Tyre of the Year 2023: the top 10 summer tyres

Tyre of the Year 2023: the top 10 summer tyres

British summer tyres often need to offer more than just dry performance – the Nokian Wetproof is therefore one of WhatTyre’s Highly Recommended products in 2023 (Photo: Nokian Tyres)

Around 35 million passenger car tyres are sold in the UK each year, depending on exactly what you include in your sums and which sources you consult. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a huge number of car tyres and most of them are what we call summer tyres. Despite the name, summer tyres are mostly used all year round. And that’s for two reasons: because we are a fairly temperate island; and because not everyone knows about the year-round benefits of all-season tyres (see separate section for more on those). Whatever you call them, summer tyres perform best when its warm, offer the best dry performance and typically last well. Many are also tweaked to offer strong performance in the wet too, something that is highlighted on the European tyre label as well as in magazine tyre tests.

In order to bring you this year’s run-down of the best tyres out there, we consulted WhatTyre’s database of over 300,000 tyres as well as Europe’s leading magazine tyre tests. While the summer tyre category is arguably the most mass-market category there is, we still had to narrow it down to an everyday driver’s focus, so we chose the leading size, 205/55 R16 V which is the number one size in the UK and is fitted to Golfs, Focuses, Corsas and many more cars up and down the country. The V speed rating means it is capable of speeds up to 149 miles an hour (240km/h). That might be more than twice the speed limit, but there’s a couple of reasons why it makes sense in this category. Firstly, V is now amongst the most common speed ratings nowadays. And secondly, the increasing power, torque and weight combination of modern internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles means speed ratings can also be seen as less of speed target and more of a power capability. The latter point is particularly relevant as the proportion of hybrid and electric vehicles in the UK car parc increases. They bring extra torque and weight, which makes the speed rating – amongst other things – arguably even more important.

Another consideration for this year was the cost of living – while drivers of premium cars are usually more able to fit the most expensive premium segment options, with performance ready to be tested at the very limit, this list of tyres values tyres that can be found at a more acceptable purchase point for more price-conscious drivers. Having said that, none of the tyres on this list represent a serious compromise in performance for everyday summer driving.

Back to the conventional summer tyres on the most popular car in the market, here’s what we found to be the best-performing tyres out there.

WhatTyre Summer Tyre of the Year 2023

Hankook Ventus Prime 4

Our winning tyre is the Hankook Ventus Prime 4.

The latest incarnation of the Hankook Ventus Prime line of touring tyres took over from a predecessor that sold more than 20 million units since 2015, racking up original equipment deals and tyre test honours for fun. But now the fourth generation is living up to that reputation. Hankook made generational improvements in practically all relevant areas on the Ventus Prime 4, including further optimised handling, rolling resistance and mileage. These improvements have been validated with excellent tyre test results from AutoBild in 2022 and 2023, and now a well-deserved WhatTyre Tyre of the Year Award too.

Three Highly Recommended tyres

Nokian Tyres has thrown down the gauntlet with its introduction of the Nokian Wetproof, a product it calls the “enemy of aquaplaning.” And while the Wetproof is a new member of the Nokian Tyres summer portfolio, it may help to think of it as an all-season tyre without specific snow and ice capabilities; Nokian has developed the Wetproof to “work safely and reliably from spring mornings to late autumn” in order to offer “steady performance and peace of mind for all three seasons.”

Nokian Wetproof

Those wanting peace of mind in the fourth season are presumably welcome to fit winter tyres, preferably a Nokian product. The Nokian Wetproof has performed consistently well in tests since its 2020 introduction, picking up regular recommendations as a “well-balanced” tyre, with especially good wet weather capabilities, making it a great choice for the British summer – highly recommended.

One of the latest tyres from Kumho’s Ecsta range, the HS52 steps into the big shoes of an AutoBild summer tyre test winner, when it topped a list of 53 candidates. The HS52 stepped up in fine style, receiving high marks from both ADAC and Tyre Reviews. The tyre is at its best in the dry, where it offers responsive, sporty handling and excellent braking distances. The Kumho Ecsta HS52 features a new high-grip tread compound, asymmetric tread design and 3D interlocking sipes. These technologies work to improve braking on wet and dry surfaces, wet grip, and increased mileage when compared to its successful predecessor.

The latest edition of Pirelli’s long-running Cinturato project has given solid performances in tyre tests over the last couple of years, but what marks it out is a slightly more sporty performance than average summer touring tyres. The Pirelli Cinturato P7 C2 delivers on safety, efficiency, and sustainability, with a special focus on safety in the wet. The tyre’s braking distance on wet roads from 100km/h was reduced by four metres, Pirelli said. The tyre features an intelligent compound, containing silicon resins that enhance the interaction of the tyre’s polymers across a wider temperature range. Pirelli says the effect of this is to make the tyre more adaptable to atmospheric conditions.

6 more commended products

Toyo Proxes Comfort

The Toyo Proxes Comfort is ranked as one of the most fun tyres to drive in this guide, coming from a brand with plenty of motorsport knowledge on its side. If the Proxes part of the name promises this performance, the Comfort is provided in the form of low noise, increasing pleasure in a different sense. The tyre’s other strength is its low rolling resistance, promising drivers will enjoy its advantages at the pump as well. It has been frequently tested in European tests, where it holds its own against all-comers in this segment.

The Vredestein Ultrac is a tyre for drivers who put safety as their number one priority in a tyre, with everything else a very distant second. The tyre impresses particularly in the wet, and even in deep water, with highly effective protection against aquaplaning. Its dry braking is also very highly rated. As with most tyres in this segment, there are trade-offs, and the exceptional safety characteristics are joined by elevated noise and rolling resistance, meaning the tyre is not as economical as others listed here.

The Falken Sincera SN110 Ecorun shines as a particularly quiet tyre that runs very economically, making it a good, environmentally focused tyre for UK summer touring. It is at its best on dry roads, and is particularly suited to journeys around the country on hot summer days, allowing its low fuel consumption properties to shine. The tyre is less good in the wet, though still offers satisfactory safety, and longevity is also not its strength, but as with all Falken products it is an enjoyable tyre to drive.

The Uniroyal RainExpert 5 targets the three key performance characteristics for this segment – safety, comfort and high mileage – cohering for a tyre that is well-priced and suited to most drivers’ main needs. While not suitable for sporty road handling in the dry, the tyre is a well-positioned model for this segment, and shines in wet conditions, making it a good choice for the soggier British summers.

Nexen N’fera Primus

The Nexen N’Fera Primus is a very commendable product for this segment, offering good steering feedback on dry roads and good safety characteristics, including low braking distances and sufficient wet grip. It has been tested by ADAC and AutoBild in Europe’s biggest independent tests in the last two years, recording creditable finishes. While the tyre’s handling and mileage are average, its safety gives it an edge over most tyres in its category.

The GT Radial Champiro FE2 targets compact and family cars and small and crossover SUVs. It represented a big upgrade on its predecessor, giving the Giti Tire brand excellent label ratings, including an A across its range for wet grip. Testers called the tyre enjoyable to drive too, with good balance, while the tyre also offers low rolling resistance, leading to better fuel economy.


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