Tire Test Results

Michelin Premier A/S Introductory Drive

November 4, 2013

Tires Tested

Michelin Premier A/S (Grand Touring All-Season, 215/60R16 95V)

When the dictionary definition for your name reads, first in position, rank or importance (in all seasons); you've set a pretty high standard to be measured against. Now the question becomes, can the Premier A/S utilize Michelin's mastery of compound chemistry, tread design and manufacturing capabilities to become the "grandest" of Tire Rack's Grand Touring All-Season category tires?

In order to give Tire Rack a preview of the Premier A/S line's capabilities before the start of our regular test season, Michelin provided sets of early production Premier A/S tires for us to compare against its competition in the Grand Touring All-Season tire category. However, unlike our normal practice of comparing new tires to new tires, Michelin's EverGrip technology meant we would also need to test tires with just 5/32" of remaining tread depth to confirm they met their goals.

EverGrip technology

EverGrip technology combines a tread compound featuring extreme silica and sunflower oil added to the traditional rubber and carbon black. This advanced compound is molded into a tread design featuring expanding circumferential rain grooves and emerging lateral shoulder grooves. The combination requires unique tread compound mixing and tread design molding processes.

Extreme silica promotes exceptional wet grip for everyday driving while sunflower oil allows the tread compound to remain more flexible in colder temperatures. Added to rubber and carbon black, this combination also allows Michelin to do more with less by delivering more miles of driving for every 1/32" of treadwear while they focus on delivering enhanced traction in wet and wintry conditions throughout the life of the tire.

Expanding rain grooves reverse the traditional design process of molding the tread pattern where the grooves continually narrow as the tire wears. Michelin's advanced molding process allows the width of the circumferential grooves to widen as the tire wears to maintain better wet traction longer into the tire's life.

Expanding rain grooves

Emerging grooves evolve from traction-enhancing sipes early in the tire's life into open lateral shoulder groves as the tread wears down. These emerging grooves help maintain the land/sea relationship between the surface contact area of new and worn tires, again maintaining better wet traction.

Emerging grooves

Michelin promotes their Premier A/S as, "Safe When New. Safe When Worn. Even when worn, the MICHELIN® Premier® A/S tire still stops shorter on wet roads than leading competitors' brand-new tires." It's this bold claim that would require us to confirm how much stopping traction Premier A/S delivers in wet conditions.

In order to find out, several members of the Tire Rack team tested 215/60R16 95V-sized tires on our 2012 BMW F30 328i Sedans, comparing the new Premier A/S to the current best-in-class Grand Touring All-Season tire based on our test results, the Continental PureContact. We put a couple hundred highway miles on sets of new tires, as well as sets of tires shaved* to 5/32" of remaining tread depth to break them in.

Wet Braking

We conducted our standard 50-0 mph wet braking test (which averages multiple stops) to compare the distances it took each of the four sets of tires to brake our BMW to a complete panic stop. As shown in the results below, the Premier A/S took a few feet longer to stop when shaved to 5/32" than when new, but both its new and worn average stopping distances were a few feet shorter than those achieved by PureContact tires with full tread depth.

Wet Stopping Distance (Feet) 50-0 mph (Lower number is better)
Tires Michelin Premier A/S Continental PureContact
New Tread Depth 99.8 ft. 105.0 ft.
5/32" Remaining Tread Depth 103.5 ft. 109.2 ft.

Premier braking

Wet Skid Pad

We then conducted our standard wet cornering test to compare how much cornering force each of the four sets of tires would generate to hold a BMW when cornering around our 200-foot diameter skid pad. As shown in the results below, while both tires delivered nearly equivalent cornering force when new and when shaved, the Premier A/S average cornering forces were just a little higher than the PureContact.

Wet Average Cornering (g-Force) (Higher number is better)
Tires Michelin Premier A/S Continental PureContact
New Tread Depth 0.785g 0.730g
5/32" Remaining Tread Depth 0.775g 0.732g

Premier skid pad

Snow Driving

Thanks to the winter of 2013-2014, our final comparison was conducted in a late season snowstorm. We ran all of the tires on our test track in South Bend and timed how many seconds it took them to complete our course. Since good snow traction requires sufficient tread depth in addition to an appropriate tread compound and tread design, we were interested to find out how much snow traction the reduced tread depth tires would deliver. As it turned out, the tread design features on both tires resulted in both the full depth and tires shaved to 5/32" delivering nearly equivalent light snow traction, with the Premier A/S having the overall advantage.

Snow Lap Time (seconds) (Lower number is better)
Tires Michelin Premier A/S Continental PureContact
New Tread Depth 73.7 sec. 76.3 sec.
5/32" Remaining Tread Depth 73.8 sec. 75.9 sec.

Premier snow driving

Summary

So what's the answer to our question? Without a doubt, Michelin's Premier A/S is going to challenge for the top spot in our Grand Touring All-Season tire category.

The Tire Rack team will be running a full test on the road, on the track and in the snow. We'll report our complete findings as they become available.

*While shaving rather than wearing tires to 5/32" of remaining tread depth doesn't have the exact same influence on the tread compound wearing over several years of driving, shaving allowed us to test these tires under the same conditions.

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