The first combined summer and winter tyre of its type arrives
Swapping tyres is often far from easy and the majority of motorists in the UK tend to run their cars on summer tyres all year-round. Due to the nature of our climate, there is no legal requirement to change to cold-weather (known less accurately as ‘winter’) tyres, unlike some parts of Europe. Yet, after experiencing several harsh winters, cold-weather tyres hit the British headlines and some motorists elect to swap their tyres seasonally. From my own experiences of running cold-weather tyres during winter (which are still ongoing), I have witnessed the benefits but the downsides of cost and the inconvenience of storing two sets of tyres put off many people.
One might think that a solution lies in all-weather tyres but they tend to be cold-weather covers that have been modified for summer use. However, Michelin has taken the opposite stance and has developed a summer tyre that has been modified for wintry conditions, which should retain Michelin’s strong reputation for long tyre life – enter the CrossClimate range.
The company claims that its new covers boast optimum summer and winter performance, by combining attributes that are thought to be incompatible. This is because tyre engineering tends to be about fine compromises. Michelin justifies this, by stating that the tyre allows the car to brake in short distances on dry ground, as well as possessing the highest European label “A” score for wet braking. It also boasts cold-weather capabilities (below a notional seven degrees Celsius) that are superior to a conventional summer tyre, allowing it to be certified for winter use, so it can carry the 3-Peak Mountain Snow Flake symbol.
Due to go on sale from May, the CrossClimate range is the result of three years of development and five million kilometres of intense testing. Michelin claims that the cost-per-tyre will be around 5% higher that its conventional summer covers, which tend to be one of the more costly, premium tyres on the market anyway but, as mentioned earlier, Michelins have a reputation of lasting longer than most other makes.
Although I have no test experience of these covers, it seems as though the unique CrossClimate is not as capable as a conventional summer tyre, nor a dedicated cold weather tyre, but it seems to be the closest compromise, by far and thus better suited to British all-weather conditions. I bet that it will not be long, before Michelin’s rivals rush in with their own versions. I shall report more on this issue.