Nokian i3 Aims At Volume Sector
In recent years, says Nokian, most tyre manufacturers have concentrated on tyres for the high performance sector, in response to growing demand from this sector. However, research shows that, while ultra high performance tyres accounted for 12 per cent of tyres sold in the first half of the year, the T-rated sector’s share was 44 per cent.
Although designed for the T-rated sector, the i3 design was inspired by bigger, faster tyres and it incorporates several features that have been proved in tyres designed for high speed driving. The first of these is the compound, described by Nokian as “Nordic cool silica compound” and formulated specially for Nordic conditions. It means the tyre maintains a good grip in rainy and cool conditions, even when the temperature drops below 10ºC.
The tread design differs across the tyre, as has become common in uhp tyres; the rigid shoulder design on the outside of the tyre and the wide grooves on the inside make the tyre easier to handle and improve its stability. There are three prominent main grooves, with lateral grooves open to the side of the tyre, which ensure excellent water dispersal and protection against aquaplaning.
The i3 is a quiet tyre, with an acoustically optimised tread pattern and noise cavities in the groove to dampen tyre noise and three shoulder blocks of differing lengths have been distributed at random over the tyre to guard against unpleasant noise peaks in any resonance range.
Rigidity of tread blocks has been harmonised using sipes of varying depth. Called the Variable Dimension Sipes technique, this results in improved wet grip, lower noise level, even tyre wear and low rolling resistance, thus saving fuel. Fuel saving is not the only ecological feature of the i3 – as with other Nokian tyres, no high aromatic oils are used in the manufacturing process.
For safety reasons, the i3 incorporates a driving safety indicator shows the depth of the main grooves in millimetres and, for the 14″ and 15″ sizes, a Mudstopper sealing ring protects the rim from dirt and gravel.
Nokian Tyres will offer the i3 in its main markets of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia and Eastern Europe, with sales beginning in spring next year.