Michelin recently introduced an updated version of its Energy XM2, dubbed the Energy XM2+.
Right off the bat, the updated Energy XM2+ is visually identical to the older Energy XM2, down to the thread pattern. The only visual difference is a new + symbol on the sidewall.
However, what we cannot see with our naked eye is the new full silica rubber compound of the Energy XM2+. Michelin says that the new full silica rubber compound improves handling in the wet, on top of shortening wet braking distance. Even with its newer, softer rubber compound, Michelin said that the new Energy XM2+ is able to deliver 25% more mileage than its competition.
At the launch event, Michelin Malaysia arranged for members of the media to sample its latest offering against some rival tyres on several specially designed courses.
First up was a gymkhana course that had been artificially soaked to imitate our wet roads. For our first stint, Michelin prepared three units of the Honda City – one with a worn set of Continental ComfortContact 6 (CC6), one with Michelin Energy XM2+ worn down to 15% (which is periculously close to the thread wear indicator), and one with a brand new set of Michelin Energy XM2+.
We started off in the City with the worn set of Continental CC6s. Right off the bat, we noticed that it was hard to gauge the exact point to as where the grip limit of the tyres were, resulting in constant understeering.
Next up, we hopped into the car with the worn set of Michelin Energy XM2+. To our surprise, despite being worn down to the remaining 15%, the Michelin Energy XM2+ felt more communicative and offered more grip than the Continentals. With the Energy XM2+ rubbers fitted on, the City’s handling was more consistent as we were able to feel the tyres losing grip gradually as opposed to the Continentals.
The same can be said for the brand new set of Michelin Energy XM2+, which did not feel vastly different from the worn set, which is a bigger surprise as we’d expect the brand new tyres to perform significantly better. Looks like the new full silica rubber compound is doing its job admirably.
Apart from the short gymkhana course, we also sampled the Michelin Energy XM2+ on a wet braking course against the aforementioned Continental CC6 and the Bridgestone Ecopia EP300. Similar to the prior test, we were allocated cars fitted with brand new and worn tyres from each brand.
According to Michelin's marketing materials, the new Energy XM2+ is capable of stopping the vehicle 3.9 meters shorter than its rivals in the wet. It gets more impressive with the worn tyres, as Michelin claims that the Energy XM2+ can stop the vehicle 4.5 meters shorter than its competition. In addition to that, Michelin also claims that both new or worn Energy XM2+ tyres offer similarly good wet braking performance of between 30.4 - 30.5 meters, irrespective of whether it's new or worn.
What's more impressive is that a well worn Energy XM2+ actually brakes better in the wet than some new, premium tyres.
For example, a set new Bridgestone Ecopia EP300 and Continental CC6 tyres take up to 35.2 meters to come to a complete stop, in identical conditions. As expected, wet braking performance is poorer when on a worn set of similar tyres - taking up to 40.9 meters before the City came to a complete stop, some 10 meters more than the Michelins in various stages of wear.
In fact, when braking in the wet with the competitor tyres, the City felt like it was gliding across the water before the tyres regain grip onto the ground. The same can't be said for the Michelins, as the gripped immediately after the brake pedal was depressed.
To keep results consistent and as accurate as possible, each and every car in the braking section were fitted with Vbox data loggers, which monitors the maximum speed achieved just before braking and the total distance needed to bring the City to a complete stop. The tabulated results showed similar numbers for all the tyres, which proved that Michelin's new full silica rubber compound is indeed ahead of its competition.
While the Michelins can perform remarkably well in controlled environments, it remains to be seen how they fare in real life, as our torrential rains can get rather nasty. Sure, the Michelins can sustain its wet braking performance even when worn down to 15%, however, we would still recommend that you change your Michelins once the thread has worn down to the remaining 2 mm.
The Michelin Energy XM2+ is currently available in 32 different sizes, ranging from 14- to 16-inches, making it an ideal replacement for a number of popular cars on the road today.
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