You don’t have to be a keen market observer to notice that SUVs are all the rage today. The raised hatchbacks are now available in almost any price point and size available, and growth is not specific to any region. Whether it’s in North America or Asia Pacific – where the segment is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 26% from 2012 to 2017 – the world just loves SUVs.

On the luxury side of the SUV scale, performance is rising. And it’s not just at the sharp sporting end of the chart where Porsche, BMW M and Mercedes-AMG reside – garden variety premium brand SUVs are getting faster by the year, aided by turbocharging and many gear ratios.

Correspondingly, the demands placed on luxury SUV tyres have never been greater. These tyres have to deliver across the board – passenger car ultra high performance (UHP) tyre levels of grip, comfort and quietness as SUVs have to serve the family, and even a higher degree of robustness.

It’s against this backdrop that Goodyear launched its latest tyre, the Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance SUV, last month at a regional event held in Buriram, Thailand. The new luxury on-road SUV tyre promises a quieter driving experience with maximised comfort and wet braking performance.

The Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance SUV is a tyre aimed at premium SUVs such as BMW’s X3 and X5, Audi’s Q5 and Q7, the Mercedes-Benz GLC, Lexus NX/RX, Range Rover Evoque and the Porsche Cayenne, among others.

The new tyre is for those who want a blend of high performance and comfort, as opposed to those who care about grip above all. It sits above the Wrangler TripleMax and is more of an all-rounder compared to the Eagle F1 Asymmetric SUV, the SUV version of Goodyear’s flagship UHP passenger car tyre.

“Goodyear is always at the forefront of innovation, dedicated to offering superior tyres developed with our consumers’ needs at the core. We understand that today’s urban luxury SUV drivers are looking for a comfortable, quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and the EfficientGrip Performance SUV is our answer to that. We are confident that this new tyre will provide consumers with an invigorating drive through everyday’s journeys,” said Chris Delaney, president of Goodyear APAC.

The EfficientGrip Performance SUV is packed with Goodyear’s latest technology, including QuietTred. This noise dampening tread and carcass design, symbolised by a “mute” graphic on the sidewall, has an increased number of pitches and optimised sequence; the resulting reduced block sizes help to lower impact and radiated noise. On the sides, the closed shoulder groove design reduces noise generated through radial air pumping.

The third component in QuietTred is the optimised cavity shape and non-skid distribution. A carefully chosen footprint shape and pressure distribution brings about less vibrations and regular wear throughout the tyre’s life. More “botak” resistant so to speak, but regular and correct inflation is still key in longevity.

FlexContact Technology is the banner given to the tyre compound design that promises comfort, via the reduction of impact from road irregularities. Essentially, this consists of a “shock absorbing cushion layer compound” with optimised formulation, heavy gauge under tread and barrier gum strip, as well as a hexagonal bead.

The cushion in question is an under tread base compound with reduced hysteresis. This helps avoid road-induced block movements and reduces tyre vibration.

The more insulated the tyre structure is from the road, the less vibration is produced – and that’s the function of the heavy gauge under tread and barrier gum strip. The hexagonal bead shape is to enhance rim contact and reduce vibration. Sounds like duplication, but vibration comes from various sources.

Wet performance is the EfficientGrip Performance SUV’s third and possibly most prominent unique selling point, even if it doesn’t get a fancy technology name. Fitted with new polymers from Germany within the high-performance cap compound, the new tyre has optimised microstructures for increased grip in wet road conditions.

The EGP SUV also has wider and reinforced shoulder blocks that offer a larger contact area during braking – this translates to shorter braking distances, which could count for a lot in emergency situations. The wider centreline sipes balances the contact area and water evacuation route to improve both wet braking and curved aquaplaning.

The EfficientGrip Performance SUV is being rolled out in Asia Pacific before other regions, and journalists from across Asia got to sample the new tyre at Buriram’s Chang International Circuit, which by the way hosts the only overseas round of Japan’s Super GT series (it was once Sepang).

Goodyear went through the demo drill of a drive-by noise test (measures external noise) and a wet braking test. Both tests were done on Mercedes-Benz GLA cars on the track’s main straight, the latter after a water truck emptied its load on the tarmac. The control tyre chosen by Goodyear was the Continental CrossContact UHP.

Now, the unfortunate Conti has been around for some time now, and in the big brand arena, a newer tyre in the same class is always the better tyre. And so it proved in the demo, with the EGP SUV beating the CCC UHP by a handsome margin. One metre to a complete stop is significant, and 2.2 dB is major when +3 dB is a doubling of sound intensity.

We did not manage to try the new donuts on the road, but short track drives of the previous-generation BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLC shod with EGP SUV gave us good first impressions – this is a quiet tyre that’s also grippy. We’ll have to take Goodyear’s FlexContact Technology at face value though, as the smooth track posed zero challenge to the tyre “cushion layer”.

More apparent was the EGP SUV’s wet grip versus the CrossContact UHP. We negotiated a tight and wet corner at 60 km/h (GLC’s speed limiter on to ensure constant speed) and the Goodyear hung on all the way through, while the Continental slipped away just before the exit.

While the results were entirely expected (a brand new tyre vs an existing model it benchmarked), it was eye-opening nevertheless, and a timely reminder that those four little contact patches are the only things keeping your two-tonne, 300 hp SUV on the road. Whatever the type of vehicle, buy the best tyres that you can afford.

The Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance SUV tyre will be available in Malaysia from October 2017 at Goodyear Autocare/Servitekar outlets and authorised dealers. Pricing is yet to be determined, but we will get up to 20 sizes to fit 17- to 20-inch wheels.