The Italian motoring publication Al Volante published an article entitled «All-season tires: the challenge of the seven», in which it announced the results of its comparative tire test. The test involved all-season tires in the size of 225/45 R17, which is more and more frequently used by the drivers as an alternative to dedicated winter tires (or anti-skid tire chains).
In the most diverse weather conditions, the test experts compared the performance of seven all-season tires of various kinds, priced from 54 to 110 Euros per tire. The test car was a front-wheel drive Volkswagen Golf.
List of all-season models tested:
- Bridgestone Weather Control A005
- Continental AllSeasonContact
- Fortuna Comfort Max 4S
- Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-2
- Michelin CrossClimate+
- Nokian Weatherproof
- Pirelli Cinturato All Season Plus
In order to thoroughly understand the difference in the performance of all-season and dedicated winter tires, the experts included into the test the winter model Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3, and the summer model Pirelli Cinturato P7 (the latter was tested hors concours).
The snow tests were conducted in the Alps during the nighttime, which was caused by the necessity to maintain an even temperature: -3°C for air and -10°C for snow. The tires’ achievements were recorded in the final standings. The best tires got a maximum of 100 points with the other scores expressed as a percentage ratio in respect to the leader. The total score given on a surface of a certain type was the average performance indicator calculated in accordance with three disciplines (the priority being the tire’s safety, i.e. its braking performance). The models gaining an equal number of scores are presented in the tournament bracket in an alphabetical order.
The «white» tests of the all-season tires were won by the Pirelli winter tires; however, out of the seven contestants, Nokian Weatherproof was also able to break into the foreground thanks to its shortest braking distance on test.
We will note that the effectiveness of braking performance was tested in the range of 40 to 10 km/h, and it is pretty hard to figure out if Nokian would have been able to keep its leading position at higher speeds, for example, from 50 km/h, like in the tests done by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
On wet pavement, in addition to the issues with braking and road holding ability, there is a risk of hydroplaning, and, as the speed increases, the tread becomes less and less efficient in draining water, eventually losing grip on the pavement. During the cornering, the car can slip straight or go into a spin, depending on which wheels lose grip, front or rear ones.
The straight hydroplaning resistance of the tires was defined on a 150-meter stretch with a layer of water 7 mm deep with the sensors that were installed into wheels to record the «flotation» speed. Parallel to that, the testers measured the flotation speed in deep water (the higher this speed, the safer the tires).
The safest tire on wet pavement turned out to be the summer tire, but the best of the all-season models turned out to be Bridgestone Weather Control A005.
The tire tests on the pavement were performed at the air temperature +35°C and pavement temperature +50°C. In addition to the braking safety, the experts also tested the cabin noise level and the tires’ rolling resistance (the lower the better), which also directly affects the fuel consumption. These were measured in the laboratory, exactly the way it is done by the tire makers when they do it for certifying the data that is indicated on tires’ Euro labels.
On dry pavement, the leader got changed again: the title of the best all-season tires went to Michelin Cross Climate+ and Pirelli Cinturato All Season Plus.
The final score
Well… We saw that the tire rankings may change drastically because of the weather conditions: on snow, the best performance was demonstrated by Nokian Weatherproof; the safest tires on wet pavement were Bridgestone Weather Control A005, and on dry pavement the race was won by Michelin CrossClimate+ and Pirelli Cinturato All Season Plus, but all-season tires are supposed to ensure a good well-balanced performance in any conditions. This is why the testers compiled the final ranking, in which the results of the tests were «weighed».
|Pirelli Cinturato All Season Plus||90.5|
|Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-2||90.2|
|Bridgestone Weather Control A005||88.9|
|Fortuna Comfort Max 4S||78.8|
In many cases, the results shown by the tires turned out to be so close that the test experts had to take even the decimal fraction into consideration. Ultimately, the winners of the «dry» tests, and also the winners of the entire test, shared their place on the pedestal with Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-2, which showed inevitably decent results in all of the disciplines.
Following them with a minimal gap, but still scoring only the fourth place, was Continental AllSeasonContact. And the tires that were leading in the snow tests and on wet pavement, scored fifth and sixth places respectively, which was conditioned by the obvious bias towards these two categories of road surfaces.
The main advantage of the budget-friendly tires Fortuna Comfort Max 4S is, of course, their price, which, as it turned out, does not guarantee safe driving at all, much less on snow.