When most people talk about a vehicle’s handling prowess, they talk about suspension setups, centre of gravity, weight distribution, overall vehicle weight, basically, everything but the tires it’s riding on. Yes, a vehicle’s design and attributes do play a large role in handling characteristics, but arguably, the most important bit of kit that’ll determine how your vehicle sticks to the road are its tires. It’s the same reason it’s prudent for people living in Canada to switch over to winter tires for half of the year.
For most people who aren’t concerned with lap times or a quick 60-foot time, tire performance is not a priority. Often, when it’s time to replace rubber, the “cheapest” set will do. I’m often asked for tire advice from my friends that own cars simply for commuting purposes. I try to explain to them that a good tire isn’t about the potential to attain faster lap times, but about safety. The only thing that keeps your 1,500 kg mass of steel and glass and plastic on the road and within the painted lines are the four round rubber black things.
With a billion different tire manufacturers and models out there, it’s hard to know which one is right for you. Things I always consider when looking for a good tire for your average sedan or CUV are: price, wet road performance, road noise, and how much grip the tire retains once its worn down to the halfway mark.
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited out to test the new Michelin Premier LTX tire. The Michelin Premier was launched last year with great success. The new Premier LTX is the latest addition to the Premier family and is designed for use in the SUV/CUV/Light Truck segment.
The Premier series tire boasts a tire technology known as Evergrip. More than just a fancy name, Evergrip tire tech has made me a believer in the Premier tire.
For this tire test, I was put in a 2016 Kia Sorento. Luckily for me, my instructor was none other than Carl Nadeau, one of my favourite Canadian professional racers and a highly experienced drifter with his own school. As I was the only journalist there for my time slot, and having previously driven with Nadeau, I was instructed to “go all-out”. I’m not the type of driver that needs to be told twice when given the go-ahead to go full boogie.
Arrayed before me was a course made up of several sections for me to test the Premier LTX. We had your standard emergency braking section, in the dry and the wet; emergency last-minute swerve sections; slalom section; and some highly challenging decreasing radius corners, simulating very tight on or off ramps, or unknown mountain roads where you may enter faster than conditions call for.