There are many car enthusiasts that opt for high-performance tires when the time comes to replace the factory-installed touring tires. The thinking behind is that they will get much better handling, which in reality is very true. However, most high-performance tires are also much less comfortable than grand-touring tires and produce a lot more noise on the highway. In no time, the same people that opted for these tires feel sorry for not installing grand-touring tires again. Luckily, there are some high-performance tires that will retain the ride quality of grand-touring tires, while giving you better handling in almost every respect.
Such tire is the Firestone Firehawk AS. Designed as an all-season high-performance tire, the Firehawk AS is aimed at drivers who value better responsiveness in the corners but also don’t want to sacrifice the comfort levels of their vehicles. More precisely, this tire is aimed at people that own sporty sedans and sporty coupes like the BMW 3-Series and 4-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, C-Class Coupe, and A-Class Sedan, Audi A4 and A5, Lexus IS and RC, Infiniti Q50, and Q60, and Acura ILX and TLX. You might also consider this tire if you own a hot hatchback such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST, but not very powerful versions like the Golf R, Focus RS, or Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG. The Firehawk is available in sizes ranging from 15-20 inches in diameter (rim size), 185- and 275-mm tread width, and 40 to 65 sidewall height.
In other words, this means that the Firehawk AS is not designed to offer the best handling performance, but to offer a combination of sporty handling in most conditions and comfortable ride quality. Some of its main competitors are the Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S, Yokohama AVID Envigor, Goodyear Eagle GT, and Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS, all of which are very popular within the enthusiast community. Let’s see how the Firestone Firehawk AS compares to those tires in this detailed review where we cover all aspects of the tire. Before we do that, let’s see what Firestone has to say about their all-season high-performance tire.
What are the features of the Firestone Firehawk AS?
According to Firestone, the Firehawk AS offers sport performance plus all-season capability, with improved wet and snow handling. This is something that we hear a lot about all-season high-performance tires lately, but they mostly don’t deliver when it comes to snow traction and braking.
The Firehawk AS tries to achieve all those treats with deep tread features that keep sporty performance throughout the treadlife of the tire. More importantly, the new model is equipped with increased channels that provide improved water evacuation for better control on wet roads and less hydroplaning in heavy rain. The newer Firehawk AS also has 20% more biting edges for better snow performance, which is good to hear, especially considering the lackluster performance if its predecessor in the snow.
Like most high-end Firestone tires, the Firehawk AS features the Long Link Carbon tread compound, molded into an asymmetric tread design. This compound should provide a better grip and traction when compared to the previous model, as well as better durability.
The internal construction of the Firehawk AS consists of 1- or 2-ply polyester casing, depending on the size (smaller models get only 1-ply polyester casing). As expected from a tire in this category, the Firestone is also strengthened by wide, high-tensile steel belts reinforced with a spirally-wrapped nylon casing ply. This design improves handling responsiveness greatly, and it also has a positive effect on high-speed stability, even during hard cornering.
What are maintenance indicators?
We couldn’t find any maintenance indicators on the Firehawk AS itself, and Firestone doesn’t provide any information about it on their website. Instead, they suggest using the popular penny test for checking how much tread depth you have left. Before you do the penny test, you should know that the legal limit of tread depth is 2/32” for safety reasons, as less tread depth than that can significantly worsen the wet performance.
The test is pretty simple, though – you just need to stick a penny into the tread of the tire. If the tire tread is at least touching Abraham Lincoln’s upside-down head, the tire tread depth is at least 2/32”. That said, Firestone should’ve provided the Firehawk AS with treadwear indicators, as its main premium competitors do.
On the positive side, the Firehawk AS comes with 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is a very good result for an all-season high-performance tire. Not a lot of competitors offer a better warranty. As a matter of fact, some premium competitors offer even less warranty, despite costing much more than the Firehawk AS.
That’s good news for every potential buyer, but how does the Firehawk AS behave in the real world? If you mostly drive on the street, it should last you for at least 40,000-miles or around 4-years. However, if you plan to use it on the track, the treadlife might be cut in half. Truthfully, though, this is not a tire that’s designed to be used on the track, so that should be out of the question. If you plan on driving your car on the track, you should at least consider ultra-high-performance tire or even max-performance tires.
Is it good for off-road driving?
God forbid, no. The Firehawk AS is specifically designed to be used on the road and won’t work for off-road driving. Sure, you might get away on gravel, but even in those conditions, grand-touring tires will provide better traction. Seriously, don’t use high-performance tires for off-road driving.
How does it behave on dry tarmac?
There is no direct answer to this, sadly. Overall, the Firestone Firehawk trails the best all-season high-performance tires when it comes to handling, especially those from Michelin, Bridgestone, and Goodyear. That said, it is much better than the best grand-touring tires in this regard, so it’s certainly an upgrade for people who want to improve the handling of their vehicles.
However, if you already owned a Goodyear Eagle GT for example and want a more budget-friendly tire, you might be disappointed by the performance of the Firehawk AS. The Firestone tire immediately feels heavier and less responsive to drive. The steering input isn’t directly transferred to the ground like in other tires in this category, and the Firehawks don’t respond very well to sudden changes in direction. Also, the sidewall doesn’t seem to be as stiff during hard cornering, which can be especially felt on heavier vehicles.
Traction is somewhat better, but you can still hear more tire squeal on more powerful vehicles than on other models. That said, the side-to-side grip is pretty good – you can corner steadily at higher speeds without a problem, while braking performance is solid overall.
In short, most average drivers should be fine with how the Firehawk AS drives, but serious enthusiasts will be disappointed by the overall performance.
How is it over wet and slippery roads?
The Firehawk AS is an all-season tire, which means that it’s specifically designed to tackle wet conditions. And indeed, it provides some really good results in heavy rain, resisting hydroplaning like a champ. Braking is also very strong, while traction is adequate for the category. The Firehawk AS also provides very good grip in damp conditions, which is expected from a high-performance tire. Overall, though, there are better options out there if you want the best in wet traction, but they will also cost more.
With that being said, how is it in snowy roads?
Firestone specifically said that the new Firehawk AS has much better snow traction than its predecessor, thanks to 20% more biting edges. In reality, they do provide better traction and shorter braking distances, but that doesn’t mean that this tire is really usable in snowy conditions. When compared to grand-touring all-season tires, the Firehawk AS has worse traction and braking performance, and even some all-season high-performance tires are better.
Truthfully, not a lot of tires in this category are usable for driving in the snow, and neither is the Firestone. That said, if you live in areas where it doesn’t snow during the winter, the Firehawk AS can still provide good traction and grip in colder weather.
Is it comfortable and refined?
It seems that Firestone put a lot more focus on designing a comfortable tire with sporty performance than designing a pure handling champion. The Firehawk AS is very comfortable over bumps, as much as high-performance tires go. It is also pretty quiet, especially on premium models that already have better sound insulation. This is also the only category where the Firehawk AS can compare to the best all-season high-performance tires out there, and even surpass some of them.
You can see more Firestone Firehawk AS Review here: videos created by HILLYARD’S RIM LIONS
Should I buy the Firestone Firehawk AS?
If you want the best all-season high-performance out there, then you should look elsewhere. The Firestone trails almost all competitors when it comes to outright performance. However, it is also cheaper than most, which somehow mitigates the performance-related cuts. On the positive side, you will not lose a lot in comfort and quietness with the Firehawk AS if you previously owned a grand-touring set of tires.
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