Disclosure: I bought all of the tyres discussed in this review with my own money. No freebies were involved.
If I told you I was looking forward to replacing the tyres on my car, you’d probably think I was either daft or had money to burn…
But as a long-time user of all-season tyres (since the days when you had to import them from Germany), I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to put Michelin’s award-winning CrossClimate tyres to the test.
As their name suggests, CrossClimate (and all other all-season tyres) are intended to provide acceptable performance all year round.
That’s a big contrast to the summer tyres fitted as standard to most UK-spec cars, which are great in summer, but which stiffen up and provide very little grip in low temperatures. This is why we experience chaos on the roads when it snows — everyone is driving on tyres that don’t work in such conditions.
However, all-season tyres are becoming more popular, and are increasingly appearing as options on some new cars.
Although they are all-season tyres, the CrossClimates are a bit different to other tyres in this class. This is because they are summer tyre adapted for winter use, rather than a winter tyre adapted for summer use. This may sound like a minor difference, but it’s not. It has an impact on the type of rubber compound used, the wear rate, the tread pattern and the tyre’s performance in different conditions.
I’ve now had a chance to put a couple of thousand miles on my CrossClimates. I’ve certainly noticed the difference compared to the Vredestein Quatracs (also good tyres) which they replaced. To help anyone thinking about taking the plunge, I thought I’d share my first impressions here.
Handling and feel
Once I’d inflated my new tyres to the correct pressure (why do garages never do this correctly?) I found that the CrossClimates felt harder and more like a summer tyres than my old Vredestein Quatracs. Handling is good in wet and dry conditions, probably a little better than the Quatracs if you push hard.
My overall impression of the tyres is positive and they inspire confidence, although it has taken a while to get used to the harder feel. The tyres are currently inflated to the pressure specified in my car’s manual, but I’m wondering whether I can reduce this slightly.
As the whole point of buying these tyres is the grip they provide across a wide range of conditions, I thought I’d comment on this aspect separately.
So far, I’ve driven the CrossClimates on dry and wet roads, and in ice, frost and light snow. Wet performance is excellent and on a par with my old Vredestein Quatracs, but I’d say that dry performance is better than the Quatracs.
In colder and more slippery conditions, the CrossClimates have performed well so far. In heavy frost and light snow, the tyres have felt grippy and secure. I’ve had no problems and have not felt the need to tip-toe around. Although I’d need a bit more experience in snow to be sure, my impression is that these tyres are as good, or better, than the other all-season tyres I’ve used.
During the time we’ve owned this car, it’s had two other sets of tyres — he original summer Michelins (Energy Savers, I think) and the Vredesteins. Although there probably is some difference in noise levels between these three tyres, my perception is that they’ve all been acceptable. None have been noticeably quieter or noisier than the others.
The only thing I have noticed is that the tread on the CrossClimate tyres seems to pick up grit on salted or dirty roads more than any other tyre I’ve used. This is noticeable, as you hear the grit ping against the underside of the car as it flicks off the tyre.
It’s more of a hamrless quirk than a problem, but my wife and I have both commented on it.
It’s too soon to say how quickly the CrossClimates will wear out. But I’m hoping that the summer tyre-like feel of the CrossClimates will translate into better summer performance, and a slower wear in hot weather. My experience (driving mostly country roads) is that this was the Quatrac’s weakest point.
Virtually all of the professional and customer reviews I’ve read of the CrossClimates have been positive. I can see why. This appears to be a superb tyre that’s ideally suited for general motoring use in the UK.
If you’re not convinced, it’s worth noting that British Gas was one of the first big fleet customers for the CrossClimate. The firm uses the tyres on its fleet of 13,000 small vans across the UK. After the first year in service, Fleet Manager Colin Marriott said:
“Michelin’s CrossClimate tyres have exceeded expectations in all respects. The fitments have clearly improved year-round traction for our wide-ranging fleet, especially in wet weather, and we’ve had nothing but positive feedback from our drivers.”
I’m very pleased with my CrossClimates so far. I’ll update this article once I’ve got more experience in different conditions. In the meantime, if you’ve got any questions or opinions on all-season tyres, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you think.