Other tyre brands
By Daljinder Nagra
Article 5 of 6
Alongside mainstream tyre manufacturers, a number of lesser-known brands are available. Find out which best suit your vehicle and budget.
Have you ever been tempted by the good value offered by an unheard-of tyre brand? Perhaps you’ve been put off by the potential for low performance that so often comes with a low sticker price?
While there are undoubtedly countless tyre brands you’ve never heard of that you should avoid, there are a handful that may represent better value than the premium manufacturers, and without a disconcerting gulf in grip and handling performance.
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Hankook, Kumho and Maloya
South Korean brand Hankook positions itself towards the upper end of the tyre market, and has been increasing its prominence in Europe through its involvement in a number of high-profile racing series. It offers a range of products, including winter, all-season and low-rolling-resistance tyres, the latter of which are designed to minimise the effort needed to turn them, thereby improving fuel economy.
Sitting at the lower end of the market is Kumho tyres. This is another South Korean firm that has been raising its profile by supplying its products for motorsport and aerospace applications. Like Hanhook, it offers a wide range of different tyres for road-car use.
Maloya tyres is another also-ran in the UK tyre market. Originally a Swiss tyremaker, the brandname was bought by Dutch company Vredestein in the 1990s. Maloya tyres were initially re-launched only in Germany, but independent and online retailers are now starting to offer them in the UK.
Nokian, Vredestein and Yokohama
Nokian is an independent Finnish manufacturer, although Bridgestone Europe owns a sizeable (minority) shareholding. It specialises - unsurprisingly, given its Nordic location - in tyres for northern, snowy and icy conditions, including a range of winter tyres and models with retractable studs. It also makes tyres for forestry and agriculture, as well as for ice racing.
Dutch manufacturer Vredestein is now Indian-owned, but its tyres continue to be developed and (mostly) produced in the Netherlands. The company vaunts its design values: it has long worked with car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro on a signature range of products. Vredestein tyres include summer, winter and all-season models in a spread of sizes.
The Yokohama Rubber Co Ltd., established 1917, is said to be Japan's oldest tyre maker and it currently manufactures over 70 million tyres a year as well as a broad range of industrial products. As well as specialist off-road, truck and motorsport tyres, it offers a series of summer and winter tyres for mainstream passenger vehicles.
Which? verdict on other tyre brands
Hankook tyres perform well enough to justify their high-end market positioning, with good grip and handling in both the wet and dry. They may prove harder to find than other mainstream brands in the UK, though.
You may also have to do some digging to find a set of Nokians, as the UK’s mild(ish) winters and lack of winter-tyre legislation making them mandatory means the company remains a niche offering at tyre fitters. However, they’re worth seeking out, particularly if you’re likely to face slippery conditions as they offer excellent wet-weather grip and have a high resistance to aquaplaning.
Given Kumho’s budget branding, its products offer decent levels of dry grip and handling, though generally have lacklustre performance in the wet. Like most non-mainstream tyre brands, they also suffer from patchy availability.
Maloya tyres also offer good wet grip and handling, as well as resisting aquaplaning well so they could provide decent value compared to the big brand names. However, some of its products offer poor grip in dry conditions.
Mid-range brand Vredestein offers products with high wet grip and handling, though some of its tyres suffer from sub-par performance in the dry. They’re also not widely offered at retailers, with online outlets the best place to secure a set.
Yokohama tyres are enjoying increasing availability across the UK, though still remain something of a niche choice. This is a shame as most of its products offer high levels of wet grip and handling, as well as good resistance to aquaplaning. Like other mid-range brands, though, some of its tyres can’t quite serve up the dry grip offered by premium-brand tyres.
How much do other tyre brands cost?
With little market penetration in the UK, this collection of tyre brands, with the exception of Kumho, is marketed at the mid to lower end of the market. Despite their overall grip and handling limits being lower than premium branded tyres, these brands should offer sufficient performance to prove a safe option for your vehicle.
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