The German magazine tested winter tires for compact cars including the new Continental WinterContact TS 870.
List of models tested:
- BFGoodrich g-Force Winter 2
- Bridgestone Blizzak LM005
- Continental WinterContact TS 870
- Falken Eurowinter HS01
- Goodyear UltraGrip 9+
- GT Radial WinterPro2
- Michelin Alpin 6
- Pirelli Cinturato Winter
- Toyo Observe S944
- Vredestein Wintrac
The challenge of handling loads generated by the torque of high-power engines, as well as by sporty driving styles, makes the UHP tires face a number of requirements, meeting which may compromise snow grip. At the same time, for compact car tires, these requirements are not as strict, which may give them a certain advantage. For example, you may use a softer tread compound, which means that such tires will stay supple at low temperatures, and this will improve their snow grip. In addition, the comparatively small tread width facilitates evacuation of water and slush from the contact area, and, hence, helps to prevent the hydroplaning effect.
In its new test, the Auto Motor und Sport magazine compared tires in size 195/55 R16, designed for such compact cars as Volkswagen Polo, Kia Rio, Skoda Fabia, and similar ones. The list of competitors included ten models: the winners of the last year’s test Bridgestone Blizzak LM005 and BFGoodrich g-Force Winter 2, the inexpensive Falken Eurowinter HS01, Goodyear UltraGrip 9+, and GT Radial WinterPro2, and the time-tested Michelin Alpin 6, Pirelli Cinturato Winter (which has already been replaced by Cinturato Winter 2), Toyo Observe S944, and Vredestein Wintrac. For the Vredestein model, this test became a debut, just as it was for the new Continental model named WinterContact TS 870.
In the snow test, which was conducted in Swedish Lapland, the BFGoodrich model won with a prominent lead, ending up being the most recommended option for regions with frequent snowfalls. BFGoodrich won in three out of four disciplines, letting the Vredestein model get ahead only in the braking test. The worst snow performance was shown by Toyo that fell behind its rivals in all performance areas.
The wet tests were conducted at a test facility in Northern Germany, and this time around the first place was scored by Bridgestone. These tires from the Japanese brand ensure the best cornering stability, and their stopping distance when braking from 80 km/h was almost two meters — half the length of the car — shorter than that of the strongest of the competitors. At the point where the VW Polo fitted with the Bridgestone tires already stopped, the remaining speed of the car driving on GT Radial was 25 km/h, and on Pirelli — 32 km/h. Needless to say that the consequences of a collision can be deplorable. The hydroplaning resistance test was won by Pirelli; other tires that showed decent results were Continental, Bridgestone, Goodyear, and Falken.
When tested on dry (and cold!) tarmac, the Bridgestone model could not repeat its brilliant results from the previous tests, and this time the victory was won by the Michelin tire that demonstrated outstanding braking performance. At the same time, the differences in the tires’ performance were minimal: the Bridgestone and Vredestein models also ensured excellent traction, while the Toyo tires surprised the testers with outstanding cornering stability that allowed them to show the best lap time. The only two models that fell behind the pack were Falken and Goodyear, which demonstrated relatively long stopping distances.
For regions with frequent snowfalls, the BFGoodrich model will probably be the best choice, while the Bridgestone tires ensure the highest level of driving safety on wet pavement, and Michelin surpassed its rivals on a dry track. To score the first place in the final standings, a tire must demonstrate a performance as balanced as possible, and the best tire in this respect was ultimately the Bridgestone model, for which this is the second straight victory in the AMS tests.
As for the new Continental model, it came second, and generally it demonstrated very good results in any conditions, yet it was not without some certain weaknesses, such as a relatively long braking distance on dry pavement. The top three tires also included the Vredestein model, which also showed good results in most of the disciplines, its only drawback being low hydroplaning resistance.
The BFGoodrich tire occupied the fourth line of the tournament bracket — it demonstrated excellent snow traction but had obvious issues on wet pavement. Then comes the ever-green Michelin model, which was the fastest to stop the car on dry pavement but fell behind its competitors in the same discipline on snow and wet pavement.
The Goodyear tire also demonstrated relatively low braking effectiveness, but it was consistent in any conditions, even though the situation with lateral grip was much better; the Pirelli model, whose days are just about over, could only score the seventh place due to low lateral grip on snow and a long wet braking distance.
The inexpensive Falken and GT Radial models scored an equal number of points, and, while the first tire fell behind due to low dry traction, the second demonstrated poor snow performance. The bottom line of the tournament bracket was scored by the Toyo model, which proved the least effective on a snow-covered track, and could not demonstrate decent results on wet pavement either.
1st place: Bridgestone / Blizzak LM005
Positive: Short braking distances and good handling on snow. Very good grip, short braking distances and high lateral stability on wet roads.
Negative: Relatively long braking distances on dry roads.
Verdict: Very good.
2nd place: Continental / WinterContact TS 870
Positive: Good handling on snow. Safe behavior on wet and dry surfaces. Low rolling resistance. Low noise level.
Negative: Relatively low lateral stability on wet surfaces. Relatively long braking distances on dry roads.
Verdict: Very good.
3rd place: Vredestein / Wintrac
Positive: Good lateral stability on wet surfaces. Short braking distances on dry surfaces. Good value for money. High traction and short braking distances on wet roads.
Negative: Low resistance to aquaplaning. Reduced comfort level.
Verdict: Very good.
4th place: BFGoodrich / g-Force Winter 2
Positive: Excellent snow performance. Good dry performance with relatively long braking distances.
Negative: Poor wet performance. High rolling resistance.
5th place: Michelin / Alpin 6
Positive: Good grip and very short braking distances on dry, cold surfaces. Good lateral stability on wet surfaces.
Negative: Relatively long braking distances on snow and wet roads. Reduced comfort level.
6th place: Goodyear / UltraGrip 9+
Positive: High lateral stability and good handling on snow and wet roads.
Negative: Relatively poor braking performance in all conditions. Increased noise level.
7th place: Pirelli / Cinturato Winter
Positive: Short braking distances and high traction on snow.
Negative: Relatively poor snow lateral stability. Long braking distances and poor lateral stability on wet roads.
8th place: Falken / Eurowinter HS01
Positive: Short braking distances and good lateral stability on snow. Acceptable performance on wet roads. Good comfort level. Attractive price.
Negative: Indistinct steering response and poor traction. Very high rolling resistance.
9th place: GT Radial / WinterPro2
Positive: Good lateral stability on dry and wet surfaces. Good comfort level.
Negative: Poor snow performance. Poor behavior on wet surfaces. Low resistance to aquaplaning.
10th place: Toyo / Observe S944
Positive: Good grip and excellent lateral stability on dry surfaces.
Negative: Poor braking, especially in snow. Very low performance on snow.