Drivers of powerful cars should consider fitting winter tyres in the colder months, particularly if they enjoy exploring the limits of their vehicle’s performance. Auto Bild Sportscars has tested 11 winter tyres ahead of the coming cold season. The motoring magazine recommends several brands, but three tyres also proved a no-go for the test team.
Auto Bild Sportscars looked at 255/35 R19, a tyre size found as original equipment on several European performance saloons and coupes. It used an Audi RS5 Sportback to perform a total of 14 wet, dry and snow test disciplines.
Two ‘exemplary’ tyres
Test winner – Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+
Auto Bild Sportscars’ testers found a lot to like in this new Goodyear winter tyre. They reported “exemplary driving characteristics in all weather conditions”. Handling in wet conditions felt dynamic and the tyre performed well on snow. In addition, rolling resistance was low.
Vredestein Wintrac Pro
Vredestein continues to impress independent tyre testers, this time gaining praise for the Wintrac Pro’s “outstanding performance on snowy and wet surfaces”. The test team mentioned a number of specific strengths. These include good aquaplaning safety reserves, precise steering, short braking distances in the wet and stable handling on dry surfaces. But they thought rolling resistance was on the high side.
Four tyres were rated ‘good’
Uniroyal MS Plus 77
The podium was completed by Uniroyal. Auto Bild Sportscars says this “snow pro” offers convincingly good performance on slush and snow. It also gave safe handling in the dry and high aquaplaning safety. The testers noted a couple of drawbacks: Braking distances were slightly too long on wet and dry surfaces, and ride comfort was mediocre.
Continental WinterContact TS860 S
Auto Bild Sportscars calls the Continental tyre a “winter pro”. Its qualities include dynamic, safe dry handling, precise steering with good feedback and low rolling resistance. But braking distances in the wet were slightly too long.
Hankook Winter i*cept evo²
The testers declared the Hankook tyre a “balanced all-round talent with convincing winter qualities, safe wet and dry handling and short wet braking distances”. Braking distances in the dry were slightly too long, however. The tyre’s rolling resistance was also raised and the comfort it offered mediocre.
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
The Michelin tyre delivered “stable, safe driving behaviour on wet and dry surfaces”. The testers encountered precise and responsive steering characteristics. Braking distances in the snow were short. On the downside, the PA4-shod Audi experienced understeer on snow and mediocre comfort levels. The PA4 was also the most expensive tyre in the test.
Two rated ‘satisfactory’
Kumho WinterCraft WP71
“Winter specialist with sporty driving qualities on slush and snow”. The Kumho tyre gave short braking distances on dry surfaces and was quiet. But the testers noted understeer in the wet and dry handling disciplines, and braking distances on wet surfaces were too long.
Toyo Snowprox S954
Auto Bild Sportscars says the Toyo tyre provides good aquaplaning safety and stable wet handling. Driving behaviour in dry conditions is also dynamic and steering precise. However, braking distances in the wet were too long and the tyre’s winter qualities no better than average.
Three tyres rated ‘not recommended’
Nexen Winguard Sport 2
The Nexen tyre had several things going for it. Braking distances on snow were short, dry handling was stable and comfort good. But the Audi’s stopping distance on wet surfaces was long when fitted with these tyres. When driven on snow, grip was modest and the test car tended to understeer. The Winguard Sport 2 also displayed high rolling resistance.
Nokian WR A4
The Nokian brand is known for its strong winter performance, and the WR A4 didn’t disappoint. But it failed to deliver in the wet and dry. Auto Bild Sportscars says the Nokian Tyre offered low levels of grip, lengthy braking distances and low aquaplaning safety reserves on wet surfaces. The test car understeered and its steering felt spongey on both wet and dry roads.
Nankang SV-2 Winter Activa NK Snow
Lowest priced, and lowest placed as well. Auto Bild Sportscars noted numerous issues. The Nankang tyre provided little grip on wet surfaces, and its braking distances in the wet were too long. As for performance in dry and snowy conditions, the testers reported steering delay as well as strongly understeering and spongey driving characteristics. The publication only mentioned one positive quality – low rolling resistance.
Tyre ‘without weaknesses’ a worthy winner
Summing up, Auto Bild Sportscars’ tyre testers stated that Goodyear’s new winter tyre “impressed with great performance in all weather”. They described the UltraGrip Performance+ as being “without weaknesses” and thus worthy of its tyre test victory.
The Vredestein Wintrac Pro also won over the testers with “balanced performance at the highest level”. Other favourites were the Continental WinterContact TS860 S and Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4, and the testers also recommended the Uniroyal and Hankook tyres’ “comparatively good performance and a fair price”.