Michelin X-ICE Xi3 Ride and Drive Event (road test at Mecaglisse in Quebec)

Michelin Road Test (at Mecaglisse, January 2012)When Michelin invited me to the Laurentian Mountains (Laurentides, in French) to do a road test of their new Michelin X-ICE Xi3 tire, my first question to myself was “how exactly will I portray this particular media trip?”. After all, having the experience of doing travel writing doesn’t prepare me to write a good, solid review of an experience that I had never had (doing road testing of a tire in extreme winter conditions).

Michelin Road Test (at Mecaglisse, January 2012)

But throughout the course of the road test of the Michelin X-ICE Xi3 and having conversations with the fellow writers who travelled from all over the United States and Canada for this road testing exercise, I was able to discern exactly what I wanted to write about: how safe I felt driving cars using the Michelin X-ICE Xi3 during the road test, even with having ZERO experience in winter conditions. And did you know that Michelin has a dedicated website for winter driving conditions (the Michelin Winter Driving Academy)?

michelin winter academy

Michelin, the world’s leading tire manufacturer, continues its commitment to safety and performance with the launch of its new Michelin® X-Ice® Xi3 tire. Engineered with innovative Michelin technology, the X-Ice® Xi3 delivers the ultimate performance and protection in all winter conditions.

Michelin Road Test (at Mecaglisse, January 2012)

I have driven in Vancouver, of course. I have had to dodge bad drivers in rainy conditions. But I had ZERO experience driving in ice sleet, or snowy roads. My brother, who lives in Calgary (and of course his wife) has A LOT of experience driving in winter conditions. I did not (after spending 7 hours driving in extreme conditions with a very safe tire, trust me, now I feel equipped to do it). But I will fully confess that, at the beginning of the day, as we were heading to Mecaglisse, I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.

Michelin Road Test (at Mecaglisse, January 2012)

Morten and Raul at Michelin event - Photo by Jill McIntoshAs the day progressed and we were “walked through” each one of the 6 modules (each module presenting gradual, progressively more difficult driving exercises, all perfectly safely designed and monitored by the Michelin staff), I felt A LOT more confident. It also helped that I shared the experience with a group of excellent writers, amongst them Morten Koch, Paul Williams and Jill McIntosh (who took the photo to the left). These writers had already done this kind of exercise at another time, so it was much easier for them, and they acted as fantastic mentors to me. I probably would have not felt entirely crazy and excited about the idea of test driving!

I will fully confess that, as someone who didn’t have any experience driving in winter conditions, the Michelin X-ICE Xi3 made me feel that I would be safe, no matter how extreme the winter conditions! We did all sorts of exercises throughout the module, including accelerating to 30 k/h in a circuit completely covered in ice. Admittedly, these conditions were a tad too extreme, but they were designed to showcase how safe the tire is.

michelin tire

Michelin Road Test (at Mecaglisse, January 2012)

The experience overall was a fantastic bonding experience. If you think about how you choose tires based on safety and sense of security and self-reliance, this exercise was brilliantly designed by Michelin to make us face some potential challenges on the road and determine by ourselves which tire was best suited to our needs.

Michelin Road Test (at Mecaglisse, January 2012)

We test drove several cars equipped with the competitors, and while I’m not going to name brands, there were points where I was afraid I would go off the road (in which case, of course, I would have crashed in a snow bank, and all of these contingencies were already planned, so my safety and that of all the writers who participated in the exercise was perfectly guaranteed).

The innovative technology in the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tire not only offers complete confidence while driving in any winter condition, but also fuel-efficiency and long-lasting performance Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tire uses third-generation, winter-grip technology, which provides better winter performance than its predecessor. On ice, the tire delivers 17 percent stronger grip and stops 7 percent shorter; and, on snow it provides 6 percent better traction and stops 3 percent shorter.

Michelin combines four key technologies in the tread block to make its X-Ice Xi3 a groundbreaking tire. The Cross Z sipe enables stable handling, Block Edge provides more grip on snow and ice and Micro-Pumps absorb water — all improving tread contact and FleX-Ice™, a rubber silica-based compound that offers unsurpassed braking. The unique tear-drop shape of the vertical sipes provides better grip during acceleration and braking, which helps high-speed handling. Its MaxTouch Construction™ features a unique contact-patch shape that evenly distributes the forces of acceleration, braking and cornering and maximizes wear life.

Michelin Road Test (at Mecaglisse, January 2012)

Quite obviously, because of my interest in environmental issues, I wondered whether these tires would have lower carbon emissions and whether they would be long-lasting (in Mexico, one of the biggest markets for recycling is the recycling of tires). I inquired about this, and found the following on their media kit:

Michelin’s perennial performance ensures the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tire will maintain quality performance and appearance through the life of the tire. The tire comes with a 60,000 kilometer limited tread wear warranty. With its Green X® marking, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tire guarantees a level of energy efficiency among the highest in the market. It helps reduce CO2 emissions while maintaining all the advantages of long wear, safety and performance.

The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tire will be available in Fall 2012 in 33 dimensions — ranging from 14 to 18 inch rim diameters — and will cover more than 90 percent of the Canadian and American winter market for cars and mini-vans (with complementary dimensions still available in X-Ice Xi2 tires).

About Michelin

Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks and motorcycles. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.michelinman.com) employs more than 22,200 people and operates 18 major manufacturing plants in 16 locations.

I’m really glad that Michelin invited me to the Laurentides in Quebec to the Ride and Drive event at Mecaglisse and I look forward to having an opportunity to test, in real life, and in normal day-to-day conditions the Michelin X-ICE Xi3. Who knows, maybe in 2012 we will have a full white Christmas?

Disclosure: I was invited to the Ride and Drive Event by Michelin Canada/Michelin North America on a media trip. My expenses to and from Quebec as well as my lodging, meals and transportation to Mecaglisse for the test driving were all covered by Michelin. A review of the tire was not expected, nor paid for, not am I required to even write about the event. But I think this is one of the most unique integrated travel and product testing experiences I have had and wanted to write about it. As always, I retain full editorial control of whatever is published on my site.

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Comments (1)

HenrikFebruary 15th, 2012 at 11:12 am

Interesting i read about ice tires. I live up north and really hope the development of ice tires will continue, because we need it, haha!
Henrik recently posted..Flexible ice stick trays, set of 2

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