Having been a Bridgestone user all these years, I finally decided to go Yokohama for all my rides for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Yokohamas are still being made in Japan. Secondly, they have recently (over the past few years) revisited their product range to deliver a more diversified series of tyres that perform.
Quite frankly, I was very amazed as I toyed around with the Earth-1 demo models in the showroom. Yokohama made little car models from sponge that were on regular rubber compounds and the Earth-1 compounds. Letting these 2 cars go down a slightly inclined ramp immediately illustrated less roll resistance of the Earth-1 compound. The Earth-1 compound car cruised a longer distance down the ramp as compared to that of regular compound. Impressive.
Now to the real deal.
With a profile of 185/60R14, the Earth-1 isn't much of a looker on a regular bone stock 2008 Toyota Vios. Having said that, Yokohama had the "Earth-1" printed on the sidewall which kind of reminded me of the Pirelli logos. Nevertheless, the overall appeal was much better than the older Blue Earth.
Obviously, all new tires would be quieter (expected) but what I noticed was how smooth the ride was. Somehow, I could really feel that the Vios 'glided' better, especially when my foot was off the pedal. Much vibrations from the road was also effectively absorbed and the ride was generally silent across several road conditions and grip was decent with more than adequate control for the normal family saloon with the said tyre profile.
Under wet conditions, hydroplaning was minimal thanks to the wide straight grooves as I did not feel much feedback on the steering as I went across puddles of water in the rain. Braking over wet road was decent with good steering control. I did a 40km/h emergency brake test on wet road and the ABS only came in at the final moment just before stand-still, indicating traction till the final moments.
At a price just north of S$100 a piece, I would consider this a better bang for the buck when compared to other makes from Thailand or Indonesia. Highly recommended for a family saloon.