PROJECT CARS: Project Beast Vredestein ULTRAC VORTI

In 1985, Madonna famously sang in the film Desperately Seeking Susan…

“Get into the groove
Boy you’ve got to prove
Your love to me, yeah
Get up on your feet, yeah
Step to the beat
Boy what will it be…?”

And the answer? Well surely she was singing about the as-yet-uninvented deepest groove we’ve felt since we left La Folie Douce?!

Yeah… I’m talking about the insane tread depths of the cuts in our brand new Vredestein Ultrac Vorti 255/50×20 monster tyres for our supercharged SUV Range Rover L322, aka, Project Beast.

Check them out above.

How deep? Nuts. Absolutely nuts.

For those of you thinking ‘Vredestein who…?’ Firstly, put your ear to the asphalt and secondly, let me elucidate.

If tyres were social classes, what you’re looking at here is the upper middle class, or lower upper class – whatever suits you best. Think the highest possible quality, hard working and quietly doing very nicely thanks very much. And with more heritage than you might imagine (Vredestein are one of the world’s oldest brands, having been making top tyres for over a century). But don’t think old and stuffy, snobby, or even modern and pretentious. Think of a brand that’s seriously cool, definitely capable and properly focused and collected… right at the top of their game and bang on trend as it goes.

Those of us slightly obsessed with tyres will have heard about Vredesein’s Snowtrac 5 mid-segment tyre, their fashionable all-season Quatrac 5 or even their legendary Wintrac Extreme S all-out Winter offering.

And ask any German farmer about the uber-beast that is the Traction XXL or the Comtrac all-season, and he or she will just smile knowingly. Here’s a brand that’s been busy carving a niche of intelligent, aware, premium customers who know good rubber for a century in deepest Europe and beyond – for cars, commercials, tractors and more recently Chelsea tractors, sorry, SUVs.

Bang on time, enter Project Beast, who’s old Falken rubber has finally given up the ghost after over two years and 15,000+ loyal hard labour. We couldn’t fault the Falken rubber it has to be said – great in all conditions, affordable and highly recommended. But we like to test new gear at Road Magazine and having never had a set of Vredesteins and heard such great things about them – and their (relatively new) SUV range – we had to try the lower upper class German brand out.

Looking for the same sort of control, all weather ability and precision we’re used to we ordered a set of Ultrac Vorti 255/50x20s – claimed to offer “a high level of steering precision, grip and safety while driving at high speeds.”

First impressions as the pallet of four enormous tyres arrived?

Pure class and quality. The smell when we un-wrapped the transit plastic was intoxicating. They say good tyres are made with hundreds of ingredients and we reckon some of the Vredesteins are loaded with a few types of female pheromones. Blooming gorgeous (or do I need help?).

Visually too they look like they really mean business. They’ve not gone for a commercially ‘good looking’ cut. But by god there’s a lot of delicious detail in the tread – the width and depth of the centre lane, the stiffness of the general compound and tall sidewalls and those epic lightning-strike z-shaped groves at the centre rib all smack of business. As they say themselves, it’s “technology based on design.”

They add: “Tyres contain a great deal of technology. At Vredestein, we develop and produce tyres which enhance the performance of every vehicle. A Vredestein tyre is designed to perform optimally and maximise users’ freedom at all times. We strive to offer all drivers the safest and best possible driving experience.

“At Vredestein we have a clear vision on how a tyre should look. This is why we have had a partnership with the famous Italian design agency Giugiaro since 1997 and why we also devote so much attention in-house to the tread design and sidewalls of our tyres.”

The obvious endeavours and efforts pay off. They look, feel and smell amazing.

Time to stop feeling them up and rubber sniffing and test them!

Post the usual high speed, high quality fitting at STS Tyre Pros in Wymondham (cheers Simon!) we immediately headed off into the rain to do a high speed/cruising test on the A11 to check NVH levels. Often tyres with such stiff structures are noisy. Not these. And the ride quality is noticeably improved over the worn-out Falkens. I might even say over the fresh Falkens, if I could recall that far back. Certainly, they feel really good on first drive.

Next up, hard wet weather braking and cornering. And this is where the level these tyres operate on really opens up – offering up incredibly high levels of stability and control, even in the big old, 2,500Kg, air-sprung Range Rover doing deliberately provocative changes of direction under excessively hard braking. I made myself feel sick, but not the tyres, which coped with everything.

Deep puddles of standing water got laughed at in the same ‘is that all you’ve got?’ manner  – at any speed (even supercharged V8 speed). And even a light foray off-road through a very muddy field offered up no significant issues. So, even out of its comfort zone, off the asphalt, this tyre out-performed.

A few days later, the rain stopped, the road dried out and I had an early morning blast on some very quick back roads I love. The Vredestein’s raised their game to yet another level – offering up a level of control hitherto unexperienced in the L322. The grip levels, steering feedback and feel are truly outstanding – giving Project Beast an extra level of precision and accuracy to relish as he approaches his six figure mileage and his belligerent teens. Think he’s going to really let rip as a teenager…

I also had what drivers refer to as “a moment” – as an deaf old rural type on a bike decided to pull straight off his driveway, as a huge HGV full of poultry was taking up the whole road in front of me and I’m doing , er 60mph. I had to ask everything from the massive Brembo brakes, which never let me down – but have asked too much of previous rubber, on wet, muddy roads. The Vredestein’s shouldered the responsiblilty brilliantly – allowing me not only to shed all Project Beast’s momentum and speed, but to make an evasive move too – in total control. I was impressed. And it all came down to rubber choice.

I’ve long said it, but tyres are the most important part on any car – your only point of contact with the road. You can have all the power in the world, the sexiest suspension, the biggest brakes… but it’s only ever going to be as good as the rubber you buy. Cut corners here and you’ll not be hitting apexes. Nor will you and your occupants be safe in all weathers. But buy the best out there and it’s a rich tapestry un-leashing all the un-tapped potential of your performance car, which these amazing Ultrac Vorti Vredestein tyres have done. Not to mention already saved me having a nasty accident. Vielen danke Vredestein.

Get online & get your performance car, SUV or even tractor some serious tyres today and join the #ROCKTHEROAD revolution. Truly exceptional.