In the UK, we experience every sort of winter driving condition. Heavy snow in 2012, the cold and wet winter of 2014, to the mild and warm winter of 2015, the UK really is an unpredictable climate.
This unpredictability makes tyre choices for the British winters difficult. Without question, winter tyres are the right tyre for freezing and snowy conditions, but with the last few winters characterised by warm wet conditions, a summer tyre would be the smarter choice overall.
This has lead us to start recommending "all season" tyres as the correct tyre to fit in the winter. All season tyres offer approximately 85% of a summer tyres performance in the dry and wet, and 85% of a winter tyres performance the snow which gives them a slightly better operating window for the UK than a full winter. While this balance of qualities is the best compromise currently available, the ideal tyre for the UK tyre market is a tyre which offers 99% of a summer tyres performance in the dry and wet, yet still offers the ability to perform in snow and ice for those few days a year we see adverse conditions. The good news is, Michelin claim to have done exactly that with the new Michelin CrossClimate.
The Michelin CrossClimate is the worlds first summer tyre which can be used in winter conditions. TUV tested, the new CrossClimate really does seem to be the magic bullet for the UK climate, with 99% of a summer tyres performance in the dry and wet, and 100% of a winter tyres performance in snow traction and braking. Is this too good to be true? Fortunately we've had some experience driving on this tyre, and we're happy to report it seems to do exactly as Michelin / TUV claim.
Initial Driving Report
Not wanting the new Michelin CrossClimate to have an easy time, we tested the new Michelin against some class leading tyres. The summer tyre was represented by the Michelin Energy Saver+, the winter tyre was the Michelin Alpin A5 and the all season tyre the test winning Goodyear Vector 4Seasons. During initial testing, we conducted dry braking, wet handling and snow traction tests.
During general driving the Michelin CrossClimate felt a lot more like a "normal" tyre than the all season and winter, with sharper steering response, more direct braking and better steering feel. This was really highlighted during dry braking, where the bite and braking distance was almost identical when compared to the summer tyre, and much stronger than the all season and winter tyres.
During wet handling the Michelin CrossClimate equaled, if not bettered the summer tyre, and while it felt a little numb at the limit compared to the summer, it provided a more progressive nature and had more grip and feel than the all season and winter tyres, which felt weak and numb on the wet circle.
The snow traction test was limited to an uphill start, but it once again proved Michelin's claims that it performed as well as a full winter tyre in snow traction, and was many many times better than a summer.
The Michelin CrossClimate really is a game changer. There is a compromise, and the compromise is is weaker snow and ice handling but this is fine for the the UK climate. The Michelin CrossClimate offers the same wear and noise characteristics as the class leading Michelin Energy Saver+, and offers identical safety characteristics as full summer and full winter tyres in dry, wet and snow traction and braking. It also has the advantage of being "3 peak" marked, which means the tyre is legal in any country this requires a winter tyre to be used.
If you want to drive on one tyre year round, the Michelin CrossClimate really is the tyre to use.
Keep an eye on Tyre Reviews for more information on the CrossClimate - in the near future we'll be publishing a technical report about how the tyre manages to blend these qualities into a single package!
The new Michelin CrossClimate will be available in May in a range of 23 sizes to fit wheel sizes from 15 to 17 inches and has the european label score "A" in wet grip and "C" in rolling resistance in the majority of the sizes. More sizes coming in 2016.
The new CrossClimate is initially available in the following sizes
185/65 R15 V 195/55 R15 V 195/60 R15 V 195/65 R15 V 205/60 R16 H 205/60 R16 V 205/65 R15 V 195/55 R16 H 205/55 R16 V 215/55 R16 V 215/60 R16 V 215/65 R16 V 225/55 R16 W 205/50 R17 W 215/50 R17 W 215/55 R17 W 215/60 R17 V 225/45 R17 W 225/50 R17 V 225/55 R17 W 185/65 R15 T 185/60 R15 V 195/55 R16 V
with 3 new 14" sizes, 2 new 16" sizes, 5 new 17" car sizes including 235/45 R17 and 215/45 R17, 6 new SUV sizes (3 x 17", 2 x 18" & 1 x 19" CrossClimate SUV) and 3 new 18" sizes including 225/40 R18