- Excellent handling capabilities
- Plenty of grip and traction in dry conditions
- Acceptably comfortable
- It can get loud at higher speeds
- No treadwear warranty
Throughout the year, driving cars transformed from an activity made to get you from one place to another to something that results in a fun time. Regardless of whether you’re on a track or pushing the limits of your car on a canyon backroad, one of the several crucial things is the tires. Yes, there are other components as well, but here we talk about tires, so that’s the aspect I’ll be covering today.
When it comes to delivering performance, the tire industry has provided us with models that are capable of providing improved grip and traction. When compared with touring tires, performance-oriented ones will offer better performance at the slight cost of longevity and refinement.
The tire industry is divided into several segments, depending on how much you’re willing to pay and the performance you’ll get. For the most part, going for anything from the premium or mid-range segment means that you’ll be getting an excellent tire. There are plenty of mid-range options on the market today, and the one I’ll be reviewing comes from Korea.
Kumho isn’t a new player in this industry, and the tire in question is the Ecsta AST. It’s a high-performance all-season tire, capable of delivering performance at a more affordable price. Let’s take a look at it.
What are the features of the Kumho Ecsta AST?
To achieve performance throughout the year, Kumho designed the Ecsta AST with an advanced carbon rubber compound. The result of this is a tire that will remain “softer” even when the temperatures start to drop.
The tread pattern features a V-shaped design down the middle and stiffer shoulder blocks on the sides. Thanks to this, the tire will be able to remain stable in straight lines, while the shoulders are designed to provide better handling characteristics.
As part of the design, the dual angle cross grooves are made to help the tire evacuate water more efficiently, keeping it stable when driving in heavy rain. The sipes and grooves should also help the tire with snow performance.
The Ecsta AST is also designed with a jointless high-strength bead wire that works with the bead filler to provide a more comfortable tire and reduce vibrations.
How does it behave on dry tarmac?
Performance in dry conditions with the Ecsta AST is excellent, considering the category it falls in. Even though it won’t be able to compete with the premium tires, there is still plenty of performance on the table.
The Ecsta AST delivers a good amount of grip and traction, which would satisfy most enthusiasts’ needs. Keep in mind that it’s not a premium tire, so there are some limitations. Putting them on a more powerful car and getting a bit aggressive won’t be too wise. The tire is very easy to control in the corners, and you can make minor corrections.
In terms of handling, the Ecsta AST is not a poor performer, but you will start to notice some drawbacks. Even though it’s not unresponsive, you won’t be getting that premium intentness. Don’t get me wrong, the tire is more than enough to satisfy an enthusiast’s needs, but it’s not for chasing lap records.
How does it behave over wet and slippery roads?
In rainy conditions, the performance you can expect from the Ecsta AST is good enough, as long as you’re aware that it’s not a premium tire.
There is a decent amount of traction on damp surfaces, more than what you’d get with a touring tire. As a result, you have the ability to push the tire a bit, but it will start to let go if you overdo it. In the corners, the story remains the same. You can go around a bend safely if you’re not driving like you’re on a racetrack. The tire will begin to understeer at a certain point, but considering that it provides some feedback, you’ll notice it.
One area where the Ecsta AST surprised me negatively was the performance in heavy rain. Despite the pattern and grooves, the aquaplaning resistance is average.
How is it over snow?
Driving in winter with the Ecsta AST isn’t a particularly good experience. Even though the tire is technically an all-season one, the performance isn’t as good as something like the Goodyear Eagle RS-A2.
On clean roads, the Ecsta AST provides usable traction, which should be fine for getting around town without too much fuss. In terms of snow, things aren’t as good. There is barely usable grip and traction to a point where I wouldn’t use it on a regular basis. It doesn’t handle particularly well, and the braking distances aren’t too short.
Is it comfortable and refined?
When it comes to refinement, the Ecsta AST isn’t a tire that can be compared with some of the touring options I’ve talked about in the past.
The comfort levels of the Ecsta AST are good enough if you’re planning it to be your daily driver. It won’t smooth out the road, but it does a decent job. It can absorb the vibrations to a point, but you won’t be completely isolated from them.
Noise is where the tire performs the worst. At slower speeds, the Ecsta AST is not the loudest, which is fine. The problem starts on the highway when the tire becomes noticeable louder.
Is it good for off-roading?
The Ecsta AST is designed for the road, meaning that you shouldn’t expect any particular performance in off-road scenarios.
You could get away with a short drive on a dirt road where you will have usable traction. Keep in mind that these kinds of tires can get damaged more easily when compared with proper off-road ones.
Is the Kumho Ecsta AST ideal for sporty driving?
It’s not terrible, that’s for sure, but it leaves much to be desired if you plan to use it on a track.
Driving the Ecsta AST on a twisty road is by no means a dull experience. The tire is responsive enough, so micro corrections are possible, which is what you’d need if you’re pushing the tire. The lateral grip is also pretty good and will enable you to feel some G-forces.
As good as this may seem, the Ecsta AST is not a replacement for a premium high-performance tire.
Kumho Ecsta AST Warranty
In a world where tires like the Hankook V2 Concept 2, a mid-range competitor, come with a 45,000-warranty, the Ecsta AST is at a disadvantage. Kumho doesn’t offer any treadwear warranty for the tire, which isn’t a great sign.
Kumho Ecsta AST Pricing: Is it worth the money?
The price of the Ecsta AST starts from around $90, which is more or less similar to what other tires from this category cost. When you consider the performance, it’s not a terrible bargain.
Should I buy the Kumho Ecsta AST?
The Ecsta AST is an excellent tire, and there aren’t too many reasons to avoid it.
Dry performance is very good, and you can expect to get high levels of grip and traction. It means that aggressive acceleration or throwing it into a corner won’t be a problem. With this performance, you can also expect to get a tire that can deliver very good handling characteristics. There is plenty of responsiveness and some feedback through the steering wheel. It won’t be on the same level as the premium competitors, but it’s a budget-friendly tire.
Things take a slight turn for the worse in rainy conditions. For the most part, you should expect a drop of traction and grip on wet roads, which isn’t too big of an issue. As long as you keep this in mind and adjust the speed accordingly, the Ecsta AST will keep you safe. My biggest complaint with this tire is the aquaplaning resistance, which is average.
In the winter, the Ecsta AST isn’t a tire that I would recommend. There is a very limited amount of traction, so use it with extreme caution or get proper winter tires.
As for refinement, the Ecsta AST is more or less like a high-performance tire. There is a decent level of comfort, but the noise levels are pretty high, especially on the highway.
With no treadwear warranty, the Ecsta AST won’t win any prizes. Despite that, the tire is able to deliver long life, even though it’s not designed for that.
Looking at the performance it offers, the Ecsta AST is an affordable tire. You will get more performance with the premium options, but this is not a bad choice at this price point.
Like most tires in the mid-range segment, you shouldn’t expect perfection. The Ecsta AST is an affordable option for people that want to fit a set of high-performance tires on their car. Despite that tag, the tire isn’t a good option for any vehicle, and it will struggle with the more powerful ones.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for something to bring some joy without draining your wallet, the Ecsta AST is a good tire for that.
What Vehicles Will the Kumho Ecsta AST Fit?
Here’s a sample list of cars that the Kumho Ecsta AST will fit:
- Audi A3
- Alfa 147
- BMW 1, 3 Series
- Ford Ka, Fiesta, Focus
- Honda Civic, Accord
- Mazda 2, 3, MX-3, MX-5
- Mitsubishi Lancer
- Subaru Impreza
- Toyota GT86, Yaris, Corolla
- Volkswagen Golf, Passat
Tire Sizes for Kumho Ecsta AST
List of Kumho Tire Reviews