So I finally replaced the Michelin Pilot Sport AS3+ that came on my 2012 Jetta due to a chunk of tread the size of a finger departing the tire (guessing road damage) and causing as slow leak. The tires were installed not too long after car was turned in to VW dieselgate buyback and the car sat on them while stored. They did not have the typical dry rot cracking or tire browning but wet traction was pretty poor even after putting quite a few thousand miles on them.
While I prefer Michelin tires in general they can be pricey when doing all 4. When I had my MB E350 I was able to try out Barum tires (same model tire as I just put on Jetta) and they were actually VERY good for the short time I had them on that car until it was totaled. Before I pulled the trigger on them with the Benz I did a lot of research and learned that Barum is a sub-brand of Continental and their tires are very well regarded in Europe but stateside only sold at Discount Tire as a value option.
I was internally debating between just slapping another set of Michelin Pilot Sport AS3+ on at $147/tire or trying the Barum again at $75/tire. Don't really road trip my 2012 much at all, its mainly all city driving, never stray much further then 10-15 miles from home and comfort and noise are a priority for me vs sporty handling. If I was flush with cash yeah it would have been Michelin all the way, unfortunately that is not reality so the more conservative part of my brain told me to go with the Barums.Specs - 225/45R17 (Barum Bravuris 3HM vs Michelin Pilot Sport AS3+)
OTD Price (including road hazard) - $458 (Michelin - $807)
Tread Warranty - 40k miles (Michelin - 45k) .
Tread and Trac/Temp Specs - 420 A/A (Michelin - 500 AA/A)
Tire weight - 19lbs (Michelin 25lbs)Pros:
Value - At nearly ½ the price of the Michelins but with the backing of the Continental brand I cannot complain one bit. Despite having a lower tread warranty it still is ½ the price which will buy almost another set of Barums for the same price of the Michelins.
Comfort/Quiet - I know I am comparing some nearly dry rotted 5 year old Michelins to a new tire but the difference was extremely noticeable. Despite same tire size the Barums looks to have more sidewall and take bumps, ruts and potholes much better than the Michelins.
Weight - When I was comparing I noted most tires varied about 1-3lbs +/- each other. When I saw the Barums were a whopping 6lbs lighter than the Pilot Sports my mouth dropped. Unsprung weight and rotational weight has a lot of negative drawbacks (fuel economy, ride comfort, performance, handling). I cannot comment on handling improvements as I don't push my car crazy hard. I will say that steering feel has gotten much lighter at parking lot speeds (see negative below), car does not feel as reluctant to move from a standing start and hitting regular road craters is not such an affair as previously (but that may be attributed to the comfort noted above).
Traction - Huge improvement. Again the Michelins were old and sat on the car while it was in TDI purgatory so take that into account. Michelins - matting it from a stop in dry conditions would get a little wheel spin once the torque peak hit, in wet I could not pull any evasive acceleration maneuvers because they would just spin like you were on ice activating the traction control and ASR quickly shutting down the party - it was downright dangerous at points when trying to cross traffic, merge, etc. Barums - matting it from a stop in the dry might get a tire squawk or two, wet might have the car clawing for traction but not enough to get the ASR reeling things in. I think ~230 lb/ft of torque running through just front wheels is getting to the limits of what a normal FWD car can handle. Cons:
Sidewall - Michelin makes some very visually attractive sidewalls. Barum that is apparently not a priority, these are not tires you will look at and be like 'oh thats a good looking tire'. All sorts of weird geometric triangles and horrible font that make them look like some Chinese knockoffs.
Steering feel - Not sure if it is the lighter weight of the tires or just the difference in the tires but the low speed steering feel has lightened considerably. The weight of the steering wheel was good with the Michelins, but with the Barums it turned a little too light for my tastes - not objectionable by any means but I was happy with how it was previously and I prefer a heavier steering feel.
Handling - I don't know if I would call this a con as again I don't push my car too hard. The handling probably softened about 5-10% vs the Michelins - but that is probably to be expected going from a High Performance to Touring tire. Comfort and noise aspects more than makeup for any loss in handling performance.Overall:
My second set of Barums and initial impressions after ~700 miles are excellent. It is a very good value tire backed by a well respected brand (Continental). From what I understand it is only available from Discount Tire and I have been a customer of theirs for close to 15 years because their continually higher performance than other chains.
Link to specsBarum Bravuris 3HM