Today we’re taking a look at the summer range from another tyre manufacturer, this time focusing on South Korea’s Hankook, which has made its way into the premium tyre market over the past few years thanks to its consistent quality. At the same time, it still keeps the price affordable, making it a popular choice for a large number of price/performance focused drivers. But Hankook is also somewhat known for the rather complicated branding of its models, although it has therefore worked on that in recent years as well.
Kinergy series – Kinergy Eco 2
We will again rank the tyres from the most environmentally friendly to the sportiest, starting with the Kinergy range, specifically its only current representative, the Hankook Kinergy Eco 2. This focuses not only on safety but also on noise and rolling resistance. It should be noted, however, that this is Hankook’s only model currently offered for smaller sizes – its range starts at R13 and ends at R16. It’s also a bit outdated – it’s been on the market since 2018, and was last tested in 2021 by Firmenauto magazine in the 195/55 R16 size, with the following verdict:
Pluses: Acceptable performance apart from braking deficiencies. Particularly safe and stable in evasive situations. Very quiet, very low rolling resistance
Cons: Long braking distances on wet and dry roads, poor wet cornering grip and almost no aquaplaning protection.
Overall, the Kinergy Eco 2 series is only recommended in dimensions where a model from the Ventus Prime series, which is generally better rated, is not available.
Ventus Prime Series – 3, 4
The Ventus Prime 3, at least in my eyes, started Hankook’s transformation into a premium tire manufacturer. The year was 2016 and ADAC tested 50 models of the 205/55 R16 representative in its big test. In the first round they tested braking distance, where the Ventus Prime 3 came in a great second place behind the Pirelli P7. In the final test, it even won, leaving behind representatives from Goodyear, Continental and Dunlop in addition to Pirelli.
Of course, a lot of time has passed since then and although the Ventus Prime 3 is still on the market, it is now more in the middle of the tyre test results. Even so, it’s still recommended and its affordable price makes it an ideal choice for thrifty drivers.
|8||ACE||Conditionally recommended||215/55 R17||2020|
|5||Autozeitung||Highly recommended||225/50 R17||2020|
So in 2022, Hankook introduced its successor, the Ventus Prime 4, which managed to take second place in Autobild’s 215/55 R17 test. Autobild wrote about it:
Pluses: New branded product with excellent handling characteristics on dry and wet roads, short braking distance on wet and dry, good mileage, good price/performance ratio.
Cons: average comfort
|7||Tyre Reviews||Recommended||205/55 R16||2023|
|9||Autoklub ČR||205/55 R16||2023|
The most critical of the tyre was TyreReviews.com’s 205/55 R16 test, where it finished seventh out of 13, due to worse aquaplaning and higher noise levels. Ventus Prime 4 is a touring tyre whose current competition is the Continental PremiumContact 7, Bridgestone Turanza T005 or even the Michelin Primacy 4. So it’s not a tyre you’d expect to see sporty performance from, it’s mainly focused on safety and mileage.
ION series – Evo model
Electric cars have specific requirements for tyres – they are heavy but quiet, and they need the lowest possible rolling resistance to maximize range, but they also need to maximize traction, even with often narrower tyres. That’s why manufacturers are racing to see who can introduce the best tyre for a sports EV, and Hankook can’t be missing out. In fact, the ION Evo range is the equivalent of the Michelin Pilot Sport EV. We don’t have much test data on the ION Evo yet – the only exception is the Autobild 2023 mini-test, which compared it against the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 5, not the new EV model. Michelin only managed to beat Hankook in the dry, and the tyres are comparable in the wet, but where Hankook excels is in rolling resistance, which is what determines EV range and fuel consumption. So for EVs, the ION Evo is an ideal choice and we’re personally curious to see if any test will pit it against the Michelin Pilot Sport EV.
Ventus S1 Series – S1 Evo 3, S1 Evo Z
And that brings us to the sportier tyres. The S1 Evo 3 is an alternative to the Michelin Pilot Sport 5 or the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6. It is a sports-oriented tyre, but still places great emphasis on safety and comfort for everyday use. It is available in sizes R17 to R21. In tests in the larger sizes, according to Automotorsport, it lacks just a little bit of sportiness and steering response, but in the smaller sizes it is one of the sportier ones, and in general it is a little bit blamed for poorer aquaplaning resistance, but it is still one of the top in its class overall. It is also available in a SUV version.
A sharper variant that takes comfort out of the equation and focuses on the driving experience is the S1 Evo Z. This is only available in sizes R19 to R21 and should be an alternative to the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup. It was only in one test by Sport Auto magazine in 2022, where in the 235/35 R19 size it was described by a tester as “an affordable everyday sports car with minor shortcomings”.
Pluses: With the exception of the longer braking distance, the ride is relatively safe in the wet thanks to very good aquaplaning prevention. Dynamic-sporty, yet not very sure-footed handling.
Cons: Poor braking performance, especially in wet conditions. Only average directional stability under hard braking in dry conditions.
Tyres from Hankook Motorsport
The tyres for the race track then fall under the Hankook Motorsport division. This includes tyres that can only be used on the track, but also road-approved models such as the Hankook Ventus RS4 or even the Ventus TD. The Ventus RS4 is the less extreme of the two, which is not even in the semi-slick category yet and can be used on wet roads with the necessary amount of care. It has been tested by TyreReviews, which, in addition to its great handling, particularly appreciated its durability on the track, thanks to its great heat dissipation and high initial 7 mm of deflection. The Ventus TD, then, is a semi-slick, but is legal for road use in most jurisdictions. Users praise its grip, but less so its durability.
Hankook has rightly positioned itself as a premium tyre manufacturer over the years, not only in quality but also in the breadth of its model range – offering tyres for virtually every type of passenger car application, from economy to racing. It is also one of the first manufacturers to have its own range for electric vehicles – ION. With most models, it targets drivers who want premium quality at an affordable price, and it succeeds in doing just that.