The UK tyre market’s interest in winter tyres may not be high, but there are many excellent products available, as WhatTyre’s list of “Commended” winter tyre products proves. While the UK’s moderate winter climate, the need to store a spare set of tyres (and wheels) year-round, the inconvenience of a seasonal tyre change twice a year, and the increasing quality of all-season tyres are all understandable reasons for not fitting winter tyres, the fact remains that if we are considering performance and safety above all else, specialist winter tyres will help you get the most out of your car when temperatures drop. Below, we crown our 2021 winner, and run down the other models we highly recommend.
WhatTyre Winter Tyre of the Year 2021
The WhatTyre Winter Tyre of the Year 2021 is the Bridgestone Blizzak LM005.
With a TyreScore head and shoulders above any other product in size 205/55 R16 94V, our highest 2021 winter tyre recommendation could go to no other tyre. The LM005 has performed at exceptionally high levels in independent tyre tests since its launch in February 2019. Its tyre labelling results also set it apart from the crowd, with A-grade wet grip a key indicator of its appeal. This is especially true in the UK; what our winters lack in sustained periods of snow, they most certainly make up for in wet weather. This combination of factors prompted Auto Express to say “the Blizzak is an ideal tyre for British winters” after its 2020 comparative test, which the tyre went on to win.
The tyre benefits from Bridgestone’s Nano Pro-tech high silica content compound, which increases winter traction by staying soft at very low temperatures – a result of the company’s latest compound mixing technology, which results in more consistent dispersion of silica. The tyre’s tread is designed both to increase the amount of snow it can trap, increasing friction and grip in these conditions, and to remove water effectively, which leads to its excellent wet-weather performance.
“Highly Recommended” Winter Tyres for 2021
With a number of tyres tightly contesting the remaining top positions on TyreScore alone, WhatTyre is giving “Highly Recommended” ratings to six additional tyres. All six of these tyres received top marks from at least one tyre test in 2020, as well as featuring C-grade fuel economy and B-grade wet grip on the tyre label.
The Michelin Alpin 6, with a TyreScore of 7.88 in size 205/55 R16 94V, is the closest competitor to the LM005. Particularly designed to offer winter grip to compact cars, the Michelin tyre targets performance throughout its life, and was lauded for its wet grip by Auto Express and Auto Bild.
Dunlop’s Winter Sport 5 is one of the older tyres in our list, launched in 2015, but has continued to gather solid test results, recommended highly by Autozeitung in 2020. Dunlop designed the tyre to help drivers navigate unforeseen winter roads and conditions, including black ice, slush, icy patches, melting snow and puddles. Its TyreScore in size 205/55 R16 91H is 7.78.
A bit further back with TyreScores of 7.68 and 7.67 respectively in larger 225/45 R17 94V dimensions, come two more Groupe Michelin brands. The Kleber Krisalp HP3 was called “exemplary” by Auto Bild in 2020 and has been praised for its all-round abilities. Meanwhile the BFGoodrich g-Force Winter 2 has made its mark particularly in winter and wet road conditions.
Finally, WhatTyre highly recommends two winter tyres that both receive a TyreScore of 7.60 in 205/55 R16 variations. The Continental WinterContact TS 860 continues a long line of highly rated winter tyres from the Hannover company, Manufactured with Conti’s Cool Chili compound for braking performance in any wintry weather condition, the tyre is also equipped with Liquid Layer Drainage and Snow Curve+ technology for better wet and snow traction.
The Goodyear Ultragrip Performance+ offers short braking distances on wet and dry roads and a compound featuring a new traction resin, which improves the de- and reformation capabilities of the tyre. The tyre has tested very well in 2020, with particularly good marks relating to its performance in snow.
High performance alternative
Most tyres to make our final list of “highly recommended” winter products are particularly strong in smaller dimensions. This is primarily due to the difficulty inherent in making a wider tread that grips snow-covered roads and offers low rolling resistance and better fuel economy. The range of the Michelin Alpin 6 for example targets the mass market sizes of more compact vehicles, with the Pilot Alpin 5 providing Michelin’s answer for UHP winter fitments.
Our suggestion for this market would be the new Hankook Winter I*Cept Evo 3, which was soft-launched ahead of the 2020/21 winter with a range of 17-21″ sizes. Hankook has introduced a slightly unusual “gull wing” variant on the V-shaped directional tread pattern common in the winter and all-season markets, replacing its previous asymmetric tread. The tyre performed almost flawlessly in two 2020 tests by Autobild and Autobild Sportscars. Another good option would be the Pirelli Sottozero 3, a former flagship tyre that has a good track record in tests. A little older, the Sottozero 3 is now squeezed between Pirelli’s newer Cinturato Winter and P Zero Winter ranges for touring and UHP applications respectively. Both the Hankook and the Pirelli tyre are notable for achieving C-rated fuel efficiency in certain larger sizes.
A tyre to watch out for
The appearance of the Conti WinterContact TS 860 in our list of highly recommended tyres in 2021 is particularly notable since a successor was lined up to receive its market launch in 2020. The pre-launch WinterContact TS 870 we drove on early last year featured improved safety characteristics on snow and ice and in the wet, while Conti also improved rolling resistance and tread life over the already great 860. When the successor makes it into shops, we can expect it to challenge other top winter tyres. But until then, the 860 offers very impressive performance anyway.
About the TyreScore
All TyreScores quoted in the WhatTyre Tyre of the Year Awards 2021 are correct as of our judging period in March 2021, but more data and a new version of the algorithm will inevitably mean changes. When you buy your next tyres, we recommend you make WhatTyre part of your pre-sale research to determine the best tyre for you.