Hankook vs Kumho: Car tyres compared

They are loved the world over for their affordability and function. We are talking about the two South Korean giants of tyre manufacturing, Hankook and Kumho. Which brand is best for Australian conditions? Let’s take a look.

Hankook is best known in motorsports circles for its involvement in the Le Mans touring series, and while Kumho comes with less of a racing pedigree, it has also secured a glowing reputation for providing good, quality tyres at cheap prices. You may also be surprised to know they are both owned by the Nexen Tyre Group, although they operate as separate brands and bring different ranges to the table.

Hankook

Take a glance at the Hankook website and you’ll see how the brand is trying to be sensitive to consumer needs. Think damage and mileage guarantees, and advertising safety technology. Established in 1941, Hankook is one of the ten leading tyre manufacturers in the world, with a wide range of options for all vehicles. Considering the most common vehicle types on Aussie roads today, we took a visit to JaxTyres to look at the prices for the most common tyre size on our roads, 205/65/15.

Model Name Purpose Price per tyre (as of June 2016)
Optimo K415

Wet and dry performance, reduced aquaplaning

$95
Radial RA14

Durability and wet performance for people movers and vans

$145

While using this tyre size for our comparison produced limited results for Hankook, the two offerings you see above seem to be decent and well-priced mid-range option. We also compared the price of the most popular softroader in Australia, the Mazda CX5 Maxx Sport.

Model Name Purpose Size Price per tyre (as of June 2016)
Dynapro HP2 RA33

Quiet driving and handling

225/65/17

$185

While this search only conjured up one match for Hankook, the brand seems to know the local market – and that Australians with softroaders want a quiet, smooth ride and decent handling characteristics out of their car. The price of $185 seems very reasonable, considering the wheel size on the car, which we note is a trend these days to have ever-bigger wheels being fitted to everyday cars. Overall, while the Hankook range with these sizes is limited, what it does offer seems to be strongly catering to the Australian market at a very fair price point. Sometimes, less proves to be more.

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Kumho

A smaller brand than Hankook, Kumho seems to be punching above its weight in the world of tyre manufacturing – but it’s more than holding its own. A visit to its website presents a litany of tyre awards, as well as mileage guarantees and a comprehensive ‘News’ blog-style section that features driving and tyre safety tips. Also featured is its green initiative which vows to plant a tree for each set of tyres purchased, as well as its contributions to the McGrath Breast Cancer foundation. Getting back to the tyres, though, and Kumho has the following options for the average Aussie vehicle.

Model Purpose Price per tyre (as of June 2016)
For 205/65/15 size:
KH18 Low noise and economy $95
(tyrepower.com.au)
For Mazda CX5 Maxx Sport:
KH16 Wet and dry performance $310
(ozzytyres.com.au)

The Kumho range is probably more disappointing than Hankook. While the passenger car tyre price is very reasonable, be aware that low noise and economy tyres often sacrifice handling and gripping characteristics, which is reflected in the price. On the other hand, the price for a CX5 tyre completely blows Hankook out of the water, and not in a good way.

The verdict

While both manufacturers offer a promising introduction to their business model – socially aware, consumer-oriented – in reality their range for the average Aussie consumer leaves a little to be desired. At the end of the day, it’s up to you and your own individual tyre needs to assess which brand is better. Both are responsible brands and both are generally priced at a point that most shoppers will be happy with.

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