Ceat CrossDrive AT tyre review | Perfect all-terrain tyres for an SUV?
Somebody once said that ‘power is nothing without control’ and an 18-year-old me would certainly agree. Back in 2020 when the world had slowed down and the streets were empty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I took my uncle’s little hatchback out for a spin on a cold night. Channelling my inner Walter Röhrl, I made an amateur mistake, taking a corner a bit too fast on old bald tyres, inviting understeer for ages. The result? A slightly damaged banyan tree and a heavily damaged front-end of that poor little Suzuki. Lesson learnt.
Tyres are the most important, and the most overlooked part of any car. Think about it for a second — they are the only point of contact between your car and the road. And their job is to provide optimum grip, while retaining the weight and all the physics associated with making your car move. All cars operate at the limit of their tyre’s grip and a good tyre helps you to extract out the true performance of your car. To showcase the significance of great tyres, we slapped on a set of CEAT CrossDrive ATs to our long-term Thar, and see how they affect and improve its on-road as well as off-road performance.
Our long-term Mahindra Thar racks up some serious miles every month. It is used for commuting in Pune, does countless highway runs to Mumbai to cover launches and also doubles up as our support car on shoots. It also goes to far flung locales every now and then, to discover the roads less taken, and despite the demanding routine that we’ve subjected it to, we never feel uncomfortable behind its wheel because of its great ride and handling.
It has been shod with the CEAT CZAR AT tyres ever since it arrived at the evo office and after clocking over 25,000km with them, we have an extensive idea of the comfort and the off-roading ability that those tyres possess. However, Mahindra has officially replaced the CZAR ATs with the CEAT CrossDrive ATs as the OE tyres for the Thar. So when CEAT sent for our Thar a set of the 225/65 R18 CrossDrive ATs, I used it for a week of daily shenanigans, including some serious off-roading, and I am very impressed by how they fare.
Much to my surprise, it was the off-road performance of the CrossDrive ATs that impressed me more than anything else. We put them through a series of obstacles on a trail, including the axle articulation, twisting and even a water-wading pit and they never skipped a beat. The Thar conquered every obstacle with little to no drama and even the people with competition-spec 4x4s were amazed by the capability of these tyres. The CrossDrive ATs feature a special block pattern that throws out dirt and that is what helps them to grip better in slushy conditions. This is an all-terrain tyre that can easily help you conquer an intermediate trail without breaking a sweat.
An aggressive block pattern results in better grip off tarmac, but more often than not it also makes for poor on-road characteristics. But that isn't the case with the CrossDrive ATs. There’s none of the tyre noise or poor handling that you might associate with a tyre that performs well off-road. In fact, following their installation, I was immediately struck by how much quieter they are than the CZARs. SUVs like the Thar which have a ladder frame chassis, tend to have a bouncy low speed ride and that pitter patter trait has been refined. The kick from the rear suspension is diminished and the ride compliance is much better. The result is a plusher ride. Not to forget the additional grip from the CrossDrive ATs also makes you feel more confident behind the wheel, especially with the ongoing monsoon.
One thing that’s very cool is how these tyres transform our Thar’s appearance. The aggressive stance that these CrossDrive tyres offer, make our Thar look a lot cooler and meaner, which we personally love as it really makes you stand out in traffic, and no one gets in your way. That’s one thing that Ravi Bhalla, one of the founding members of Sahyadri Offroaders who took us off-roading to test the tyres also pointed out. He said that form to me is just as important as function and I have really liked the tread pattern and the overall look of these tyres and I will certainly agree. It isn’t just a styling gimmick. If your daily commute takes you through notorious traffic jams, you’ll find that a mean-looking Thar gets through traffic subsequently quicker than a tiny little hatchback.
SUVs like the new Thar are getting better when it comes to tackling any terrain you throw at them while also dealing with the commute effortlessly, and especially when they’re fitted with capable tyres such as these CrossDrive ATs.
During the week, you can use your SUV daily in the city, and on the weekends, you can head out off the road to explore new trails. With the simple task of slapping on better rubber, you can substantially improve the dynamic ability of your car as well. The CrossDrive tyres are an enabler of such adventures, and if you’re looking to upgrade the tyres of your SUV, these are definitely a no-brainer.