Nokian WRG4 vs Michelin CrossClimate 2

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Out of both, the Michelin CrossClimate 2 is a standout in the grand touring tire category, renowned for its exceptional balance of comfort and durability. While, the Nokian WRG4 falls into the ultra-high performance all-season category, offering a more dynamic and responsive driving experience. Let’s see which tire is for you.

Tested on Benz C250i
Both tires were tested on Benz C250i.

Main Highlights

Nokian WRG4 excels in:

  • Icy Traction: Outstanding grip with full-depth, interlocking sipes.
  • Wet Performance: Superior handling and feedback due to intricate sipe and groove designs.
  • Comfort: Softer rubber and deeper treads enhance ride smoothness.
  • Hydroplaning Resistance: Efficient water channeling reduces hydroplaning risks.

Detailed Discussion of Nokian’s tire:

Whereas CrossClimate 2 excels in:

  • Dry Braking: Exceptional with its directional tread and interlocking lugs.
  • Snow Traction: Unique lugs enhance grip in soft snow.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Lighter build improves fuel economy.
  • Noise Reduction: Quieter ride due to its tire design.

Detailed Discussion of Michelin’s tire:

Tread Design

The Nokian WRG4 features a sophisticated asymmetric tread design, consisting of three main ribs.

Nokian WRG4
Nokian WRG4

The central rib/block column is the narrowest, and runs continuously.

I mean its not broken up by lateral voids, despite having aggressive notches.

These “notches” face the less aggressive shoulder side, with very straight, laterally aligned voids, and lugs, though with similar wave-like siping.

While on the other side, you see a rib that occupies almost 60% of the tread area.

This rib although also has similar siping, its predominately distinguished by its curved and sharply defined in-groove notches, interconnected by longitudinal voids.

Talking about its internal construction, the Nokian offers a 2-ply polyester, 2 steel belts, and 2-ply nylon composition.

Shifting to the Michelin Crossclimate 2, this tire presents a completely different design.

Crossclimate 2
Crossclimate 2

It comes with a directional tread pattern, with V-shaped lugs, optimized for superb winter performance, in particular.

I mean, these large, curved lugs are key to its traction capabilities, effectively channeling water, slush, and snow.

They basically work by pushing against the ground to enhance tire’s forward momentum, or (snow) acceleration.

Moreover, the thick linear siping, and notches (called snow vices), improve winter traction further.

While the interlocking sipes in the middle, combined with crowded-up lug design aid wet and dry traction, allowing this tire with the top-notch performance, particularly when it comes to braking.

In fact, its one of the main reasons, why I ranked this guy in my list of top grand touring tires.

In terms of internal makeup, the tire incorporates a 2-ply polyester base, strengthened with 2 steel belts, and is finished with a single nylon cap ply.

Sizes Facts

The Michelin Crossclimate 2 comes in 16 to 22 inches with following specs.

  • Speed ratings: H and V.
  • Load ratings: SL and XL.
  • Tread depth range: 10.5/32″ (on all)
  • Weight range: 25 to 36.5 lbs
  • Tread mileage rating: 60k miles.
  • UTQG: 640 B A.

Nokian WRG4 comes in 14 to 20 inches rims, having following specs.

  • Speed ratings: H, V and W.
  • Load ratings: XL, and SL.
  • Weight range: 16 to 40 lbs.
  • UTQG: 500 A A.
  • Treadwear warranty: 60k miles.
  • All sizes have the 3pmsf and M+S certifications.
  • Tread depth: 11/32″ on all.

Overall Dry Performance

The tire’s traction and steering response are comprehensively understood by analyzing dry performance. To make this easier, it’s helpful to split the analysis into two distinct sections.

Directional Grip

Tire braking, a key measure of directional grip, depends significantly on the central tread area that contacts the ground most during straight rolling.

And here, the Crossclimate 2 is a real champ.

The tire’s superior performance is credited to its three main attributes: directional tread design, interlocking central lugs, and a rounded contact patch.

  • The directional tread pattern features closely arranged lugs in the center, enhancing rubber-road contact for improved grip.
  • The interlocking lugs form a distinctive zigzag groove in the center, contributing to the tire’s effective grip.
  • The rounded contact patch ensures even weight distribution across the tread, promoting stable inertia for quicker stopping.

The Michelin actually offers the best braking in its category of touring tires. That’s why I added it to my list here:

The Nokian WRG4 on the other side, although features a pretty biting tread, it lacks mostly due to its greater weight, causing greater momentum inertia to be generated, which of course takes more energy to stop.

Overall Handling

Now even though the Nokian WRG4 comes in the ultra high performance all-season category, its still not able to outperform Crossclimate 2 in overall dry handling. Why? Well, consider the following 3 phases of cornering.

  • Corner entry – where you slow down before entering the turn.
  • Mid-cornering – where tire’s under/over steering is checked.
  • Exiting the turn – where you straighten up, and accelerate.

Now, in all of these phases, the Michelin pretty much takes the lead.

Thanks to its enhanced directional grip (as already discussed), it decelerates quicker before entering a corner, and accelerates faster post cornering, which contribute to better handling times.

Additionally, its lighter weight offers improved feedback during mid-cornering.

This is crucial because a lighter tire puts less strain on the lugs as it turns, minimizing their bending. Less bending means less delay in feedback, a key factor in responsive handling.

On the other side, the Nokian WRG4 although offers better cornering traction (as seen by its greater lateral g forces), it still takes longer to complete laps (on average), due to its relatively lagging steering feedback, for the main part.

Winter Performance

When searching for an all-season tire that performs admirably on snowy roads, both boys here are excellent choices.

They both perform exceptionally well in crucial areas like acceleration, braking, and handling on snow and ice. Additionally, they are quick to respond to steering commands and yes also come with 3-peak mountain snowflake ratings and M+S designations.

However, my extensive testing reveals that the Nokian WRG4 still has a slight edge on icy surfaces. Its abundance of full-depth, interlocking sipes provides extraordinary traction by ensuring a solid grip on ice.

Actually, this is the main reason, why I ranked it on my list of top ultra high performance all-season tires. Check the list here:

Conversely, the Crossclimate 2 is particularly adept on softer snow, where its swooping lugs act like scoopers, grabbing and displacing snow to create powerful forward momentum.

While both tires create effective snow-to-snow contact (vital for natural adherence), the CrossClimate 2’s design allows for a more dynamic interaction with snow, enhancing grip and control.

Why this type of contact is important? Well, this is because of snow’s natural tendency to cling to itself (think of making a snowball).

Overall Comfort

Tire comfort is determined by two factors: the mitigation of road noise and the absorption of road bumps. Let’s assess how each tire performs in these categories.

Noise Reduction

Road noise is a complex issue, predominantly influenced by air dynamics. Let me explain.

Now as the tire rotates, the air inside the tread gets compressed in and out of the tire. So the more aggressive the tire is, the noisier it gets.

That’s why it makes sense why, here, the Michelin Crossclimate 2 emerges as the quieter option. My testing shows me that the tire only emits subtle, cyclical tones that tend to blend into the surrounding ambient noise.

In contrast, the Nokian WRG4 shows up with greater decibels on scale, generating a more pronounced and consistent hum, along with cavity noise. This is likely due to its densely siped tread pattern, which, while beneficial for traction, can contribute to increased acoustic levels.

Impact Comfort

The comfort of a tire’s ride is closely linked to its capacity to absorb road irregularities, which in turn is largely determined by its construction.

Essentially, tires crafted from softer materials typically yield a smoother driving experience.

That’s why here, the Nokian WRG4 is taking the lead, with its relatively softer (thermally adaptive) rubber, and a thoughtfully engineered design, including greater tread depth and a robust internal construction.

This combination ensures an optimal balance of softness and rigidity, allowing for more effective dampening of road bumps.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency is significantly influenced by rolling resistance, which is largely determined by a tire’s design and materials.

In this context, the Michelin CrossClimate 2 excels with its lighter construction.

This design reduces the weight pressure on the lugs as they contact the road, leading to lower rolling resistance and, consequently, better fuel efficiency.

On the other hand, the Nokian WRG4 features a more aggressive tread pattern with increased voids, especially near the shoulders.

And its heavier build results in greater weight distribution over a smaller area of rubber, increasing friction and rolling resistance.

Additionally, its softer compound also contributes to higher friction levels, further impacting fuel consumption.

Wet Performance

Wet performance depends on tire’s ability to grip on slick surfaces, along with resistance to hydroplaning. Let’s start with grip.

Wet Traction

Achieving dependable wet traction is significantly more challenging than obtaining dry grip, mainly due to the imperative of rapid water displacement. This necessity arises because water, being in-compressible, must be effectively channeled away from the tread to maintain the tire’s contact and grip.

In this regard, the Nokian WRG4 distinguishes itself remarkably, where it excels in overall wet handling, as demonstrated by faster handling lap times in comparative tests.

It notably offers superb steering feedback, providing sharper, more precise control, allowing for a more confidence inspiring drive.

But what gives the Nokian WRG4 its edge in wet conditions? Well, the answer lies in its innovative sipe design.

While grooves handle the bulk of water expulsion, they often leave residual moisture beneath the tread blocks. And here, sipes, those tiny cuts in the tire, play a crucial role.

They basically act like miniature vacuums, drawing up the leftover water and ensuring the rubber maintains effective contact with the road.

Now, the WRG4 offers an intricate mix of linear and wave-like siping, with varied angular orientations, effectively evacuating water in multiple directions. Conversely, the Michelin Crossclimate 2, though it has interlocking central sipes that provide excellent wet braking, falls short in other areas.

Its fewer sipes towards the edges do not offer comparable lateral traction or overall handling.

Moreover, its linear sipes with thicker cuts are primarily designed for winter conditions and tend to stiffen in wet conditions, particularly affecting steering responsiveness.

Aquaplaning Resistance

Hydroplaning is that sketchy moment when your tire can’t shove the water away fast enough through its grooves, leading to floating or aquaplaning.

Obviously, when this happens, tires lose all grip.

Here’s where the Nokian WRG4 really steps up its game with its more effective groove design.

I mean, the tire doesn’t just have twin circumferential grooves in the middle, it also offers those sweeping curved channels that are all interconnected, throwing water out effortlessly in both directions.

Moreover, it also features greater tread depth, which although is primarily designed for snow shoveling, also helps taking out more volume of water at a given time.

In contrast, although the Crossclimate 2 lacks behind, its still not too far off, thanks to its directional tread pattern with good enough depth. But yes, it still falls short here. And, yes, its another reason for its lacking in wet traction too.

I mean with less water going out through grooves, its sipes have to work over-time. And like already mentioned, they aren’t as effective as the WRG4 tire.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, both boys here are great all-season tires with distinct advantages.

The CrossClimate 2 dominates in dry braking and handling due to its directional tread, interlocking lugs, and balanced contact patch, making it a superior choice for touring.

And yes, it also excels in soft snow conditions with its unique lug design that enhances grip.

Conversely, the WRG4 shines on icy surfaces with its intricate siping and performs better in wet conditions, offering superior steering feedback and resistance to hydroplaning.

And while the CrossClimate 2 yields quietness and fuel efficiency, the WRG4 leads in comfort with its softer, thermally adaptive rubber.

So, ultimately, the choice between these two depends on specific performance priorities and driving conditions.

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