while driving a
Skoda Suberb MkII
(205/55 R16 V) on
a combination of roads
I purchased 4 Kleber Quadraxer 205/55 R16 94V all-season tires, fitted, in preparation for 2012 winter months and beyond. Eight months and 15,000+ miles later, here are my findings. Vehicle: 2010 Skoda Superb 1.4 TSi. 122ps.
A good turn of performance in cold conditions and equally good in hot weather, but is the Kleber Quadraxer all-season tire a real Jack of all Trades?
Initial impressions reveal the ride is compliant and fairly supple, road noise is lower than my previous Continental Sport Contact 2 resulting in less fatigue on long (200+ mile) journeys. Many older road surfaces create roar noise but the Quadraxer manages to suppress it better than the SP2's. Dry weather turn-in and feedback is good enough, informing the driver of how the front end is behaving. Pulling away from junctions need a touch more care as it's easier to spin the wheels, wet or dry. They can chirp all to easily under mild acceleration.
After 300+ miles the rear of the car still felt 'loose' and not as firmly planted as the front. I put this down to the sheer number of 'pimples' over the tread surface, which had yet to wear off.
Cold weather performance.
During winter 2012 in the UK, the tires did not see temperatures lower than around -10 degrees C during which they performed fairly well. The Quadraxerâ€™s certainly inspire confidence at lower temperatures though not by a huge margin. They are a â€˜compromiseâ€™ between summer and winter tires afterall. They do not, however, lend themselves to more spirited driving dry or wet, so you have to proceed accordingly. If you need a more dynamically capable tire, you probably need to look elsewhere instead.
In wet weather they perform quite well but lack the outright grip comparative to Continentals Sport Contact 2 in low speed corners or even if pressing on in medium speed corners, although not by much. However, the Quadraxers demonstrate excellent water clearing abilities, for example, when driving through deep standing water by the side of the road. Fears of having the steering wheel torn from your hands are mostly banished. Instead it's more like a gentle tug reminding you to be vigilant. Again, this inspires confidence when driving at night along unlit rural roads. Far superior to the SP2â€™s.
Driving in snow I noted their performance was a tale of two halves. On snow/ice covered roads they gripped fairly well under mild acceleration, but not exceptionally. I was expecting better. Braking, however, was far more impressive and inspired great confidence on fresh and compacted snow. On the down-side their ability to turn-in and maintain the desired line in snow/ice covered roads, or even car parks, was mediocre in comparison. It seems they lack sufficient â€˜biteâ€™, which might be due to the tread design on the outer edge. Still, they are way, way better than summer tire performance.
Handling. Very good straight-line performance at motorway speeds. No weaving or tram-lining. Very good at high speed directional changes with small inputs. Also, they offer quick and precise reactions to steering wheel input on A and B roads without the need for mid-course corrections.
All-round year useability?
The acid-test for all-season tires has to be how well or poorly they perform during summer months. Having trawled the web for real-life feedback and data before buying the Quadraxer, precious little was available, which is of no use if you plan to spend £300 on tires that you might end up detesting for one or two years. After a recent spate of particularly hot weather I can conclude there appears to be no difference in their driving performance at +32 degrees of air temperature to that of -10 C. Bare in mind actual tarmac temperature would have been higher still. Grip levels appear to remain the same, which comes as a relief, and wear rate is quite modest if not fairly low. So, no complaints using them in both cold and very warm conditions. A very impressive act in my opinion.
It is easy to be persuaded by the NEED to have a 4x4 version of your car in order to cope with unexpected snowfall, avoiding getting stuck on the school run, travelling to work or to make your next appointment with your client on time. (Towing, however, presents a different set of conditions.) I would now make a case for a well matched set of all-season tires instead of 4x4 set-up because they actually work in cold conditions by giving you some traction and they also work in hot weather because they don't turn to mush and shed blocks of tread on hot tarmac. Another positive is maintaining or even an improvement in fuel economy. The only real downsides are reduced grip and less front and rear end 'bite' whilst scything down narrow country lanes. Under such conditions, fine directional changes and grip are a distant memory of previously owned summer-rated tires, and something you really wish for - especially as the corner you are in tightens up. The solution and remedy is simple. Enter such corners at a slightly reduced velocity in the first instance.
All-season tires, such as the Kleber Quadraxer, generally speaking suit my style of driving and compliment the dynamics of the car, although I have learned to drive within their performance constraints. They offer good levels of comfort, a compliant ride and reduced tire noise. Levels of grip are fine and they perform much better than summer tires in the cold, wet and snow. As a very rough guide I estimate the wear rate at 5000 miles per mm on a front drive car. Front depth tread is 5mm and rear 7mm. More than satisfactory.
The Quadraxerâ€™s certainly inspire confidence at lower temperatures though not by a significant margin. These tires do not lend themselves to more spirited driving dry or wet, so you have to drive accordingly. If you need a more dynamically capable tire, you probably need to look elsewhere instead. Trying to objectively define the difference is not possible. However using rallying terms of effort and speed. If one were to drive the SP2's at 10/10ths, I estimate the Quadraxer would max out around 8 tenths in terms of cornering speed and precision.
Braking is the only area where I tend to err on the side of caution and allow a good margin for safety and other driversâ€™ stupidity. During severe speed reductions one can feel the block pattern squirming against the forces, which gives an impression you donâ€™t have full control of the situation. I sure you have, but it does not feel that way. This seems to occur only on the limit. Back off a bit and it never becomes an issue.
To conclude, the Keber Quadraxer is a pretty good tire overall. Certainly not a high performer, but one I am pleased with over the past 15,000+ miles and delighted with their performance envelope in cold and hot weather. Am I happy with them? Let me put it this way. They will remain on the car all year until the tread gets down to 3mm, or a tire suffers damage. After that will be replaced the same or better tire. All-seasons from now on. The Kleber Quadraxer - Jack of all trades and good one at that! And no, I do not have any association with any tire manufacturer or retailer.