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Why are low-profile tyres so common on modern cars?

Telegraph Motoring recently carried photographs of two high performance cars: the Jaguar E-Type and the De Tomaso Mangusta. Both clearly show sensibly-sized wheels with hefty tyres to absorb the shocks from rough roads. Why on earth have all the manufacturers gone overboard for low-profile tyres? In addition, current seats appear to be stuffed with granite chips rather than latex foam. I am in the position to spend £40,000 to obtain a car to bring me into the 21st century, but, after trying several, I get back into my Lexus 300 with a sense of relief. Can the manufacturers not comprehend that buyers of mid-range 4-door saloons are not thinking of rally driving. Adequate acceleration for overtaking, silence and comfort are paramount.

Asked on 29 September 2012 by DL, Dorking Surrey

Answered by Honest John
Get a grip. Neither the Jaguar E-Type nor the De Tomaso Mangusta on doughnut tyres had anything like the roadholding of a modern car on wide, low profile rubber. The debate is not about wide, low profile tyres being fitted to high performance cars where they enhance the roadholding and handling. It is about fitting them to ordinary cars where they are totally unnecessary and detrimental to the handling and the comfort of the vehicle. A W211 Mercedes-Benz E320CDI is perfectly fine on 225/55 R16s all round. It doesn't need 245/40 R18s on the front and 265/35 R18s on the back.
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