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These tyres...they’re made for ‘drivin’

S Muralidhar | Updated on December 26, 2019 Published on December 26, 2019

The test involved emergency braking from a prefixed marker on a wet patch to gauge the difference in braking distance between the XM2+ and the competitor brand

Michelin’s new Energy XM2+ delivers better performance while new or worn, and even a claimed 29 per cent increase in life

Testing tyres isn’t an easy exercise, though from the outside, the factors that influence performance may not seem to be too varied. They are in fact, as complex as the cars on which they are fitted. Weight of the car, the quality of the road surface, the prevailing weather, moisture levels on the tarmac, number of passengers in the car and the amount of wear of the tyres, all or any of these factors can affect the performance of the tyres. Recently, Michelin introduced a new, improved performance variant of its popular Energy XM2 brand of tyres. Made using a new, longer lasting full Silica compound, the XM2+ tyres is said to be capable of offering 29 per cent more mileage than a benchmarked premium brand competitor in the mass market passenger car segment.

On-ground performance

To personally test and verify the claims of superior performance, I joined the team from Michelin India and Applus IDIADA India (an independent testing agency) at the WABCO proving grounds just outside Chennai. The plan was to test the new Michelin tyres, both new and when worn, and compare their performance with a key competitor, which here was the Bridgestone B290. At the track, for the wet-braking test, we were driving the diesel-engine variants of the Maruti Suzuki Swift shod with 185/70 R14 profile tyres from both the brands and in both new and worn condition. The test involved emergency braking from a prefixed marker while on the wet patch to gauge the difference in braking distance between the XM2+ and the competitor brand. To make sure that the old tyres of both the brands were clearly and evenly worn, they were left with only 1.5mm of tread depth after being put through a dynamo wear cycle. Driving the cars sporting the different tyres at a constant speed of 100kmph and performing emergency braking on wet tarmac confirmed Michelin’s claims that the XM2+ tyres do stop shorter compared to the competitor. While I wasn’t attempting to measure the exact difference in stopping distance, Michelin officials claim that the worn XM2+s stop 3.4 metres shorter than the competition’s and the new one stops 2.4 metres shorter than the Bridgestone B290.

Inside the cabin of the Maruti Suzuki Swift, the difference in performance was evident from the brake feel and progressiveness of the bite of the brakes. With the ABS kicking in the XM2+‘s stronger grip and stopping power translates to better brake feel.

Next up were laps on the looping track around the WABCO grounds. This is not a long or too technical a track and is not built for very high speeds either. But, a couple of right-handlers and a fairly long parabolic turn where I could carry some speed and test the new XM2+ to an extent. Despite what would seem to be a fairly rigid compound that the tyre gets, there is no slippery, over-hard feeling hole behind the wheel. Michelin claims that the new rubber formulation with strong link of filler-filler molecular bond reduces wear and increases the mileage by 29 per cent over the life of the tyres (compared to the competition). Grip levels are consistently good on the track and the amount of input at the brake pedal is also marginally lesser with reduced ABS judder.

The XM2+ is available in varying sizes from 12 to 16 inches in different aspect ratios and so can be fitted out for cars across segments from the entry small car to SUVs and multi-purpose vehicles. Prices start from ₹5,090 and the new tyres will be available at authorised dealers from January.

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Published on December 26, 2019
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