Testing the Michelin Primacy MXV4
Testing the Michelin Primacy MXV4. Click image to enlarge

By James Bergeron

Photo Gallery: Michelin Primacy MXV4

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Birmingham, Alabama – This is The Heart of Dixie: home to southern belles, grits, fine hospitality and, of course, Barber Motorsports Park and Museum. This is where I spent a lovely day in May testing Michelin’s new Primacy MXV4, a tire for both dry and wet performance, versus the leading competition’s tire.

Over the past five years, an increasing number of vehicles are being delivered equipped with performance touring tires. With suspension and tire technologies ever evolving, the performance aspect of today’s basic sedans are well beyond the capabilities of even some performance cars just a decade ago. Other recent trends, such as 16-, 17- or even 18-inch inch alloy wheels have led to the increase of larger, more performance oriented tires fitted as standard.

The OE (original equipment) tire on your vehicle has been designed in conjunction with the suspension to provide the comfort and performance you have been accustomed to since the car was new. When it comes time to replace this tire, it is highly recommend you replace it with one with similar performance attributes to maintain your vehicle’s driving characteristics.

Michelin Primacy MXV4 close-up
Michelin Primacy MXV4 close-up; photo by James Bergeron. Click image to enlarge

Whether you drive a BMW, Lexus, Honda, Nissan or even a Hyundai, you may be unaware that your vehicle is equipped from the factory with a performance touring tire. These are designed as all-season tires and provide a balance between ride comfort, durability and wet and dry traction.

According to Michelin, the new Primacy MXV4 tire is capable of providing that balance – using the following features to do so, including:

  • Michelin Advanced MaxTouch Construction technology, a unique shape and tire design that provides long-lasting, even tread wear.
  • Michelin Comfort Control Technology uses both a computer-optimized tread design and precision manufacturing to greatly reduce vibrations and road noise, and help deliver one a comfortable ride.

  • Michelin’s new tread design incorporates “active sipes” that alternately lock together and open as needed to provide biting edges to grip the road for improved all-season handling, especially in rain. Sipes are thin grooves across individual tread blocks that deliver enhanced performance.

Michelin Primacy MXV4
Michelin Primacy MXV4; photo by James Bergeron. Click image to enlarge

During my day as a tire tester, Michelin provided us with 2007 Toyota Camrys, vehicles which represent a common choice of the quintessential “accidental” performance touring tire buyer. Buyers purchasing a vehicle in this category are generally looking for value, durability and a smooth, quiet ride. With the increased performance capabilities of this new generation they may be unintentionally purchasing a vehicle that is equipped with a performance touring tire that may provide excellent traction but a shorter tire life than expected.

Testing the Michelin Primacy MXV4
Testing the Michelin Primacy MXV4. Click image to enlarge

The first exercise in the Camry was a wet / dry autocross that provided medium speed sweepers, slaloms and “S” curves. First, driving the vehicle equipped with a tire from a top-tier Michelin competitor, we were encouraged to push the envelope and then dial it back to ensure we could feel the differences between the tires. The competition’s tire seemed reasonably competent — with good turn-in response in the quick transitions. In the long, medium-speed sweepers, initial turn-in was excellent followed by a sudden onset of understeer as the tire gave up under load.

The Michelin MXV4 tire was then subjected to these same tests, mounted on an identical vehicle. My immediate reaction to the MXV4 tire was very positive. Initial turn-in was slightly dampened compared to the competition’s tire on the long sweepers but grip was consistent throughout the turn. In a real world driving scenario this could mean the difference between hitting the ditch or only veering off onto the hard shoulder. Having had three passes at the autocross course with both tires, I began to push the Michelin MXV4 tire fairly hard – enough to convince me that I felt more confident with this tire and its abilities over the competition’s offering.

Testing the Michelin Primacy MXV4
Testing the Michelin Primacy MXV4. Click image to enlarge

The second exercise we performed was a wet braking exercise. The task was to accelerating up to 55 mph (88 km/h) on a slippery surface, then begin braking at a marked point to determine stopping distance. I managed a consistent 10 feet (3 meters) difference in stopping distance between the competition’s tire and the Michelin MXV4, with the nod going to the MXV4 of course.

The third exercise was “cancelled”: it was intended to demonstrate the 100,000-km warranty that accompanies the MXV4 tire. “We wanted to prove Michelin’s 100,000-km warranty on this performance touring tire, but the PR department expressed some mild discomfort over keeping the journalists running laps on the track for six weeks, so we opted for some serious wet handling and braking tests instead,” said Nick Nalepa, Brand Category Manager of Michelin.

The Michelin Primacy MXV4 tire is the next generation of the popular Energy MXV4 tire line which has helped define the ride for vehicles ranging from the Honda Accord to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Providing a quiet smooth ride and excellent dry and wet traction, the Michelin Primacy MXV4 tire provides excellent value for a touring car.

The Primacy MXV4 is offered in 32 sizes ranging from 185/65R15 to 225/60R18 with an H speed rating, and 195/60R15 to 245/45R18 with a V speed rating. The Primacy MXV4 tire will be available at tire dealers starting in June 2007.

Sidebar: The Shoe For You

Michelin Primacy MXV4 Casual Line
Michelin Primacy MXV4 Casual Line
Michelin Primacy MXV4 Casual Line. Click image to enlarge

Also during this event, Michelin Lifestyle Limited (MLL) and Michelin North America, Inc. announced an all-new casual footwear line – inspired by the new Michelin Primacy MXV4 tire.

All Michelin footwear, including the MXV4 line, is designed ‘from the inside out.’ According to Michelin representatives, this optimizes comfort and performance while retaining grip and durability. The MXV4 footwear line features two outsoles, inspired by the tire sculpture, and full-grain premium leather uppers in 60 different styles with colours to suit the most fashion-forward lifestyles.

The new MXV4 footwear line will carry a Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price range of $79-$120 (U.S.) and be available in specialty retail stores and upscale department stores throughout the U.S. and Canada beginning in the fall.

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