When it comes to tire performance, particularly during challenging winter conditions, making an informed decision can often be the difference between a safe drive and an accident waiting to happen. The recent tests undertaken by the elite experts of ACE, in collaboration with GTÜ and ARBÖ, shed new light on the best tire brands and their performance during harsh weather conditions.
Automobile enthusiasts and tire aficionados keenly awaited the results of this high-stakes winter tire test. Here, ACE and its esteemed partners, GTÜ and ARBÖ, meticulously compared seven luxury tire models against three economical variants. The cold climes of Ivalo, Finland, served as the snowy testing backdrop, with temperatures plummeting to -4.5°C. For a well-rounded analysis, the tires were also challenged on wet and dry asphalt terrains at Goodyear's esteemed testing facility in Mireval, France.
Performance on Snow
Winter driving introduces a myriad of challenges for motorists. The frosty landscapes, while picturesque, present a demanding environment where tire durability and adaptability become paramount. The crystalline blanket of snow on roads requires tires that are up to the task, guaranteeing not just movement, but safety as well.
Acceleration: In the unforgiving wintry conditions, the initiation of motion is as critical as maintaining it. The recent tests underscored the leaps in tire technology. Every tire in the examined spectrum, from premium to budget ranges, exhibited stellar acceleration on snowy terrains. Such consistent performance across the board not only speaks volumes about the tire industry's strides but also promises drivers an assured start, even in the chilliest conditions.
Braking: As important as it is to get going, it's equally vital to stop efficiently. The real mettle of a tire's design and construction is tested when braking on unpredictable snowy patches. The challenge was to halt momentum from a speed of 35 km/h, and the results were enlightening. While every tire manifested commendable braking capabilities, Austone, a more budget-friendly option, emerged as the dark horse. Its performance was nearly on par with Bridgestone, an industry stalwart. This revelation underscores that while brand pedigree matters, there are hidden gems even in the budget segment that are upping their game.
Handling: Superior handling ensures that drivers can navigate bends, make turns, and adjust directions with precision. In this arena, both Michelin, a legacy brand, and Austone, the rising contender, drew applause. Their tires delivered not only in terms of handling but also showcased excellent lateral stability and were quick to respond to the driver's inputs. On the flip side, Sailun, while not entirely disappointing, displayed a few chinks in their armor, particularly when it came to grip during uphill drives. The experts, however, were generous in their assessment, labeling their overall snowy performance as satisfactory.
Wet Asphalt Challenges
Rain-slicked roads pose some of the most demanding challenges for tires. The dynamics of water and rubber interaction, the unpredictability of puddles, and the varying road conditions can turn a standard drive into a treacherous journey. It's here that the quality and design of a tire become pivotal, not just for performance but, more crucially, for safety.
Braking: Braking on wet surfaces is a definitive test of a tire's construction and the technology it harnesses. Hankook, with its innovative design and advanced rubber compounds, showcased exemplary performance by bringing the vehicle to a stop from 80 km/h within a mere 30.4 meters. Such precision underlines the brand's commitment to tire safety and performance. On the contrary, the budget-friendly options, Austone and Fortuna, underscored the sometimes wide gulf between premium and economical tires. Their longer stopping distances highlighted the compromises one might inadvertently make when prioritizing cost over quality.
Handling and Grip: Wet roads demand impeccable grip and superior handling. Pioneers like Bridgestone, Goodyear, and Nokian rose to the occasion, reflecting their mastery over tire technology. Their grip on slippery terrains ensured controlled maneuvering, minimizing the risk of skids or loss of control. However, every silver lining has a cloud. Austone and Fortuna, in their bid to be cost-effective, seemed to have sacrificed essential features. Their compromised grip on wet surfaces not only drew criticism but also raised valid concerns regarding road safety.
Aquaplaning Resistance: Few things can be as alarming for a driver as aquaplaning—when tires lose contact with the road, skimming over a wet surface. Bridgestone's advanced design and tread patterns shone brightly in these challenging conditions, resisting both lateral and longitudinal aquaplaning. While most of the other brands showcased decent aquaplaning resistance, Fortuna and Austone's performances were lackluster, pointing to potential vulnerabilities during heavy downpours.
In conclusion, understanding the dynamics of tire performance on wet terrains is not just a matter of technical curiosity; it's an essential component of informed decision-making for every vehicle owner. As the old adage goes, "It's better to be safe than sorry," and choosing the right tire in wet conditions could very well be the decision that keeps one safe on the roads.
Dry Asphalt Dynamics
Navigating dry roads might seem like a straightforward affair, but the subtleties of tire performance on such surfaces can be the defining factor in ensuring both safety and efficiency.
Navigating the intricacies of tire durability, safety features, and performance, Bridgestone emerged as the pinnacle of winter tire excellence. Following closely were Hankook and Continental. Although Sailun managed to secure a "Conditionally Recommended" tag, they were notably the noisiest in the test. The budget choices, Austone and Fortuna, despite impressing in snowy conditions, disappointed on wet and dry terrains. This highlights the fundamental truth that while price is essential, tire safety should never be compromised.
1. Bridgestone / Blizzak LM005 Rating: Highly Recommended
- Positive: Dominates with impressive snow braking, wet pavement control, resistance to aquaplaning, dry handling, and economical advantages.
- Overall: The quintessential all-rounder. Bridgestone impresses with a flawless performance profile.
2. Hankook / Winter i*cept evo3 X W330A Rating: Highly Recommended
- This tire replaced Hankook / Winter i*cept evo2 SUV W320A
- Available Sizes in Line: 31
- Year Released: 2020
- Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe, Russia+, South Korea
- Positive: Highlights include superior snow traction, commendable wet pavement braking, lateral aquaplaning resistance, and dry surface handling.
- Overall: A close second, Hankook nails almost all aspects, especially standing out in wet conditions.
Hankook Winter i*cept evo3 X W330A
3. Michelin / Pilot Alpin 5 SUV Rating: Recommended
- This tire has run-flat model:
- Available Sizes in Line: 22
Original Equipment (OE) tires
- Year Released: 2018
- Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe, Russia+, East Asia
- Positive: Reliable snow handling combined with adept braking on both wet and dry surfaces.
- Overall: A dependable choice across conditions. Michelin delivers consistently.
Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 SUV
4. Continental / WinterContact TS 870 P Rating: Recommended
- Positive: Exemplifies control on dry pavements and is a value proposition due to its economical nature.
- Overall: A balanced performer, offering a blend of performance and economy.
5. Nokian / Snowproof 2 SUV Rating: Recommended
- Positive: Ensures steady traction on snow and remarkable dry pavement handling.
- Overall: Safe and steady, Nokian offers dependable performance, though slight reservations on snow.
6. Goodyear / UltraGrip Performance+ SUV Rating: Recommended
- This tire replaced Goodyear / UltraGrip Performance SUV Gen-1
- Available Sizes in Line: 24
- Year Released: 2021
- Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+, China
- Positive: Delivers with its traction on snow, and commendable handling both on wet and dry terrains.
- Overall: Goodyear impresses in multiple terrains, with minor notes on snow grip.
Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+ SUV
7. Pirelli / Scorpion Winter 2 Rating: Recommended
- This tire replaced Pirelli / Scorpion Winter
- Available Sizes in Line: 32
- Year Released: 2022
- Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+, China
- Positive: Stands out due to its balanced nature and distinct dry pavement handling.
- Overall: Pirelli remains a sturdy choice, especially shining on dry roads.
Pirelli Scorpion Winter 2
8. Sailun / Ice Blazer Alpine Evo1 Rating: Conditionally Recommended
- Positive: Handling issues on snow, and increased tire noise.
- Overall: Offers satisfactory safety on snow and comparable dry handling to premium brands, but comes with a noise caveat.
9. Austone SP-901 Rating: Not Recommended
- Positive: Wallet-friendly with satisfactory snow performance.
- Negative: Inadequate wet handling and braking, along with poor aquaplaning resistance.
- Overall: Austone presents a mixed bag; while it shines on snow, its wet performance leaves much to be desired.
10. Fortuna Winter SUV Rating: Not Recommended
- Positive: Affordable with decent snow performance.
- Negative: Poor grip on asphalt, inadequate braking across terrains, and a lackluster resistance to aquaplaning.
- Overall: Fortuna might be budget-friendly, but its compromises in key performance areas make it a less recommended option.