Driving peace of mind with all-season tyres

BMW I Series - Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres - wet

We get to grips with a set of Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres

The weather here in the UK is highly changeable. It’s said that we talk about it more than any other nation and we have more words to describe it than any other language. There are even times of the year when we seem to experience four seasons in a day.

So, a car tyre that promises superior grip on summer and winter roads, plus excellent braking and handing in all weather conditions makes absolute sense.

Apparently, the all-season sector is one of the fastest growing in the tyre industry, but can an all-rounder be as good as two sets of tyres – one for the summer and another for the winter?

Tyre test

Unless you have access to state-of-the-art tyre evaluation facilities, there’s no better time to road-test new rubber than a straight swap with an existing set on a car you know well.

Earlier this year I bought my first BMW – a cherished 59-reg 1 Series with just 60,000 miles on the clock.

Even though it had a fresh MOT, the tyres were a disappointment. A mix of two brands I’d never heard of and a new cheapo (presumably to get it through the test), an upgrade was a priority.

What better time to take Goodyear up on a long-standing invitation to try out its acclaimed new Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyre, promising “excellent driving performance in all weather conditions, all year long”.

BMW I Series - Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres

The first thing you notice about the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 is the asymmetric tread pattern, complemented with deep and wide grooves, designed to disperse water (preventing aquaplaning) and offer excellent grip in all conditions.

Compared to the Gen-2 tyre, Goodyear says the improved structure aids dry braking by a claimed 5%, while changes to the tread offer better performance in wet and snowy conditions.

The new tread design also has more centre sipes – the narrow gaps that “bite” the snow – again creating a 5% improvement in handling on snow compared with the previous generation.

On the road

Once the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3s had been fitted, I was in for a surprise. The improved comfort level and muffling of road noise was immediately noticeable.

Typically, I had to wait several weeks before I got to drive in the wet, but the dry spell did give me ample opportunity to compare them with my previous summer tyres.

BMW I Series - Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres

Frankly, the difference wasn’t huge, which is a credit to Goodyear, because winter tyres typically have less traction in warm weather and stopping distances are increased.

Nevertheless, the stiffer construction of the Vector 4Seasons Gen-3s definitely improved dry handling and stability when cornering hard.

When the rain finally came, it was biblical, so I couldn’t wait to get out to experience them in wet weather.

Naturally, I was initially cautious (after all, the BMW is rear-wheel drive), but it soon became apparent that the Gen-3 set was working its magic on the soaked tarmac – building confidence, but not overdoing it either.

The lanes around my village, which are often caked in mud left by tractors, can become treacherous during downpours. Again, the all-season tyres seemed to take it in their stride.

I’ll take Goodyear’s word for it when it comes to improved braking performance in the wet. If there was a difference, it was marginal.

Season’s greetings

Despite my ‘four seasons in a day’ comment earlier, it’s still too early for snow and ice here in the South West, so I’ll also have to reserve judgement for now. All I do know is that from the reviews I’ve read (plus comments form actual buyers), the Gen-3 is the next best thing to a hardcore snow tyre.

Rest assured, I’ll be back in the bleak mid winter after I’ve had a chance to test the Vector 4Seasons Gen-3s in sub-zero conditions, putting Goodyear’s claim that they deliver better grip and handling in the snow to the test.

In the meantime, I’m mightily impressed – the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 is a truly versatile premium tyre at a remarkably competitive price.

Right now, it’s not even winter yet and I’m almost looking forward to a frost or a blanket of the white stuff. I must be mad…