We recently had a the opportunity to test the new G-MAX AS-03 all-season tire offering from General Tire (GT). This is a brand new ultra high-performance product in the General Tire lineup, and being that General Tire (as well as General's parent Continental Tire) are OE offerings on many Ford products, we felt compelled to see what General had to offer as a direct replacement tire for our daily driven Mustangs and Fords. So we hopped on a plane a few weeks back and headed out to wine country, Sonoma Valley to be precise, where we spent the day testing the new AS-03 in a variety of road conditions at Infineon Raceway.
After a track safety briefing we were divided into groups by color. We were placed in the blue group (by the end of the day we were known as the Blue Man Group!) where we shared driving duties with an old colleague of ours, Tom Wilson, past editor of Super Ford magazine and currently writing for Road & Track as well as our sister magazine 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords. We were also joined by an editor for Car & Driver and a several other major auto mags, so we had a well rounded group of drivers.
First up was the dry autocross portion of the tire testing. I knew Conti/GT used Ford Mustangs for tire testing at their Uvalde, Texas proving grounds, and I saw a slew of Mustangs upon entrance to the track, but alas, the dry autocross was to be performed using the Audi TTiS and Mitsubishi Evo 10. Two cars I knew little about except that they were both AWD. I found the Mitsu hard to drive, as the boost would come in violently just as I was about to turn in for a corner, but the Audi was a very easy and tractable car to drive and allowed us to more accurately evaluate the AS-03's dry grip and dry braking, which were excellent for an all-season tire tread design.
We followed the dry autocross with a watered down track laid out in a larger area for more speed. The test included Audi S5s and 2010 Mustang GTs with different comparative tires mounted to evaluate against the AS-03. The Audi had noticeable understeer with the competitor's tire mounted when compared to the AS-03. The AS-03 allowed us to carry more speed into the corner and brake harder without understeer, again quite impressive.
Our final test was a "lead-follow" track session on the main Infineon full course in a multitude of cars, including the Mitsubishi Evo 10 (from the on-site Jim Russell driving school) where we were treated to in-car video from the onboard VBox video system. Also on hand were 2010 Camaros (which have NO support for spirited driving I must say), 2010 Mustangs (oh how I wished it was the 2011, but they were still fun!) and the Audi S5. The track sessions were where we put the most mileage on the AS-03. Factor in six different run groups, all getting both morning and afternoon laps on the full Infineon course, and at the end of the day the AS-03's tread blocks, sipes, and sidewalls looked no worse for the wear we induced. Needless to say, for an all-season tire that would be used on the street every day, these babies should last many tens of thousands of miles and General Tire knows that they will because they've included a 40,000 mile tread wear warranty and UTQG rating of 480/A/A! The tires, available in 63 sizes from 15-20 inch rim diameters, even have a 45 day free trial (see www.generaltire.com for details). Best of all, if you want to hit a HPDE or an autocross, you could very well leave these tires on your car and still have a fun day with plenty of traction and braking! Check out the photos for more details on the AS-03's technology, features, and benefits and when you're ready for your next set of tires, consider these G-MAX AS-03s, we certainly are.
General Tire provided us with...
General Tire provided us with this cutaway concept to show what comprises the new G-MAX AS-03. As you can see here the tire uses two steel belts and a spiral wound outer ply. More noticeable to the end user is outer construction, which features a rim protector lip, all-season tread design, and General Tire's Monitor Technology. The G-MAX AS-03 offers a stiff tread pattern for dry performance, high void-to-tread ratio for wet traction, lateral sipe edges for snow grip and optimal pattern stiffness for extremely long wear. More on all of these features in the following photos.
General Tire's Monitor Technology...
General Tire's Monitor Technology is comprised of two different consumer aids. First is the Replacement Tire Monitor, or RTM. The RTM is found along the center rib and states "Replacement Tire Monitor". As the tire wears the tread depth changes the text to read "Replace Tire", alerting the driver that a tire change is needed. The second technology is Visual Alignment Indicators, or VAI. VAI is a special series of sipe patterns on the shoulder of the tire. These short sipes will alert the driver to an alignment issue by wearing off before the sipe pattern on the opposite side, preventing costly tire damage.
With the G-MAX, the 3D-sipe...
With the G-MAX, the 3D-sipe technology in the sipe cause the tread blocks to interlock, creating a stiffer lateral and longitudinal tread and giving the driver precise steering response, outstanding grip and increased tread life. For light snow, the lateral edges, 3D-sipes and v-shaped strakes enhance grip on slippery, snow-covered roads. Lateral and longitudinal grooves and hundreds of sipes create biting edges to maximize traction. The long strakes fill with snow, capitalizing on snow-on-snow adhesion. The G-MAX also delivers exceptional hydroplaning resistance without sacrificing dry road handling or ride comfort. The optimized v-shaped-tread design delivers impressive control in wet conditions and works to effectively evacuate water from under the tread. Acoustic Modulation Sound Technology, AMST, is built into the G-MAX. AMST is a sound-wave suppression technology that substantially reduces road-tire noise and assures a smooth, quiet, comfortable ride.