Tires are tires… or so they say. As a young, broke college kid, I dabbled in used tires, and wrapped my wheels in whatever I could find. Paying $300-$400 for high-performance Michelin or Pirelli tires versus paying no more than $50 for a used tire just seemed like a no-brainer. It worked – having a car with three or four different brand tires did the job of getting me around campus, so I didn’t bother putting more thought into it.
It was not until I splurged on upgrading the stock 18 inch wheels on my 120k mile E46 M3 to 19 inch Competition wheels did I actually consider mating new rubber with new wheels. Splurging was splurging, so I went with the tire-shop recommended Toyo Proxies all around, via an aggressive, staggered fitment, 10mm wider than stock in the front and the back. The result? Handling was a thing of beauty, driving was a pleasure, and finally, I started getting the hang of this idea of new vs. used tires, and actually bothering to match all four.
After college, I played around with the troublesome ownership a few more hard-to-find used performance cars, and figuring out the tire fitment on wheels that most definitely did not fit the wheel wells; think stretching, rubbing, grinding and such, until I came to a conclusion that I needed more reliable transportation for the daily commute, and needed to go with a new car if I was going to stay in the “fun car” demographic.
My next few cars were new car leases that came with excellent and highly-rated Michelin (for BMW) and Pirelli (for Audi) tires all around. Considering the leases were three years, I did not have to worry about replacing tires, and enjoyed the optimum performance of a premium brand auto with premium brand shoes.
My most recent lease, an Audi S5 coupe of the B9 generation, presented me with an unprecedented problem: the power, torque, my driving style, and having tracked the car multiple times, ate up my nice new Pirelli P7 leased car tires much faster than the lease expiration. With a year to go on my lease, and a track day coming up, I needed new tires — this was a perfect opportunity to test out something new.
I’ve been aware of Cosmo Tires for some time through their abundant social media presence and their active participation in motorsports. Their MuchoMacho performance tires are popular with endurance racing and drifting, so there must be something there that attracts the car enthusiast crowd besides the hilarious name. To me, it was a win-win scenario: if the tires are indeed as good as the fans say, then I get premium performance, turn in a great autocross time, and go home a winner. If the tires aren’t great performance-wise, the price of them makes them a total bargain in comparison to their big name competition.
The tires looked awesome on my car as they were being mounted – the tread pattern is sporty yet unique, with the “heartbeat” wavy line going down the center of the tire tread. The “Cosmo” and “MuchoMacho” script on the sidewall is solid and professionally-designed: there is a comforting absence of that “no-name” feel with these tires. My immediate impression upon getting them down on the pavement was the quietness of the ride. Having gone from Pirelli P7 to Cosmo MuchoMachos, the road noise went down dramatically. Granted, the P7s were slightly worn by the time of the replacement, but nevertheless, the road noise level was an improvement.
On the autocross track, the MuchoMachos performed admirably in keeping my 4,000-pound S5 in the correct lines on corners, and on the track in general. Having to wrestle against the torque-heavy 349 hp engine and unruly “automatic-even-when-in-fully-manual-mode” transmission, the MuchoMuchos had their work cut out for them. On the slalom, they gripped tightly. On the corners, they stopped the car firmly, with minimum skid, while allowing me to track out for the next straightaway. The tires truly excelled at keeping the car planted on acceleration, allowing the Quattro launch control to do its magic and shave precious seconds off at the starting line.
My Audi was bested by heavily-modified, higher-horsepower, lighter cars like the Porsche GT3 RS, BMW M2 and Toyota Supra GR, running on Michelin Sport Cup 2 and Pirelli P Zero street-legal track tires. I am not shocked by the final standings, or by this result. Nor will I say that the MuchoMacho is better than these aforementioned tires – it isn’t, but then again, just like the S5, it is not in the same bracket as those tires. The performance of the MuchoMacho comes down to comparison versus tires in a similar class, where it outperformed the Pirelli P7 in terms of a quieter ride, and track grip, and, of course, price, where the Cosmo brand puts the brand name tires to shame.
The overall impression from my experience has cemented my reversal on my stance that tires are tires. Not all tires are equal, and paying a seemingly unreasonable premium for tires makes sense for the added performance. Sometimes, however, performance does not equate to paying a premium, and in the case of the Cosmo MuchoMacho, their performance combined with their value make them an excellent choice over the brand-name competition.