Testing winter tires in a blizzard? That’s one way to know how they perform!
In Montreal, Quebec, most days in February are cold, there is snow on the ground and it’s, well, Winter. This February was no different, apart from the day of the official media launch of the new Michelin X-Ice winter tires we were testing on tracks North of Montreal in the Laurentian Mountains.
It was a full-on blizzard.
We arrived to the snow falling lightly, but when it just wouldn’t stop falling overnight – and over 30cm fell (11.5 inches for my American friends)– our media drive was postponed until after lunch.
The large bus scheduled to take us to Circuit Mecaglisse wouldn’t even make the snowy trek at that point. It was then that our professional drivers drove the AWD SUVs equipped with the new X-Ice Tires from the track to come to pick us all up and we caravaned back up the mountain together. Yes, the same SUVs that we were going to be driving on track to test the new tires. That is the way to get it done.
This winter adventure designed to fully put these tires to the test for all the media to experience was now made even more authentic.
Related: What Drives Her: Joanie Martin, Chief Administration Officer of Michelin Tire North America
Once at the Track, it was Time to Test the Tires
Through four drive exercises and different tracks, we tested both new and worn tires against the competition and in SUVs and sedans.
Of course, I expected the all wheel drive system on the SUVs to give me extra confidence and capability in the snow. But how the sedans performed was a lovely surprise. The sedan actually ended up being more fun to drive; the precision and speed I was able to have in the snow was fantastic.
Even on Worn Tread, X-Ice Claws and Grips on Ice
Testing the worn tires on an ice track against a competitor meant that I could actually feel the grip through a slalom pilon drive around sharp turns and accelerations. I felt more in control and less fearful of sliding off into a snowbank when driving the sedan equipped with the X-Ice tires, even though they were worn way down to almost bald.
Most winter tires’ sipes, or the slits in the tread that allow the rubber to move, don’t run all the way down to the base of the tire. They do in the X-Ice tire, giving it a lot more traction throughout the life of the tire.
Deep Snow As the Ultimate Test
With each drive, we had a professional driver at our side, and on the deep snow (extra deep thanks to the blizzard that just wouldn’t let up!) he instructed me to keep the pedal to the floor the entire length of the drive. Say what? It was exhilarating, and a touch scary, to drive a track with the pedal to the floor to avoid getting stuck! Throughout the length of the drive, he had me drive in and out of the deep ruts to display how the tire can really climb through snow effectively.
Compared to the other tire, I felt more confident with the X-Ice tire and we were able to power through without getting stuck.
What Makes X-Ice Tires Different
- A v-shaped tread design – 100% use of the contact patch for optimal grip performance on wet, snow and ice and for exceptional slush performance
- Flex-Ice silica tread compound – a full silica-based compound maintains flexibility in severe cold climate conditions
- 2 types of full-depth 3D sipes for an increased claw effect on snow and ice, and for long-lasting biting edges
The new X-Ice tire will be available globally in 2020-2021 and 85% of all production is made in Halifax, Canada. Tires made here will carry the Canadian Maple Leaf emblem right on the tire. Just so you know it’s Canada-tested and approved.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Michelin in Quebec; travel and accommodations were provided. All opinions are my own. The snow? That’s the magic of Quebec.