More from Motoring

The Mercedes-AMG G63 is many things – loud, fast, large and, er, loud – but it’s certainly no ballet dancer. When you’re presented with a racetrack, it’s not likely to be the first SUV that comes to mind with which to attack it, let alone the first vehicle. Yet there was a green-and-black G-Wagen, building up a head of steam in the scorching sun at the new CoASTTt track outside Coimbatore, awaiting a bunch of journalists, myself included. Alongside it was a cousin – a GLE – and a compatriot, a BMW X5 30d, all shod with Vredestein’s new Ultrac Vorti tyres.

Among other things, these were designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro – and they’re the only 21 and 22-inch tyres manufactured in India, ranging in size from 275/45 R21 to a massive 325/35 R22. As you may have guessed, they’re at the top of the food chain when it comes to high performance SUV tyres; Vredestein and its Indian partner, Apollo Tyres, decided that they would begin manufacturing them here, even though they’re extremely niche products. The claim was that the Ultrac Vortis would offer elite levels of grip and precision, so the only way to verify this was to go out for a few hot laps. Naturally, I picked the G63, because of course I would. As I mentioned earlier, it’s loud and brutishly quick in a straight line, but it’s no go-kart around corners; how would the Vredesteins alter its personality?

As a disclaimer, I’ve only driven a G63 on regular roads, not on a racetrack, but I have thrown it around corners on those roads, so I have a decent understanding of how it behaves when you do that. It’s a big, tall and heavy car, so it does roll and squirm a bit under hard cornering, and the stock tyres don’t always tell you exactly what’s going on under you – and they tend to squeal quite a bit.

With the Ultrac Vortis, however, there was a discernible improvement in grip levels, and the G63 seemed less inclined to shimmy around (having said that, all the electronic nannies were working overtime too). Two tonnes of metal slung around bends is always going to cause tyre squeal, but there appeared to be a little less of it. I didn’t have the chance to drive the G on regular roads with these tyres, but I’m willing to bet that they would have elevated the experience; having tyres that are good for everyday use as well as the track is a good combination, right?

On the previous day, up in the Niligiri hills, I’d also checked out Vredestein’s new Pinza HT SUV tyres; these have a design USP as well, in the form of a good design award from the Chicago Athanaeum Museum of Architecture and Design. The firm said that despite their road-biased characteristics, these tyres were as good as AT tyres in the rough stuff, which sounds like the very best of both worlds. This time, we were led to a winding, steep trail leading to the edge of a forest (we were warned about tigers); the trail had all the makings of a proper off-road outing, with steep inclines and declines, loose soil, deep ruts, large rocks and a bit of slush.

Behind the wheel of a Toyota Hilux, I set off down the trail, with 4-low engaged. The Hilux is the kind of vehicle that can tackle a trail even if shod with pumpkins, so perhaps it wasn’t the best car with which to test some tyres, since it dismissed everything in its path with an imperious grin. That said, there were some sections where I turned off 4L and switched to 2H, to see if anything untoward happened – and I have to report that nothing did. Those Pinzas really were good enough to take on that kind of terrain without wheelspin, both uphill and downhill, and their tread pattern helped expel muck from the tyres’ ridges while on the move. I was impressed, probably even more than I was with the high performance tyres at the track.

Driving around with Vredestein’s new tyres reminded me of something. Not many people pay attention to the tyres that their cars and bikes come with, straight from the showroom; indeed, very few are aware of what different kinds of tyres do, since outright fuel efficiency (therefore minimum rolling resistance) is the top concern. Your tyres connect your vehicle to the road, so they’re literally like shoes – and you wouldn’t go running in a pair of penny loafers, would you?