Michelin CrossClimate, a tyre for both summer and winter
By proposing the CrossClimate, Michelin want to get closer to the reality of drivers with a tyre that performs well in summer and winter. A specification that seems similar to that of an all season tyre, the reality however, is quite different.
On the same topic
All season tyre?
The tyre world has always had to deal with current technical limitations: i.e. a summer tyre cannot perform well in winter and vice versa.
In tyre manufacturer’s ranges where seasonal issues are the dividing criteria, the all season tyre has become the missing link. In theory, it represents the perfect product, capable of meeting the needs of many drivers. In practice, it struggles to find its audience due to its reputation of being average in all areas. The CrossClimate aims to be good all round.
It is after studying driver’s behaviour and asking them about their real needs that Michelin decided to develop the CrossClimate .
Ideologically, Michelin rejects any direct relationship with standard all season tyres, purely and simply because the latter are usually tyres with a winter bias that can be used in summer. Michelin has done things the other way round, using a summer type tyre as the basis to develop a product that can also be used in winter. The difference is very important.
The first surprise with this tyre is the "3PMSF" mark on its sidewall that attests to its real winter qualities. Nevertheless, Michelin insists that the CrossClimate has not been developed to compete with a real winter tyre, and therefore, does not target drivers using this type of product.
It is designed to satisfy a real need: a driver who drives most of the year on a "black" road surface, who may be confronted with changing weather conditions and on occasions, snow.
Towards a perfect technical compromise?
Technically, the requirements expected from a summer tyre are incompatible with those of a winter tyre. Michelin says they have achieved an all-time high for the performance balance offered by a single tyre with a technical compromise kept to a minimum. The expected performance criteria was to deliver a level of safety adapted to each condition a driver is likely to encounter. In short, a tyre that performs well in summer and winter.
Furthermore, Michelin says they have dealt with all characteristic faults that are generally found in winter and all season tyres: low energy efficiency, longer dry braking distances than that of a summer tyre, etc.
In terms of appearance, the tread design is directional. A solution usually found on winter tyres that is rare for summer tyres which tend to favour an asymmetric tread.
The compound uses materials that do not harden when temperatures drop below 7°C, and remain resistant to summer conditions. An achievement thought to be impossible, until now.
The tread design is probably the CrossClimate’s key element. It has a new undertread that optimises energy efficiency, whereas 3D interlocking sipes ensure greater rigidity in the dry (therefore precision) and a claw effect on snow (therefore traction).
After such a theoretical introduction, we were eager to test the CrossClimate in order to set it against the characteristics of a summer tyre, but also test it on snow.
The first miles behind the wheel of our Peugeot 308 test car on dry asphalt allowed us to check the Clermont Ferrand based tyre manufacturer’s claims: the characteristics are indeed similar to those of a summer tyre. Also, the CrossClimate does not have the slightly spongy feeling of a winter tyre or the same level of noise.
It turns out to be very precise, and perfectly quiet, even when driving up the Faucille pass that alternates cornering and grip with the temperature dropping as the altitude increases.
After driving in standard conditions, we then faced stretches of road covered in snow, including powder snow (10 to 15 cm deep), packed snow and ice.
In these conditions, the CrossClimate’s traction and braking performance is impressive. It delivers excellent safety performance to offer a confident drive on this type of surface. Nevertheless, it is important to remain objective. The bottom line is it cannot compete with a standard winter tyre in these conditions and it is not a good as a standard winter tyre in terms of lateral grip, which makes perfect sense.
Alongside this road test, Michelin also gave us the opportunity to conduct comparative tests.
In an exercise to compare dry braking performance and wet grip, the perceived feeling was equivalent to the Energy Saver +, which is, remember, the brand’s flagship summer tyre for city and compact cars.
Michelin’s approach is undeniably impertinent. The miles of testing with the CrossClimate left a very positive impression. This tyre’s performance has been validated through tests conducted by German test organisations (Tüv Süd, Dekra, Utac) on behalf of Michelin, and the results support our observations.
The CrossClimate will be commercially launched in spring 2015 in 23 different sizes from 15 to 17 inches, which covers most of the tyres fitting compact and saloon type vehicles. Other sizes are scheduled for the coming months.
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