Editor Gill settles on unusual Michelin ‘winter’ tyres

7th December 2019, by Chris Gill

If Carlsberg made tyres

If Carlsberg made tyres

Taking a car to the Alps? You’re probably aware that ordinary tyres are useless on snow and ice. In some circumstances, chains and other devices can be fitted to overcome their deficiencies. But in practice, to be safe and legal you need winter tyres, which are specially designed for use in low temperatures.

Or do you? The big drawback of winter tyres is that they are appreciably less good than regular tyres in warm, dry conditions, so you should swap back to regular tyres in spring. And even if you do, before you get the tyres swapped you’re going to be doing some driving on warm, dry roads with tyres not ideally suited to them. But there is now a way round the problem – ‘all-season’ tyres that deliver good grip both in summer and winter conditions.

This winter, for the first time in ages, I’ve decided to take my car to the Alps. Since I was last involved in choosing tyres for skiing purposes, there have been great improvements in the performance of all-season tyres, and I’ve become convinced of their merits.

A note at this point for readers outside Europe. In North America, in particular, it seems that normal tyres, which we would call summer tyres, are called all-season tyres (well, tires). In Europe, all-season tyres are designed to be pretty good on snow and ice, and most carry the international three-peak/snowflake symbol that Austrian policemen look for if you cross their path. (If your tyres lack it, you’re in trouble.)

After a lot of ‘research’ (ie googling to find relevant reviews), I’ve settled on a tyre that’s a bit different from other all-season tyres – the Michelin CrossClimate. This has some features in common with both winter and summer tyres, but is designed to grip better than its rivals in dry and warm conditions.

Bear in mind that there are at least four variants of this tyre – the original CC introduced in 2015, the SUV version introduced in 2016, the improved ‘plus’ version introduced for regular car sizes in 2017 and the Agilis version now available for light trucks. For my Skoda Kodiaq, it will be the SUV version.

In some tests, the CC does not match the snow grip of the best winter tyres (or the all-season tyres that do best on snow), but it does bear the crucial three-peak/snowflake symbol and it comes well up to general winter tyre standards, according to reports. And in some tests it matches the best.

You can find countless comparisons of tyre performance on the web, including lots about the CC, particularly on YouTube, but I’ll point you to just three sources.

The TyreReviews video below really says it all. Look at this if you look at nothing else.

Shortly after its introduction, the highly respected German testing and standards organisation TUV compared the CC to the alternatives – Michelin summer and winter tyres and a top-rated Goodyear all-season. They found:

For braking on dry roads the CC matched the summer tyres and was significantly better than the other tyres. For grip on wet bends they found it matched the winter tyres and Goodyear all weather tyres and was slightly better than summer tyres. For wet braking at 6C it matched the winter tyres.

And for climbing a snow covered hill from they found it to be the equal of the winter tyres, and slightly better than Goodyear all weather tyres. Of course, all were vastly better than the summer tyres.

There’s a full summary here.

The German magazine Auto Bild recently compared all-season tyres for SUVs. The CC tyre came second to a Vredestein tyre and was said to be ‘a strong allrounder with sporty dynamic handling in the dry, and good in the snow and wet. Low rolling resistance.’ But what that doesn’t tell you is that the CC was way ahead of the competition in the dry.

Read more here.

Update: You can read how I got on in Switzerland here.

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