Over the past ten to 15 years, Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs ) have come to dominate the car sales charts in Ireland.
So far this year, SUVs account for eight out of the top ten selling vehicles across the country, from the Nissan Qashqai to the Hyundai Tucson, and more compact options like the Ford Puma and the Opel Mokka.
As well as being practical, the SUVs in the market now are considered to be some of the most comfortable cars that money can buy. But while much of their appeal is down to the features and technology onboard an SUV – it’s also a result of their shape and design, which is inspired by their off-road heritage.
Research by Continental Tyres has shown that the main reason SUV or 4x4 owners purchased their car was for the elevated driving position and extra headroom, leg room and storage space.
And because their roof lines don’t sweep down towards the boot of the car as they do on a saloon or estate, visibility is improved, and space can be used more effectively.
“SUVs have become very much the predominant vehicle choice for car buyers in Ireland. SUVs are generally larger and thus, heavier than a traditional hatchback or sedan so drivers of SUVs need to keep that fact in mind when it comes to replacing tyres on their vehicle. Another important consideration for SUV drivers is how and where they generally drive their vehicle,” Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres Ireland, stated.
Continental has put together a checklist to run through when you’re thinking about tyres for your SUV.
Is it electric, hybrid or does it have a traditional combustion engine?
How powerful is it?
How large and heavy is it?
Do you often tow heavy loads?
Is it an AWD (all-wheel drive ), 4WD (four-wheel drive/4X4/four-by-four ) or 2WD (two-wheel drive )?
Do you often face tough conditions like gravel, mud, snow, and steep inclines?
And will you use it in the city or suburban areas?
“It’s important first to consider the capability of your SUV – and then what you’re going to ask of it. Most small to medium SUVs will come fitted with summer on-road tyres on the basis they’re going to be used for 100 per cent on-road driving. Larger SUVs and 4x4s may well come with tyres that have a degree of off-road and/or all-season capability. Larger SUVs and 4x4s may well come with tyres that have a degree of off-road and/or all-season capability.
“If you regularly use off-road tyres on tarmac, you might be in for a hard, noisy ride. And vice versa – use on-road tyres on irregular terrain, and you’re likely to struggle for grip. Get it right though, and you’ll enjoy the best experience at the wheel of your SUV, with maximum safety and comfort for everyone on board,” Dennigan continued .
Like most manufacturers, Continental Tyres has special ranges of tyres designed for SUVs. The CrossContactRX – which comes fitted to the new Land Rover Defender 130 – is designed for 90 per cent on-road driving, and 10 per cent off-road. Or if you want more off-road capability than that, the CrossContact ATR is designed for 70 per cent on-road and 30 per cent off-road use.
Continental has also adapted its tyres to suit the specific needs of electric and hybrid SUVs – where the weight of the battery is an extra consideration. The Mercedes EQC, Kia Niro, Kia EV6 and Polestar 2 all come fitted with specially designed SUV tyres from Continental.