by: Jag Dhatt
On May 1, 2014, DRK Magazine was invited to the Michelin Tire Event in Vancouver, BC. The event allowed journalists to road test the new Premier A/S tire through a course and compare acceleration, braking, cornering, and grip against other tires, including those of a competitor. Professional race car driver and driving expert Carl Nadeau was on hand to give information about the new Premier A/S and provide tips for the daily driver.
Tires are definitely a big investment and given the plethora of brands, types, and categories, it’s not easy to determine the best tire for your vehicle. Personally, I always have two sets of tires for my car – a dedicated winter set and a performance summer set, which is probably overkill for the driving that I do on a daily basis. The last time I purchased a set of all-seasons (A/S) was over 10 years ago. That being said, A/S tires are almost always stock on new vehicles sold at dealerships, and the tires of choice when it comes to replacing them.
Michelin unveiled its new Premier A/S at the Detroit International Auto Show in early 2014. This revolutionary tire carries the, “Safe When New. Safe When Worn” slogan. What makes the new Premier A/S so unique? According to Michelin, the EverGrip technology has three major components.
First, the Premier A/S uses high amounts of silica, a polymer that improves rolling resistance and fuel consumption. In addition, Michelin uses sunflower oil, which keeps the tire more pliable in colder weather. Second, the tread pattern has been changed to increase actual rubber contact on the road. The new tread design has a more trapezoidal shape in which the grooves widen with wear, delivering wet traction. Finally, there is the use of the “emerging grooves” – these are rain grooves that lie hidden under the outer layer of compound along the tire’s shoulder. As the tire wears, these grooves emerge and provide traction similar to that of a new tire. Did all this new technology provide a noticeable difference during the test runs? Even though we didn’t have analytical date, we were pleasantly surprised.
During the test runs, I drove equivalent cars, but which were equipped with different tires: the first was on regular Michelin all-seasons; the next on Michelin winter tires; the third on the new Michelin Premier A/S; and the last on Goodyear Assurance. For each of the four cars, I did 3 test runs to get a good idea on acceleration, braking, and cornering on wet surfaces.
Acceleration was not the target but I was able to get up to about 75 km/h before I slammed on the brakes on all cars (ABS turned on). Based on the number of cones crossed, I was able to get a somewhat accurate idea of braking distance. Of the four tires, I would safely say that I stopped in a shorter distance on the new Premier A/S; not by much, but when it comes to avoiding an accident, a few feet can make all the difference in the world. The next part of the course was going through a course and testing cornering, steering response, and grip. What would surprise most people is that the winter tire is not a great tire of choice on a wet surface, and thus, the worst performer. With respect to cornering, steering response, and grip, the new Michelin Premier A/S was the best wet performer of the bunch. I was able to stay on course, and at higher speeds, as compared to the other tires. While driving on the regular Michelins, snow tires, and Goodyears, I had to consistently reduce speed to maintain control through the course. Never-the-less, I still hit many cones. With the Premiers, I had much better control of the vehicle and did not hit even one cone, even though I was traveling faster.
As I mentioned before, in no way were our tire test results confirmed by any objective, analytical, or computer assisted data. However, by completing 3 runs on each tire on the same wet track using the same cars, I would be confident in saying that the new Premier A/S tire certainly backs Michelin’s claim of excellent wet performance throughout its wear life.
It’s important to note that tire choice should depend not only on usage, but on location and weather conditions; for those of us living on the West coast, where wet weather in the norm, the Premier A/S is an excellent choice and definitely recommended.