Porsche Cayenne running reports have been thin on the ground lately as not used the car much since November, when I disappeared to Kenya for the Safari Rally. After that, I cleared off to Spain for a fortnight before spending Christmas at home.
The UK weather was mild through the end of last year – mild enough to use the Clio Cup or our Polo on summer tyres – but the mornings recently turned frosty and we finally had some snow here last weekend. It was time to bring the Cayenne into service, and try out some new winter tyres that were fitted to the car at the start of November.
You may not have heard of the tyres in question: Gislaved Euro Frost 5. Founded in Gislaved, Sweden in 1893, Gislaved Tyres built a useful reputation for their ability in snow and icy conditions. When the company was a century old, it was bought by Continental AG and remains part of that group to this day. So the Gislaved brand has some credibility.
I have previously run both Pirelli and Continental winter tyres on the Cayenne, but part-worn versions of either are hard to find and tend to be a few years old. The original equipment Pirelli Scorpions in particular go rock hard after a while and are useless in cold weather at that stage, so when I found a good price online for Gislaveds in the Cayenne’s size of 255/55 R18, I bought a set and had them fitted and balanced by the boys at JZM Porsche Service.
I bolted them to the Cayenne at home (in my new garage – nice one) as part of some work to change driveshaft bolts and other bits so only drove them long enough to move the car around. Then I headed off to Africa. When we got the Cayenne out last week, I used it on the school run for a few days, then did a few client visits in it and tried the tyres at higher speed. Finally there was some snow last Sunday so that was worth trying too.
Given the cost of just £86 per tyre – £344 for all four – I have to say I am pleased with performance. They didn’t need much weight to balance and are very comfortable on the car. The Cayenne tracks well at speeds up to the maximum rating for these tyres (130mph) and the Gislaveds are not as noisy as some reviews claim. No more noisy than Pirelli Scorpions, that’s for sure. Economy is unchanged at 18 miles per gallon on LPG. Dry grip is fine: slightly more squirm than a Continental summer tyre but not entirely lifeless. There is no tyre squeal on hard dry cornering. But it is on icy roads where these tyres do their thing.
No surprise that the Gislaveds recently made it to the final of Auto-Bild’s winter tyre test, beating more than thirty alternatives. Up against the market leading brands – all of whom advertise with Auto-Bild – these tyres rated in the high teens overall but the big picture was quite encouraging.
On frost-covered roads where other cars are clearly being careful, the Cayenne on Gislaveds is very surefooted. Icy corners present no problems for the Gislaveds: a tiny little slide on sheet ice, which stops almost as soon as it starts, thanks in part to PASM but aided by the grippy tread compound, which feels sticky to the fingers even in sub-zero temperatures.
We often argue over N-rated tyres on Porsche cars but so far I find nothing much wrong with these tyres for the price I paid. Michelin Latitude Alpin XLs in N-rated 109V cost £50 more apiece, so £200 extra a set for tyres that will come off in February/March and be replaced by smoother summer rubber on the 19-inch wheels. Doesn’t seem to make that much sense when winters are this mild nowadays.
Elsewhere on the Cayenne, nothing much to report. The odometer has just hit 154,000 miles and while I have written a for sale ad for it, it’s not been advertised as yet and is unlikely to go on sale anytime soon. I’ve bought some grey carpet to trim the new false boot floor and the starter is getting ever-slower in this cold weather so I reckon it is coming up for rebuild. I’ve got a used one in the garage to send out. Also, the plastic handle to remove the detachable towball has snapped: I blame the last man to borrow the car for overtightening it. He knows who he is!