Auto Bild Allrad 2020/2021: All-Season Tire Test

Source: Auto Bild Allrad

All-season tires were invented to relieve car owners of the burden of seasonal tire swap. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? But how safe? This is what the experts of the Auto Bild Allrad magazine decided to find out, having tested 11 models of all-season tires in the standard size 215/60 R16 99V, which is popular among German owners of mid-size sedans and compact crossovers. Below, we are offering to you the results of the test, which were published in the December issue of this popular auto magazine.

This year, the victory in the snow, wet, and dry tests, conducted at the indoor Test World winter tire testing facility in Ivalo, Finland, was disputed by:

The test car was a Volkswagen T-Roc. The tires’ performance was rated on a scale of 6 (poor) to 1 (very good). And, again, for demonstration purposes and for comparing the performance of all-season tires with that of specialized seasonal ones, the experts of Auto Bild allrad included in the test one set of winter, and one set of summer tires.

It would be nice to finally get rid of the need to change tires every six months, wouldn’t it? All-season tires present a tempting alternative to dedicated seasonal tires. At the same time, however, it is extremely important that the all-season tires meet the minimum requirements posed to winter tires in the European countries, which must be backed up by the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake sign on their sidewalls. For most of the all-season tires that were involved in the Auto Bild allrad comparative test, this did not become a problem, and they confidently tackled the challenges, sometimes quite formidable.

We will note here that until a few years ago all-season tires were considered a suitable compromise for motorists who do not expect much from their tires. That is, to put it bluntly, in the summertime the all-season tires used to play the part of bad summer tires, and in the wintertime the part of bad winter tires. Today, however, as the results of this test show, the tables have turned. For example, there are all-season tires out there, whose snow performance is on a par with that of specialized winter tires. For example, Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3, and Continental AllSeasonContact. On the other hand, there are all season tires, whose dry and wet performance is very similar to that of summer ones. One of such examples is the Hankook Kinergy 4S² and last year’s new model Vredestein Quatrac.

Test discipline: snow braking.
Test discipline: snow braking. Source: autobild.de

The main challenge for all-season tire manufacturers is to achieve really good wet and dry grip without compromising the tire’s snow performance. This is why the recent tests showed the Hankook and Vredestein models performing at their absolute best, convincing in the summer disciplines, and at the same time delivering reliable snow grip.

Nevertheless, if you purchase a set of all-season tires, you must consider a whole number of factors. For example, if you care more about the snow performance of your tires, you can purchase such a «snow expert» as Continental without compromising your driving safety in summer. However, few other all-season models feature such an impressively balanced performance. The nearest example at hand is the Nankang model that arrived in Europe from the Far East. Affordably priced, it delivers excellent snow grip, but is a total disappointment on wet pavement. Not so radically, but in the same ballpark, the characteristics of the Finnish Nokian tires differ — they perform admirably on snow and very moderately in wet conditions. And there are also models out there, whose balance of characteristics is exactly in reverse. A vivid example of that is the Kumho model that has excellent hydroplaning resistance but falls short in terms of snow performance.

And now, on to the test results!

Snow tests


TRACTION. It is just amazing what modern all-season tires are capable of. On snow, the six tested models provided an even better acceleration than the «reference» winter tires. And all of them, barring the Kumho model, which had to settle for a «three plus», scored at least two points.

BRAKING. Expectedly, the winter tires demonstrated the shortest stopping distance. However, their edge over the all-season tires was minimal. The best one of them (Continental) lost some measly 10cm to the friction winter tire. And then again, even the Kumho model, which came last, also scored 2 points. Minor gripes aside, excellent results for all of the contestants!

HANDLING. With all-season tires, handling response on snow cannot be as accurate as on specialized winter tires. Nevertheless, all the tested models, for the sole exception of Kumho, which demonstrated a noticeably weaker lateral grip, could score «ones» and ‘twos» in this discipline (which are the high scores in this system).

SLALOM. In this test, the experts evaluated the maximum lateral acceleration on snow. The Continental and the Goodyear models demonstrated an even better cornering grip than the studless winter tire. The Toyo and the Kumho tires fell slightly behind, but they were still able to score 3 points each.

Wet tests


HYDROPLANING: STRAIGHT AND LATERAL. The king of straight hydroplaning resistance was the Kumho tire, which previously did not perform very well in the snow tests. Other tires that were able to score one point were Falken, Goodyear, and Hankook, which tackled the still water on a par with the summer tires. The Toyo and the Nankang models fell behind.

HANDLING AND CIRCULAR MOTION. This test requires from the tires crisp steering response, excellent road holding ability, and predictable cornering behavior. In this area, excellent results were shown by the Hankook and the Vredestein models. The Toyo, Nankang, and Nokian tires, on the other hand, disappointed the test experts by performing much worse than the reference winter tires.

BRAKING. During the dry braking test, the all-season tires showed a wide range of results. While the Hankook and Bridgestone tires demonstrated even shorter stopping distances than those of the specialized summer tires, the Toyo and Nokian models scored three points each. As for the Nankang tire, its stopping distance from 100 km/h turned out to be 17 meters longer than that of the Hankook tire, and was rated as a «four with a big minus».

Dry tests


HANDLING. Of course, this is a discipline where the summer tires had to come out an absolute winner, but the all-season models Vredestein, Goodyear, Bridgestone, and Hankook came very close to their level. As for the Toyo, Nokian, and Nankang tires, in this test they performed even worse than the reference winter tires.

NOISE. In this discipline, the differences between the tires were minimal. All the models scored either two points or two points with a minus.

BRAKING. Of course, none of the models were able to outperform the specialized summer tires. It was only the Michelin all-season model that took less than 40 meters to bring the car to a standstill from a speed of 100 km/h, while the Continental, Nankang, and Toyo tires needed even more than 44 meters.

ROLLING RESISTANCE. And how do the all-season tires perform in terms of fuel efficiency? The Toyo model demonstrated increased rolling resistance, and, hence, increased fuel consumption. With the Bridgestone tire, however, which scored a «one with a minus», you will be sure to save up a few extra gallons.

Result summary

All-season tire test summary Auto Bild Allrad 2020/2021. Places 1–11.
All-season tire test summary Auto Bild Allrad 2020/2021. Places 1–11. Click to enlarge.

Expert conclusion

It is just amazing what modern all-season tires are capable of. Formerly an unconvincing compromise, today they perform almost on the same level as the specialized summer or winter tires. But even the best of them, such as the Hankook and Vredestein models, are «almost» on a par with specialized summer or winter tires. Hence, everyone who cares about their safety and the safety of their fellow travelers, and wants to get the most out of their tires in every season, must still opt for the seasonal tire swap.