Michelin X-ICE Xi3. New tire, left, versus worn tire. Click image to enlarge
Originally published February 7, 2012
Review and photos by Paul Williams
Michelin X-ICE Xi3
Notre-Dame-de-la-Merici, Quebec – The latest Michelin X-ICE winter tire, the Xi3, is set for introduction in July, 2012. To demonstrate its attributes, Michelin booked winter-driving time at Quebec’s Mecaglisse motorsports complex so journalists could compare the new tire with its competitors.
“The innovative technology in the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tire not only offers complete confidence while driving in any winter condition, but also fuel-efficiency and long-lasting performance,” said Normand Latremouille, Michelin North America’s winter category manager.
These three key characteristics of the X-ICE Xi3 — the technology, low rolling resistance and longevity — were front and centre during Michelin’s press introduction. Complementing the technical presentations, the driving component of the event saw vehicles driven on snow and ice through a range of Mecaglisse’s purpose-designed circuits.
Race driver Richard Spenard, along with a team of Canadian motorsports luminaries, guided the driving component.
The Michelin X-ICE Xi3 is the third generation of the X-ICE series of tires, and will initially be available in 33 sizes, ranging from 14-18-inch rim diameters. This range covers over 90 per cent of the winter market for North American cars and minivans.
Michelin X-ICE Xi3 at Mecaglisse. Click image to enlarge
Michelin reports a seven per cent shorter stopping distance and 17 per cent acceleration improvement on ice in comparison to the Michelin X-ICE Xi2 tire it is replacing (the Xi2 will remain on the market in various sizes for particular applications not covered by the Xi3). Additionally, Michelin reports a three per cent shorter stopping distance and six per cent acceleration improvement on snow.
The technology of the tire features what Michelin calls a “Cross Z” sipe that stabilizes handling, “Block Edge” to provide more grip on snow and ice, “Micro-Pumps” to absorb water and “FleX-Ice” which is a rubber silica-based compound to improve braking.
Special tear-drop shaped vertical sipes contribute to improved braking and acceleration and high-speed handling. The Xi3 contact patch (the patch of tire that actually comes in contact with the road) is designed to evenly distribute acceleration, cornering and braking forces, further stabilizing the vehicle, according to Michelin engineers. Michelin refers to this contact patch as “MaxTouch.”
Michelin is confident enough with the longevity of this tire that a 60,000 kilometre limited treadwear warranty accompanies its purchase. The tire is also “Green X” rated for energy efficiency.
Interestingly, the new Xi3 does not look as aggressive as you may expect for a winter tire that claims effectiveness in both snowy and icy conditions (more “brains” than “brawn” with this tire). There are no heavy, truck-like blocks of rubber that imply superior ability to trudge through snow, for instance, suggesting that trying to determine a tire’s ability by its appearance alone is not the best indicator.