It seems the press office at Landsail tyres was a bit miffed when I listed their rubber hoops as examples of tyres you shouldn't buy. They got in touch to make me an offer – and fortunately it wasn't an offer of a punch in the face.
Things have changed, I was told. Whatever bad experience you’ve had with our tyres in the past, you should, in the words of the Disney song, let it go. Try our newest tyres, they said, since they've won a Scandinavian group test ahead of the likes of Michelin.
After much wrangling, I was sent a set of Landsail's LS988s to fit my brother's BMW e36-era 328i Touring. A decent driver and a born cynic, Steven is better placed to evaluate the tyres than Mrs K, whose daily drive is a Skoda Citigo and whose interest in cars extends little further than colour and name. Steven also knows about Landsail's chequered history, so he knows what to expect – or fear...
With the tyres fitted by the excellent Alpha Tyres in Stoke-on-Trent, it was time to get them out on the open and see how they looked on the car. The retro 16-inch wheel size has a certain charm to it, giving plenty of tyre sidewall to inspect. No problems here; no horrible realisation that they've moulded kitten shapes or flowers onto it. What's more, the smooth sides are incredibly easy to gloss with tyre shine.
Good news on the tread pattern, too. It's a busy but attractive design with grooves and sipes in all the places you'd expect. It doesn't look like it should struggle to shift standing water, but all will be revealed when the weather stops being so rain-shy. In the meantime I'm a sucker for good detailing and I rather like the Landsail logo sunk into the centre section of the tread. It'll wear away after a few thousand miles but it's a neat addition for aesthetics' sake.
Onwards and upwards; time to hit the road and get some first impressions. “They feel OK so far,” says Steven after mooching his way across town. They've replaced a mismatched set of four old hoops; the fronts from Vredstein and the rears from Continental.
Pushing the 328i a bit harder brings more insight. “Pushed it into a roundabout and they seemed to go fairly progressively into a traction-control-controlled slide,” he tells me. “No drama, but they're new and it's sunny and warm.”
Any negatives from the first few tens of miles? “Possibly not as much feedback through the wheel but the old tyres [on 17-inch wheels] were a lower profile and, as such, had less squidge.”
Not a bad start, then, in the height of summer. Sterner tests are yet to come, we suspect, but at present it's looking like Landsail might just have upped its game.