Pirelli Cinturato All Season Tyre Conquers Volcanic Challenge
We were challenged to test out, first hand, just how good the new Pirelli Cinturato All Season tyre is by undertaking a range of exciting tests, even to the extreme of driving in the snow up an active volcano in Sicily, Italy.
What is the Pirelli Cinturato All Season Tyre All About?
The Pirelli Cinturato All Season tyre is a best of both breed for the city car market. The tyre is designed to be great all year round, in both summer and mild winter weather; perfectly fitting for the UK climate.
The Pirelli Cinturato All Season tyre also includes Seal Inside technology that enables the tyre to self-heal a puncture. You can find a detailed explanation of this later in the article.
To prove the value of the Cinturato, Pirelli planned a group of challenges for us to fully test out the benefits of this innovative tyre. This included track testing in multiple cars, tyre puncture testing and around 120 miles of road testing. The road tests were designed to cover all seasons of weather, from the warm city roads of Sicily through to climbing the snowy roads of the famous Mount Etna, which is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity.
Testing in Mass
Journalists from all over Europe turned up in their masses to see what the All Season had to offer. So with a variety of city cars in the fleet the only fair way of deciding who drives what was to do a lottery and pick numbered balls out of a bag. Drivers paired up, I was teamed up with a UK journalist from EVO. I picked the lottery ball for us and we got lucky number 7, which was the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion, a great car and very apt for testing this tyre.
We set off in a convoy of around 15 vehicles to see how the tyre coped in the warm city environment driving from Taormina to a racetrack around 50 miles away where we would get our next challenge. For navigation we were provided with Nokia smartphones, which had everything we needed to get us back on track if we took a wrong turn.
First impressions of the Cinturato was that it was covering off all the basics we demand from this type of tyre; the road noise and comfort from the tyre was perfect, in fact at town speeds there is little to no noticeable tyre noise inside the cabin.
Taking on some of the more broken town roads we got to experience some serious bumps, these were nicely absorbed, as you would expect for a city tyre, and caused no real discomfort.
After around 30 minutes of driving in 14°c, on coastal roads and through small towns, we had already had various opportunities to get a feel for the level of grip created by the Pirelli Cinturato All Season tyre. The tyre was far more capable than the power available in the test car; the Golf BlueMotion wasn’t able to upset the tyre in straight line performance, and braking performance was faultless in the dry. From my perspective the performance was what you would expect from a summer tyre in this environment.
The convoy travelled for around an hour, through town after town, and when the landscape opened up we had the Mediterranean Sea on the left and the hugely intimidating Mount Enta to the right; it was a beautiful drive on what was a nice clear day.
The destination for our next stop was a racetrack, where we parked up the convoy and got further instructions for the next challenge.
See a few of the highlights from the town and coastal leg of the journey in the video below.
Technically Brilliant – What makes it so Much Better?
After a few refreshments we were shown into a training room to be briefed on what makes the Cinturato All Season tyre so impressive, and then given demonstrations of the benefits of the tyre.
The Cinturato All Season has had huge amounts of research and development to make a great all-round tyre. A couple of its key features include:
Compound – A refined compound that has been specifically developed to have optimal grip in a temperature range from around 2°c up to 22°c. This means the tyre works better at low temperatures than a standard summer tyre would. The tyre also uses the latest generations of polymers and has an optimal distribution of Silica in the compound, meaning you are getting the latest in tyre technology.
3D Sipes – The All Season has 3D sipe technology, this is basically cuts in the tyre that allows the rubber to flex around more and help provide grip in wet and snowy conditions.
Directional Thread Pattern – The Cinturato All Season uses a directional-based thread pattern that means the tyre has to be fitted in the correct direction. This tread has been optimised for maximum water expulsion from the underneath of the tyre, this increases the grip on wet surfaces and lowers the risk of aquaplaning.
Seal Inside – How does it work?
Next up we had a demonstration of the Seal Inside technology. The idea of this technology is to remove the concept of puncturing a tyre.
The inner core of the tyre is built from a thick sticky mastic, if the tyre is punctured by a nail the mastic will instantly create a seal around the nail stopping any loss of air and maintaining tyre pressure. If you were to remove the nail from the tyre, the sticky mastic will follow the nail out of the tyre and seal the hole, in the real world this would mean no more flat tyres, no more blow outs and safer, happier driving for all. Brilliant!
We had two examples of the Seal Inside technology in action. First off, I had an opportunity to stick a nail through a tyre myself. I punctured the tyre whist being able to monitor the pressure gauge and it did what it said it would do, there was no pressure loss. This tyre also had around 30 other holes in it from previous testing, so they can certainly take some damage.
The next demonstration was a real life example of driving over a 5mm vertical nail. The Fiat 500 drove straight over the nail and maintained its tyre pressure, as if it never happened. This technology is truly worth considering, after seeing it first-hand, I am confident this advancement will certainly make our motoring lives that little bit more convenient, not to mention safer too.
Wet and Dry Performance Test
As a car enthusiast, any time on the track is a great pleasure, and whilst testing for Pirelli we were given the opportunity to test the Cinturato All Season tyre on 3 different cars on the track; the Audi A3, Alfa Romeo Guietta and Mercedes CLA. The racetrack we were using was a karting track with water sprinkled sections to enable us to test under wet and dry conditions, and at various speeds.
On the track I was able to put the tyre through its paces, pushing it more than you would on the road. On the dry sections the grip under straight-line acceleration was brilliant and braking performance exceeded my expectation from an all-season city car tyre too. There was just a huge amount of grip.
Considering the refined comfort level of the Cinturato tyre; in the corners the handling on all 3 cars felt very solid and I was able to read the level of grip left on the tyre through the car fairly easily.
In the wet we were able to over commit the car into corners to feel how the tyre feels over the limit. The Cinturato All Season gripped fantastically in the wet. For testing purposes we threw the car into most of the wet corners late on the brakes to encourage the car to understeer, once the car did start to understeer we were able to quickly correct the slide by making adjustments to both the throttle and steering direction. The wet grip, as a whole, is very good for a city car tyre that will, in most cases, get driven sensibly and within the limits of both the car and driver.
Climbing Mount Etna
After completing the dynamic tests on the track the convoy set its targets on Mount Etna, we set off from the 14°c warm coastal area taking a 50 mile trip up the steep and windy roads of Mount Etna.
It took us around 20 minutes to work our way through towns to the entry road of this huge snow capped volcano. This test would take us from a summer climate, slowly dropping in temperature to a winter climate and around 1°c temperatures. This was the perfect test for this tyre.
As the road started to get windy, I was asking the Golf BlueMotion for a bit more performance than this very economical car wanted to share, but putting the DSG into manual and sticking with second and third gears, the Golf was still shooting up the hills.
The base of the mountain had dry, tree covered roads with plenty of twisty and hairpin corners; a great chance to test out slowing the car down. The Cinturato All Season achieved everything I would ask of a city car summer tyre and we experienced no problems throughout this section of the test.
As we climbed further up the mountain you could see the temperature on the dashboard reducing by 0.5°c every few minutes. We soon went from a summer climate to an autumn climate, with some mildly damp roads and around 7°c. It was at this point we got to experience the same challenging and beautiful roads but with different weather conditions. Keeping the same pace there was little change behind the wheel, there was no drama or slips from the tyres as we took this epic journey up the mountain, taking in the unique scenery around us.
Soon we started to get into even lower temperatures and snow was starting to appear on the side of the road. We drove past lots of lava rock that was present from previous volcanic eruptions over the past 20 years. The scenery was unreal to experience; here are a few of my favourite pictures from this stage of the journey.
A few miles up from the start of seeing the lava and the ground was covered completely in snow, the Golf’s safety system chimed in to let us know the temperature had dropped to 4°c. Traveling at the back of the convoy we held back a little letting the rest continue on up, which opened up a bit of clear road in front of us and gave us the opportunity to open the Golf up at bit and test the tyres out at higher speeds then our previous legs. Even with the wet roads and icy temperatures I felt very confident with the level of grip provided by the Cinturato All Season.
We soon caught back up with the convoy, and by now the roads had patches of slush, and fresh snow was falling from the trees either side of the road. For testing purposes we took the effort to drive through it, rather than avoiding it, and under both braking and acceleration the tyre performed very well. This kind of condition was similar to the levels of snow we would typically get in the UK and the Cinturato All Season certainly looks like it ticks all the boxes so far to deal with it well.
Finally, as we reached our destination towards the top of Mount Etna we started to see other cars that had snow chains on their tyres for traction. But our front wheel drive Golf was still safely moving along well on Pirelli’s All Season tyre, which we have already proved worked well on a warm racetrack. I’m really impressed with what Pirelli have archived here.
At the top comes the real acid test for this Cinturato All Season tyre. Overnight there had been a down fall of snow, meaning we had the opportunity to put the Pirellis on the fresh snow and see exactly what happens. After a short briefing from a professional tyre tester we were ready to see if this tyre could really be the best of both worlds. We took the cars to the track, positioned the car on the fresh snow and stopped it, we then hit the accelerator and launched the car, just as Pirelli said it would, the car gripped and with the assistance of traction control accelerated forward at a very reasonable rate. Once up to around 25mph we slammed on the brakes, the tyres dug in and the car came to a very respectable stop. The grip provided is pretty incredible for an all-season tyre.
We continued taking the cars round the test track for a number of laps, testing a selection of different driving scenarios. Overall, using the Pirelli Cinturato All Season I was able to drive the car harder and faster than I normally would ever consider in the snow and still maintain safe control of the car.
See the video of the test below to see exactly how the car performed.
Quick Descent Down Mount Etna
It’s a law that whatever goes up must come down, so it follows that once we completed the snow-driving test we had the opportunity to experience the beauty of the mountain and its surroundings as we flew down the steep roads, slowly changing back from a winter climate to a summer climate. Take a look at what we saw on the way down.
From the very in-depth tests put in place by Pirelli over the full day of driving with the Pirelli Cinturato All Season tyre, I learned how incredibly capable the tyre is. The tyre truly does function very well in both summer and winter conditions and would suit the UK market exceptionally well. Having tyres that are capable of functioning well in any weather condition and knowing that the tyres are also protected by Seal Inside technology you can really count on these tyres not to let you down; no matter what environment you are taking on.
Author: Paul Hadley