Finnish tyre specialist Nokian is launching the WR D4. It is the first winter tyre to achieve an A rating for wet grip on the EU tyre label. From the start, Nokian says this versatile tyre excels in winter conditions. Will it deliver on its promise? We went to Lapland to find out.
The WR D4 will replace the WR D3 which already replaced the well knownWR G2. Boosted by this honourable parentage, this tyre is logically promising. A fact supported by the unquestionable expertise of Nokian in the realm of winter tyres.
The WR D4 is a strategic tyre for Nokian. In direct competition with the Michelin Alpin 5 and the Goodyear UltraGrip 9, it operates in a highly competitive market segment where there is no lack of major players.
As a result, to stand out it must offer some serious arguments and above all, replace its predecessor, the winner of multiple comparison tests.
The first advantage that Nokian puts forward is the increased safety that can be expected from this tyre, in all conditions. This performance is legitimised by the results announced by Nokian in terms of the EU tyre label (A for wet grip in certain sizes). The WR D4 has also progressed in terms of pure winter performance.
Development has focused on the tread design, the rubber compound and the tyre structure: the directional tread pattern has been optimised, with a particular focus on the sipes, grooves and groups of tread blocks to improve rigidity and facilitate the removal of water, slush, mud, etc.
In particular, "Snow Performance Blocks" have been optimised to improve grip on snow.
The tread compound of a winter tyre plays a decisive role. The silica based compound used for the WR D4 contains canola oil. Nokian says that even as temperatures change, the level of performance remains the same with no effect on longevity.
This compound also ensures a good energy performance as well as reducing the noise level.
For whom and for which vehicles?
The WR D4 is an Alpine tyre. It is therefore recommended for central European countries where conditions in winter are not considered as being Nordic.
This versatile tyre will be available in sizes ranging from 14 to 20 inches and is mainly aimed at city, compact and saloon cars. Certain sizes will be available as run flats. As for availability, consumers will have to wait until winter 2015, and as a result, it will be on sale next summer. For sports and high performance cars, it is better to opt for the WR A3.
A Nordic test for the Alpine tyre
Nokian invited us to test the WR D4 in an environment combining multiple difficulties for this type of tyre. So, we went to Finland, to the north of the Arctic Circle to test this tyre in more extreme conditions than the WR D4 is ever likely to experience. And to top it off, behind the wheel of a high performance car, a 450 hp Audi RS5, which fortunately was equipped with all wheel drive.
Although we were unable to evaluate the WR D4 on all performance criteria, our driving session left a positive first impression.
We found that when driving on asphalt, road noise seemed well contained.
The various conditions we encountered during our test drive (ice, packed snow, fresh snow, etc.) revealed good overall grip. The limits reached on ice were perfectly logical. The miles of testing highlighted the superior safety this tyre has to offer and its controlled handling on snow.
We look forward to the first test results of this tyre, to find out whether its potential is confirmed and how it ranks. But we are very optimistic...
Discover Nokian’s test centre where the tests of WR D4 took place:
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