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October 4x4 Fest


The national exhibition dedicated to the off-road world and four-wheel drive, shows the latest news in the off-road sector, including clawed tires


Duilio Damiani


The four-wheel drive off-road sector meets here every year. The holiday resort of Marina di Carrara, with its shores washed by the Tyrrhenian Sea, shortly after the end of the summer season becomes the national 4x4 capital, in all, absolutely all, its different forms. Extreme Off-road vehicles prepared by the best specialists in the industry, vehicles operating on the territory ready to intervene in any condition, vehicles designed to cross the Amazon basin, or the Sahara desert, all on display alongside the newer standard production SUV, quads and even Italian trucks regularly participating in the Dakar. These are the main attractions of the Tuscany autumn event for fans and visitors alike, for a motoring event that is rightfully considered among the most significant events of this kind on the national scene.

Three pavilions for nearly 200 exhibitors, including many foreigners, have occupied in this fourteenth edition of the 4x4Fest an area of 40,000 square meters, offering the best vehicle preparations and accessories in off-road mode, with key elements imported from the best factories in the industry worldwide and  homemade products showcased by local specialists.

Carrara, however, is not just a static display, thanks to its outdoor areas fit for a variety of activities throughout the event. The fairground is occupied by test runs and a few shows, with uninterrupted alternating between cars, quads and prototypes launched at full speed, while the beach-front is extensively used to test vehicles on sandy terrain and 4x4 races. Then there are dirt trails on the slopes of the Lunigiana mountains, an occasion to discover the area through amateur off-road rallies with guided tours to the marble quarries, a unique location open to the public only for this event, to be visited with private vehicles or on board the organization’s off-road vehicles.



OLD GLORIES AND NEW STARS                                        


During the three days of the event (, this year on October 10 to 12, it was possible to admire the widest selection, static and moving, of off-road cars of any age. From old military vehicles, expertly restored by enthusiasts, to the unforgotten glories of the recent past, such as the Camel Trophy Land Rover, to the latest brutes intended for the extreme off-road world championship, sought after by the hardcore fans of this category. Without forgetting the current industrial production, with the premium manufacturers here represented by Fiat and Jeep brands, from the timeless Panda 4x4 to the Grand Cherokee, the entire iconic Land Rover range, Mitsubishi with the veteran Pajero and the L200 pick up, Sangyong with its new Korando, Rexton and Rodius, in addition to Suzuki, present here with its national premiere of the Swift 4x4 powered by the new 1.2 DualJet, alongside the Jimny.

Any technical solution, even the most advanced and sophisticated, cannot do much without the best grip on the ground: and wheels are a key component to driving on soft terrains, as all those who see their wheels sink in a mud pit or skating on a glossy layer of ice know very well, despite being assisted by all possible electronic control systems, differential locks and anti-skid systems.

It is no coincidence then that a significant portion of premium manufacturers of 4x4 tires were found here, with their clawed profiles. Alongside the most admired off-road car, the tire industry displayed great vitality, presenting their new products including their aggressive variants, from prominent tread blocks and huge sizes often comparable to real big foot. As it has already happened in the past, the Carrara 4x4 Fest has become an unparalleled showcase for the new off-road tires we will see on international markets in the near future.



DEEP GROVES                                                                                


In the three exhibition halls dedicated to accessories, along with a large number of other automotive elements - wheels, springs, dampers and various other suspension components - the latest tire ranges did not go unnoticed, with some already well established models and interesting news, both concerning new tires and retreads.

Among these, Cooper Tires, which through its national distributor Overgom has revived its vast range of products dedicated to 4x4s, fifteen different ranges, with the whole Discoverer range in full, from A / T to S / T Maxx , through the award-winning STT, which saw its national debut two years ago right here in Carrara.

Browsing through the 4x4Fest, we stumbled in the Brentagomme stand, a true specialist in off road retreads, present at the fair with a wide range of retreaded tires from the best national retreaders, an advantageous alternative to new tires especially in view of particularly severe use, where the short life of a cross type tire, for example – one that loses much of its effectiveness on soft terrains with just 50% wear - justifies an immediate replacement at a reduced cost.

Although not included in the official list of exhibitors, at the stand of the Italian Off-Road Federation a preview of the latest creation by Lerma Tires was displayed, the Piedmont retread company  well known to local off-road enthusiasts, who with its Amazon prototype, here in the giant size 325/85 R16 (over 95 cm in diameter) aims to provide fans with a new extremely aggressive design, with large grooves and gaps to facilitate the expulsion of mud and debris, maximizing grip.

Carrara 4x4 Fest is an opportunity to meet the press, one that wasn’t missed by the Japanese company Toyo that through its Italian subsidiary Toyo Tire Italia presented its new range Open Country A / T Plus (see the box below).

Present at the event,  the most recent proposal by GT Radial, the emerging Asian company, which destined its Adventuro range, in its dual configuration A / T and M / T, with the task of being the specialized equipment designed for SUVs and 4x4.

And last but not least, giants of the tire sector, such as Michelin, discreetly present at the fair to consolidate its proposal dedicated to the world of 4x4, with its premium Latitude Alpin series that we find on many high-end sport utility vehicles; then Yokohama, traditionally present here with a large stand entirely dedicated to off-road and winter tires, Geolandar, Parada and Advan ST, softened by the presence of the pretty participants in the famous Donnavventura (Woman-adventure) initiative, supported by the Japanese manufacturer as a technical partner during expeditions around the globe.



What better showcase to present a new off-road tire dedicated to SUVs and 4x4s? Seizing the opportunity offered by the Carrara event, Toyo has gathered the press for the European premiere of the new range Open Country A / T Plus, evolved and improved over the previous All Terrain series. The Japanese factory, for which the sport utility and off-road segment accounts for 30% of its production, through its plants in Japan, China, Indonesia and the US, has studied for its new all terrain tire a very edgy asymmetrical design, differentiated into two bands, for a tread that is meant to represent the best compromise between road use, off-road excursions and, given the markings M + S, also winter use. The casing made with steel reinforced plies has the task of supporting heavy loads imposed today by  powerful 4x4s, ensuring adequate grip in all conditions thanks to an asymmetric tread pattern, rigid block design and new tread polymers combining to offer unparalleled on and off road performance, including winter. The new design allows on the one hand a reduction of noise (71 dB against the 74 of the previous version) and on the other a 4% improvement in braking on wet surfaces. Available across Europe from February 2015 at a price similar to the previous series, the Toyo Open Country A / T Plus will be offered in a first selected size range from 15 to 18 inches, with sizes from 205/70 R15 and 265/60 R18, which will be expanded gradually over the next year.

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