I'm spectacularly fussy about my tyres - being an ex racer and track-day instructor, I shamelessly obsess over rubber, even on my road cars!
I've been running Michelin PS3's on my Porsche 911, which have been great, and so going with what I know, have been using the same tyres on my daily drive Skoda Octavia VRS for a few years now. However, if I am honest, I have not really been that impressed with them on this car....they perform fairly well, but longevity is not a strong point at all.
Coupled with the fact that the old Skoda is ageing and worth buttons these days, to spend close to another £500 on a set of Michelins again last month seemed to be a wee bit unnecessary.
So I started looking for an alternative. After a good deal of searching, reading and inviting comment on the internet and one or two specialist car forums I frequent, the Barum Bravarius 3 was mentioned more than a few times.
Digging deeper - I found that they're a 'mid-range' tyre (and NOT budget!) and come very highly recommended by people who seem to know what they're talking about, and aren't 'brand snobs' - they just appreciate performance and value, whatever the name.
I also found that Barum is a Czech company, owned by Continental. Well, my Skoda is also a Czech product, representing the thinking man's car of choice - so it seemed a good match. This was re-inforced after I looked on the Barum website and found an endorsement explaining that this tyre is recommended by them for Skoda Octavia.
So with this in mind, coupled with a price of just over 200 quid for a set of four fitted onto the Skoda's 17 inch wheels, I took the plunge.
And well....first impressions were extremely favorable. A pleasing combination of low noise, good feedback, grip and traction all round. Great so far.
But now after the first 1,000 miles - the tyres have scrubbed in and settled to the car's geometry, and I actually can't believe how good they are. I honestly don't think that they could be beaten, especially for the price, and I feel like I have 'discovered' one of those well-kept secrets that only those in the know use and appreciate...
My advice - give these a go, before the whole world catches on and the price goes up. I am sure that you won't regret it!