When the Michelin XM2+ was announced, we pondered upon why the tyre maker decided to maintain the name “XM2” and not an entirely new model designation like XM3 for example.
The fact that the new tyre uses the same thread pattern as the near-decade-old XM2 also raises some questions as to how the new tyre stacks up compared to the model it replaces and the competition. Are there any improvements? If so, by how much? We sat down with Michelin’s Regional B2C Product Marketing Manager, Muller Kajornpop to find out the development and improvements of Michelin’s biggest volume contributor.
Firstly, we have to understand the target market of the XM2+, a comfort-oriented tyre for the entry-level and mass-market models (14 to 16-inches). Consumers of this segment prioritise comfort (low rolling noise/tyre roar), wet braking performance as well as tyre lifespan over outright performance that the Pilot Sport range is made for.
Michelin then looked at the competition prior to developing the XM2+ and found that the old XM2, despite its age, is still competitive in today’s market in the areas of tyre comfort, fuel consumption and dry performance. These findings led to the decision of improving on the XM2 instead of carrying out a full model change which will incur substantial R&D resources.
As a result, the XM2+ now uses a brand-new full-silica rubber compound that is adapted from higher-end Michelin products like the Primacy and Pilot Sport range. The new compound contributes to the improved wet braking performance as well as up to 25% more mileage compared to other premium competitors.
In addition to that, Michelin also promises consistent wet braking performance throughout the tyre’s lifetime, even down to the tread wear indicator (~1.6 mm). The same technology that promises their Primacy 4 to be Safe When New and Safe When Worn.
One major complaint from XM2 customers is the outgoing tyre’s sidewall is susceptible to premature cracking (the cracking on tyres). Michelin recognises this flaw and found the root cause to be oxidisation of the rubber material. The XM2+ addresses this issue with revised antioxidant components that are suited for our hot weather climate.
But to tell once and for all how the new tyres stack up against its competitors and see how much of these are marketing fluff, Michelin Malaysia has kindly set up a test course inclusive of a dry braking, wet braking and gymkhana activities.
Besides fitting the test vehicles on brand new tyres, to live up to the tagline of “Performance Made to Last”, we also got complete the exercise on tyres that are worn to the tread wear indicator. Although, we strongly suggest that you should change your tyres way before the marking.
The wet braking exercise required us to accelerate to 80 km/h and perform a full emergency stop at the marker. In the dry, the XM2+ performed up to par against the competition but on the wet braking test, the results are staggering and worrying, to say the least.
Wet Braking Distance (80 km/h to 0 km/h)
|Michelin XM2+||29.2 meters||30.2 meters|
|Bridgestone Ecopia EP330||33.1 meters||35.8 meters|
|Continental CC6||34.9 meters||38.7 meters|
The XM2+ when new, took a much shorter distance to come to a complete stop in the wet against its competitor but what’s even more impressive is that even when the tyres are worn down to the tread wear indicators, it still offers very similar braking performance. The same can’t be said for the competition whose wet braking performance deteriorated substantially when they are worn.
This is a testament that the XM2+ is indeed a capable, new and improved tyre that has multiple competitive advantage over its rivals in the segment. The tagline of “Performance Made to Last” is indeed a fitting line for the XM2+ as it delivers consistent performance especially in the wet throughout the tyre’s lifespan.
With this data at hand, drivers can have the confidence that the XM2+ is safe to use right until the tread wear indicators. To put it another way, you won’t have to swap tyres as frequently like some tyres whose performance deteriorates significantly pass a certain mileage.
Managing Director of Michelin (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei), Pascal Nouvellon when responding at a media Q&A session on how will Michelin tackle competition with lower prices, said: “Yes there are cheaper alternatives on the market but if you look at the pricing of the XM2+ which starts from RM200 for a Myvi size (14-inch), I think it is worth investing that extra a bit more for the lasting performance of the XM2+.”