Another winter test, this time covering tyres for compact SUVs. Motoring magazine auto motor und sport (ams) has looked at 215/55 R17 tyres, a size worn by the likes of the Audi Q2, Fiat 500x, Hyundai Kona and VW T-Roc. Ams’ experts tested 11 tyre brands in wet, dry and snow conditions, as well as for rolling resistance and tyre/road noise performance.
There were no nasty surprises in the test, but we noticed that price didn’t especially correlate with performance. Furthermore, only one of the 11 tyres delivered above average results in all key areas of performance. Potential buyers are thus advised to familiarise themselves with a tyre’s particular strengths and weaknesses before purchasing.
4 ‘very good’ tyres
Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+: Ams described its test winner as a “top winter tyre” with outstanding grip on snow. A surefooted tyre when cornering in the wet. The only shortcoming it mentioned some lack of grip when cornering hard on dry surfaces.
Bridgestone Blizzak LM005: A “very safe” tyre. This newcomer from Bridgestone gave the shortest braking distance in the wet and on snow. Minor weaknesses were detected when braking and cornering at speed on dry asphalt.
Vredestein Wintrac Pro: The Vredestein tyre did very well in the wet and dry, but only performed averagely in the snow. Ams thus recommends the Wintrac Proc more for driving in lowland areas. Testers experienced “direct, sporty responses to steering movement with high reserves of grip, particularly in wet and dry curves, safe braking.” Braking distance on snow and rolling resistance were two areas of weakness, however.
Continental WinterContact TS 850 P: Although on the market for five years now, the TS 850 P still impresses with its all-round performance. Ams found it a stable and balanced tyre, with predictable lateral control on snow and good wet grip reserves. The Continental tyre shows its age a little when braking on snow and on dry surfaces, however.
And 4 ‘good’ tyres
Michelin Alpin 6: Ams thought the most expensive of the 11 tyres a well-balanced performer in the dry and on snow. Ams also praised its cornering grip on wet surfaces. Issues? Less than optimal results in the snow and wet braking tests, and limited grip when cornering hard in the dry.
Hankook i*cept evo²: Ams declared the Hankook tyre a “winter pro with good snow performance” and good dry cornering grip. Tyre/road noise was also very low. The testers reported minor issues with the tyre’s behaviour in the wet, including a lack of handling balance. Its dry braking distance was also on the long side.
Falken Eurowinter HS01: “A mid-range winter tyre with good snow results, but weaknesses in the wet.” The testers reported outstanding lateral control and good braking characteristics in the snow as well as very good aquaplaning protection. Lateral control was found wanting, however. Other issues were wet grip and grip during dry cornering.
Toyo Snowprox S954: Ams named this the “most sporty winter tyre on dry roads.” Here it was direct and stable, with large reserves of dry cornering grip. But braking distances were long in all conditions. Other issues include weak feedback in the wet and on snow as well as a slight tendency towards oversteer when cornering in the wet.
3 tyres were satisfactory
Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3: Although ams considered the Pirelli tyre balanced and sporty, it prefers dry winters. In these conditions the Winter Sottozero 3 delivers “very balanced performance” and “sporty-direct driving behaviour.” Wet and snow performance was also largely satisfactory, albeit with long braking distance in the snow. Other areas of weakness were traction, wet braking and protection against aquaplaning.
Giti Winter W1: The Winter W1 had by far the lowest purchase price of any tested tyre. Ams thus commented that while performance levels weren’t up there with some competitors, it found no real problems with the Giti tyre. Positive qualities included a very short braking distance and good grip in the dry. Other characteristics, such as braking distance and grip on snow, were only satisfactory. Ams also noted a lack of balance in the wet and strong understeer in the dry.
Nokian WH Snowproof: Ams thinks that Nokian “missed the point” with its WH Snowproof winter tyre. It performed very well in the dry and good on snow, but didn’t deliver sufficient wet grip. In addition, wet braking distance was long and wet cornering grip low. “You need to be able to rely upon a winter tyre in the wet,” commented ams.