Volkswagen Caddy Bluemotion: Our long termer gets Climate control
Van Advisor was given the opportunity to try out the latest CrossClimate rubber from Michelin on our Volkswagen Caddy long term test van and it’s fair to say that we were impressed.
The French manufacturer describes the tyre, launched in 2015, as its most important innovation for a decade and markedly different to the “de-tuned winter products” it says are the all-season tyre ranges offered by competitors.
Michelin’s mantra is that CrossClimates combine summer and winter tyre technologies to offer the same levels of grip, road holding, energy efficiency and durability expected of a summer tyre, while maintaining winter performance. This year’s rainy British springtime provided plenty of opportunities to assess the tyres on wet motorways, country lanes as well as busy dual carriageways and they didn’t disappoint.
In our Caddy in the dry, there was no noticeable reduction in performance to premium summer tyres, however, in the wet with reduced grip there was a noticeable difference with the CrossClimate tyres performing better than a competitor tyre.We took the van for a spin on a muddy dirt track in the Cambridgshire countryside and were impressed with just how much grip was available and how effortlessly it dealt with changes of camber.
Whereas with a conventional tyre the driver might feel the vehicle jerk slightly when going through a puddle, with the cross climates the feeling is one of being firmly fixed to the ground. It was a shame that the generally mild temperatures meant we were unable to find many opportunities to really be able to put them through their paces on severe ice or snow, but one icy morning when driving through South London a bit of sharp braking was required at a set of traffic lights. Here the tyres responded with admirable levels of grip.
When we spoke to boffins at Michelin they told us the technology comes directly from research gleaned from its involvement with the Formula E electric racing championship. The unusual tread pattern of the CrossClimates feature V-shaped blocks and self-blocking 3D sipes.According to Michelin the Vs optimise grip on snow, while also helping to improve lateral performance thanks to their widening widths.
They are currently available in more than 20 sizes and energy provider British Gas has already fitted them to its fleet of 13,000 commercial vehicles.
Based on our relatively short time with the CrossClimates it’s our view that genuine all year round tyres like these present a great cost-saving opportunity, giving drivers and fleets the ability to fit fewer tyres throughout the year.
They provide buyers with more choice and play an important complementary role alongside exclusively summer and cold weather tyre ranges. Perhaps the main legacy of CrossClimates will be to get van drivers more interested in the benefits that fitting all year round tyres can bring.