We, as auto journalists, are in habit of testing vehicles day in and out. However, it’s not an everyday thing that tyre OEMs ask you to test their tyre’s capabilities, even though a tyre play the most important role in the safety of the car, for they are the only surface in touch with the ground. Michelin, however, had a different idea in their mind. While tyres are not given that much importance in India, Michelin, the 130-year old tyre maker invited us to test their newest range of tyres called the Energy XM2+ at the WABCO proving grounds near Chennai.
As per Michelin, the new range of Energy XM2+ tyres are made to perform safely in wet weather conditions and remain relatively new till longer time. And so, the whole exercise was choreographed around the same parameters. Our first run was a wet braking test. A stretch was carved out to imitate wet weather by continuously pouring water. Two Maruti Suzuki Swifts were sourced from an independent testing agency with same specifications to keep the results as true as possible.
One Maruti Swift was wearing the Michelin’s new Energy XM2+ tyres and the other had the Bridgestone tyres for reference. As per Michelin, the new tyres can reduce the stopping distance by up to 3.3-metre in the wet conditions and this is what we tested ourselves. We drove the Swift at a steady speed of 100 kmph in fifth gear and then full braking was applied at a marker on the wet patch. Michelin did surprise us with the impressive performance and stopped before the rival tyres consistently.
The better stopping distance is a direct result of compounds and design of the XM2+ tyres and helps in inducing confidence when driving in rain. You can notice the extra grip behind the wheel as well and the car felt more stable, maintaining a straight line in panic braking.
While the first test was more inclined towards testing the wet braking abilities, we also got to drive around the WABCO test track for two laps to understand the handling capabilities of the new tyres. The track had various sections from long straight to a parabola, some tight corners and even a section dedicated to slalom test. Michelin says that the new compound adds to the grip which we felt during our drive on a normal surface. Our confidence was already high thanks to the wet weather testing.
We pushed the car to the core and needless to say, here too the Energy XM2+ tyres were quite impressive. Since the grip is better and predictably good, you can push the car to its limits. Not only handling, but Michelin also claims that the Energy XM2+ will last 30 per cent longer than its competitors. The Energy XM2+ will available in rim sizes ranging from 12 to 16-inch which means you can fit them in a wide variety of vehicles starting from hatchbacks to the big SUVs.
In our short time on the track, we felt the difference Michelin claim about the added grip which enhances the safety of the vehicle. As for longevity, it can’t be tested in such a short span. Having said that, prices for the Michelin Energy XM2+ range of tyres is about 10 per cent more than rivals. But then, that’s the price you pay for added safety and confidence.