How important are your tyres?
'Very' is the answer
A few years ago I received an interesting phone call. I was using a borrowed office and drinking cheap coffee when a guy I hadn't heard from in ages called to ask if I wanted to go to Lapland to drive on ice. "It's not about cars, it's about tyres", he said. I knew nothing about tyres except that they're usually made of rubber but I like cold weather, and I'd never seen the Aurora Borealis, so I said yes.
I landed in the blistering cold, in the middle of nowhere, made my way to the bus that would take me to the hotel and noticed that the driver, he was Finnish, was doing a million miles an hour on icy roads. No wonder Finnish drivers are so successful. It's because they've been practicing literally all their lives without even realizing it. I still had to address the elephant in the room because physics is physics, and ice is ice, but the PR guy saw it coming, he was Finnish, and said "it's the tyres". I must've looked puzzled because he said it again. "It's the tyres. You can do anything as long as you're driving on the right tyres".
Twenty-four hours later, on a frozen lake, I was given the opportunity to drive five identical cars (FWD Golf) on five different sets of tyres - summer, all-season, Central European winter, Scandinavian winter and winter with studs - and the result was outstanding.
The Golf on summer tyres simply wouldn't move, the Golf on all-season tyres was struggling, the one on CE winter tyres was doing okay-ish, the one on Scandi winter tyres was doing great and the Golf on studded winter tyres felt like driving on wet tarmac. I'm not an off-road expert but I can tell you that when the going gets tough, it's better to be in the wrong car with the right tyres than in the the right car with the wrong tyres.
Nokian Tyres basically invented the winter tyre and after spending the last 80-odd years developing their winter tyres they're now taking all-season and summer tyres very seriously.
They call this the Seasonproof tyres and it's designed to meet the needs of Central European drivers, which means it can take anything from hot tarmac to slushy winter days. It's a big ask but hey, they're Finnish, they know what they're doing. Bwoah. The new tread pattern is designed to be versatile and offer low rolling resistance to ensure the tyre lasts longer than a few years.
They've also made a Seasonproof SUV version. SUVs are selling like hot cakes but the truth is the vast majority of CUV/SUV owners hardly ever take their vehicle off-road. The SUV tyre is made to favour durability over one-off performance.
The night before leaving, I drove to the nearest hill - it was probably around minus 30° and the road was covered with a thick layer of frozen snow - but I never got to see the Aurora Borealis. They say it's a relatively rare phenomenon. I'm not sure what they meant. Is it rare to see the Aurora Borealis in Lapland? Or is it rare that you go to Lapland and you're so unlucky you don't get to see it?
I was a bit disappointed at first but then I remembered I was in Finland, so I did what every good Finn would do. I went back to the hotel, had a thousand drinks and when the bartender asked about the Aurora Borealis, I said 'Bwoah'. And then I went to sleep.