BLIZZAK LM001 FOR A SAFE WINTER ALL ROUND
The impressions received trying the new Bridgestone winter tires, put to the test in Sweden, are of an evolution centred around versatility that makes the Japanese product a new benchmark in the winter segment for compact and city cars
Mino de Rigo
Nestled in the Swedish forest with its snowy scenery and fascinating lakes that alternates between open plains and rolling hills covered with pine trees, is the Swedish Testing Ground: the plant is on the outskirts of Vidsel, a hundred kilometres from the Arctic Circle, where Bridgestone moves every year an international team of engineers and drivers for fifteen weeks in the coldest season of the year in order to test the winter tires in a development process. We went on site as the Japanese manufacturer launched the new born Blizzak winter LM001. Available for testing were two straight tracks with packed snow of, respectively, 1,380 and 550 meters long , as many snowy circuits for handling at high speeds, two frozen paths, a platform with mixed ice/snow ground dedicated to telemetric measurements and furthermore, a narrow hilly course. Nothing better in short, to be able to put through the paces the new winter tire. And seeing that instead of the usual 40 degrees below zero, we were greeted by a less extreme climate, entirely in line with the cold which we are accustomed to, we could also move on sections characterized by snowmelt , thus expanding the test conditions. First up, the 2 km long snow packed circuit, for handling and steering response of the vehicle to vigorous twists and turns , tightening the corners even more than we should have, and in stepping on the gas alternating abrupt on-off’s.
Greater speed build up and traction
All of this behind the wheel of two identical Golf VII series 1.4 Tsi motorized, one equipped with a set of Blizzak LM001 size 195/65 R15T, and the other with a premium competitor’s set of tires. The result of the initial test was that the Japanese winter tire impressed for greater speed build up as well as greater traction in acceleration and load shift. We noticed also a quicker realignment of the car after inducing a slide, releasing the gas and then breaking at a brisk pace. They rated equal , however, in the following trial , with the cars engaged in repeated slaloms , over an extensive trajectory at 30 km /h, twisting and turning at 50 km /h and in-between cones at 40 km /h down the lane. A tie was further confirmed by the lateral acceleration rate instrumentally detected from the vehicles. To confirm the progress by the challenger over the competitor, small though perceptible, the cars were then driven on a narrow, hilly and tormented course and, as if in the mountains, on steep snow packed streets and treacherous surface that changed consistency. Furthermore, there we were, intent in trying an uphill start , and immediately after that, pushing the accelerator to the floor to assess the grip of the tires.
Precision and control on mixed surfaces
Here we are then , correcting the corner after taking it a bit too “vivaciously”, trying to get back on track as quickly as possible after a slide; then, once we picked up speed on the straight, trying to simulate an emergency brake on a downhill; and, again, accelerating after the stop & go. Once again, more traction, stability and overall handling from the new Blizzak LM001 seemed to ensure greater safety, promoting a feeling of control that inspired greater confidence. At the end of the first three tests clear differences had already emerged justifying a choice in favour of the Japanese new comer. Moreover the latter, compared to its predecessor Blizzak LM32 , is credited with a greater vocation to driving in the wet and at the same time , has a higher wear resistance : according to Bridgestone , the duration of the new rubber should ensure a compact city car a mileage in the order of 30 thousand km, with performances that do not reduce substantially until more than half of the tread has worn off, which is the threshold of 3.5 mm from the initial 8. The weight is reduced , as well as consumption , CO2 emissions and road noise , while the price list should broadly be in line with those of the LM32. From a technical standpoint the LM001 takes advantage from a new polymeric compound and a high silica content , as well as from a particular pattern large "V" shaped grooves, stretched like horns facing backward and to the shoulders , expanding the section outwardly.
Groove pattern and 3D slats
In this way, on the one hand you can get the most rapid evacuation of mud and water ( against aquaplaning ) and on the other hand , thanks to the angles of the grooves , a greater compaction of the snow for better traction and braking performance. Noteworthy is also the contribution of the slats, that whether in the dry as well as wet conditions, creates a sort of interlocking capable of maintaining the stiffness of the tread: limiting the deformation to a minimum, improves the tire’s grip while at the same time reducing the creation of heat, reducing consumption considerably. The result of further technical studies , the edges of the tread blocks are suitably bevelled in such a way as to reduce , in wet conditions, swirls of water in the grooves , facilitating their expulsion. Returning finally to the tests , here we are with the two remaining ones. It's time to measure , instruments in hand, or rather, Vbox tablet in view , longitudinal acceleration and stopping on icy snow , to compare the Blizzak LM001 against the benchmark. The collection of data, conducted on a straight track, were recorded at first in the 10 km /h to 35 km /h range and then in the 35 km/h to 5 km/h range , so as to minimize the incidence of variables connected to driving and the intervention of the ABS system. At the end, a new confirmation of the quality of the new tire, that will be available on the Italian market by September in nine different sizes, from 165/70 R14 81T to 205/55 R16 91H.
• THE COMPLETE WINTER RANGE
They really have come a long way in the last few decades. Thinking back to the earliest ones on the market , today's winter tires look like very distant relatives. In short, no nostalgia for those articles that gave back a noisy and disturbing sensation of floating as soon as you laid the tires off snow-covered roads. The new generation of winter tires , are developed to respond to a demand for uncompromising performance based on wide ranges made for specific climatic conditions. This is the case with Bridgestone’s winter range , divided into two sectors, due to the prevalence of rain and snow in much of Central and Southern Europe, and a more rigid climate typical of the Nordic countries, where snow is a constant feature , as well as the presence of ice. On the one side the winter range made up of the Blizzak LM32 and 32S and the new LM001 , which is accompanied by the LM-80 Evo destined to 4x4 , SUV and Cuv; on the other, the Blizzak WS70 and, specifically aimed at pickup, crossover and sport utility, the DM -V1 , both able to express themselves better in cold and more extreme weather conditions. They all share qualities such as comfort, reduced noise level and road handling in different winter conditions. Without compromising safety.