At an event at the Copper Mountain Resort high in the Colorado Rockies, Nokian Tyres rolled out the newest generation of their Hakkapeliitta winter tires, as well as the all-weather WR G4. Though not quite “White Hell,” aka the company’s Ivalo Testing Center in arctic Finland, the snowy slopes of the Rocky Mountains made for an appropriate backdrop to roll out tires designed for winter driving.
With a bad-weather pedigree born from the proving grounds of White Hell, performance over snow and ice is written into Nokian’s DNA, said Steve Bourassa, passenger and light truck products business manager for Nokian North America.
“Winter performance has always been the absolute key to our R&D,” says Bourassa. “We have maintained or improved the winter capabilities (on the Hakkapeliitta R3 and WR G4), but we’ve made big improvements in dry traction, wet traction as well, so it handles a lot better. It’s a lot more comfortable. I’m really happy with where R&D guys have been able to do with this product. That’s been quite impressive so far.”
Hans Dyhrman, director of marketing for Nokian, said unlike many all-season tires, the company builds its all-weather tires with winter driving as the primary focus, and then adapts the tires to summer conditions.
“When we look at our all-weather category, we build it to excel in winter conditions and then also adapt it to all-season conditions as well,” Dyhrman said, “so [Nokian is] really focused on all those different demanding conditions, and that’s the same when we move into our all-season or light truck or SUV products.”
Tire dealers and media were given an opportunity on Feb. 13, 2018, to put the new products to the test the Hakkapeliitta R3 and WR G4 with a series of road and track tests in vehicles including the Subaru Impreza WRX and Tesla Model X.
The Hakkapeliitta R3 and R3 SUV winter tire feature a directional tread pattern that has been improved from the R2 model for increased rolling resistance and performance in winter conditions. The tire compound features a high silica content and “Cryo Crystal 3” biomaterials for increased grip on snow and ice. The tread pattern improves winter performance over the R2, but the greatest increase comes in wet and dry conditions. The R3 SUV also features Aramid sidewalls that are designed to resist cuts and impacts that might otherwise damage the tire.
The Hakkapeliitta R3 is available in 63 sizes with 62 sizes for the R3 SUV. Both tires are available up to 21-inches and with R and T speed ratings. The company expects both tires to be ready to order in the near future.
The WR G4 is an all-weather tire built for winter conditions but optimized for year-round driving with 60,000 miles of tread wear.
Tire development is often a balance between competing design goals, such as comfort, versus handling or performance, Bourassa said. For the WR G4, one important consideration was balancing wet traction and rolling resistance.
“Those are usually opposites, and we’ve been able to narrow the gap and then again, on winter capabilities and treadwear,” Bourassa said. “Usually those are very difficult to put in the same tire, but through nearly 20 years of development, we’ve been able to narrow that gap between those two.”
The WR G4, which is currently available for order, is Nokian’s fourth generation of all-weather tire. Like the Hakkapeliitta R3 and R3 SUV, it features silica compounds for increased traction on snow and ice, as well as an asymmetrical siping pattern that utilizes a combination of winter and all-weather tire features. The WR G4 is available for order immediately in 42 sizes up to 19-inches with speed ratings topping out at W.