Test: the right tire for your 4 × 4 to look good on the off-road

Research by automakers says that the vast majority of 4 × 4 vehicles are born, live and die without ever touching the earth. Lama, so ...

Not by chance, almost all models come out with mixed-use tires, whose structure, tread design and rubber compound favor urban life more.

Now, if you break the rule and have a 4 × 4 with asphalt allergy, here's the tip: a set of off-road tires in place of the originals can take you to places you can't even imagine.

Tires are for a car what shoes are for people. There is no point in using the best tennis shoes in the world to walk in the mud, as it would also be disastrous to run a race with your feet in boots.

To prove in practice how much a tire for off-road use is superior in the land compared to mixed use, we took a Mitsubishi L200 Triton pickup for a test in the Pirelli proving ground, in Sumaré (SP).

The area simulates several off-road conditions, ranging from dirt to scary mudflats. In charge of the pickup, Sérgio Barata, another factory test pilot, with extensive experience in rallies. Your mission: to show how far each of the two tire models reaches. Make your bets.

Mixed cold

The first game to face the land is the mixed use model Scorpion STR, with an 80/20 ratio, that is, 80% asphalt and 20% earth, the most common in utilities that leave the factory.

In the dry land, with beaten ground, the L200 suffered little. But the pilot could not abuse the speed, because the irregularities caused the wheels to lose contact with the ground. And in any turn, there was the rear sliding.

In the mud, things got worse. A few turns were enough for the clay to fill all the grooves of the tread, leaving it smooth. "If it is already difficult to walk on wet asphalt with a slick tire, imagine on the ground," said Barata, jokingly, as he struggled with driving.

With the tire grooves taken by the mud, the vehicle no longer obeys the steering wheel command, slipping according to the imperfections of the ground. “Turning on 4 × 4 traction helps, but it doesn't solve it.”

Even simple tasks, such as going over a step or climbing a ravine, are a pain. Filled with clay, the tire turns in a false way, instigating the error of accelerating more. That's where the danger lies.

With more speed, the mud can escape from the grooves and the tire can suddenly gain grip, causing the car to jump forward. During the test, three goals that demarcate the track were run over by the L200, which insisted on escaping the pilot's experienced hands. Find more here: cooper stt pro review

Off-road band

Pit stop time. STR leaves and Scorpion MUD enters, with 100% off-road design.

Right at the beginning, in the dry part, Barata accelerates, ignoring the burrow: it takes off when passing through a slight ravine and lands firmly, glued to the ground, with no sign of the tire dancing on the track, as with the mixed model.

The first corner he does by “biting” the earth, continuing firmly on the path. In that place, the other tire forced Barata to make the counter-steer, so that the rear would not loose too much. It even looked like the L200 was making a curve on asphalt, such a grip.

The best was yet to come. In the mud, the pickup passed quickly and under total control. The wheels did not rotate without moving, as with the mixed tire.