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Down ‘n Dirty: Pirelli Goes Off Beaten Path With New Scorpion ATR

Pirelli Goes Off Beaten Path With New Scorpion ATR

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Twenty-five years ago, Pirelli launched its first Scorpion tire, specially designed for the Lamborghini LM002. Back in the day, SUVs weren’t even called SUVs, and few roamed the earth. Pickups were more about hauling stuff, not people.

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A lot has changed in 25 years, both for the Scorpion line – which has seen 16 different models since 1981 – and the market segment it targets. For the Scorpion’s silver anniversary, Pirelli unleashed the Scorpion ATR, a new breed of light truck/SUV radial combining all-season, all-condition and all-terrain traits.

More than 150 North American dealers and key media attended the late-March launch at Las Vegas’ Bellagio Resort & Casino, with driving events at the Las Vegas Speedway and in the desert area in and around the Valley of Fire.

Replacing the Scorpion AT, the new ATR is not merely a tweaking of its predecessor, but an all-new product inside and out, “intended to create a new product segment all of its own,” according to Pirelli Tire North America (PTNA).

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As Riccardo Cichi, PTNA’s vice president of sales and marketing, pointed out, the new Scorpion ATR is being positioned more for enthusiasts and off-roaders but is just as comfortable for those who almost never go off road.

Looking less like a pure off-road tire, the Scorpion ATR acquitted itself on pavement, in the sandy desert, and on a mock off-road trail constructed at the Speedway.

According to Steve Carpino, PTNA’s research and development director, the new tire was the result of a “global R&D” effort and was tested extensively in the U.S., South America and at Pirelli’s Milan, Italy, headquarters.

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To create a tire that could do so much, Carpino said, Pirelli “took the best of the best attributes from other products” – especially Pirelli’s motorsport tires – and combined them. The result was a tire that, “in true Pirelli style, adds much to the personality of the vehicle on which it is fitted,” the company said.

The biggest challenge, PTNA said, was maintaining “all-terrain qualities while achieving low rolling noise levels, even when the tire is partly worn.” To do that, the company said, engineers considered tread pattern and compounding, integrating curved lateral grooves, twin circumferential grooves, siping and shoulder bolsters on LT-metric sizes to maximize all-condition traction and reliability while minimizing on-road noise.

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Carpino said the ATR’s carcass, bead and sidewall construction were derived from Pirelli rally tires. Twin steel belts have a double layer of zero-degree nylon overlay for stability and durability, he said. The tread compound was developed to reduce cutting and chipping while maintaining wet/dry and variable surface traction and handling.

Compared to the Scorpion AT, the new ATR shows “significant” wet/dry and snow traction, overall wear, braking, handling and off-road traction performance, he said.

The Scorpion ATR, which is already an optional OE choice for the 2006 Ford F-150, will be available in 31 P-metric, LT-metric and flotation sizes. The LT-metric and flotation sizes feature bolstered shoulders with staggered blocks for added traction and stability.

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The 11 P-metric sizes cover 15- to 22-inch wheel diameters, and the 10 LT-metrics reach 15- through 24-inch diameters. The flotation sizes are for 15-inch wheels. Some are available with raised white or black lettering.

Later this year, PTNA will add seven LT-metric sizes for 16- to 20-inch wheels and two P-metric 16-inch sizes.

With S-, T- and R-speed ratings, the Scorpion ATR has a UTQG rating of 520 AB and comes with a 40,000-mile limited treadwear warranty.

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