Looking for the right winter tires? Germany’s second-largest motoring club ACE, in collaboration with the experts of the Society for Technical Supervision GTÜ and the Austrian Automobile Association ARBÖ have conducted a test of winter tires in size 225/50 R17 that is perfect for mid-class cars and some family vans, such as:
- Audi A4 (from 2008)
- Alfa Romeo Giulia (from 2016)
- BMW 3 Series (from 2012)
- Ford Galaxy (from 2015)
- Ford S-Max (from 2015)
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class (from 2014)
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class (until 2016)
- Jaguar XE (from 2015)
- Kia Carens (until 2013)
- Opel Insignia (until 2017)
- Opel Astra (until 2015)
- Seat Alhambra (since 2010)
- Škoda Yeti (until 2017)
- Volvo S60 / V60 (from 2018)
- Volkswagen Sharan (from 2010)
The testers focused their attention on the nine best-selling models:
- BFGoodrich g-Force Winter 2
- Bridgestone Blizzak LM005
- Continental WinterContact TS 860
- Falken Eurowinter HS01
- Fulda Kristall Control HP2
- Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+
- Michelin Alpin 6
- Nokian WR Snowproof
- Vredestein Wintrac Pro
The winter tire tests took place in February, April, and May of 2020 at Continental test facilities in Sweden and Germany.
All the tests were repeated several times, the results being compared against the performance of the reference tires. The tires for the test were anonymously bought in tire dealerships and online in late 2019 — early 2020.
Result summary of the winter tire test 2020
No one can predict whether there will be a lot of snow next winter or whether the thermometer will now and then exceed the 10-degree mark, the way it was in 2019. There is one thing that we know for sure, though: really good winter tires must tackle equally well any conditions — dry pavement at above-freezing temperatures, pouring rain, heavy snowfalls, and black ice.
The best performance in the ACE/GTÜ/ARBÖ winter tire test 2020 was demonstrated by the Bridgestone Blizzak LM005. It surpassed all of its rivals on all types of surfaces, impressing the test experts with efficient braking performance and excellent traction. This tire model scored 200 points out of the possible 260, and earned a «Highly Recommended» verdict.
One must note that in 2020 the Blizzak LM005 has been demonstrating quite successful performance in European tire tests. It has already managed to get a silver medal in the large 245/45 R18 tire test conducted by Auto Bild, and to top the final protocol of the 205/55 R16 tire test conducted by ADAC.
The pursuit group
After the Bridgestone tire, came three models, whose results were only one point different: BFGoodrich g-Force Winter 2 (194 points), Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+ (193 points) and Continental WinterContact TS 860 (192 points).
While the BF Goodrich tires perform at their absolute best on snow-covered roads, the Goodyear product is the king of wet pavement. The Continental tires are more biased towards dry pavement, where its total score was even one point higher than that of the competition-winning Bridgestone model.
We will remind you here that in 2020 the German tire-making giant Continental was planning to release the Continental TS 870 model, a replacement for the TS 860, but the company’s plans were thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the release was put off for one year. However, even without the new model around, the TS 860 once again proved that it could still make the grade, and that it still was a force to be reckoned with. The successor model promises an even higher level of safety, particularly on snow.
The fifth place was scored by the Michelin Alpin 6 (185 points), which, much to everybody’s surprise, demonstrated relatively poor results on snow and ice. At the same time, this Alpine development demonstrated great performance on wet and dry pavement, which ultimately earned it a «Recommended» verdict from the test group.
… and others
The tires that scored the sixth, seventh, and eighth lines of the tournament bracket — Fulda Kristall Control HP2 (183 points), Nokian WR Snowproof (179 points) and Vredestein Wintrac Pro (175 points) — demonstrated almost identical performance on wet and dry pavement.
At the same time, the Fulda model behaved slightly better in snow disciplines. Out of this trio, the worst snow traction was demonstrated by the Nokian model — obviously, the Finnish tire maker places his bets on dedicated tires for harsh winter conditions, and not for the mild winters that we have been seeing lately, says the technical expert of tiresvote.com. It is also worthwhile reminding you that the Nokian WR Snowproof model is the biggest disappointment of the 2019/2020 winter season.
Out of the tested tires, only the Falken Eurowinter HS01 (168 points) had a few prominent issues: it disappointed the experts with lack of grip and a dangerously long stopping distance on snow. «Conditionally recommended», and only for plowed roads!
On the other hand, if you are not really interested in the tires' snow performance, why not consider purchasing all-season tires? The joint test by ACE/GTÜ/ARBÖ 2018 showed that modern all-season tires are quite capable of tackling the so-called «triad» of dry pavement, wet pavement, and snow even better than some specialized winter tires. This is also evidenced by the results of another all-season tire test, conducted in 2020 by the experts of Germany’s Auto Bild.