Thursday, December 29, 2011

numbers, letters and pictures...but what does that mean - Understanding tires Part 2

This is the 2nd of 5 posts about tires.
1 is about how important it is to understand tires and what to consider when buying them.
2 (this) is about the tire measures and proportions one can see in the tire walls.
3 is about tread design
4 is about compound and structure
5 is about maintenance and repair

When buying tires, there is a lot of information to consider. Starting with the car, the weather it's supposed to be driven, the way it's supposed to be driven and for how long. Most don't know this and trust their choice to what they think it's the car's manufacturer choice... however this is not always the case. Apart from a couple of cars out there, where the manufacturer creates a full spec tire on a venture with a chosen tire manufacturer (Honda, Lotus, Porsche and some others), the majority of them come fitted with standard tires chosen to fit the rims. 
Even when the manufacturer does create a full spec tire for the car, just how outdated will they be 8 years later? What if you change the rims? What if you change the suspension and setup a more aggressive camber? Or tune UP the car to increase power?
One can find hundreds of reasons to chose different tires. The choice however will mean you understand the numbers, letters and symbols on the tire's side-wall.
This article will explain exactly what those references mean, helping you understand and chose according to.

The tire side-wall contains all the information you need to know about your tires. 
Starting with the size measures:

225/45/ZR17 means exactly that the width of the tire has millimetres, and 45% of that measure in height...in this case 45% of 225mm =  101,25 millimetres. 
It's very important to understand this last number when sizing your wheels. If you increase tire width, you MUST reduce the percentage in order to maintain height. If you increase you rim size, then you must decrease tire height to maintain total wheel diameter. Having the wrong sizes not only changes the car's power delivery, but also the odometer feedback, leading to inaccurate speed readings and mileage count.
The ZR means Z speed rating (Z being above 240km/h witch can be read in the chart bellow) and R for Radial Tire Construction. The Z is an old marking now depreciated, the actual speed reading comes in the next set of number/letter data.
The 17 is the Radius of the rims to fit, in this case 17 inch rims.
The 93Y is the Service Load Description. These numbers indicate the Load that each tire is engineered to withstand while the letters are the actual speed rating. 93 means 1433pounds (650 Kilograms) and the Y means the tire can rotate up to 186mph (300km/h).
Load IndexPoundsKilograms
Load IndexPoundsKilograms
71761345911356615
72783355921389630
73805365931433650
74827375941477670
75853387951521690
76882400961565710
77908412971609730
78937425981653750
79963437991709775
809924501001764800
8110194621011819825
8210474751021874850
8310744871031929875
8411025001041984900
8511355151052039925
8611685301062094950
8712015451072149975
88123556010822051000
89127958010922711030
90132360011023371060

Now for the position on the rims and the car: 
Today's tire tread design are normally made to channel water out of the tire's contact patch to the ground and avoid aqua-planing, This means that the tire may have a specific rotation direction. In this case, the rotation is clearly indicated.
Another tread design fact is the asymmetric design. If a tire has an asymmetric design, this means that the inside half of the tire is different from the outside half and it's design is done that way to help the tire handle cornering load better. Those cases have the OUTSIDE indicator.
In any one of these cases, switching car tires front to back MUST either be done always on the same side of the car, or if crossing, done in a tire-shop and with tire dismount/re-mount in order to respect the rotation and outside mounting of the tire.

The type of tire construction:

Although not really as issue any-longer, since today's tires are almost all radial and tubeless.
Still, these mean the Tubeless tire will have no air tube inside, hence in need of a perfect seal between the rim and the tire in order to maintain the air inside. This is assured by steel belts enclosed in the rubber contact belts with the rim, making it extremely rigid and assuring a permanent fit.
The Radial is the way the tire is built, meaning that it's composed from several parts "glued" radially together to form a full circle.

Wear, temperature and traction specs:
Tread-ware grade is a reference that explains how soft the rubber compound is, ans how it will wear when compared to a reference tire.  The reference tire scores 100, so a 240 tread-wear means that this tire will endure 2,4 times the reference tire's miles before wearing out. This is calculated buy the wear done in a 7200mile test against the Uniroyal reference tire. The harder the compound, the more it will last and the less it will grip, so when considering sports tires, don't expect high numbers from this, or get ready to pay for frequent car repairs for going off road often due to low grip ;)

Traction A means that under a test while the tire was dragged in a wet track, at 40mph without being allowed to rotate, it scored A out of a scale from AA, A, B and C, being AA the best compound. This grading, although related to the compound isn't meant to rate the tire's corner abilities, but rather it's ability to stop the car in a straight line braking on a wet track.
Temperature A means how good the tire is dissipating heat instead of allowing buildup (eventually leading to greasiness and/or catastrophically failure). The higher the car goes, the faster the tire will be compressing it's contact area and expanding the opposite side, building heat.
An A grade means the tire car drive continuously over 115mph and the tire will be able to dissipate fast enough to cope with it. The B rating is between 100mph to 115mph, and C from 85mph to 100mph.
Mind that aggressive cambers will mean that the tire will have to cope with an uneven inside deformation according to the outside one, this will increase heat build-up, rendering this rating useless.

The materials used in the construction of the tire: (to be detailed in the 4rth post)

Maximum specific load and working pressure figures:

The build Date:
 
This is a very important part. The 2511 numbers on the right are extremely important. They mean that this tire was manufacturer on the 25th week of 2011. Rubber compound degrades and fissures over time. A tire starts loosing it's properties after 3 years. Some countries have laws that prohibit a vendor from selling tires 6 years old, and most sellers recommend tire changes after 10years.
Still, is a sports car, it's not expected for a tire to live long, that means that you should NEVER have them over 6 years, as the compound will definitively not grip as well as intended and it will certainly have micro fissures, compromising integrity and making the tire tread shred under abuse.
My advice is to USE your tires... you'll enjoy your car better and keep your tires fresh.

Finally, the warnings: 
 
It's obvious that you should buy the tires for you rims and vice-versa...but its never a bad idea to explain that a tubeless tire with 17" steel belt, when stretched to 17,5 while mounting, the steel belt will be over it's elastic deformation limit and start plastic deformation, and worse in an uncontrolled stretching environment, allowing one part to stretch differently from the rest. Not only the tire will not return to it's previous size, but also the entire tire structure would be wrapped, creating vibration, twisting, heat build-up and eventually a catastrophic failure.

Hope you've enjoyed; next time I'll talk about the tread design.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Some of the best roads around my country

Some of the best ones
I use this one to test cars... Independently of the test, both engine, chassis, brakes and tires...this is a wonderful shakedown. I'll try to post a video soon.

This was once part of the "Rally of Portugal". Degraded safety conditions made the board remove this track from the rally. It's very tricky. During winter, some of the curves don't get a single ray of direct sun light, making the ice created during the dawn moisture, build up. Dangerous for the strange and it's taken many lives. But if you study it before thrashing down that road (and studying means every time you don't go there for more than a month) it's very amusing.

NEW -> Video of a drive through this road (on a SUV and with no audio due to kids in a bad mood at the bad)

This track of "estrada das beiras" killed a set of bake discs and Michelin energy tires in a Opel Tigra 1.4 in one pass. 
View Larger Map

The "ItinerĂ¡rio Principal 2" to Algarve is very picturesque in the summer. Want to enjoy a relaxed roof down drive on your convertible? start at 6Pm during summer and have your reflex camera ready to shoot. 
View Larger Map

This pass has only a number and no name. It's a wonderful road to drive in the winter. I normally do-it in the 24th and 26th on december. How should I picture it...like north wales in with a bit of twilight saga mist.

Former road stretches (now in poor safety conditions)
The "A2" to Algarve. Heavy trucks and poor (overpriced) build quality took the part on this in the first years, but it used to be a highway you could stretch your car to the very limit in very safe conditions. 
The video with my S2000 going all the way up to 260km/h was filmed here, when it was safe to go that fast.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why one should respect the tires - Understanding tires Part 1

This is the 1st of 5 posts about tires.
1(this) is about how important it is to understand tires and what to consider when buying them.
2 is about the tire measures and proportions one can see in the tire walls.
3 is about tread design
4 is about compound and structure
5 is about maintenance and repair

I've seen lot's of people driving around worrying about how their car looks, how polished it is, how lowered it is and just how much more horsepower they have after installing a muffler...but ignoring the rubber their 1000miglia rims are running on. Most of them drive on normal "street" tires and some even go the budget tire way.
I've also seen the average guy that squeezes all the buck to buy a BMW or VOLVO or SAAB, and then buy the 50€ plastic tire.

Tires are your connection to the ground...their the one that maintain you ON THE ROAD. It's pointless to spend 60.000€ on a car and then go cheap on the tires, eventually spending 10.000€ on a new front-end every other month!
This is one of several tire topics as these are important parts of you vehicle package, subject to a tremendous amount of stress, with maintenance need and normally the only thing that prevents you from crashing every 10 seconds on the road.

This first part goes towards tire choice.
There is a reason why manufacturers have several tire lines. Some are better in the dry, some in the wet, some are more comfortable, others more stiff... and that's not all; The compound, the tread pattern design, the side wall, the proportions, the wheels they are fitted to... and so on.

I've seen people chose tires because they look good, because they are cheap, because their best friend told them to, because the car had them as standard, etc etc etc. These are all bad and even worse reasons for tire choice.
You chose a tire following a checklist that should have an order similar to this:
1 - The weather you're driving it into
2 - The type of road and driving style you use them on
3 - The type of car
4 - The weight of the car
5 - The life time you expect for the tire
Now please keep in mind that I haven't even considered cost as the new front-end every other month costs a lot more.


About point 1 on the check-list
Some countries have extreme weather, creating a healthy habit of choice towards the conditions. Most people have (at least) 2 sets of tires that change according to the time of year (winter and summer tires). In Portugal this is very difficult to come across. I have this habit, but I also have a Honda S2000, so I respect weather and it's conditions...and survive that way.

About point 2 on the check-list 
I normally see tuned-up cars driving around on normal tires. This is a bad thing. The simple fact of lowering the car and not correcting the cambers will increase the load on the inner tire wall, making most tires unfit immediately as they'll be working all times under extreme deformation conditions.
Even if you don't change a thing in the car, most road cars come of the line with compromise tires. Far from being the best tires (most are the result of a protocol signed between big tire manufacturers and the car manufacturer). They, as most things on the car are chosen according to country and average driving habits and normally aimed for comfort and fuel economy.
Take this example:

video
This tire is brand new... it only has 200Km on it. The thing is that it's the STANDARD rear tire of a BMW 118D that was enjoyed to the maximum in a mountain b road.
It used to be like this:

So why is it like that? Because it's a standard comfortable all weather road tire.
It wasn't built to endure abuse like that and as a result, it didn't endure.
If you are driving hard, and in a road with degraded tarmac, this will happen to standard tires:
1 - The groves that will allow the tire to channel water out in the rain will become surface fracture points and LITERALLY enable the friction against the tarmac to torn chunks of rubber out of the tires as you can see in the picture.
2 - The soft compound rubber that allows your tire to grip even on cold weather will start to melt with the friction caused by heat, making the tire greasy and also creating that melting pattern you can also see in the picture that will later became rips.
3 - The comfortable and SOFT tire sidewall that deforms to absorb road irregularities will bend, reducing the amount of rubber that actually touches the ground and eventually will oval your tire profile leading to bad handling and eventually uneven wear punctures.

On the 3rd Checklist point - Car type.
Most cars around are FF (Front engined Front wheel drive). This makes the tire choice very difficult. The same tires have to be good putting the power on the ground and also steering the car. These are very different design orientations. Something I'll be talking about in the 3rd post about tires.
The FR (Front engined Rear wheel drive) and MR (Mid engined Rear wheel drive) cars are better in this matter. Some manufacturers even sell tire "Systems" instead of tire models like Pirelli's PZero system witch has the "assimectrico" (asymmetric) for the rear tires and "direccionale"(directional) for the front ones.
The AWD (All Wheel Drive) is probably the most odd. Some 4WD systems are fixed bias (meaning that the same amount of torque goes to the wheels every time)...but others behave like front or rear wheel drives until traction is lost an the bias shifts to the other wheels at that precise moment, returning to previous setting as the traction is restored.
Again, a topic for the 3rd and 4rth articles (better register to the blog if you really are interested).

On the 4rth Checklist point - Weight.
It's an issue to address in the 4rth article. But the rule of thumb is, the heavier the car, the more load you'll constantly put on the tires. This will then be related to tire lateral wall structure and tire compound. See ya in article nr4.

On the 5th Check-list point - Life time and wear.
It's a simple rule. If you have summer tires, as long as you buy a good tire (meaning that you'll have the same compound all the way into the tires life) it really doesn't matter much. The Slicker they are the more contact with the ground they have and the better they'll grip. This statement assumes the tire is good enough to maintain it's geometry and not bend under load.
However in terms of rain tires or all weather tires, than I'd suggest not to buy with wear resistance in mind. You need grooves to channel water out. If the tires wear fast, then you'll buy new ones fast and have new grooves. If they wear fast then the rubber compound grips better and that means that it will grip good even on the wet and cold.
So make your choice based on these points and avoid accidents.


So how did I choose my tires:
1st Portugal has some very hot and dry summers, and some wet with severe raining winters. Portugal is also a 3rd world country meaning that out roads are poorly built and the heavy rains will create large pools (sometimes authentic rivers crossing the road 5 meters wide).

These conditions mean that the tires will grip good and also wear a lot during summer, and during winter they'll be half-life and far from perfect to resist aquaplaning. Since I've got a 240Hp Rear Wheel drive car with little lock angle, no driver aids electronics and an explosive tendency, choosing rain tires is crucial to survive the winter.
That sealed part of my buying options. I should try to have a winter tire setup in my original Honda wheels, and a full dry tire setup to may 5zigen rims.

My car had these Bridgestone RE050A as standard.

You can understand how good it is in terms of grip not only for the compound (probably the best compound around in street performance tires) but also by the design that creates several lines of constant contact with the ground, especially the inside part of the tire (here to the left).
This design however is poor in terms of water flow towards the sides of the tire, something very important in aquaplaning situations.
These tires normally endure 30.000km before becoming illegally SLICK, but they are NOT suited for aquaplaning resistance after the 15.000Km. Hell they are not brilliant as new, so any wear will only make it worse.

So If I was to go extreme in tyre choice, that a full flow design should make up the winter choice. Two became an option.
1st the Toyo T1-R

2nd the Falken FK452


Both designs use heavy groves to flow water "out of the tire's way". The Toyo uses a central 100% contact band with a Zig-Zag'd design and adds lateral full 100% contact bands on each side of the tire. This will CLEARLY make it an excellent cornering tire, but this also means that the water being pulled from the inside will hit this wall and travel along it...and this in not so good when you try to prevent aquaplaning.
A good look at the Falken will show the same central 100% contact band (though it's area is around 75% of the 2 Toyo bands combined), and a flow oriented design all the way from the V grooves to the side of the tire without blockage. This clearly make the tire a lot more aquaplaning resistant.

The 1st choice was made. Falkens FK452 it is for the winter.

Now for the summer tire choice... well I was thinking of buying full race slicks, but then I came across these and the Toyo R888 was the choice made.

Some people have asked why didn't I stick with Bridgestone. Well, BS gives-me a 30.000km tire that is no good for aquaplaning, and clearly dangerous in the aquaplaning matter since it's half-life.
For the same money, I can buy 2 sets of Falken that will last 25.000km each and maintain a better aquaplaning resistance with 20.000km than the bridgestone with 15.000km.
And during summer, the R888 are in a different league and incomparably better than any road tire.



Next I'll be talking about tire sizes and all those references you can see on the tire wall.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tire Review - Yokohama A510


Cars tested with these tires:
- Ford Escort XR3i 1.8
- Ford Fiesta 1-25i Techno

Tests performed:
- On both cars all the 4 wheels had the same tire.
- On the fiesta I've also tested them at the rear with some BS RE720 at the front.

Dry grip:
- It's an old but good tire. It's clear from it's design that it was meant to be used in the dry. Not brilliant but soft enough to deliver good road holding while hot.

Wet grip:
- Not that good. The compound sure is meant to be used HOT and the wet tends to make that impossible.
- The difference in the compound was made very clear while driving the fiesta with both Bridgestone and these. The Bridgestones grip a lot better.

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Bad. The tire has very little flow and the grooves are not large or deep enough. Better drive slowly in the pouring rain.

Progressiveness:
- Very good. The let go in both wet or dry is progressive and gives good warning.
- I can remember a couple of controlled slides resulting in lift-off oversteer when I had the Potenzas at the front and yokohamas at the rear.

Integrity maintenance:
- Can't actually describe these feature. No real test was performed to evaluate this.

Compound:
- It's a soft rubber compound with little wear resistance and designed for hot operation.

Longevity:
- Not brilliant. If you use it in a FF car layout, and drive hard in the summer, the front tires will not endure long.

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are good enough to hold it straight, at least with light cars like the fiesta. The tire can go through hard bends keeping the contact patch all the way through.


Balance:
-  Not a single balance problem. The tires went through it's life with very little maintenance. Not the most even tire around, but it keeps it's shape.

Load Behaviour:
- Best used in FR or MR layouts. If you push it too hard with an AWD or FF car they will easily wear out.
- The heavier the car is, the worse this will be. Not a tire for powerful saloons.

Tire Review - Pirelli P-zero Rosso Directionalle


Pzero is a "tire system" meaning that the "directionalle" on the left is created for the front steering wheels, and the "assimetrico" on the right for the rear driving wheels.

Cars tested with these tires:
- Volvo S40 Mk2 2.0D  136ps, 340Nm.

Tests performed:
- I went through 1 set's of these.

Dry grip:
- Good tire. The compound has an excellent grip. It will grip better while hot, but the cold grip is good... for the first month. After that you get blueish smoke and the same amount of grip you find in a plastic wheel from a kid's car.
- Very good at cornering UNDER BRAKING... quite bad while cornering under acceleration. It's an all or nothing tire... The option of the assimetrico or directionalle is clear. These were made for FR cars.... but again it all turns into blueish smoke and no grip after the 1st month.
I decided to call-it a honeymoon tire. It's good... but doesn't last.

Wet grip:
- Under expectations but decent for the first month... after that you get no grip at all.

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Not tested. I decided to change the tires after 1month.

Progressiveness:
- Rough. It grips, than grips more... than warns very little.. than let's go progressively, but the transition from grip to drift is abrupt.
- After a month, they became very progressive since the grip was next none the transition was not that bad.

Integrity maintenance:
- Bad. Abuse-it and you'll find holes all over the tread created from chips that just rip-off.

Compound:
- It's a soft rubber compound for the first month... that you get plastic.

Longevity:
- The best and worse I've seen. Let me explain: The worse cause the rubber lasted for a month... the best because the plastic found under that rubber would probably last for life. Weird right? That's why I changed it.

Coherence:
- As Incoherent as it get's.
- Unless you corner braking and you have good grip (for the first month ONLY) caused by the crushing of the tire, it really give very little coherence.
- Corner under acceleration and you'll be forced to lift off....lift off and it grips too much and induces a spin.
- It's a good tire to test chassis quality as it will unsettle it easy.
- Probably due to sidewalls being too soft. I remember that the "ROSSO" label on the sidewall was gone after 3 or 4 days, meaning that it bends too much. That would also explain the grip under braking being so much better than under acceleration.

Balance:
- Didn't get that far. Trashed them after a month and a half or so.
- Badly build from factory I can recall a 70Gram counter weight on the wheel and several balancing iterations to get it right.

Load Behaviour:
- Unless it's in a straight line, or cornering while braking it's not a good tire... and even those are valid for a month.

Tire Review - Michelin Pilot Sport


Cars tested with these tires:
- Mazda MX5 Mk2 1.6i.

Tests performed:
- I went through 1 set's of these.

Dry grip:
- Good dry grip. Not brilliant, not bad.

Wet grip:
- Bad wet grip. I was constantly drifting on roundabouts.

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Poor. Don't drive in the pouring rain.

Progressiveness:
- Good in the dry... hell in the wet. The let go in dry is progressive and gives good warning. However in the wet it just let's go and never recovers.

Integrity maintenance:
- Didn't get that far since summer ended and the car became undriveable.

Compound:
- It's a rubber compound that needs weight AND warming before abusing.

Longevity:
- Didn't get that far since summer ended and the car became undriveable.

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are good. The tire can go through hard bends keeping the contact patch all the way through.
- Felt like a tire for heavier cars. Probably would hold better if it had 2 tones on top of it. So it's hard to say if it would still be coherent.

Balance:
-  Not a single balance problem. The tires came from factory so can't say how initial balance was.

Load Behaviour:
- Felt like a tire for heavy cars. The mx5 sure isn't a heavy car so I'll assume I didn't test this part right.

Tire Review - Continental Sport Contact 3


Cars tested with these tires:
- Volvo S40 Mk2 2.0D 136ps, 340Nm.

Tests performed:
- I went through 1 set's of these.

Dry grip:
- It's a good honest tire. The compound has a good grip. It will grip better while hot, but the cold grip decent.
- The dry cornering abilities have quite good.

Wet grip:
- Good wet grip. The compound clearly works right "off the line".
- The wet cornering was surprisingly good.
- Out of all the tires I've tested, its the one that shows less gap between dry and wet grip.

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Good. Not brilliant, but still very good. It's not a tire to run fast through a large water pool. But it does handle occasional small pools every now and then. Clearly a tire fit for a car WITH LSD.

Progressiveness:
- Good. Not brilliant but its progressive and gives good warning.

Integrity maintenance:
- Not it's strong point. You can abuse it all you want and it will wear evenly and with all it's parts, however the temperature range has it's limits.

Compound:
- Don't have that much info about the compound, but it's soft and grips good. The wear resistance is normal under normal use... abuse-it long enough and it get's greasy.

Longevity:
- Normal. Should endure more (like bridgestone for instance) if you take the price tag under the equation. 

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are thick but rather soft. The tire can go through hard bends keeping some of it's contact patch. The fact that it's more comfortable that a Bridgestone clearly shows here .
- It handles heavy cornering under acceleration decently...until it gets over it's temperature zone.

- Probably it's biggest fault. It you abuse-it and let it get too warm, it will get greasy and start slipping. Nitrogen it's a MUST with this tire if you what to drive it hard... and still you will find it's limits.

Balance:
-  Drive them hard enough and you will need to balance the tires. Very well balanced from factory.

Load Behaviour:
- A flaw. The tire clearly was not meant to be abused. Maybe it can hold abuse without loosing shape or getting greasy in a cold weather country, but not in a portuguese summer day.

Tire Review - Bridgestone Potenza S02


Cars tested with these tires:
- Opel Tigra Mk1 1.4i with 115hp, lowered and with aggressive front cambers.

Tests performed:
- I went through 2 set's of thes.

Dry grip:
- It's an old but good tire. The compound has a good honest grip. It will grip better while hot, but the cold grip is very respectable.

Wet grip:
- Good wet grip. The compound clearly works right "off the line".

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Excellent Probably one of the best I've tried. It's a real water pump, If you loose traction, and you don't have an LSD, the wheel spin resulting will clear water faster, making it regain grip very easily.
- I can remember a trip I had in the pouring rain, passing a road used by lot's of heavy loaded trucks (making it sulked and deformed, creating almost 2 continuous pools right where the wheels pass). I was literally fooling around in the water ignoring the fact that I was pulling out so much water, that the guy behind me (in a Volkswagen Sharan) was having the nightmare of it's life. When I pulled for gas he followed just to ask what was I running on. We was amazed how much water I was pulling out and why was I driving in the water while he had to drive on the road side to be able maintain grip.

Progressiveness:
- Good. The let go in both wet or dry is progressive and gives good warning.

Integrity maintenance:
- It's a very good tire. You can abuse it all you want and it will wear evenly and with all it's parts. I've made some very difficult drives passing some road-holes while cornering floored (enough to need alignment afterwards) and the tires pulled through.

Compound:
- It's a soft rubber compound with little wear resistance. Not the best compound form BS in this measure, but very grippy.

Longevity:
- Not brilliant. If you use it in a FF car layout, and drive hard in the summer, the front tires will not endure long.

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are very good. The tire can go through hard bends keeping the contact patch all the way through.
- The compound is also very stable and even if you decide to run a mountain pass the entire day long, they will wear, they will get hot, but no grease will sweat out of it... it will grip all the way up the temperature range.

Balance:
-  Not a single balance problem. The tires went through it's life with no maintenance at all. Very well balanced from factory.

Load Behaviour:
- Best used in FR or MR layouts. If you push it too hard with an AWD or FF car they will easily wear out.
- The heavier the car is, the worse this will be. However, the tire will endure heavy and powerful cars with ease...just wear faster.

Tire Review - Bridgestone Potenza S02 Pole Position


Cars tested with these tires:
- Opel Tigra Mk1 1.4i with 115hp, lowered and with aggressive front cambers.

Tests performed:
- I went through 1 set's of these.

Dry grip:
- It's an old but excelent tire. The compound has an excellent grip. It will grip better while hot, but the cold grip is still better than most of it's competitors hot.

Wet grip:
- Good wet grip. The compound clearly works right "off the line".

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Excellent Probably one of the best I've tried. It's a real water pump, If you loose traction, and you don't have an LSD, the wheel spin resulting will clear water faster, making it regain grip very easily.

Progressiveness:
- Good. The let go in both wet or dry is progressive and gives good warning.

Integrity maintenance:
- It's brilliant. You can abuse it all you want and it will wear evenly and with all it's parts.

Compound:
- It's a soft rubber compound with some silica and carbon in it. The wear resistance was very improved from the S02 without loosing grip. By far the best compound from BS.

Longevity:
- Brilliant. The best grip with the best wear resistance money can buy. The only problem would be it's price. I've switched from Bridgestone to Falken and Toyo because of the price. I can use a set of Bridgestones for 30.000Km, or spend the same amount of money in 2 sets of Falken or Toyo and do 20.000Km each. That's the ONLY reason.

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are very good. The tire can go through hard bends keeping the contact patch all the way through.
- The compound is also very stable and even if you decide to run a mountain pass the entire day long, they will wear, they will get hot, but no grease will sweat out of it... it will grip all the way up the temperature range.

Balance:
-  Not a single balance problem. The tires went through it's life with no maintenance at all. Very well balanced from factory.

Load Behaviour:
- Spectacular load behaviour. The "PolePosition" compound makes quite a difference.
- The tire will endure heavy and powerful cars without a sweat.

Tire Review - Bridgestone Potenza S03 Pole Position


Cars tested with these tires:
- Audi A3 1.9Tdi 130ps, 310Nm with sports suspension.

Tests performed:
- I went through 1 set's of these.

Dry grip:
- It's a brilliant tire. The compound has an excellent grip. It will grip better while hot, but the cold grip is still better than most of it's competitors hot.
- The dry cornering abilities have improved quite a lot since the S02.

Wet grip:
- Good wet grip. The compound clearly works right "off the line".
- The wet cornering was improved a lot. I would guess it's from the new tread design.

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Good. Not brilliant, but still very good. It's not a tire to run fast through a large water pool. But it does handle occasional small pools every now and then. Clearly a tire fit for a car WITH LSD.

Progressiveness:
- Good. The let go in both wet or dry is progressive and gives good warning.

Integrity maintenance:
- It's brilliant. You can abuse it all you want and it will wear evenly and with all it's parts.
- After a good mountain drive, the tire will smell like burning candles, but it will grip better than even and will not show grease at all.

Compound:
- It's a soft rubber compound with some silica and carbon in it. The wear resistance was very improved from the S02 without loosing grip. By far the best compound from BS.

Longevity:
- Brilliant. The best grip with the best wear resistance money can buy. The only problem would be it's price. I've switched from Bridgestone to Falken and Toyo because of the price. I can use a set of Bridgestones for 30.000Km, or spend the same amount of money in 2 sets of Falken or Toyo and do 20.000Km each. That's the ONLY reason.

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are very good. The tire can go through hard bends keeping the contact patch all the way through.
- It handles heavy cornering under acceleration better than the S02.
- The compound is also very stable and even if you decide to run a mountain pass the entire day long, they will wear, they will get hot, but no grease will sweat out of it... it will grip all the way up the temperature range.

Balance:
-  Not a single balance problem. The tires went through it's life with no maintenance at all. Very well balanced from factory.

Load Behaviour:
- Spectacular load behaviour. The "PolePosition" compound makes quite a difference.
- The tire will endure heavy and powerful cars without a sweat.

Tire Review - Toyo T1-R


Cars tested with these tires:
- Honda Civic EP3 1.7d
- Asterio Roadster Prototype roiling chassis 2.2D 250ps/500nm

Tests performed:
- Hard drive in the civic
- Track drive in the Asterio

Dry grip:
- It's a brilliant tire. The compound has an excellent grip. It will grip better while hot, but the cold grip is still better than most of it's competitors hot. Far better than it's predecessor "the T1S".

Wet grip:
- Not tested

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Not tested

Progressiveness:
- Good. The let go in dry is progressive and gives good warning.
- Not tested in the wet.

Integrity maintenance:
- It's brilliant. You can abuse it all you want and it will wear evenly and with all it's parts.
- The asterio was running on track tarmac for a day... and no problems at all.

Compound:
- not enough information on this

Longevity:
- didn't get there yet

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are very good. The tire can go through hard bends keeping the contact patch all the way through.
-  The 2 side 100% contact bands probably make quite a difference. (but I suspect that would spoil aquaplaning resistance).
- The compound is also very stable and even if you decide to hotlaps in the track for a day, they will wear, they will get hot, but no grease will sweat out of it... it will grip all the way up the temperature range.

Balance:
-  unknown

Load Behaviour:
- Spectacular load behaviour on light cars.
- Further testing needed to for opinion on the rest

UPDATE:
A picture of the Asterio rolling chassis with the toyo's fitted during the hotlaps day

Tire Review - Bridgestone Potenza RE050A Pole Position


Cars tested with these tires:
- Volvo S40 mk2 2.0D 136ps, 340Nm
- Honda S2000 AP1 Mk2 06/2004 240ps

Tests performed:
- I went through 1 set's of these in each car.

Dry grip:
- It's a brilliant tire. The compound has an excellent grip. It will grip better while hot, but the cold grip is still better than most of it's competitors hot.
- The dry cornering abilities have improved quite a lot since the S02, and the standard 050 for that matter. The inside of the 050A has a100% contact patch band half the width of the central one. The 050 lacks that and it shows while cornering.
- This tire will EXCEL in an aggressive camber setup car ;)
- Probably one on the best BS I've had.

Wet grip:
- IMPRESSIVE grip. I remember the S2000 running the rear tires almost slick, ans still corner fast with a LOT of grip and confidence. The compound clearly works right "off the line".
- The wet cornering is do die for.

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Good. Not brilliant, but still very good....if it's new. Drive-it half life and you'll end up in a wall.
- It's not a tire to run fast through a large water pool. But it does handle occasional small pools every now and then. Clearly a tire fit for a car WITH LSD, thought It's a tire I would buy in the end of summer, making it live through the winter with enough tread... and then use it to the metal frame during summer.

Progressiveness:
- Good. The let go in both wet or dry is progressive and gives good warning.

Integrity maintenance:
- It's brilliant. You can abuse it all you want and it will wear evenly and with all it's parts.
- After a good mountain drive, the tire will smell like burning candles, but it will grip better than even and will not show grease at all.

Compound:
- It's a soft rubber compound with some silica and carbon in it. The wear resistance was very improved from the S02 without loosing grip. By far the best compound from BS.

Longevity:
- Brilliant. The best grip with the best wear resistance money can buy. The only problem would be it's price. I've switched from Bridgestone to Falken and Toyo because of the price. I can use a set of Bridgestones for 30.000Km, or spend the same amount of money in 2 sets of Falken or Toyo and do 20.000Km each. That's the ONLY reason.

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are very good. The tire can go through hard bends keeping the contact patch all the way through.
- It handles heavy cornering under acceleration better than the S02.
- The compound is also very stable and even if you decide to run a mountain pass the entire day long, they will wear, they will get hot, but no grease will sweat out of it... it will grip all the way up the temperature range.

Balance:
-  Not a single balance problem. The tires went through it's life with no maintenance at all. Very well balanced from factory.

Load Behaviour:
- Spectacular load behaviour. The "PolePosition" compound makes quite a difference.
- The tire will endure heavy and powerful cars without a sweat.

Tire Review - Bridgestone Potenza RE050 RFT


Cars tested with these tires:
- Volvo S40 mk2 2.0d 136ps, 340Nm

Tests performed:
- I went through 1 set's of these.

Dry grip:
- It's a brilliant tire. The compound has an excellent grip. It will grip better while hot, but the cold grip is still better than most of it's competitors hot.
- The dry cornering abilities are less than expected probably due to extra thick reinforced sidewalls of the RunFlatTire reference, but also the design. The 050 is a mirror design, the 050A reference is only 50% like the 050, but the inside part runs a full 100% contact band, improving cornering grip.

Wet grip:
- Good wet grip. The compound clearly works right "off the line".
- The wet cornering was good but bumps made it slide. Again I would suspect the RunFlatTire wall thickness is to blame.

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Good. Not brilliant, but good. It's not a tire to run fast through a large water pool. But it does handle occasional small pools every now and then. Clearly a tire fit for a car WITH LSD.

Progressiveness:
- If The Pirelli is the "Honeymoon tire", this is the "premature ejaculation tire."
- You feel that the tire CAN grip further...but the RFT sidewalls are not letting it form to the road and that's just frustrating.

Integrity maintenance:
- It's brilliant. You can abuse it all you want and it will wear evenly and with all it's parts. HEY... you can shoot them and still drive off... It's a RunFlatTire that is so hard that the compound has trouble working out it's grip... can't get more robust that this.

Compound:
- It's a soft rubber compound with some silica and carbon in it. The wear resistance was very improved from the S02 without loosing grip....if only the RFT allowed some forming!

Longevity:
- Brilliant. The best grip with the best wear resistance money can buy. The only problem would be it's price. I've switched from Bridgestone to Falken and Toyo because of the price. I can use a set of Bridgestones for 30.000Km, or spend the same amount of money in 2 sets of Falken or Toyo and do 20.000Km each. That's the ONLY reason.
These ones, I drove until one blew... than I drove it to the show and replaced it.

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are very STRING... but NOT Good. The wall kill the tire here by being too stiff and spoiling road hold ability.

Balance:
- Not a single balance problem. The tires went through it's life with no maintenance at all. Very well balanced from factory.
- Sadly It's coherent in a straight line only... although the compound has the ability to do more in the bends.

Load Behaviour:
- Spectacular load behaviour. But them under your 4tones mercedes and remove the air from it, and you still can drive away. It's ONLY good for stunts like that though.

Tire Review - Bridgestone Potenza RE720


Cars tested with these tires:
- Ford Fiesta 1.25i techno

Tests performed:
- I went through 3 set's of these.

Dry grip:
- It's a brilliant tire. The compound has an excellent grip. It will grip better while hot, but the cold grip is still better than most of it's competitors hot.

Wet grip:
- Good grip. Much better than it's competitors.

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Good. Not brilliant, but still very good.

Progressiveness:
- Good. The let go in both wet or dry is progressive and gives good warning.

Integrity maintenance:
- Good. You can abuse it all you want and it will wear evenly and with all it's parts.
- Take it to the tarmac around a circuit and you'll round-it all over the corners, but hey it doesn't cost the same as it's big "potenza" brothers... you can't expect the same.

Compound:
- It's a soft rubber compound with some silica and carbon in it.

Longevity:
- Good. But looks like it's made for light cars.

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are good. The tire can go through hard bends keeping part of the contact patch all the way through.
- If the tarmac grips well the walls will bend a little and create excessive wear in the tread sides.

Balance:
-  Not a single balance problem. The tires went through it's life with no maintenance at all. Very well balanced from factory.

Load Behaviour:
- Only tested in light cars. It handles load very well, but judging from the side walls behavior and excessive lateral wear, I wouldn't recommend it for a heavy car.

Tire Review - Toyo R888


Cars tested with these tires:
- Honda S2000 AP1 Mk2 06/2004 240ps on 5zigen GN+ Proracer extreme offset wheels

Tests performed:
- I went through 1 set's of these.

Dry grip:
- UAUUUUUU. Grips Like nothing on earth. Makes you think Why would you need brakes for.

Wet grip:
- Better that most tires around, but it feels bad once you get used the the massive dry grip. But don't get fooled. The compound grips brilliantly even while cold.

Aquaplaning resistance:
- None whatsoever. It's a trackday tire, and the groves in it are meant for wet drive... not for pools.

Progressiveness:
- Good. The let go in both wet or dry is progressive and gives good warning. I don't call it excellent as the grip limmit is so high, that the let go is kinda rough.

Integrity maintenance:
- It's brilliant. You can abuse it all you want and it will wear evenly and with all it's parts. It's built for racing, so abuse is it's middle name.

Compound:
- It's a very soft rubber compound with some silica and carbon in it. The wear resistance is very bad if you compare to a road tire... but considering it is not, the wear is actually very good.

Longevity:
- Doesn't know the meaning of.

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are very good. The tire can go through hard bends keeping a perfect contact patch all the way through.
- Gives a new meaning to cornering.
- The compound is also very stable and even if you decide to run a mountain pass the entire day long, they will wear, they will get hot, but no grease will sweat out of it... it will grip all the way up the temperature range.

Balance:
-  Not a single balance problem. The tires went through it's life with no maintenance at all. Not so well balanced from factory. Some counter weights were needed. This was even more noticeable because I was using 5zigen racing rims witch are made to perfection.

Load Behaviour:
- Spectacular load behaviour. I should have a tag saying "please abuse-me".
- The tire will endure powerful cars without a sweat.
- Don't use them hard with a clutch ending it's life span, of you'll have to change the cluth sooner than expected.

Tire review - Falken FK452


Cars tested with these tires:
- Honda S2000 AP1 Mk2 06/2004 240ps

Tests performed:
- I went through 1 set's of these.

Dry grip:
- It's a good tire. The compound has an excellent grip. It will grip better while hot, but the cold grip is still better than most of it's competitors hot.

Wet grip:
- Good grip. Not as good as dry grip, but still very composed.
- The wet cornering is good, but the bridgestone Re050a eclipses it easily

Aquaplaning resistance:
- Very Good. Excellent handling of water and feed back of what's doing. Probably the closest thing to the Potenza S02 I've driven yet.

Progressiveness:
- Very good in the dry, honest but abrutp in the wet.
- The dry let-go is very composed and let's enjoy slides in safety and control. Probably not as efficient as the Potenza Re050A, but a lot more fun to fool around.
- The wet let go is honest, however the grip-to-drift transition is too rougth and scares you the first couple of times it happen... once drifting, it will show you a sweet spot that you'll find difficult to explore with most tires. Its the tire to test a chassis nature. Very good and responsive.

Integrity maintenance:
- It's brilliant. You can abuse it all you want and it will wear evenly and with all it's parts.
- Unlike most Falkens, it's quality rubber all the way to the metal threads. No plastic, no shity quality stuff, just good rubber.

Compound:
- It's a soft rubber compound with some silica and carbon in it. Decent wear resistance. The price tag clearly makes you consider 2 sets of these over 1 set of bridgestones.

Longevity:
- Decent. I've switched from Bridgestone to Falken and Toyo because of the price. I can use a set of Bridgestones for 30.000Km, or spend the same amount of money in 2 sets of Falken or Toyo and do 20.000Km each. That's the ONLY reason.

Coherence:
- The tires side-walls are very good. The tire can go through hard bends keeping the contact patch all the way through.
- It handles heavy cornering under acceleration very well and the drift grip is better than the Bridgestone's
- The compound is also very stable and even if you decide to run a mountain pass the entire day long, they will wear, they will get hot, but no grease will sweat out of it... it will grip all the way up the temperature range.

Balance:
-  THE only problem with them. Abuse and you'll feel vibration afterwards, making you go to the tire shop for balancing every now and then.
These tires require maintenance. Poorly balanced from factory.

Load Behaviour:
- Good load behaviour.
- The tire will endure heavy and powerful cars without a sweat...and will probably need less maintenance.

UPDATE:
Some pictures of the tires with over 20.000km of pure abuse. It's clear that the rubber is good stuff all the way.




Test Drive - Ford Focus CMax 2011 1.6TDCi 115 Review

Seems like I'm having a hand full with test's to the MiniVan world.
This time it's the 2011 C-Max from ford. I really loved this test as I had a pretty good opinion about the Picasso and this would be the only one on the market targeted precisely against the C4 Picasso Aquiles Heel.

Since the MK4 fiesta that each and every Ford has a brilliant chassis as it's base. Hell the Focus C-Max Mk1 chassis is so good that it became the basis for the MK2 Volvo S40, the Mazda3 and the Mk2 Focus. So this test, to me is like a probation to the Picasso. You see the Picasso is brilliant at being what it should be - a school bus that mum and dad like to drive, and it has little defects in conception that are directly related to the comfort it has. This, being a Ford, will probably be much more interesting and involving to drive...but can it perform in the areas the Picasso excels?!

The Looks





It looks life a big Fiesta, and that means that comparing it to it's competitors, it wins clearly. The car is beautiful and apart from one or to angles that don't look good when stretched from the Fiesta, the overall is pleasant enough to wear these bright yellow and pale green colours without making me sick.

Interior design is also very good. It's solid and well built, and the materials feel a little cheaper than the Picasso's, but well within the respectable line.


Unlike the Picasso, this has a console design that involves both driver ans passenger from all sides. You feel part of the car, and the driver is in control of driving, while climate and radio is accessible to both the typical cockpit style layout. The Picasso has a different approach, everything is centred and away from both passenger and driver, enough for on to be able to switch from passenger side to driver side without getting out of the car. I call this the living room style, opposed to the cockpit style.
As a side effect (benefit to some like me that prefer the cockpit design) this one has NO fridge...guess you'll be drinking cold beer where you should be drinking in the first place...home or pub ;)

The rear seats are good. They clearly have no chance against the Picasso's. They don't adjust the back's angle, nor they independently move front and backwards independently, however they are independent and this one pulls a different trick: you can remove the central seat and diagonally slide the side ones back and centre, improving leg room in a good 15cm and making the ride more comfortable for the rear passengers in terms of sitting position. However this will make the relative position toward the front-seat back-mounted folding tables awkward.
Talking about folding tables, the ones in the Picasso fold down and give you individual reading lights. The C-Max ones fold up without locking mechanism (meaning that a heavy book or laptop will automatically close-it). It also lacks individual lights, meaning that you can only use the standard illuminations ones in the roof.
Air-Condition is also "standard" central console extension diffuser like any normal car. The Picasso also excels here giving you B-Pillar mounted individual A.C. control.
The seat fabric is less spartan that the Picasso, and the seat density is also "cheap" compared to the Picasso "living room stile sofa"; however the ones in the C-Max are decent and will get the job done...just not in the same style.

So till here, no news. The Picasso is the clear winner in comfort terms, this however is not bad at all. Far better than the Nissan Qashqai, and in direct level of comfort with the Peugeot 3008...On to the long waited DRIVE.

The drive of this one is different from any other in the mini-van, suv or cross-over class. Different as in it will out-maneuver most sedans out there. It's so good that it competes out of it's league and wins most of times.
Weird as it might seem, this big thing handles much like the normal focus sedan or station-wagon...brilliant.
It's not a direct car to take to the limits, however it's very honest and has plenty feedback. In a hard bend, the C-Max feels like it's going to start to roll (you can feel it's massive weight) but than it feels like it's starting to lower and lower and lower like it's transforming into a normal car...but it doesn't and you can still seat high, however instead of feeling you shoulders tilt, you feel it in your bottom. It's weird cause your brain tells you that all the steel around you should rotate higher than it actually is, but fact is that it does pull this out beautifully and you keep on pushing. You can't even get close to this with a Picasso. So here the Ford does much beyond a pure excel... the ford eclipses everything else out there and some from the sedan league.
What does this do to the ride comfort... not that much. Sure it's not as soft as the Picasso, but it's far better than the Nissan Qashqai and the 3008. You see, if you accelerate and then lift off, you feel the suspension extend and duck, so it's not been stiffened beyond reasonable  (for the school bus evidently). I would bet into some net design for the Stabilizer bars and mounts, and a damn big thickness on those too.
The steering is a bit light for my taste, but it get's heavier with speed and it's at the same level of the Volvo S40 mk2 electric power steering. You have plenty feed back and very reduced bump-steer (something hard to do with this type of steering assistance).

The pedals are soft...a bad thing but since these cars are made to be driven by mums that after letting the kids off at school, also go to work on high-heels; I'm betting into a By-design more than anything else.

The gear-box is just a joy. Precise and with a soft but robust feel, with the perfect weight. Slotting in gears is easy and with a very connected but not metallic feel...very very pleasant. One of those that make you say I'll never go automatic...EVER.

There is something that I absolutely hated about this car, just as much as I hated in the 207 or the Picasso...The A-Pilar's position relative to the driver's position creates huge blind spots. It's a design problem! See today cars are a lot EGG shaped. That means that the roof line curves through the mid section all the way into the A-pilars, and these then extend all the way to the front of the car. This places the windshield close to the engine and it's A-pilar go with it. It makes sense as much as impact collision protection is improved with the car looks; but it will create a big blind-spot right were you need to be looking through at an intersection, or approaching a cross-walk.
On this matter I just love an Idea form Volvo (it had to be) when they presented the C30 prototype. It's A-Pilars were a triangulated structure filled with transparent plastic resin... it's more and more important to have it if cars keep being shaped like this.

The Let-go and sliding of this car is also very composed, however you feel it's not to be abused. The Stability control allows some tail slide before cutting in, and this is good cause you don't want all that steel to grip, grip ,grip than let go into a madness of rubber scream. I was expecting that all that grip would make a violent let go, but it doesn't. It's composed and progressive, however it doesn't bend the laws of physics and it is and feels heavy. I've found my self correcting if latter than I should and getting a tap of the stability control system (I clearly am too used to sport cars). Don't get me wrong, It handles beautifully, but the feel it feeds back to the driver will "look like" it's a car, but the displacement mass is a lot heavier than a car.
Have you ever tried to slide a station-wagon into a roundabout doing a Scandinavian flick? Imagine you do that once with the boot empty, and then a second time with the boot filled with lead! The car feels like a car but the second inertial slide will be more difficult to counter-steer and you'll have to do-it earlier that the previous time...That's how this feels on the limit - like a great car with a boot filled with leader.

Now if you read the Picasso Article, you could argue that I tested a 2.0Hdi automatic and this is a 1.6Hdi manual... Well The 2.0 option in the picasso is robotized 6speed manual ONLY and if you read the article...it's BAD.
The 2.0 picasso will pull to 200km/h with struggle... this little 1.6 is less powerful and you feel like you need to push it harder if you want a fast start, but it will pull all the way to 195km/h and it will struggle just the same as the Picasso to get there. The thing is that the picasso will be floating around lanes at speeds over 150-160km/h, while this baby will feel much like a car and handle highway bends at that speed without a fuss.

The consumption of this PSA HDi sourced 1.6TDCi Duratorq Diesel unit, remapped to 115bhp and 240Nm is quite good. In town it will average to 6.9 to 7 liters/100km, but take it to the road and see this lower to 6,2...and if you don't reset the computer, a 300km city drive together with a 1000km 50% mountain road - 50% highway, you'll end up with 6.7 combined. That's a 1.6 pulling all that steel and it still manages sub 7 combined. Very good.

The Body options.



Since You have the Picasso and the Grand Picasso, here you can also have the C-Max and the Grand C-Max.

Differences? None. Both are marginally bigger outside in the Grand version, both will have 7 seats in the Grand version, both will have no boot in the Grand version with the 2 boot seats up...and finally, both will be a BAD BAD choice in the Grand version as the 2 rear passengers will be sitting with their head against the glass and making their spine the car's crumple zone.
It's simple: need 7 seats? buy an S-Max or a C8.

The features
This car came with Driver packII and parking sensors. Meaning?
Well instead of 4 rear parking sensors every car has today, or 4 rear + 4 front some cars have today, this has 10! 4 rear, 4 frontal and 2 front side sensors. Now this could mean it's very large and it could be difficult to park in small places. And it would be quite an assumption...it's as large as a Volvo XC90.
But it's purpose is beyond that. You see this car is capable of assisting you in parallel parking.
Once you find a zone you want to park to, you press the "park assist" button and the car will instruct you to drive forward "slowly" with your park signal on. The car will be sensing the front side sensor of the side you selected to park with your turning light until it finds a space that will fit. Then it will command you to stop, let-go off the steering wheel and reverse slowly...and it will steer the car into the slot. If it's very tight, then it will ask you to stop, slot in first gear and slowly move forward while it steers again. Nice feature if you can't parallel park, but you can't rush it or it will miss calculate things.

Another thing is the integrated car stereo, air con and Bluetooth system. You see on the right side of your steering wheel, there is a voice activated button you press to command the system. Speaking in your home language through the integrated hands-free phone microphone, you can tune radio, skip cd tracks, choose the air con temperature and ask the Bluetooth module to connect to up to 6 of your phones, and call someone on the list.

Overall 
A serious competitor to the Picasso. The sales around these 2 will come down to the driver.
The sports car driver that see's it self forced to buy a family car will go for the C-Max, while the older guy with lots of back-pain and constantly under painkillers will opt for the Picasso.
Me? I'd have none, but in need for the seats and space, the C-Max would be the choice.