Tyre manufacturer Nokian has just presented its new WR A4, a winter tyre designed for high performance cars. Promising and with a strong focus on technology, we were given the chance to test it at Nokian’s stronghold in Finland.
Finnish tyre manufacturer Nokian is the undisputed specialist of tyres designed to deal with winter conditions. Its test base located at a stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle, and where we discovered the WR A4, is a good example of the resources this manufacturer has invested to develop its products. Indeed, of all the winter development centres we have had the opportunity to visit; this one is the most impressive. The facilities available for engineers allow them to work in the best possible conditions. The 0,5 mile (800m) long ice tunnel used for braking tests is a good example of the resources invested and the optimal conditions used to develop the WR A4.
Significant performance improvements
The WR A4 will replace the WR A3. It has the role of being the sportiest tyre in the Finnish tyre manufacturer’s winter range, just like its asymmetric tread pattern suggests. A design shared with the tyre it replaces, even if the improvements announced are significant.
Indeed, Nokian has stepped slightly out of its role as a snow specialist to present this tyre as being ultra-versatile. A step forward, even though this manufacturer likes to remind us that tough winters remains its speciality.
As such, this tyre is clearly geared towards wet grip performance with a tread designed to efficiently remove water. From its tread design to the polished grooves, every effort has been made to ensure this tyre delivers performance in pouring rain.
Obviously, this has not been achieved at the expense of pure winter performance. This tyre benefits from all of Nokian’s expertise, especially in the development of a latest generation tread compound.
The sporty and dynamic dimension is ensured by a reinforced structure using the same technology as for bulletproof vests.
Testing on Finland’s roads
Nokian’s decision to test this tyre in Nordic conditions was bold, since in theory this tyre is not designed for such harsh winter conditions.
In any event, the Audi RS5’s fitted with 255 35 R19 96V size tyres hardly seemed intimidated as the icy lakes and roads approached. On the contrary, driving sensations and comfort seemed much better than that delivered by the Nokian WR D4 which we tested in similar conditions a few months ago; even if the latter does not have the same positioning.
In long bends, with a bitter wind blowing covering the road with a thin layer of snow, the WR A4 was very reassuring. The stretches covered with fresh snow were handled with disconcerting ease, and in these conditions, the combination of our Quattro all wheel drive test vehicle with these tyres seems unbeatable.
Logically, performances were limited on sheer ice, but in these conditions only a studded tyre is able to come through with honours.
In all transparency, we would have hoped for a longer test to really assess this promising tyre’s potential. We look forward to the results of the first tests conducted by official organisations (Adac etc.) to find out how it is positioned in relation to its competitors.
For what vehicles?
The WR A4 will be available at the end of summer 2016 in more than 50 sizes ranging from 16 to 21 inches for high performance and/or sports vehicles. Several Run-Flat sizes will also be available.
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