Early last month I was up in Pattaya for the launch of the Michelin Energy XM2 tyre. Landing in Bangkok, a car ride of about 2.5 hours took us to Pattaya. I’ve never been to Pattaya and upon first impression it reminds me greatly of Phuket. We had some free time before dinner on both days but I spent it in the gym shedding the pounds on the treadmill instead of touring the streets of Pattaya.
This Michelin Energy XM2 event at the Utapao Airport was put together by Motor Tracks, a famous motorsports DVD magazine in Thailand. The main host of Motor Tracks, Bee, has been secretly filming me at Formula Drift Singapore and Malaysia. We’ve never met in person before and finally at this Michelin event we had a chance to meet!
Hop on to read my report on the new Michelin Energy XM2…
Perfection is not something that can be achieved easily – or at all – but we try our best to create something as near to perfection as possible. In the same way, Michelin tried to meet the demands of drivers in their new Energy XM2 tyre, the successor to the XM1. I once did some research and some of the common features that drivers typically want in a tyre are: comfort, grip, safety, mileage and fuel economy.
Focused at offering drivers the best of durability, fuel economy and safety, the Energy XM2 is aimed at the lower mid-sized and compact car segments. Invited to the official tyre launch in Pattaya, Thailand early last month, I got the chance to put the Energy XM2 to the test at Utapao Airport that was built in 1965 and is a joint civil-military public airport owned by the Royal Thai Navy. Around the parameters there were still abandoned aircraft to be seen.
The main feature of the Energy XM2 is its longevity that has been tested and proven to last 20 per cent more than its predecessor. The longevity test was done by an external party TUV Rhineland Thailand and ran over 50,000 kilometres with the Energy XM2, XM1 and two other competitor tyres on the Toyota Vios 1.5J.
To be fair, car maintenance and tread depth measurement was done at every 10,000 kilometres. At the end of the long-term test, the Energy XM2 not only exceeded the competitor tyres, but also outdid its predecessor with 20 per cent more mileage. The technology behind this great result is the alternating bridging technology of the Energy XM2 that strengthens the rigidity of the tread blocks, restricting movement of the tread blocks and so reduces rate of tyre wear.
Over the day-long event, the Energy XM2 was tried at three different stations:
Station 1: Fuel Saving
At this station, we first witnessed a rolling resistance comparison done in two identical cars fitted with different tyres – one with the Energy XM2 and the other with a competitor tyre. Parked at the top of a ramp, the engines were turned off and both cars then set off from the same height of the ramp.
The car that stops at the furthest distance is the one with the energy saving tyre. This test was done twice, with the cars switching positions on the ramp to ensure fairness. In both instances, it was the car equipped with the Energy XM2 that rolled to a stop further than the other.
The Energy XM2 is said to improve fuel consumption by 1.1 per cent due to the 8 per cent reduction in rolling resistance. Also, the full silica compound in the tyre reduces friction amongst the rubber molecules so the tyre can adapt to road surface irregularities for better grip. At the same time, more impact can be absorbed to give better comfort and less energy is lost. The reduced heat and energy loss helps to improve fuel economy.
The fuel economy test was done in a series of four drives around a pre-determined course marked out in cones. Two 1.8-litre Toyota Altis and two 2-litre Toyota Camry cars were used – each model had one fitted with the Energy XM2 and the other with a competitor tyre. Each of the four cars was equipped with digital fuel measuring equipment that could calculate the fuel economy of the car instantaneously. I drove the same way all four times, keeping similar speeds and for both models, the car with the Energy XM2 clocked a better fuel economy.
Station 2: Safety
The Safety station consisted of two activities again – one for handling and wet performance, the other for counter oversteer. Using the 1.8-litre Honda Civic, one was fitted with the Energy XM2 tyre while the other was fitted with the Bridgestone Turanza AR10 tyre for us to compare the handling and wet performance.
A straight-line acceleration, sudden braking, sharp cornering and slalom in the dry, coupled with acceleration, sudden turning and stopping in the wet made up the course. What was most significant about the handling test was how the Bridgestone AR10 required more pedal pushing to keep the revs and speed up – this means needing more fuel.
Mounting the rear tyres of the car onto an oversteer stimulator, the purpose of the next activity was to test how Energy XM2 could counter incidents of oversteer quickly with its grip. It was an effort to control the car and keep it going in figures-of-eight around the cones, but the Energy XM2 helped to keep the car on track and in the desired direction.
Safety from the Energy XM2 is attributed to its micro-adaptive compound that makes it more flexible with more grip, and its optimum void grooves that are said to evacuate up to 20 per cent more water compared to the XM1. This results in evacuation of a higher volume of water at a faster rate, minimising the risk of hydroplaning.
Station 3: Scenic Drive
Driving out of Utapao Airport for a 90-minute drive on the Energy XM2 on cars such as the Suzuki Swift, Toyota Prius, Citroen DS3, Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta, we had the chance to try the tyre on both narrow roads and the highways.
We were taken to a private beach called Long Beach and the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre as both hold elements of longevity – which is what the Energy XM2 emphasises on. The tyres proved to be comfortable with minimal road noise on both rough terrain and smooth tarmac.
The Energy XM2 arrived at local Michelin dealers from end July and is available in sizes from 14” to 16”, with size 13” only from 2012 onwards.
Check out my new sunglasses from Oakley! It’s called Oakley Dangerous YSC edition and is a special version for breast cancer awareness. The inside of the frame is all pink and in the left corner of the left shade there’s the breast cancer awareness logo. Awesome right!