Product Review: Cooper Zeon RS3-S and RS3-A Tires

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Introduction

2011 V6 Mustang equipped with Cooper Zeon RS3-A tires.
2011 V6 Mustang equipped with Cooper Zeon RS3-A tires. Photo © Jonathan P. Lamas

Manufacturer's Site

In October of 2008, Cooper Tire released their Zeon RS3 tire. It became the official tire of the ROUSH Mustang, and remains standard equipment on Roush's Mustangs. That was several years ago.

In the time that has passed, the company has spent countless hours working to further build upon the success of the original RS3. Cooper’s next performance tires release for the Mustang were the Zeon RS3-S and the Zeon RS3-A. Both tires were based on the original RS3 tire, although each were designed with a different purpose.

Improved Control on Both Wet and Dry Surfaces
Cooper’s Zeon RS3-S tire, which replaced the Cooper Zeon 2XS, is an ultra-high performance summer tire offering a low-profile, high performance rating. The company says this tire combines world-class dry road traction, increased handling, and exceptional cornering ability. The RS3-S launched in April 2011 in 21 different sizes.

The Cooper Zeon RS3-A tire replaced the Cooper Zeon Sport A/S. This tire is an ultra-high performance all-season tire which combines large tread elements and asymmetric design. This, the company says, provides all-season confidence in less-than ideal weather conditions. This is, in part, due to the tire’s advanced technology mold profile, which provides a square tread footprint, resulting in improved road contract. The RS3-A was initially offered in 31 sizes and launched in April 2011.

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Features of the Cooper Zeon RS3-S Tire

Cooper Zeon RS3-S Tire
Cooper Zeon RS3-S Tire. Photo © Jonathan P. Lamas

The Cooper Zeon RS3-S (Sport) tire features a large intermediate tread element for stable cornering and reduced road noise, variable draft groove walls for irregular resistance, and four wide circumferential grooves for hydroplane resistance. Its large shoulder tread elements help provide dry handling and improved cornering.

Specifications of the tire are as follows:

  • Large intermediate tread element for stable cornering and reduced road noise
  • Variable draft groove walls for irregular resistance
  • Four wide circumferential grooves for hydroplane resistance
  • Large shoulder tread elements help provide dry handling and improved cornering
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Features of the Cooper Zeon RS3-A Tire

Cooper Zeon RS3-A Tire
Cooper Zeon RS3-A Tire. Photo © Jonathan P. Lamas

The Cooper Zeon RS3-A (All-Season) tire features a wide sweeping elliptical groove for winter traction performance, 3D micro gauge sipes and lateral grooves for wet and light snow performance, lateral intermediate tread elements for stable cornering and reduced road noise, and large shoulder tread elements which help provide dry handling and improved cornering.

Specifications of the tire are as follows:

  • Wide sweeping elliptical groove for winter traction performance
  • 3D micro gauge sipes and lateral grooves for wet and light snow performance
  • Lateral intermediate tread elements for stable cornering and reduced road noise
  • Large shoulder tread elements which help provide dry handling and improved cornering
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Out on the Track

Jonathan puts the Cooper Zeon RS3-A tire to the test on the wet track.
Jonathan puts the Cooper Zeon RS3-A tire to the test on the wet track. Photo Courtesy of Don Roy

In February of 2011 I traveled to Pearsall, Texas to test out Cooper’s new Zeon RS3-S and RS3-A tires. Testing took place on both a dry and wet track road course at Cooper's 1,000 acre facility using 2011 Ford Mustangs, automatic transmissions, with V6 engines.

One of the first things I noticed about the RS3-S tire was its ability to recover when fading. All tires have a breaking point when they lose traction with the road. When this happens, you’re usually at the mercy of the skid. I was very impressed with the RS3-S’s ability to come back from, what I considered, the point of no return. Most tires would simply continue to fade at this point, resulting in lack of control, and probably one heck of a slide. The RS3-S regained its composure, allowing me to continue moving on down the road course.

I was equally impressed with the RS3-A tires out on the wet track. In all, I was able to maintain control of our test car without any embarrassing wipe outs.

Later in the day, I joined former Indy Racing League racer, Johnny Unser, for some hot laps on an extended road course surrounding our test track. Our ride included several high-speed straight-aways, followed by wild trip through an infield course with numerous tight turns. Johnny put the tires to the test in our modified 2011 5.0L Mustang. Once again, I was impressed. No matter what he threw at the tires, they held to the track. Most impressive was the fact we were running on the RS3-A tires. No doubt, the RS3-A is a solid tire for both wet and dry performance conditions.

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Final Take: A Great Tire for the Performance Enthusiast

Jonathan and former Indy Racing League racer, Johnny Unser
Jonathan and former Indy Racing League racer, Johnny Unser, go for a wild ride on a set of Cooper Zeon RS3-A tires. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Yip

In all, I was extremely impressed with the new Cooper Zeon RS3 tires. It’s not often a tire has the ability to help you regain control when you’re losing traction. Most all companies tout the fact they will prevent you from losing traction. That said, we all know every tire has a breaking point. Not many tell you they've created a tire that helps you regain control when it's lost.

Would I buy a set of new RS3 tires? Yes. Which version? Well, out in Southern California where you rarely see a cloudy day. I’d opt for a set of Cooper Zeon RS3-S tires. Here on the East Coast, where we experience all four seasons, I’d probably go with the Cooper Zeon RS3-A tires. They provide plenty of performance on dry days, and provide added confidence when it’s wet outside.

Bottom line: The RS3-S and RS3-A make a great deal for the Mustang enthusiast.