It’s freezing cold outside and as I type this the first few snow flakes are falling from the sky. So it was about time to prepare our Clubman for the winter season.
The first part was easy: I put an ice scraper into the boot. Rubber floor mats were already put into the car when I picked it up a few weeks ago.
Then things became a bit more serious. I dragged the winter wheels out of our basement storage room – and the tools I needed to make the change.
Let’s quickly look at the summer set up before it’s gone.
The MINI was ordered with the black Crown Spoke wheels. They are 17″ and have non-run-flat Bridgestone Potenza sports tires in the following format: 205/45 R17 84V
One advantage of the MINI’s short wheelbase and sports suspension is that when jacking up the car high enough at the front, you can change both wheels on one side at once. The preferred spot to place the car jack is underneath the big black rubber block that you will find a few good inches away from the wheel arches. You can’t miss it.
Before our Clubman arrived I already bought a set of black Bridge Spoke wheels (codenamed R94) with Dunlop SP Wintersport 3D tires. These are 16″ wheels and so the winter tires are in the following format: 195/55 R16 87H.
They are run-flat tires, something I was not keen on. But I have to say that the are not as harsh as I expected.
Run-On-Flat vs. Non Run-Flat
The rule of thumb is: the smaller the wheel the more comfortable is the ride. The tire is then often higher and this offers a greater cushioning effect.
On my previous MINI I remember definitely feeling the difference between the summer wheels that were 17″ with non-run-flat Michelins and the winter wheels which were 16″ with run-flat Dunlops. Because funny enough, on the old car the 17″ wheels were more comfortable. I didn’t feel the small cracks and holes in the road, but as soon as I put the 16″ run-flat winter tires on every little crack was right there up my lower spine.
Not so this time. So far I can’t feel the difference between both wheels sets, at least not when it comes to subtle road surface conditions. It seems the latest generation of run-flat tires has really improved when it comes to offering decent comfort. The stiff side walls of the run-flat tires had been the cause for the harsh ride. They allowed the tire to roll at speeds of up to 50 mph without any air but with nearly the same good handling as with air. Of course this is only meant for emergency cases, i.e. to allow you to drive to the next tire dealer. Now the tire companies have changed the compound of the side wall material to reduce the heat at the side walls that occurs when the tires roll deflated. As a result of the improved compound, the side walls are now also thinner and hence offer more comfortability.
More Winter Options to Consider
There are two options I warmly recommend to anyone living in the northern hemisphere and thinking about buying a MINI. They are pure comfort options and you have to order them with the car from the factory – or make sure someone did before you, in case you buy a used MINI.
One is the seat heating. Nothing is better when you have to drive somewhere on a freezing cold day than getting into the car, switching on the seat heating, and then feeling the warmth surround you. Especially when ordering leather seats which tend to become very cold themselves when it’s cold outside.
The other is the heated windshield. It’s pure gold on those days when the windshield is frozen up when you come to your MINI. Because all you have to do is to start-up the car, switch on the heated windshield, and wait. After you cleared the side windows from the ice (if any), or about less than two minutes, the ice melts on the windshield. Now wiping it off using the wipers is the way to go. From inside you now have a nice clear view.
Needless to say I have ordered both option with our Clubman Diesel.
And so I’m ready to sing: “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”