical hybrid car. With a car that delivers, say, a reasonably frugal 13km/L on average and assuming the same 9.8 per cent drop in fuel consumption that we experienced, the savings work out to S$252 per year, or S$882 after three-and-a-half years.
You results will vary, of course, but there’s a fair chance that a set of Bridgestone Ecopia EP300s will eventually pay for themselves. Prices range from S$120 to S$193 for a single tyre, depending on size, and even if you spend S$800 to have them fitted there’s a high chance that you’ll recover their cost. If it’s time to replace your tyres anyway, then it’s almost a no-brainer to choose these eco tyres, unless you want something overtly sporty.
That brings us back to where we came in, which is whether we would spend our own money on these tyres. Emphatically, the answer is “yes”. As much as we loathe spending our own coin, we’re confident that making the switch to Ecopia tyres is a way to buy tyres with money that will eventually be recovered.
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