On my 1.6 i-DTEC with 17" wheels Michelin Primacy HP
were the OEM fitment:-
These are reasonably safe, long lasting but mostly oh so noisy and not in a good way. Their sensitivity to road surfacing is extreme. Their acoustic output, particularly in the mid to higher frequencies, goes from negligible on smooth new Tarmac to an appallingly loud roar on common old road-stone.
Otherwise; moderately comfortable but with a tendency to ‘crashy slapping’ on less even surfaces, good grip in the dry and not particularly confidence inspiring but reasonably well behaved in the wet. They have a slightly remote steering feel and unless it's below 7 degrees are generally dependable and fairly trustworthy, even close to the edge of their capability.
I have replaced these recently and with the tread remaining they could have done well over 30K but the character and volume of the road noise was ruining my enjoyment of my still new(ish) car. This tyre is OK to good but not excellent. I believe there are now newer and better so buying them again is a moot point.
As these were also on the long term test drive model I had for a few days before purchasing a new Civic. The Primacy HP have become the basis of a benchmark for my entire experience of this car. They more or less set the standard for my experience and expectations of what the 9G is all about.
Enter the Michelin CrossClimate
:- which is a summer tyre with full winter rating i.e. All Season Touring. Due to being offered a deal on these, which made them only marginally more expensive than the very popular Civic fitment of Goodyear Asymmetric 2; I decided to take a bit of a flyer and see what happened.
Ignoring the run in period of some 500 miles; except for one astonishing comment from SWMBO who as we rolled over the cobbled exit road from the tyre fitters said and I quote “It’s a lot more comfortable isn’t it”. This got me thinking ‘oh dear, these are going prove an expensive mistake’. I was hoping for a better all-round driving experience but outright comfort per se wasn’t at the top of my list. However, after about 1K miles on the CrossClimate; with a decent run in period behind me in a mixture of mostly dry and even some fairly hot late summer temperatures but also some early autumn wet weather. On country roads, motorway and town driving, here are my initial views:
Firstly, the road noise; after reflecting on the last tyres fitted to this car and on wide range of tyres from a variety of other cars over the past 10 years or so; these don’t sound like any of them. They do have an acoustic signature but it of a very different order. In brief, I can only identify it as a) lesser and b) softer. On an uneven surface there is a muted ‘rumble’ component but this is devoid of the somewhat ‘crashy slapping’ which the Primacy evinced. When undisturbed by a poor road surface; with rising speed, I would characterise the sound as initially ‘softly pattery’ without being particularly annoying, then rising to an unfamiliar kind of loose ‘whooshy hiss’ which seems to have its higher frequency components muted by a spreading of the narrow and peaky spectrum which is my common experience with all other tyres I have tried. In short; a remarkably pleasing success on the noise front!
I should probably start this next part of the review by mentioning my abiding impressions of improved ride quality and increased safety. These CrossClimate tyres are more comfortable whilst still feeling somehow more constantly connected to the road. But that’s not where it stops. The differences also go to handling, steering and overall performance in a number of quite strikingly interesting and surprising ways.
Handling; nothing in the late summer or early autumn weather has phased these tyres. I don’t drive at ten tenths but the odd country road manoeuvre in the dark viz a viz the local wildlife has proven to me that these really do better than the Primacy HP, at least by way of my calmness and confidence. Under normal driving circumstances the CrossClimate more easily hold to a line and let you set that line a good bit more tightly. They also keep to it more cleanly, are not prone to breakaway and seem entirely progressive. Their limits are a fair way beyond my courage or folly, even in the wet.
Steering; alarmed is not really the right word but it does get the basic idea across. I thought I knew the Civic inside and out of its fairly respectable ‘spirited’ driving envelope. But no, wet or dry it’s another car. Straight ahead on a smooth fast road and the steering now needs nothing by way of input from you. The car just sits on its line with a feeling of planted precision and a quiet sense that this was how it should always have been. Equally on a quick turn, at first, simply by force of habit I was noticeably oversteering and then overcompensating. Whilst feedback at the wheel is good, it’s not really the Civics strong suite but indirectly though, these tyres do seem to help. Perhaps in their requiring a more delicate touch certainly some extra driver sensitivity to their grip on the road surface does seem apparent. Maybe this is as much by way of more information coming through the whole chassis than anything else. In any event doing this with lower noise whilst preserving comfort is exceptional.
Overall performance; not had to do any emergency stops yet but sudden braking seems somewhat better than par for the course. The traction control only ever having stepped in once, on a loose surface with a swift halt and no drama whatsoever. Aquaplaning is a non-issue and very hot temperatures irrelevant. One observation I can offer is that the comfort level is now similar to the 16" wheels with their thinner section and much taller sidewalls on our other car (14 Focus).
To be able to say that with these new All Season tyres; comfort, handling, noise, ride and steering are all improved at the same time is a real first for me. My impression to date is that these are outstandingly good and possibly even great tyres which present several advantages without apparent compromise over the original summer fitments. That they do so with this set of across the board performance improvements at the price I got them for is a real bonus.
Two unknowns remain; longevity and deep winter behaviour. Regarding the latter there’s great deal of promotional material out there including videos of cars without these failing to make it up the obligatory snowy hill. As for the former: only time will tell.
If anyone has gone from Goodyear Asymmetric 2 to these then do let us know your impressions.
Users of any other All Season offerings please feel free to chime in…