How the tires will behave on wet and dry pavement, as well as on snow and ice, you can find out only by subjecting them to extensive testing. The experts of the German motoring association ADAC in partnership with other European consumer rights organizations, and in full accordance with precisely defined methodology, tested 18 winter tire sets, purchasing them in small quantities from six different tire dealerships.
The purpose of the test was to determine the safest tire models of 2021 to be used in mild winter conditions inherent to Central Europe.
While in the first winter tire test 2021 the ADAC experts tested the popular passenger-car tire size of 195/65 R15, in the second test they opted for 225/50 R17 with speed index V (up to 240 km/h), which may be used, for example, on such cars as Audi A4 or BMW 3 series.
List of winter models tested:
- Bridgestone Blizzak LM005
- Continental WinterContact TS 860
- Dunlop Winter Sport 5
- ESA-Tecar Supergrip Pro
- Firestone Winterhawk 4
- Fulda Kristall Control HP2
- Goodride Z-507 Zuper Snow
- Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+
- Kleber Krisalp HP3
- Linglong Green-Max Winter UHP
- Maxxis Premitra Snow WP6
- Michelin Alpin 6
- Nexen Winguard Sport 2
- Nokian Snowproof P
- Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3
- Sava Eskimo HP2
- Toyo Observe S944
- Vredestein Wintrac Pro
After the selected winter tires were examined literally under a microscope, the testers were amazed at the wide scatter of the results: while three tire models ended up being rated as «good», two 17-inch models received an «unsatisfactory» verdict. At the same time, in the 195/65 R15 winter tire test, earlier conducted by ADAC, the end results were much more homogeneous, without any significant discrepancies.
Nevertheless, the test group recommended paying close attention to the characteristics of all the tested tires because in some specific cases, considering the predominant weather of the region where you live, you can easily get by with «average» tires that can be just the right thing in certain conditions.
The ADAC winter tire test was conducted in Ivalo, Finland; the test car was an Audi A4.
The top three: perfectly balanced
The Dunlop Winter Sport 5 and Michelin Alpin 6 tires (2.3 points each), which shared the top line in the final standings, and the bronze-winning UltraGrip Performance+ (2.5 points) are recommended without any reservations.
They all demonstrated excellent results by all the main safety criteria because the designers of these tires obviously invested a lot of effort in ensuring well-balanced performance of their creations. Still, however, the ADAC experts recommend taking a look at specific performance indicators because these tires behave differently in different performance areas.
The Dunlop tire was an unquestionable leader on snow, and, in addition, demonstrated the best fuel saving capabilities amongst the top tire models. The most expensive tire on test, the Michelin Alpin 6, as usual, demonstrated the best resistance to wear, and was good on wet and dry pavement. The well-balanced Goodyear tire with good results in all the performance areas stays in the middle of the tournament bracket, but without any outstanding results.
The dominance of «satisfactory» tires
The fourth line in the final standings is occupied by the inexpensive Kleber Krisalp HP3 (2.7 points), produced by Michelin Group. Its wet performance was slightly worse than that of the leaders but that did not spoil the overall score. Quite as good an option as any other.
The next four tires scored 3.0 points and shared fifth place. Depreciation of the total score of the Bridgestone Blizzak LM005 was due to its weak resistance to wear; at the same time, in terms of safety features, there were only minor gripes about its snow grip, while on wet and dry pavement the LM005 was head and shoulders above the others.
Devaluation of the final ranking of the Continental WinterContact TS 860 had to do with lack of dry grip; otherwise, no complaints came from the testers. Possibly, its successor, the TS870 model, which has already been launched on the market, will be involved in the future ADAC tests, and will perform better in the dry disciplines.
- Year Released: 2016
- Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
The Nexen Winguard Sport 2 also forfeited its chance to score a higher line in the tournament bracket because of relatively low wear, and, in addition, its grip on snow, which, as well as wet and dry traction, was only average. Generally speaking, this is probably the least attractive tire from the four ones that scored 3 points, because even the Vredestein Wintrac Pro, which ultimately suffered because of poor resistance to wear, received higher scores for handling performance (except on ice).
The overall ranking of the Esa-Tecar Supergrip Pro, Sava Eskimo HP2 (3.1 points each, 9th place), and Fulda Kristall Control HP2 (3.2 points, 11th place) was lowered due to issues found in wet and dry road conditions. In the case of the Supergrip Pro, which is usually sold in Germany by the Tecar trading company through affiliated car dealerships, one must note that it showed the best results in terms of fuel saving.
The Eskimo HP2 from the Slovenian company Sava (a subsidiary of Goodyear) turned out to be the noisiest model on test.
Yet another four winter models scoring 3.3 points each and occupying one shared twelfth place came to their average end results by different ways, the Shina Guide expert comments on the situation. The Firestone Winterhawk 4 lost it on dry pavement but scored good points by all the other safety criteria. The Nokian WR Snowproof P was good on dry pavement, but average in the wet; the tire also was nothing special on snow, being at odds with its own name.
The Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 handling performance on dry and wet pavement, as well as on ice, this time around was only rated as «satisfactory». The Toyo Observe S944 revealed weaknesses on wet pavement and snow.
The shortcomings of the Maxxis Premitra Snow WP6, occupying the sixteenth line of the final standings, were revealed on snow and ice.
Careful! Poor performance!
The ADAC expert team strongly recommends refraining from buying only two of the models they tested. The Chinese Linglong Green-Max Winter UHP and the Goodride Z-507 Zuper Snow turned out to be the real outsiders of the test that brought an unpleasant surprise by total lack of snow grip and wet traction.
The Goodride tire demonstrated the worst braking performance. These tires have big problems when starting off in the snow, where they can only be driven very slowly, and even then inaccurately, which clearly does not meet the strict requirements of the German testers. An example from the test: one circle on a snow-covered track 1.2 km long was covered by the Zuper Snow model in a time about 25 seconds longer than what was needed by the best tires in this discipline. This is nothing but a failure.
The «Achilles heel» of the Linglong tire is extremely weak wet grip. Be that braking, hydroplaning resistance or slalom, the Green-Max Winter UHP model will never score above average. Here is another example from the test: compared to the Japanese tires Bridgestone Blizzak LM005, the stopping distance of the Chinese Linglong from 80 km/h is 11 meters longer. And this means that at the moment when the car on the LM005 tires has already stopped, the speedometer needle of the vehicle equipped with Linglong winter tires will still be showing 40 km/h.
ADAC recommends installing new tires when the tread depth reaches the minimum legal limit of four millimeters. The motorists also need to pay special attention to the three peak mountain snowflake symbol (3PMSF), because in Europe you are only allowed to drive on winter roads on such tires. Also, according to the experts of this motoring association, it is important that all the four tires have the same production date and therefore the same technical standard.