Even with the economy on a downturn, the fact is we still need tires--and tire makers aren't going to let the economic slowdown hinder progress in manufacture and technological innovation. From what we've seen and heard so far, there will be some interesting new choices in the coming year. While some manufacturers have already released their ultra-high-performance offerings for 2009, a few companies have chosen to keep theirs under wraps... for now. Information released so far has been fairly limited, and only time behind the wheel will tell what these products are really all about. As the year progresses, and we get our hands on these products, we'll put them to the test.

It's no secret that the latest and greatest technology comes with a price, so for those on a budget looking for a tire that performs, here are a few reasonably priced classics that can get the job done without breaking the bank. --AG

For 2009, Continental has confirmed it will be introducing at least three new products focused on performance and safety in all weather conditions. While snow/rain performance and safety are extremely important, it was the new ExtremeContact DW ultra-high-performance tire that piqued our interest. While its exact chemistry and construction techniques are still under lock and key, we have a few details.

Visible letters are built into the second rib of the tread to indicate the tire's optimal performance level: "D"--optimum tread depth for dry conditions, and "W"--optimum tread depth for wet60-day customer satisfaction ride guarantee
Manufacturer workmanship limited warranty for 72 months with free replacement up to 12 months
Road hazard coverage for 12 months
Sizes: 16-21 inch

Continental Tire

From a distance, the Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 doesn't look that different than the Neova AD07, mainly because of its similar tread pattern. A majority of the changes are internal and not visible to the eye. One notable improvement is its Micro Silica compound, where engineers were able to enhance the compound at a microscopic level with hyper-density carbon. The result is a tread compound that's soft at a micro level while still maintaining rigidity at the macro level. This reportedly allows the tire to "reach" into the most minute spaces within the road surface for increased traction and decreased tread block deformation.

Steel inserts incorporated into the tire casing to increase sidewall rigidity and optimize handlingInner and outer wide uniblock shoulders are circumferentially continuous without any gaps to maximize the rubber-to-road contact for improved lateral stability during high-speed corneringRapid reflex central twin ribs add stability and help steering response during high-speed drivingAdaptive flare blocks, a continuous sequence of blocks designed to adapt to external forces for lateral strength and quicker turn-in
Sizes: 15-19 inch, Treadwear 180
Traction AA Temperance A

Yokohama Tire

The new Hankook Ventus R-S3 Z222 was designed as a bridge between the street and the track. While some might be turned off by the flames carved into the inner tread, after a few hard laps they'll probably disappear. And if this tire is anything like its predecessor, the R-S2 Z212, it'll hold up long after those flames disappear. Improved tire design and technology comes from hybridization of the Ventus Z214 R-compound racing tire and the R-S2.

R-compound inspired tread composition offers a 30-percent increase in traction compared to the R-S2 Z212
Sizes: 15-18 inch Treadwear 140
Traction A Temperance A

Hankook Tire USA

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