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27/06/2017
WINTER GRIP GT RADIAL STYLE

 GT RADIAL – WINTER 2017

 

Thoroughly tested beyond the Arctic Circle, GT Radial’s entire winter range, from cars to truck tires,  underwent the severest of tests

Duilio Damiani

GT Radial, Asian brand part of the Giti Tire group (whose portfolio includes also budget brands such as Primewall and Runway), reaffirms its support to winter mobility, even in Nordic countries. Thoroughly tested beyond the Arctic Circle, GT Radial entire winter range, from cars to truck tires,  underwent the severest of tests.

Already on the market since 2015, the Champiro WinterPro HP, real crown jewel of GT Radial’s high performance car range, will soon be flanked by the new WinterPro 2 for mid-sized sedans. The popular Savero WT, a tire dedicated to SUVs, 4x4s and crossovers and already on the market for a number of years now, will still feature on company’s catalog, while the IcePro 3 is a completely new studded tire specifically designed for extreme winter conditions, ready to hit the markets of Northern Europe, Russia, Canada and the States (although nothing prevents us from adopting it at our latitudes as well in case of particularly severe conditions). 

No, GT Radial did not forget about those who use the road for their daily activities, and the MaxMiler WT2 for light transport vehicles as well as the GSW226 and GDR621 winter range for 22,5” wheels for heavy duty trucks, are there to show it.

A renovation aimed at lengthening the life-span of these products to 5 years, requiring on-going upgrades to emphasize the company’s desire for primacy in an ever-growing market.

 

R&D WITH AN ITALIAN FLAIR

The driving force behind GT’s reaching the tenth position among the world’s largest manufacturers, with a turnover of $ 3,13 billion and a production capacity of 289,000 tires a day, required hefty investments in production processes, research and development, marketing and services, with seven major industrial plants currently operating in China and Indonesia beside a new factory under construction in the USA. A special consideration for the European market dictated tailor-made tires developed through Giti Tire’s European Technical Center, near the Mira Testing Center in Great Britain as well as the R&D center in Hannover, Germany, where a pool of about twenty engineers, five of which are from Italy, work with a special focus on European motorists.

There is no lack of cold winter tests, performed at the Mellatracks Proving Ground – Test World in Ivalo, where all the major automobile and components manufacturers flock to test the quality of their products in extreme conditions. And it was right here that, during February’s international event, GT Radial made a number of vehicles available to test the characteristics of each tire.

Strategically relevant in order to guarantee a complete product range, winter tires are among the sectors main protagonists, and the tests afforded us the opportunity to get close to GT’s entire winter range, from well established models to the latest innovations, from cars to trucks, deployed on the Finnish testing ground. The extreme environment, typical of these latitudes, replicated some of the conditions we may have to face at times like fresh and pressed snow as well as icy roads.  

                                                                                                        

SINKING IN FRESH SNOW

The 2015 WinterPro HP tire, a well established product on the market, was the first to be tested. Its asymmetric tread design guarantees grip and handling come rain or snow, while water and slush expulsion is ensured by three deep longitudinal grooves. Tested on three different vehicles: front, rear drive and 4WD. The sharp edges of the tread blocks and the dense sipes found both on the central and outer part of the tread pattern, facilitate the control of the vehicle allowing the driver to smoothly regain the correct driving line with a front wheel drive, where the typical under-steer can be controlled by releasing the gas; well balanced on a 4WD, where the superior traction acts immediately while more driving skills are needed on rear wheel drive cars where only a decisive counter-steer will prevent the car from skidding, regaining the driving line when grip gains the upper hand on the lateral forces.  The GT Radial WinterPro HP range, made up of 24 sizes from 16 to 19 inches and a section width of 195 to 255 mm, with aspect ratio ranging from 60 to 40 not to mention H and V speed codes, cover the best part of the mad-sized and large sedans currently circulating on our roads, including a few SUVs. On the other hand, the WinterPro 2 will make its commercial debut during the year, ready to meet next winter’s demands with its 41 sizes – from 13 to 17 inches, section width from 155 to 215 mm with aspect ratio from 80 to 50 – for mid-sized and small sedans. This symmetric design boasts a dense pattern of sipes found all over the contact patch and is manufactured with high silica compound to improve grip even in the most extreme climate.

Meanwhile, on a mirror-like frozen track, only the contribution of the studs on the IcePro 3 – first year on the market – allowed the two test cars (with permanent front and 4 wheel drive) to have the better of the slippery conditions. Usable also without studs, when conditions allow it, the 128 studs distributed on the tread are essential to guarantee grip in icy conditions. Available initially in 21 sizes with 14 to 17 inch wheels, 175 to 225 mm section width and 70 to 45 as aspect ratio, the IcePro 3 is available also in a SUV version with a tread pattern boasting 150 studs and 8 initial sizes ranging from a 215/70 R16 to 245/60 R18.

The Savero WT, a high-performance SUV and crossover specialized tire, at home on both snow-clad and wet roads, is now available in a dimensional range able to meet the needs of the leading vehicles in the mid-range segment. Fourteen sizes with 15, 16 and 17 inch wheels and section widths from 215 to 275 mm and aspect ratios ranging between 75, 70 and 65 with a speed code T. Here the superior weight of the vehicles maximizes the contact patch supported by a high-water-dispersion directional footprint.

Introduced last winter, the MaxMiler WT2 is a winter product dedicated to vans and light transport vehicles. Three circumferential grooves, large side tread blocks and sipes distributed on the whole tread pattern, excelled on guaranteeing driving precision and shorter braking distance during the tests, ensuring, at the same time, starting grip and adequate lateral grip when driving through traffic cones.

 

A COMPLETE MAKEOVER FOR HEAVY DUTY TRUCKS 

Driving an 18 wheeler is not exactly our bread and butter, but the Scandinavian test event made it possible for us to use a Volvo FH 460 hp for our tests. Facing an icy roundabout, lateral grip was guaranteed by GT’s GSW226 mounted on the steering axle, while the GDR621 on the drive axle ensured both adequate braking distance and traction.

The TBR segment (Truck-Bus Radials) will be affected by a profound revolution in the course of the year. Not for quality, mind you, given the high esteem by transport specialists, but in the official brand name that will progressively go from GT Radial to Giti by the end of 2017. Thus the main brand of the Asian group, well known in all major markets, will abandon its GT Radial logo, coined exclusively for the European markets, transferring all the existing product lines under the new brand, to be followed by the imminent replacement of a few models thanks to the new Combi Road all-position tires for steering and drive axles, updated on/off ranges as well as new urban, regional and long distance tires. 

A transition towards a global identity that will affect both the replacement sector as well as transport vehicle OEMs, with a turnover expected to be in line with the automotive sector which represents about 45% of the total at European level.

                                                                      

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