Over the years, we’ve travelled countless thousands of kilometres on various sets of General Grabber all-terrain tyres, from the sharp rocks of the Tankwa Karoo to slippery mud deep in the Transkei, as well as on long gravel and sand stretches crisscrossing Botswana and Namibia. This left us with a high opinion of the previous-generation offerings, and especially of the AT version which proved extremely puncture-resistant on our travels. Now, General Tire, an American brand that is a subsidiary of Continental, has released redesigned versions of its all-terrain and mud-terrain offerings – respectively the Grabber AT3 and Grabber X3 – which clearly do not compromise the brand’s core values of high performance allied to good value.
The AT3 is an all-terrain replacing the acclaimed Grabber AT, and is designed for a 50/50 off-road/on-road environment when fitted to bakkies and other dualpurpose vehicles. Improvements to tyres of the previous generation include far lower road noise, improved grip on- and off-road, and improved comfort.
To achieve lower noise levels, the AT3 uses uniform block geometry and a centre band running around the circumference of the tyre. A smooth interaction between tread blocks reduces noise at speed and irregular wear, and improves comfort levels without sacrificing longevity.
The open shoulder design includes what the tyre development boffins call ‘traction pockets’ which boost the self-cleaning design of the tyre. “DuraGen” is another technology employed on the AT3, and is said to improve longevity off-road by increasing durability under load − primarily by using stronger steel belts to keep the tyre stable under cornering and braking forces.
On wet and dry tarmac, the new Grabber performs similarly to its predecessor in terms of traction, but shows marked improvement in mud, wet grass, and snow. The new compound also presents a higher resistance than before to chip and cut damage of the tread.
The driving experience with the AT3s included a total of around 400km of tar and two hours of driving off-road in dunes and gravel. In the sand, the all-terrains were deflated to 1.5 bar, and performed well despite their relatively mild tread pattern; they also resisted picking up stones from the gravel road as some other all-terrains tend to do.
Price: 265/65 R17 = R2566 [per tyre]fitted and balanced (Best Drive)
Sizes: Grabber AT3s are available in 13 sizes for 15- to 20-inch rims, and (from later this year,) in nine sizes of heavier-duty LT (Light Truck) specification in the 15- to 18-inch rim range.
The new Grabber X3 is dubbed an ‘Extreme terrain’ tyre and offers good performance on rock (and mud), thanks to high cut-resistance and sidewall protection. Dirt is dealt with by adding more biting edges than the previous design, while small lumps between the tread called ‘bumpers’ are better at ejecting stones that work their way into the tread, thus protecting against the stone drilling which can lead to premature failure.
As with the previous-generation Grabber mud terrain, the X3 is designed primarily for off-road use with an 80/20 off-road/on-road bias. Despite this, the X3 offers lower road noise than before and retains its aggressive styling and sidewall blocks. For extra durability, a three-ply design has been used with steel belts for an even footprint on road, and there is also an extremely robust compound that resists chipping and cuts off road.
When driving a Jeep Wrangler on the tar during our test run, we found the tyres extremely quiet for such an aggressive tread, and there was none of the steering wobble or unnerving shimmying that is often associated with an aggressive tyre. In a variety of off-road conditions – from sand and mud to steep inclines over dunes – the tyres on the Jeeps were deflated to 1.5 bar. The flexible sidewall bulges quite a lot at these pressures, although punctures are of little concern thanks to large tread blocks on the sidewall itself. Nobody popped a tyre off a rim during the launch at 4×4 venue Klipbokkop and surrounding areas in the Western Cape, despite some hooligan antics in the dunes.
Pricing: 285/75/16 = R4536 [per tyre]fitted and balanced (Best Drive)
Sizes: Five sizes are available to fit 15- to 17-inch rims.