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Test designer tyres at BIC you say? Yes please!

Buddh International Circuit is the place to go, to see if Vredestein’s designer tyres are as sticky as they are photogenic

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Take an everyday product and add ‘designer’ as a prefix, and it instantly becomes more exclusive, more out-of-reach, and yes, a whole lot more expensive. This is true of everything from watches to saris.

So far, in the automotive world, that concept was limited to a handful of Italian cars. But now, Dutch tyre maker Vredestein has taken the idea to a whole new level, by launching a collection of designer tyres in India. And this is no garden-variety pencil pusher, either. These tyres have been sketched by legendary Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, the gent whose CV includes, among others, the Lamborghini Gallardo and the Fiat Punto.

What’s special about designer tyres, you ask? Well, ask yourself what’s special about the designer watch you’ve been drooling over for years, or the designer suit you’d like to buy some day. Of course, the big difference here is that tyres are not just about design, they’re also about performance. And these are speed rated to ‘V’ and ‘Y’, which means they can safely be hurried along up to 260-300kph.

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To see what designer tyres feel like under torture, we went to Buddh International Circuit. Vredestein’s fancy-pants rubber was fitted on Audi performance cars that were at the track for the Audi Sportscar Experience.

Vredestein has been bought by Apollo Tyres and the brand will now be slotted just above Apollo, to widen the company’s horizons in the Indian market. Vredestein tyres will be sold through select Apollo dealerships, especially in Tier I and Tier II cities.

Vredestein makes tyres for performance cars like the Audi R8, TT, S4 and S6, among others. And it has designer options for you even if you own an SUV. But mind you, when we say tyres for an SUV, we mean road tyres, not off-road or all-terrain.

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Just outside BIC, Audi had set up an artificial off-road track for us to drive the Ultrac SUV Sessanta, Vredestein’s SUV tyres. Over sand, ruts and mud, the Ultracs held up well. Audi had also converted BIC’s parking lot into a slalom track.

This time, we had the A4 and the A6 doing wet and dry slalom runs. The rubber held up fine here too, of course, the squealing could be heard all over the place, as it echoed off the Grand Stand.

After the relatively slower tests, it was time to drive the TT. Aditya Patel, the racing driver who represents Audi India, claimed TTs fitted with Vredesteins were on par with lap timings of the competition’s performance tyres.

Although it’s almost impossible to judge a tyre in a few laps at BIC (unless you’re a professional race driver), the Vredesteins held the tarmac well on both, tight corners and chicanes, as well as through the straights. Of course, Audi’s quattro system also helped keep the car in line around the challenging bits.

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Vredestein competes with the big names in the tyre industry – Michelin, Pirelli and Yokohama. Although no manufacturer currently gives you Vredesteins as original fitment on cars sold in India, they are a good alternative if you’re looking for tyres for your sportscar that’ll look as good as the machine they’re fitted under, given the flamboyant design of Vredestein’s asymmetric pattern. And with a speed rating of up to 300kph, they have the go to match the show.

Long-term durability, you ask? You’ll have to wait for a while before we test these tyres in real-world conditions.

(Words: Agasti Kaulgi, Photos: Nitin Rose)

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Rubber Wars. . .

MRF Z.L.O

Developed from MRF’s racing programme, Z.L.Os are available in sizes that’ll fit most sportscars available in India. It is the only other Indian company to make performance tyres.

Michelin Pilot Super Sport

One of the world’s most loved performance tyres, they’ve been proven on performance cars and in motorsports for a while now.

Yokohama Advan Sport

Known for comfort as well as performance, Advans are factory fitted on some Porsches, Audis and Mercs. Speed rated to 300kph.

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