Larger wheels with wider tires are a clear trend.

This makes cars look tougher, but their driving behavior often deteriorates,



on the basis of an extensive test.

Sporty cars have had large wheels and wide tires for a long time, but for a few years they have also been seen in common family cars and lease cars.

Today, few cars still run on standard tires, and for some drivers, large wheels and wide tires have even become a status symbol.

In addition, the technology of modern cars simply requires increasingly larger wheels.

"Cars are getting heavier and have increasingly powerful engines", explains Tjeerd Buijinck, head of the testing department of the Enschede tire manufacturer Apollo Vredestein.

"In order to get through the corner safely, the tires are getting larger contact surfaces."

Wheel diameter has the greatest influence on driving behavior.

Because wheels keep getting bigger, the sidewall height of the tires must decrease proportionally in order to maintain the prescribed, so-called rolling circumference.

The bigger the wheel, the flatter the tire.

And that of course affects comfort and driving behavior.

You shouldn't overdo it with the wheel size

In a field test, tires in sizes 17 to 21 inches of the same make and model were compared under the same conditions.

For the test car, a BMW 5-series, the factory already offers a choice of wheels with four different sizes, but in the accessory trade there is much more choice.

Be careful not to overdo it with the wheel size, is the conclusion of this test, because with the standard tires the car always drives more comfortably and quietly.

And you also notice on your wallet that bigger is not always better.

Badly broken wheels can be quite expensive.

In addition, fuel consumption increases by up to 1 liter per 100 kilometers.

However, your car will probably look a lot better, because large wheels have a lot of influence on the appearance.

And ideally they provide improved driving dynamics, direct steering and - if all goes well - more driving pleasure.

Conclusions from the test

  • Driving behavior on wet roads

On the handling course, the wider tires have an undeniable advantage due to the larger contact surface.

The 21-inch wheels, aimed at maximum sportiness, mean that the rear can suddenly lose its grip on the road.

That takes time and causes fright and clammy hands.

  • Driving behavior on dry road surfaces

The super-hard 21-inch tires offer an advantage on the track, but with this set you approach the limits of the standard chassis.

The BMW drives more harmoniously with the somewhat smaller 19- and 20-inch wheels.

  • Risk of aquaplaning

In the field of aquaplaning (the wheels lose their grip on the road due to water on the road surface), the relatively narrow 17-inch basic wheels offer by far the best safety reserves.

At the other end of the spectrum, the 21-inch wheels lose contact with the road surface much earlier (water layer 8 millimeters).

The full test results and more tips can be found in this article from AutoWeek.

The BMW 5 Series was tested on the track with different sizes of tires and wheels.

The BMW 5 Series was tested on the track with different sizes of tires and wheels.

Photo: Autoweek