What is the advantage of low profile tyres on large alloy rims?

Changing my Volvo V70's winter 16-inch steel rims and Cooper ‘WeatherMaster Snow’ 205/55 R16 tyres back to the factory 17-inch alloy rims with Pirelli P6000 225/50 R17 tyres for the third year annual changeover, confirmed that Cooper ‘WeatherMaster’ tyres are comfortable and secure to drive with, on any freezing cold, wet, muddy, skittish, country roads. Snow just makes them extra enjoyable.

Also, steel rims have always been more precise, are often lighter, and provide better balance, than fashionable alloy rims. Wear and damage to the winter tyres and steel rims was negligible. The wheel rims are recessed within the shape of the robust tyre sidewalls, similar to offroad tyres. For next year, the fronts are now labelled to be re-fitted to the rears. The ride and handling on 16-inch rims is much more comfortable, and the 16-inch tyres are the same load/speed rating and overall diameter as the 17-inch tyres, so where is the advantage of low-profile tyres and larger alloy rims?

Asked on 15 June 2013 by GC, Kingston upon Thames

Answered by Honest John
This has become the most common complaint I receive. Big 'bling' wheels with thin strips of rubber around them have become fashionable among the easily impressed. Some cars, such as Porsche 911 991s actually need them. 95 per cent of cars fitted with them don't. They adversely affect the ride quality and often also the steering and handling, especially on uneven surfaces. They are more likely to be damaged by kerbs, potholes and road humps and, with less rubber between the rims and the road, the wheels are more easily damaged. They generally wear faster and have a shorter life than deeper profile tyres. And they are considerably more expensive to replace. Tyre manufacturers sell them to car manufacturers on very favourable terms to encourage production line fit because they know they will make a fortune from replacements.
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