Nokian introduces Weatherproof all-season range
Nokian Tyres has provided details of a new range it says will “put an end to the tyre change roulette that bothers drivers each spring and autumn.” Scheduled for an autumn 2015 launch and developed with motorists in Central Europe in mind, the Nokian Weatherproof family aims to “combine reliable winter safety with the precise driving stability and firm handling of the Nokian summer tyres” and will be available in passenger car, SUV and van fitments.
“The versatile Nokian Weatherproof is a winter tyre with excellent grip characteristics,” comments Olli Seppälä, product development manager at Nokian Tyres. “At the same time, it is also a summer tyre that rolls precisely during hot summer conditions. According to our tests, the Nokian Weatherproof product family is much safer and more versatile than the typical all-season tyres. The snowflake symbol also indicates that the tyre is suitable and officially approved for winter use.” Seppälä didn’t elaborate on the tests that show the Weatherproof’s additional safety and versatility.
As the product development manager mentions, all tyres in the Weatherproof line-up are stamped with the 3PMSF snowflake symbol. Passenger car fitments will cover 13 to 18-inch rim diameters and those designed for SUVs will be produced in 16 to 18-inch rim diameters, with T, H and V speed rated products available. A “significant” number of tyres in these ranges will be XL marked to indicate a higher load capacity. The Weatherproof C delivery vehicle range covers 14 to 16-inch rim diameters and N, R and T speed ratings, and tread patterns will differ for larger vehicles and lighter loads.
Nokian describes the Weatherproof tread pattern as “aggressive”, and this rubbery rage is vented through the steep surface geometry of its centre area, with its large tread blocks, which the tyre maker says has been carefully optimised to “ensure excellent grip on snowy and wet roads.” The “axe-like” V-shaped tread blocks “firmly grip the snowy road,” adds Nokian. Heavy siping and the grading of the tread blocks add more gripping edges and further improve grip. The wedge-like rises between the centre and shoulder blocks aim to “strengthen the precise steering feel and the thoroughly tested, excellent grip on snow.”
According to Nokian, the deep and open channels on the centre blocks (Centre Block Channeling) increase grip under extreme winter conditions. “The channels also operate at full power under wet conditions. They effectively push slush and water away from between the tyre and the road, which effectively prevents slushplaning and aquaplaning. The excellent aquaplaning properties are rounded off by the stylish polished grooves that accelerate the removal of water and slush.”
An all-season tyre needs to cope with a wide range of temperatures, and Nokian confirms that the compound it uses in the Weatherproof is “tailored for varying conditions.” The silica compound, elucidates the manufacturer in a statement, “works wonderfully along a wide range of temperatures and can withstand harsh wear even in hot summer weather. Winter grip is excellent at temperatures near zero and slightly below it.” Further stated abilities include good wet grip and low rolling resistance.
Weatherproof fitments for SUVs include a ‘Stiffness Zone’ in the shoulder area between the tread blocks; this stiffens the tyre’s shoulder and is said to improve driving precision and “calmness”, particularly on dry roads. A tighter wrapping of the nylon belts in the shoulder areas stiffens the steel belt structure and reduces tread block movement, a tweaking that the manufacturer says can be felt in the precise steering feel during high-speed cornering or lane changes. The tread compound is also stiffer than in passenger car versions, and Nokian reports this allows for an “especially accurate steering feel.”
To better warn when the tyre may no longer fit for purpose, the Nokian-patented Driving Safety Indicator (DSI) and Winter Safety Indicator (WSI), innovations already seen on other Nokian products, are also present on the Weatherproof. DSI numbers on the tyre’s centre surface indicate how much of the main groove depth remains on the tread. And the WSI snowflake symbol remains visible to a groove depth of four millimetres. Once the snowflake has worn away, Nokian only recommends the tyre’s continued use in summer conditions.