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At some point before or after the sale, R owners have gleaned over the following text.
“The Volvo R-Concept models come standard with an Ultra High Performance tire and wheel combination with a low sidewall aspect ratio. The design and tire compounds are engineered to provide maximum dry pavement performance with consideration for hydroplaning resistance. As such, they may be more susceptible to road hazard damage and, depending on driving conditions, may achieve a tread life of less than 20,000 miles. If the vehicle is to be driven in cold, snowy, or icy weather conditions, Volvo recommends the use of a suitable winter tire and wheel combination which will offer better traction under those circumstances.”
To some Volvo owners, there is some surprise, and perhaps shock. Then reality hits that the purchase of a second set of tires will be necessary if the weather turns white. Our experience was no different, and as foul winter weather approached, we turned to a set of Nokian Hakkapeliitta RSi snow tires to do snow duty on our new R.
Late this winter, the majority of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions received a respectable snow fall greater than eight inches in most areas. The New York area recorded totals of more than twenty-four inches. Needless to say, in those conditions a dedicated snow tire is the preferred choice to shoe your car.
When I took delivery of our Project V70R on December 30th, I knew it was just a matter of time before the snow would hit and within the first twenty-four hours of ownership I contacted TireFactory.net for another set of Nokian tires. They supplied the Nokian WRs that we have enjoyed on our XC90 for the past year. Their customer service and pricing remains excellent.
Launched in December of 2004, The Nokian RSi represents Nokian Tyres latest winter product. The name refers to rape seed oil - silica compound, rain & snow & ice properties and the R speed category. The RSi is the successor to the Hakkapeliitta Q and Nokian states it is better in all-essential properties. The RSi construction utilizes wedge-shaped sipes to offer stable driving characteristics. Double blocks and a uniform center rib reinforce stability and grip. The tread has an entirely new rapeseed oil-silica rubber compound, which is suppose to give the tire excellent cold weather properties, low rolling resistance and a good wet grip. For tire sizes with an aspect ratio of 55 or less there is a rimguard built into the sidewall.
On dry pavement, the tires feel less connected than the Vredestein performance snow tires sampled on another V70R. Where the Vredesteins, also with an extreme snow rating, felt like an all-season tire, the RSi sounds and drives like a traditional snow tire. I expected the tires to handle similar to the Vreds but for nearly the same retail price, the Vred felt like the better dry road choice. Nokian Tyre claims that the RSi copes easily and securely to changing conditions and from the few hundred miles I have driven, I agree. Even though Nokian states excellent braking and accelerating grip, I found that I was able to activate the DSTC warning light signifying wheel slippage; this was on dry pavement. When the white stuff fallsfrom the sky, the grip can be described as superb in 4+ of unplowed snow inclines. I tested several tire pressures, 32lbs, 35lbs and 39lbs. The 35lb setting felt the best.
Driving in several inches of snow and through several deeper plow embankments, I felt confident, stable and secure. The RSi is a fantastic snow tire I only find some disappointment with its dry characteristics. It is a snow tire and will remain my dedicated snow tire for snow events. Between storms I will switch back to the stock Pirelli setup. With that being said, for the price point of the RSi, there are some less expensive alternatives that will most likely yield similar results in the snow, especially if you will only have the tires on for a few days before and after a storm.
The decision for most owners will be “Do I really need snow tires instead of a good all-season?” I think for the majority of us, all seasons would get us home without any problems. But for those in hilly, snow country snow tires will be a necessity. A dedicated snow tire combined with Volvo’s Haldex AWD system will not only make snow driving safer, and you can have more confidence in your parking lot acrobatics… I mean accident avoidence lessons officer.
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