Well, we’ve almost made it through another winter, and our long-term 2012 BMW 650i xDrive was up to the challenges Mother Nature brought to the Silver Spring, Maryland area, the home of Automotive Rhythms.
Heavy rain? No worries. Snow? Still no worries.
No, I am not delusional. Our AWD 650i was in snow fighting form thanks to a BMW specific winter wheel and tire package for the team to evaluate. The marketing theme for this package is quite simple: Biting cold? Bite back!
BMW offers BMW Approved Cold Weather Tires with the road-gripping features you need for confident driving, regardless of the weather. Why the need for special cold weather tires? Because cold weather causes rubber to harden in non-winter tires, reducing gripping and steering responsiveness. Even BMW’s equipped with xDrive (more on xDrive later) can benefit from these specific tire/wheel packages. In addition, BMW Approved Cold Weather Tires offer these extra benefits:
- Cold-resistant silica compounds that retain flexibility even at low temperatures.
- Sophisticated tread design with interlinking ribs that offer improved grip on ice and snow.
- Deeper, self-cleaning treads that significantly improve tire grip and propulsion on wet roads.
On snow-covered surfaces, BMW Approved Cold Weather Tires can significantly shorten braking distances. Ever been in a snow braking situation and you simply cannot stop? I have, and it is no fun. For wet roads, the deeper tread pattern of BMW Approved Winter Tires discharges water more quickly, reducing your risk of hydroplaning. Our vehicle featured 245/45/18 Dunlop SP Winter Sport rubber. These special tires came mounted on BMW light alloy wheels, making the perfect match of factory approved wheels and tires. BMW says they are resistant to wind, weather and road salt, and with the proper care will not suffer the ravages of winter. We concurred. And this package was not simply thrown together by some product whiz at BMW. Hundreds of thousands of miles of testing under all conditions assure that these are the best winter/foul weather wheel/tire combos you can mount on your Bimmer.
To put it all to the test, snow hit the Silver Spring area and I took out our long-term 650i to see if the Dunlops were up to snuff. Now in all fairness to Mother Nature, our 650i is equipped with BMW’s xDrive Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, which powers all four wheels and enhances foul weather traction and stability. Unlike other all-wheel drive systems, xDrive offers rear wheel bias for surefooted grip on slick roads, without sacrificing the feel of rear wheel drive. It sends power to the wheel or wheels with the surest footing — and it does so in milliseconds. That means under normal conditions, drive forces are spread out with a rear-wheel bias. But the moment the system senses excessive wheel slip, it subtly shifts torque to meet the changing conditions, offering maximum available traction and superior handling on all surfaces.
Perhaps the ultimate test came at a snow-covered intersection near AR Headquarters. When the traffic light turned green, I stomped the accelerator, fully expecting a loss of traction. No, said our BMW with Winter Approved Tires. Off it went, and in a hurry. So fast that I was pulled over by a local constable who wanted to know where the fire was! After explaining that I was testing the car/tires under winter conditions, the officer kindly let me be on my way. Don’t try this at home! However, there are some disadvantages to winter-specific tires. Since they are not low profile like summer rubber, you do lose a bit of handling prowess. They also seem noisier than the performance tires we swapped out. But remember the ultimate goal in foul weather conditions is safety, a few minor tradeoffs are reasonable.
So don’t compromise your confidence on the road this or any other winter. Ask your dealer for BMW Approved Cold Weather Tires designed just for your BMW. Safe driving!