Michelin claim that their latest tyre, the Primacy 3, can beat all comers in tricky conditions

Michelin Primacy 3. Wet 'n' wild with the latest tyres

Thursday, 27 October 2011 3:53 PM

Michelin Primacy 3

The new Michelin Primacy 3 basks in the Spanish sun. It doesn't mind a bit of wet, either

Here are a couple of safety-related tyre stats for you. And they might be a little surprising:

 – 70% of accidents occur on dry roads.
 – 60% of accidents happen in cities and at low speeds.
 – 25% of accidents take place when cornering (of which 50% are on wet roads). But these are the most severe for occupants and vehicle.

Perhaps we go a little quicker; feel somewhat more in control, when the roads are dry? And maybe we keep a little more of a safety-lid on things when there’s a fresh and treacherous glisten to the tarmac ahead..?

Nearly three-quarters of accidents in dry conditions. That’s an eye-opener!

The statistics are based on recent research by Michelin, the big French tyre-making brand, in conjunction with the Accidentology (the study of accidents) Chair at the University of Dresden.

The University carried out analysis of 20,000 road accidents in Europe that occurred over a 10-year period. This information was “mapped” to determine accident types and produced the stats we see above. So, perhaps understandably; danger seems to strike when we’re least likely – in dry and easy conditions – to expect it. Forewarned is forearmed! 

And far less accidents occur in the wet than perhaps we thought

Michelin also directly questioned the European man and woman in the street to better understand their driving behaviour, and asked them what the most important aspects of a tyre’s design was. Most of them put safety at the top of their tyre wish list. The accidentology research and market research were then fed into the design programme for Michelin’s latest “general” road tyre; the Primacy 3, due to roll on UK roads in early 2012.

I say “general” because this isn’t a tyre for the quickest kids out there in the fastest of supercars – like the Michelin Pilot Sport 3 I recently tested to the max on the track – but a tyre designed for everyday road conditions we all come across, and for the more “normal” cars that carry family and friends on those most mundane, everyday trips. 

Maximum braking on soaking roads revealed an advantage for the latest Michelin tyre; Primacy 3

As well as researching stats and probing punters, Michelin has also been testing their latest rubbery rings against the best of the rest from their rubber-loving competition. And, as I think we’re right to expect, Michelin has moved the grip-game on with their latest wheel-wrappers.

– Michelin Primacy 3 delivered the best braking performance on dry roads. When decelerating from 100 km/h (50mph) to a standstill, the braking distance of the Michelin Primacy 3 was 2.2 metres shorter than that of its four market-leading competitors. 

– Michelin Primacy 3 delivered the best braking performance on wet roads. When decelerating from 80 km/h to a standstill, the braking distance of the Michelin Primacy 3 was 1.5 metres shorter than that of its four market-leading competitors.

– Michelin Primacy 3 delivered the best grip when cornering on wet roads. At 90 km/h (50mph), the Michelin Primacy 3 delivered additional grip that amounts to a plus 3 km/h difference in speed.

These tests were conducted in 2011 by TÜV Süd Automotive and IDIADA on shop-bought 205/55 R 16V and 225/45 R 17W tyres, purchased in the European market in February 2011.

VW Passat at maximum braking attack. You can feel the tyres digging into the tarmac

And the proof of this sticky-rubber-pudding was indeed in the eating, with Michelin insisting that us journos chewed up some Primacy 3 on a specially constructed test course. Identical cars also carried other big brand tyres by way of comparison.

So, with the three main accident stats in mind, we slammed on the anchors – from 80kp/h (50mph) down to 0mph – on a dry road and a wet road, and did some quick loops around a soaked tarmac circle; looking for grip wherever we went. 

On the straight line dry and wet tests, I managed to pull the car up between a metre and two metres ahead of the competition, over a total distance travelled of around 23 metres. That’s a pretty big difference. 

And on the wet-ring cornering test I found the Michelin Primacy 3 to be more predictable in the way it dealt with the deluged track; with better front-end bite, less understeer and better “communication” when on the edge of adhesion. 

The Michelin Primacy 3 showed predictable lateral grip in this deluged cornering test 

Pudding proved indeed, thanks to the next level – built on decades Michelin of experience – of tread and compound science, plenty of R&D, and a fanatical passion for sticky black rings.

Michelin’s new Primacy 3 tyre is available in the UK in February 2012


By Daniel Anslow

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