Car tyres 205/65 R15 review and compare

We tested tyres for a range of family cars, for cornering, braking and noise.
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  • Updated:6 Apr 2008

01 .Introduction


Test results for 17 car tyres (205/65R15)

We tested 17 car tyres suitable for a range of family cars for:

  • Braking performance in dry and wet conditions.
  • Cornering performance in dry and wet conditions.
  • Noise.

Please note: this information was current as of April 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.

Brands tested

  • # CONTINENTAL Conti Premium Contact 2
  • # DUNLOP LeMans LM600
  • # FIRESTONE Firehawk TZ100
  • # FULDA Sport
  • # GOODYEAR Ducaro GA
  • GT RADIAL Champiro 128
  • # HANKOOK Optimo K406
  • # KELLY Ritmo HP
  • # MARSHALL Power Racer-II 719
  • # MICHELIN Energy XM1
  • # PIRELLI P6
  • SAVA Intensa
  • # SIAMTYRE Ultrax 624400
  • # SONAR SA-603
  • # TOYO Transas TEO
  • # YOKOHAMA S760
# Discontinued.

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What to buy

Brand / model Price

  • # CONTINENTAL Conti Premium Contact 2 $169
  • # GOODYEAR Ducaro GA $109
  • # MICHELIN Energy XM1 $128
  • # DUNLOP LeMans LM600 $125
  • # FIRESTONE Firehawk TZ100 $133
  • # HANKOOK Optimo K406 $103
  • # PIRELLI P6 $109

Prices are recommended retail, based on manufacturer information in December 2008. Tyre prices can vary widely, so shop around for the model you're interested in - you may be able to find it well below the recommended retail price.
# Discontinued.

Performance Specifications
Brand / model (in rank order) Overall
Tread wear
Origin Manufacturer /
# CONTINENTAL Conti Premium Contact 2 78 80 75 280 Europe Tyres4U 169
# GOODYEAR Ducaro GA 78 73 85 ns Australia South Pacific Tyres 109
# MICHELIN Energy XM1 77 72 85 320 Thailand Michelin 128
# DUNLOP LeMans LM600 76 70 85 ns Australia South Pacific Tyres 125
# FIRESTONE Firehawk TZ100 76 70 85 ns NZ Bridgestone 133
# HANKOOK Optimo K406 76 70 85 360 Korea Hankook 103
# PIRELLI P6 76 70 85 260 Italy Pirelli 109
# FULDA Sport 74 70 80 ns NZ South Pacific Tyres 133
# KELLY Ritmo HP 74 67 85 ns Australia South Pacific Tyres 90
GT RADIAL Champiro 128 72 70 75 460 China Tyres 4U 119
# SONAR SA-603 72 67 80 480 Taiwan Kmart Auto 79
# TOYO Transas TEO (A) 72 67 80 ns Japan Toyo 120
BRIDGESTONE RE92 71 68 75 ns Australia Bridgestone 139
# SIAMTYRE Ultrax 624400 71 65 80 280 Thailand Michelin 89
# MARSHALL Power Racer-II 719 70 67 75 340 Korea Kumho 99
SAVA Intensa 68 67 70 ns NZ South Pacific Tyres 99
# YOKOHAMA S760 68 67 70 ns Philippines Yokohama 109

Table notes

# Discontinued.
* Recommended retail, based on manufacturer information in December 2008. Tyre prices can vary widely, so shop around for the model you’re interested in — you may be able to find it well below the recommended retail price.
ns Not stated. The tread wear rating is a requirement for the US market only.

(A) New name: Toyo TEO plus.

1 Overall score
This is a combination of cornering (60%) and braking (40%).
2 Cornering score
We assessed how well the tyres managed to keep the car on the path within the lane chosen by our test driver, at speeds of 75 km/h, 80 km/h and 85 km/h (dry conditions), and 65 km/h, 70 km/h and 75 km/h (wet conditions), using a right-hand corner with about 40 m radius.
3 Braking score
We measured the distance to a complete standstill in emergency braking tests from 50 km/h and 80 km/h, in both dry and wet conditions.
Note: We also carried out rolling noise measurements at the driver’s left ear at 50 km/h and 80 km/h. At each speed, there was a difference of less than 2 dB between the models — you wouldn’t be able to notice that difference.
4 Tread wear rating 
Click here for an explanation of this. Essentially, the higher the rating, the longer you can expect the tyre to last (compared with other tyres under the same conditions).

This article last reviewed December 2008.

Each tyre design varies in its tread pattern and rubber mix and is a compromise between a number of requirements, such as grip and durability.

A soft tyre provides better grip but also leaves more rubber on the road, and won’t last as long as a harder model. Racing tyres are an extreme example: they’re very soft and almost glue the car to the track, but usually only last for (part of) one race.

Our cornering and braking tests assess the tyres’ grip, but not their durability. Tyre wear is difficult and expensive to test properly — for example, several European consumer organisations and motoring clubs carry out a joint test, part of which is a convoy drive over 10,000 kilometres, using identical cars. Unfortunately we can’t join their test, because most European tyres are different from Australian ones. And we can’t afford to run a similar test on our own.

However, some tyres have a tread wear rating that can give you some idea of how long a tyre should last compared with others used in the same conditions.


We tested the tyres at three different speeds in dry and wet conditions: In the dry, all the models easily mastered our test corner at 75 km/h, but none managed to hold the test car in its lane at 85 km/h. At 80 km/h, the SIAMTYRE (it scored 60%) didn’t quite match the other models (80–100%).
In the wet, none of the tested models had problems at 65 km/h, and all scored between 80% and 100% at 70 km/h. But the CONTINENTAL was the only model to keep the test car in the lane at 75 km/h.

Our tests show that 5 km/h can make the difference between your car holding a corner quite comfortably and going out of control.


We measured the following average stopping distances:

  • From 50 km/h, from about 7.5 m (DUNLOP, GOODYEAR) to 9.5 m (CONTINENTAL, YOKOHAMA) in dry conditions, and about 10 m (FIRESTONE, GOODYEAR, HANKOOK, KELLY, PIRELLI) to 12 m (CONTINENTAL) in the wet.
  • From 80 km/h, from about 24 m (FIRESTONE, SIAMTYRE, TOYO) to 26.5 m (YOKOHAMA) in the dry and about 28.5 (MICHELIN) to 34 m (SAVA) in the wet.

In an emergency situation, a few metres can of course mean the difference between stopping in time and having a crash. However, our results are best-case. In real life, other factors have an effect as well:

  • ABS: Our results were certainly helped by the anti-lock braking system (ABS) fitted to our test car. In an emergency situation like that simulated by our tests, you just slam on the brakes and the electronics ensure the car stops as quickly as possible without locking the tyres.
    When driving a car without ABS, you have to adjust the force applied to the brake pedal to stop the tyres from locking up. This can be tricky, and it’d be much harder to achieve stopping distances as good as ours.
  • Reaction time: Our test driver knew he was going to have to brake — in an emergency, you won’t. Half a second’s reaction time at 50 km/h means an additional 7 m stopping distance; at 80 km/h it’s an additional 11 m.

We’d like to thank:

  • Holden for providing the test car.
  • Deighton Motors in Warwick, Queensland, for valuable support throughout the project.
  • Morgan Park Raceway in Warwick for their efforts to ensure a smooth test.

This article last reviewed December 2008.

04.Tyre design and maintenance


How to read a tyre

Each tyre has standard markings that allow you to pick the right type for your car. It’s a confusing mix of letters and numbers, and of measurements in mm and inches.

Here’s what it all means, using the code for the tested size P205/65R15 94H and 95H:

  • P — stands for passenger tyre.
  • 205 — this is the section width (in mm) when the tyre is inflated on the standard rim it's recommended for and not under load. The section width is the distance between the tyre's exterior sidewalls.
  • 65 — this is a percentage describing the tyre’s profile or aspect ratio. It’s the ratio between the tyre’s section height (distance from the wheel bead seat to the top of the tyre) and its section width — in this case 65%.
  • R — stands for radial, which is the most common construction method for passenger car tyres.
  • 15 — this refers to the diameter (in inches) of the rim the tyre should be fitted to.
  • 95 is the load rating index and tells you the maximum weight one tyre can carry (in this case it means 690 kg). Other examples: 84 (500 kg), 86 (530 kg), 89 (580 kg), 92 (630 kg), 94 (670 kg).
  • H — this is the speed rating index and tells you the maximum speed the tyre can travel at (in this case 210 km/h). Other examples: S (180 km/h), T (190km/h), V (240 km/h), W (270 km/h).

How old is my tyre?

All tyres are stamped with the date of manufacture. You'll see this in two varieties: 3 digits for pre-2000, and 4 digits for after 2000. 

Pre-2000: the first 2 digits stand for the week in the year and the last digit stands for the year. So a 3 digit of 078 stands for the seventh week in 1998.

After-2000: the first two digits stand for the week in the year and the last two digits stand for the year. So a 4 digit of 0209 stands for the second week in 2009.


Tread wear rating

According to the Australian Vehicle Standard, the date of manufacture is required and is normally a three or four digit code on the tyre sidewall (it can be on either side of the tyre). Check this before you purchase your tyre.

For tyres manufactured in years 2000 and above, the first two digits refer to the week of manufacture and the third digit is the year. For pre-2000 tyres, a four digit code is required, the first two digits again refer to week and the final two refer to year.

Although there is no recommended time period in the standard regarding the age of tyres, we often see retailers recommending five to six years for the replacement period of tyres. Tyre ageing will depend on the many variables of how it is used.

Other things to consider when purchasing a tyre are the signs of age such as micro splits in the tyre tread and sidewall that are visual up close, the result of oxidation of the tyre.

Tyre models that are marketed in the US have to have a tread wear rating as part of the Uniform Tyre Quality Grading System (UTQG) operated by the US government National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About half the tested models have this rating.
Under the system, a tyre’s tread wear is measured under controlled conditions involving an 11,500 km drive on a specified test course, and compared to a ‘standard’ tyre with a rating of 100.
A rating of 200 indicates that the tested tyre should last twice as long as the standard model. So the higher the number, the longer you can expect a tyre to last.
However, the rating is comparative only. Real-life wear of a tyre depends on a number of aspects, such as the road surface, tyre pressure, wheel alignment and driving style.

Also part of the UTQG, and printed on the tyre sidewall next to the tread wear rating, are:

  • A traction rating that grades the tyre’s wet braking traction (AA, A, B or C, with AA being best).
  • A temperature rating, which indicates a tyre’s ability to dissipate heat (A, B, C, with A being best).

Tricky tyres

Some tyres are directional, which means they’re designed to be fitted to the car so their tread pattern faces a particular way (usually marked with an arrow on the sidewall). Fitting them on the wrong side may affect the car’s handling and reduce the tyre’s life.
They’re usually premium tyres. If you use such a model and don’t have a conventional tyre as a spare, be aware that a one-directional spare only fits one side of the car. If you have to use it on the wrong side, drive carefully and only until you can replace the damaged tyre.

Don’t confuse one-directional tyres with asymmetric models designed to be fitted to the rim so that a particular side (marked on the tyre’s sidewall) faces outwards. With these, the spare can replace any of the other tyres.

Some car models have an emergency space-saver (narrower) spare instead of a full-size one. If you have to use it, follow the instructions in your user manual. There’s likely to be a speed limitation, and you’re only supposed to drive on it for a short distance to get you home or to the nearest tyre fitter. Use over longer distances or at higher speeds may damage your car.

Tyre maintenance

The right pressure

  • Tyre pressure is measured in kilopascals (kPa) or pounds per square inch (psi).
  • Keep your tyres inflated to the pressure recommended by the car manufacturer — usually shown on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door frame, in the glovebox or on the petrol tank flap.
  • The car manufacturer’s recommendations refer to the pressure when the tyre’s cold, not after you’ve been driving for some time.
  • When driving with a heavy load, inflate your tyres to a higher pressure — check the sticker.
  • Driving with under-inflated tyres uses more petrol, adversely affects the car’s handling, increases wear and may lead to tyre damage.
  • Check the pressure regularly — for example, make it a habit each time you fill up with petrol.
  • And don’t forget to check the spare’s air pressure when you do the other tyres. There’s nothing more embarrassing…

Maintenance tips

  • Every so often, do a visual check for objects embedded in the tread, such as stones or glass.
  • Check for uneven wear, which could indicate a problem with the car’s steering or suspension.
  • Run your hands over the tread and sidewalls to identify any bubbles, cuts or cracks.
  • Keep an eye on the tyres’ tread wear indicators, which show the minimum legal tread of 1.6 mm. The indicators are small bars spaced across the grooves of the tyre’s tread pattern. Replace your tyres when the tread level reaches the indicators — at the latest.
  • Rotate the tyres regularly — for example, at every service.
  • When putting on new tyres, have them balanced and a wheel alignment done.

This article last reviewed December 2008.