Drivers who like to push their cars may benefit from winter tyres during the colder months. But which tyre is right for the job? In order to find out, Auto Bild Sportscars fitted a dozen brands of winter rubber to a VW Golf GTI.
Introducing its 2020 winter tyre test, the German performance car magazine asks: “As all-rounders, winter tyres really have to ensure safety in any weather. Does driving pleasure fall by the wayside in the process?” Its test team discovered that the answer really depends upon tyre choice.
Auto Bild Sportscars put the size 225/40 R18 tyres through their paces in a series of wet, dry and snow tests and additionally evaluated them for comfort, economy and environmental factors. Braking and performance testing in snowy and wet conditions each contributed towards a third of the overall score, with dry surface tests and the other categories making up the remainder.
‘Exemplary’ rating for 5 tyres
Five tyres enthused Auto Bild Sportscars sufficiently to earn its highest rating. The most impressive of this quintet was the Bridgestone Blizzak LM005, the tyre that also won Auto Express’s 2020 winter test.
Bridgestone Blizzak LM005 – test winner
+ Sporty, dynamic handling on snowy & wet surfaces, high steering precision with good response, very good winter characteristics.
– Comfort is only average.
Hankook Winter i*cept evo3
+ Exemplary driving characteristics on wet & snowy surfaces, top aquaplaning safety, precise handling, competitive pricing.
– Comfort is only average.
Michelin Pilot Alpin 5
+ Premium winter tyre with high levels of performance in all conditions, harmonious steering behaviour, low rolling resistance.
– High purchase price.
Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+
+ Convincing all-rounder with dynamic handling characteristics, precise turn-in, good comfort, competitively priced.
– Dry braking distances are slightly too long.
Vredestein Wintrac Pro
+ Good snow characteristics, dynamic handling & stable lateral control on wet & dry surfaces, short braking distances.
– Elevated rolling resistance.
2 ‘good’ tyres
Falken Eurowinter HS01
+ Convincing driving characteristics on snowy & wet surfaces, low rolling noise.
– Understeer on dry roads.
Continental WinterContact TS850 P
+ Dynamic wet handling, good winter characteristics, short braking distances on wet & snowy surfaces.
– Low safety reserves when aquaplaning occurs, high purchase price.
‘Satisfactory’ rating for 4 tyres
BFGoodrich G Force Winter2
+ Very good snow performance, low rolling noise, low rolling resistance.
– Understeering handling in wet & dry conditions, braking distances too long in the wet.
Maxxis Premitra Snow WP6
+ Good winter characteristics, high aquaplaning safety, good value for money.
– Limited lateral control, braking distances too long on wet surfaces.
Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3
+ Short braking distances on snowy & wet surfaces, well-priced.
– Understeering wet & dry handling, limited traction on snow.
Toyo Observe S944
+ Stable driving characteristics on snow, low rolling resistance, dynamic dry handling.
– Limited wet grip, understeering wet handling, braking distances too long in the wet.
Kumho WinterCraft WP71
+ Top wet & aquaplaning characteristics.
– Limited lateral control & delayed steering response on snowy surfaces, mediocre ride comfort, raised rolling resistance.
Summing up their 2020 winter tyre test, Auto Bild Sportscars’ testers praised the advances tyre makers have made when developing products for cold weather usage: “Winter tyres are getting better and better, especially on wet and dry surfaces.” They added that the tyres with their top ‘exemplary’ rating offer convincing levels of performance: “They ensure safety and driving pleasure even in winter.”