September 8, 2015 – The rains in the plains fall mainly in the cool, paved streets
Not many people like driving in rain and I can be included in that majority. However, this long-term tire test has left me craving it for the purposes of science (or more accurately, instrument-free performance testing.) Unfortunately, the Toronto spring failed to deliver the goods. My patience for a good dump was tested more than that of a patient a couple of days out of surgery.
You see, I was impressed with the Nokian WR G3s slush performance during winter tire testing and I had a feeling they would be just as good in rain. But as it turns out, it took well into June before I saw the kind of downpour I’d be hoping for. Then it came…
I got my first taste of true wet-weather performance on a Sunday afternoon on the 401. The clouds were dark and the rain was so heavy that even my wipers set to full spaz-mode couldn’t complete. The shoulders on both sides of the collectors were littered with wreckage, white knuckles and tears. This was my day. It was time for some science.
First up was standing water addressing the tires of just one side of a vehicle. This tends to be quite dramatic, even at relatively low speed. There’s the change in sound, the pull of the steering wheel and an immediate reduction in speed. However, thanks to the deep channels and water-friendly tread design, the Nokians felt planted and instilled confidence. The tug on the wheel was all but non-existent. So far, so good.
Next up, I began testing progressive grip-loss on very wet roads by increasing my speed thought the bends on the highway. And while every tire on a wet road will slip when pushed, The ideal performance is one of smooth and steady loss of traction providing feedback and time to adjust your speed and steering angle. A tire that bites well up to the point of total traction loss can be quite dangerous. In this case, the slip was very smooth. Exactly what you’d want in this type of weather.
Finally, I found a quiet parking lot to see how the car would behave during emergency braking and steering maneuvers. And once again, I was impressed. The traction under braking was strong enough to make for rather aggressive jerking while the ABS worked overtime to keep up. This too can be a dramatic experience but the car came to a stop is a very straight and with minimal slippage.
Quick and sharp turning (occasionally required for collision avoidance) was the only area where I would take marks off. The soft sidewalls of the tire make for a comfortable ride but also mean that the tire bends before it affects the direction of the car. But to be honest, we’re getting into nitpicking. Once the suspension and tire pack down, the car changed direction smoothly and with stability.
Throughout all the driving I’ve done this year, my opinion remains the same. This is a solid tire in all conditions. It’s not designed for high-performance nor extreme winter driving but for what you’ll face in the city, it’s a safe, comfortable and well-rounded performer. I’d recommend it for any size or shape of family hauler as well as any non-performance oriented compact.
In my last update, I’ll address hot weather performance and tread wear but after 20,000 km, it’s still looking fresh out of the press.