Cooper Zeon RS3-A Review & Rating
- Dry and wet traction
- Cornering grip
- Steering response and tire stability
- Deep snow traction
There’s no doubt that all-season tires are the most popular choice among vehicle owners today. Why is that? Because they give good performance in any weather conditions and save the cost of maintaining – and storing, which is also a concern for many people – two sets of tires and rims. Their versatility has often come at a cost though, and part of that cost is generally performance that doesn’t match that of a dedicated summer tire. This has affected the owners of higher performance cars more than most, but it’s been seen as an inevitable result of the compromises required to make an all-season tire.
Cooper are trying to change that, though. Their new Zeon RS3-A is a genuine all-season tire designed for ultra-high performance on sports coupes and sedans. Available for rims from 16 to 20 inches, and with aspect ratios down to 35, expect to see these on a lot of higher powered BMWs and Audis. With a speed rating of W – good to 168mph – there aren’t many performance vehicles they don’t match.
Cooper have applied their latest design features to the RS3-A, including 3D micro-sipes right across the width of the tread. The tread pattern itself is asymmetric, maximizing the size of the contact patch. The small sipes put more rubber in contact with the road at all times, so compared to many all-season tires the Zeon has an edge in dry conditions.
Of course all those little sipes have a role to play in wet conditions, too. Individually they’re small, but there are a lot of them and together they can transport a lot of water away from the contact patch. The two broad, deep circumferential grooves then clear it easily away, so grip is maintained on wet roads. In total there are four such grooves, but two of them are much wider than average and this seems to pay off.
Cornering – Steering
This is simply one of the best-cornering tires we’ve tested this year. Unlike many newer tires it doesn’t have a continuous center rib, a feature that’s become popular as an aid to cornering performance. The blocks on the shoulders and one intermediate rib are partly fused though, and the absence of full-depth sipes may be adding some lateral support here. However it works, and the results are highly impressive. If you drive a performance sedan and want to make good use of its power and handling these are tires you need to seriously consider.
The Zeon seems to use a relatively soft compound for the tread, and this makes them very capable on ice. The micro-sipes also create a very large number of cutting edges, so when there’s light snow on the ground the tires bite effortlessly and maintain traction much better than a lot of high performance designs can manage. Grip does start to fade as the snow gets deeper, but this is an issue with most all-season tires.
The Coopers probably aren’t helped here by the shoulder design. They’re solid and very stable, but the blocks aren’t aggressive enough to do well in deeper snow. That’s an inevitable result of being built for high speed handling, though, and they’re not actually bad – they’re just not snow tires.
Ride Comfort – Road Noise
The Zeon RS3-A is designed for up-market sedans and coupes, and when it comes to road surface distractions they offer all the refinement that drivers of these vehicles could want. The first thing you don’t notice when you get moving is the road noise. There’s practically none. Cooper credits this to the fused block design, offset shoulder and the design of the grooves.
Ride quality is also class-leading. These are absolutely one of the smoothest tires on the market. We’ve driven on a lot of all-season tires, but this ranks among the best for all-around ride performance.
The Zeon RS3-A is too new for there to be much data available about tread wear yet, but it does carry a UTQG rating of 500. This means you should see about 50,000 miles, which is reasonable if not outstanding for a high performance tire like this model.
To some extent winter performance and tread life are a trade-off, and if you want good handling in the colder months you might be prepared to pay the price in slightly shorter tire life. Bear in mind that a 500 rating is actually good; it’s just that there are a few tires with better ones available.
One slight let-down if you will is the 40,000 mile tread life warranty. We don’t think anything less than 50,000 miles is really adequate on a high quality tire. One thing to beware of is that the warranty drops to 20,000 miles if you’re using different sized tires on the front and rear axles.