Tested: New Wrangler All-terrain Adventure
Patrick goes to Germany to try out Wrangler’s latest tyre
Tyres. The only part of your Land Rover which is making contact with the surface you are driving over. Unless you roll it, of course. That makes tyres rather important, right? Hell yeah. So when Goodyear decided to show the media the latest addition to their tyre family, the new Wrangler All-terrain Adventure tyre, they took us to the Land Rover Experience near Dusseldorf to try it out, but not before stopping off at the Goodyear Innovation Centre (GIC) in Luxembourg.
The centre, located in the tyre town of Colmar-berg, is the heart of Goodyear’s European operations, which probably explains why 3240 people work there. This includes technicians, scientists and engineers representing 40 different nations. The Goodyear complex dominates the town with its test circuit, tyre plant, distribution centre, offices, tyre test lab and the innovation centre. The place never sleeps and I’m not only referring to the production side of things. Testing needs to simulate the many miles driven over all types of terrain in all temperatures, so the machines (and people) creating these types of test situations run virtually non-stop. Not only do they test Goodyear products here but also the stuff produced by the company’s competitors.
After a whistle stop at the design studio we were taken into the lab. Did you know that a modern radial tyre consists of approximately 25 different rubber, cord and steel components? We were given a demo of this in the lab where they actually produced a small amount of tyre rubber after mixing the various compounds and then heating it all up. Our final stop was at the design studio, where the far-out nature of some of their designs reminded me a little of the Geneva Motor Show. And that’s because this is the place where they design tyres for concept cars. I was then handed a sketch of something that looked like the new Defender, or was it the DC100? Probably the latter.
The 4x4 and SUV sector is the fastest-growing tyre market and Goodyear obviously sees this as a massive opportunity. They have already made massive inroads at Jaguar Land Rover as they supply tyres for a number of models including the new Discovery.
In fact, they developed the Eagle F1 Asymmetric SUV AT tyre for the Jaguar F-PACE and Range Rover Velar. And if you look at little closer at one of these tyres on the above mentioned products then you will see that it carries the pretty distinctive JLR markings. This means that these tyres are approved by JLR in the following three fitments: 255/60R19 113W XL AT, 255/55R20 110W XL AT and 275/45R21 110W XL. While you and I might be used to driving our Defenders or Discovery 1s at say 60 or 70 mph, the above tyres have a W speed rating and can safely travel at speeds of up to 168 mph.
Sadly the bus which was taking us from the GIC to the Land Rover Experience near Dusseldorf did not have W speed rating tyres and so the journey took us a couple of hours. The experience was set up in an old quarry and we were greeted by a line-up of the latest Land Rovers, including the new Discovery, which was fitted with the super-aggressive Wrangler Duratrac tyres. Nice-looking tyre but sadly only available in massive wheel sizes, so not enough rubber or sidewall if doing a trans-africa trip. These tyres are happy when playing in the mud and are known for their self-cleaning capabilities.
I was more interested in the new Wrangler All-terrain
Adventure tyre, which was fitted to a Discovery Sport. I was curious to see how it would do. In my younger days, I loved aggressive mud terrain tyres – back then, the noise and increase in fuel consumption didn’t bother me. Now I am a changed man and I have fitted All-terrain tyres to my last few Land Rovers.
So what sets apart the new Wrangler All-terrain Adventure tyre from a competitor’s All-terrain tyre? It has a Kevlar-reinforced layer which will help protect the tyres when driving over rough terrain. While it might all sound impressive we were actually given a demo of this in the lab. They took a strand of an older All-terrain tyre and then the new one and stretched them both. The one with Kevlar lasted the longest before snapping. The tyre also has what they call Durawall Technology, so they’ve added silica in the sidewall. This supposedly provides a “stronger network”, which translates into a tougher sidewall. So, less chance of a sharp rock slicing it open like a can of sardines.
They say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating and so I hopped into a Discovery Sport to experience the new Wrangler tyre for myself. I currently have the older Wrangler All-terrain tyre on my Defender and the one difference I noticed with the new tyre is that it has open shoulder blocks to help eject mud and muck from the tread, which in theory should give it more traction.
The Discovery Sport reminds me a little of the Freelander as it is currently the least capable Land Rover still in production line-up. I have yet to drive the Velar. This meant that we could not go where a Defender or new Discovery could due to its ground clearance and lack of low range. Still, we took it up some slippery inclines, side slopes and sharp declines and it took everything in its stride.
This was probably helped by one of the new features of the tyre. If you look at the tread of the tyre you will see that it now has a high number of sipes in the blocks, which create lots of small biting edges that in turn gives you more grip. I like to think a Land Rover can go anywhere no matter what tyres you put on it. Goodyear might disagree...
Good tyres aren’t cheap, but Goodyear engineers claim that due to the tread design and even pressure distribution, their new All-terrain tyre will give you 37 per cent more mileage than some of the other tyres that they tested.
Obviously my blitzkrieg on Germany was just a taster into how their new Wrangler All-terrain Adventure performs. We will have to subject it to a longer and more rigorous test for a more enlightened review. That said, I do like the fact that it will supposedly last longer, is stronger and will give more grip than its predecessor.
Caption: The open shoulder blocks help to eject mud and other bits from the tread, thereby increasing traction
This page: The impressive Goodyear Innovation Centre employs 3240 people and is seen as the heart of their European operations