Each year, more and more new tire models are launched on the market, and buying a set of such new tires is often fraught with a number of risks. According to the results of the winter tire test 2020 conducted in size 245/45 R18 by the German industry publication Auto Bild, many tires have serious issues in terms of dependability and driving safety. Therefore, if you do not want to buy the wrong set of tires, instead of proceeding solely from the budget considerations or the reputation of the brand, make a thorough research on the tires’ performance in those conditions, in which you are most likely to drive.
For yet another annual large-scale tire test, where more than 50 sets of tires are aligned at the start, the Auto Bild experts anonymously bought these tire sets online or in retail tire dealerships.
Thanks to the price variance among the test participants, those who are looking to save money can clearly see that safety usually does not come cheap. Thanks to the price variance among the test participants, those who are looking to save money can clearly see that safety usually does not come cheap. First things first, though!
Two stages of the Auto Bild test
Traditionally, the large Auto Bild winter tire test consists of two stages. In the elimination round, models are screened out, whose braking performance on snow (from 50 km/h) and on wet pavement (from 80 km/h), falls short of the better performing tires.
In the elimination round, twenty models were disqualified due to extremely poor braking performance on wet pavement. Their number included budget tires, both from Chinese brands, such as Fortuna Winter, Zeetex WH1000, Infinity Ecozen, Aeolus Snowace 2 HP, Wanli S 1083 SnowGrip and Haida HD617, as well as from European ones: Tomket Snowroad Pro 3, Momo W-2 North Pole. The losers’ list is bottomed by two models from the Turkish tire manufacturer Petlas.
|Place||Brand and Model||Wet Braking|
|33||Firestone Winterhawk 3||37.9|
|34||GT Radial Champiro WinterPro HP||38.3|
|36||Zeetex WH 1000||38.7|
|38||Aeolus Snowace 2 HP||39.0|
|39||Tomket Snowroad Pro 3||39.3|
|40||Atlas Polarbear 2||39.6|
|41||Radar Dimax Alpine||40.5|
|44||Duraturn Mozzo Winter||40.7|
|46||Tracmax Ice-Plus S210||41.1|
|47||Imperial Snowdragon 3||41.4|
|48||Wanli S 1083 Snow Grip||41.4|
|49||Momo W-2 North Pole||41.7|
|50||Starmaxx Icegripper W850||42.3|
|51||Petlas Snow Master W651||43.1|
Curiously, this company of outsiders includes tires from the third subsidiary line of Michelin — Riken Snow — and the Firestone Winterhawk 3 models, a subsidiary brand of Bridgestone. The last to be released in 2020 was the Winterhawk 4 replacement model but it looks like it is going to get into independent tests only in the next winter season 2021/2022.
Among the other eleven models that did not reach the final because of the excessive braking distance, there are no expensive tires. However, we can see Chinese developments trying to make it into this medium-segment group, and even looking to surpass their competitors.
In the elimination round, the tires that scored places 21–31 went in the following order: Sava Eskimo HP2, Yokohama BluEarth-Winter V905, Fortune FSR901, Nexen Winguard Sport 2, Goodride Z-507, Platin RP 60 Winter, Westlake SW608, Gislaved Euro*Frost 6, Kumho WinterCraft WP71, Toyo Snowprox S954, and Falken Eurowinter HS01.
|Place||Brand and Model||Wet Braking||Snow Braking||Total|
|21||Sava Eskimo HP2||36.3||25.1||61.4|
|22||Yokohama BluEarth-Winter V905||35.4||26.1||61.5|
|24||Nexen Winguard Sport 2||36.5||25.1||61.6|
|26||Platin RP 60 Winter||37.0||25.2||62.2|
|28||Gislaved Euro*Frost 6||36.9||25.8||62.7|
|29||Kumho WinterCraft WP71||35.7||28.0||63.7|
|30||Toyo Snowprox S 954||37.0||26.9||63.9|
|31||Falken Eurowinter HS01||37.0||27.0||64.0|
Only the best models reached the final:
|Place||Brand and Model||Wet Braking||Snow Braking||Total|
|1||Bridgestone Blizzak LM005||30.3||24.5||54.8|
|2||Michelin Pilot Alpin 5||31.9||24.3||56.2|
|3||Semperit Speed-Grip 3||30.8||26.0||56.8|
|4||Continental WinterContact TS 850 P||31.8||25.2||57.0|
|5||Hankook Winter i*cept evo3 W330||32.3||25.0||57.3|
|6||Vredestein Wintrac Pro||33.2||24.9||58.1|
|7||BFGoodrich g-Force Winter 2||34.1||24.6||58.7|
|8||Kleber Krisalp HP3||34.4||24.6||59.0|
|9||Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+||34.4||24.8||59.2|
|10||Uniroyal MS Plus 77||34.2||25.0||59.2|
|11||Barum Polaris 5||35.2||24.9||60.1|
|12||Nokian WR A4||34.6||25.5||60.1|
|13||Dunlop Winter Sport 5||35.2||25.0||60.2|
|14||Apollo Aspire XP Winter||35.1||25.3||60.4|
|15||Giti GitiWinter W1||35.2||25.4||60.6|
|16||Cooper Weather-Master SA2+||34.6||26.1||60.7|
|17||General Altimax Winter 3||36.0||24.7||60.7|
|18||Fulda Kristall Control HP2||36.3||24.5||60.8|
|19||Laufenn I Fit+||36.2||24.8||61.0|
|20||Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3||36.2||25.8||61.0|
The test car was a BMW 5 series. As usual, the competition also involved summer tires — just to demonstrate the sheer lunacy of their use during snowy and frosty winters.
When driving up a small snow-covered hill, virtually none of the tires had any issues. The Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+ fully lives up to its name, showing the best snow traction on test.
Even during the braking on frozen snow coverage all of the tires on test show good safety margin. As for the braking distance demonstrated by the summer tires, it was twice as long as that of the worst winter model out of the top twenty.
Handling response and lateral stability are crucial for the tires’ interaction with snow. The leaders in this area are Dunlop, Goodyear, Bridgestone, and Continental. The Nokian WR A4 model fell short of its rivals in both disciplines.
Modern winter tires behave confidently on wet pavement as well. Bridgestone Blizzak LM005 and Semperit Speed-Grip 3 ensure braking performance that is better than that of specialized summer tires. In other respects, wet pavement is the natural habitat for summer tires, says the technical expert of tiresvote.com. The excellent lateral grip was demonstrated by the Continental WinterContact TS 850P, while the Fulda Kristall Control HP2 and Laufenn I Fit+ do not ensure as impressive performance in this area.
Kristall HP2 from Fulda demonstrated the best hydroplaning resistance, both straight and lateral during the cornering. The General Altimax Winter 3 in both cases lose grip on the road surface much earlier than their rivals.
On dry pavement, the problem comes up of bringing large-sized powerful cars to a halt. The stopping distance demonstrated in this discipline by the winter tire Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 is more than five meters longer than that ensured by the summer tires, which is roughly the length of the car. At the same time, the results demonstrated by the Fulda Kristall Control HP2 were twice as bad.
The test experts were seriously impressed by the handling response ensured by the Apollo Aspire XP Winter. The average speed that this tire can reach within the exact execution of all of the driver’s commands is faster than Michelin and Continental.
In terms of protecting your eardrums, the garland of victory was won by the Kleber Krisalp HP3. Its nearest competitors were the BFGoodrich g-Force Winter 2 and the Michelin Pilot Alpin 5.
The lowest rolling resistance on test was demonstrated by the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3; the highest — by the Vredestein Wintrac Pro.
The Michelin PA5 wear resistance is above all praise. Just to compare: the expected mileage of the Cooper Weather-Master SA2+ model before it wears down to the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm is only 60% of the resource of the leader in this discipline.
Comparing the price and the expected mileage of the models tested, one can figure out that the economy-wise the best deal will be the Laufenn I Fit+. As for Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 and Michelin Pilot Alpin 5, these tires will cost you an extra 6 Euro per each thousand kilometers.
The final ranking of the winter tires 2020/2021
1st place: Michelin Pilot Alpin 5.
Pros: Excellent snow grip, dynamic handling performance on dry and wet pavement, efficient braking, long expected mileage, good price/quality ratio. Winner of the Auto Bild winter tire test 2020/2021.
Cons: Very high price.
However weird this may sound, this is the first independent tire test of the Pilot Alpin 5 model, which has been out for three years.
2nd place. Bridgestone Blizzak LM005
Pros: great overall winter performance, high level of driving safety on wet and dry pavement, good riding comfort, low rolling resistance.
Cons: Average tread life.
3rd place. Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+
Pros: Excellent performance on snow-covered and dry roads, good handling response on wet pavement, good hydroplaning safety margin.
Cons: Average riding comfort.
4th place. BFGoodrich g-Force Winter 2
The fourth place was shared by two models — BFGoodrich g-Force Winter 2 and Kleber Krisalp HP3.
Pros: good environmental performance, convincing handling response on snow, good hydroplaning resistance, high resistance to wear and long tread life.
Cons: Increased rolling resistance
4th place. Kleber Krisalp HP3
Pros: affordable price, great overall performance, well-balanced handling response in any weather conditions, long expected mileage.
Cons: Increased rolling resistance
6th place. Hankook Winter i*Cept evo3 W330
Pros: sporty handling response on wet and dry pavement, good mobility on snow, short stopping distance on snow and wet pavement.
Cons: Increased rolling resistanceWe will note here that this particular model is the new release 2020/2021. The exemplary ranking and a high position in the tournament bracket is a successful career start.
7th place. Continental WinterContact TS 850P
Pros: Sporty and dynamic handling response in any weather conditions, crisp steering response, long tread life.
Cons: Increased braking distance on dry pavement, expensive price.
8th place. Dunlop Winter Sport 5
Pros: Well-balanced performance with impressive handling response on snow, high hydroplaning safety margin, good riding comfort.
Cons: Increased braking distance on wet pavement, expensive price.
9th place. Apollo Aspire XP Winter
The ninth place was shared by two models — Apollo Aspire XP Winter and Semperit Speed-Grip 3.
Pros: Convincing traction and short stopping distance on snow, good hydroplaning resistance, and dynamic handling response on dry pavement.
Cons: Poor mobility on snow, increased braking distance on wet pavement.
9th place. Semperit Speed-Grip 3
Pros: Short stopping distance and dynamic handling response on wet pavement, long tread life, good fuel saving properties.
Cons: Low hydroplaning safety margin.
11th place. Fulda Kristall Control HP2
Pros: Good traction on snow, great hydroplaning resistance, good riding comfort, long tread life.
Cons: Cons: poor handling response on dry and wet pavement, increased braking distance on wet pavement.
12th place. Vredestein Wintrac Pro
Pros: Well-balanced performance in any weather conditions, short braking distance on snow, dynamic handling on wet pavement.
Cons: Average fuel saving capabilities, increased rolling resistance.
13th place. Giti GitiWinter W1
Pros: Short stopping distance and good handling response on snow, long tread life, affordable price.
Cons: Average hydroplaning resistance, increased stopping distance on wet pavement.
14th place. Uniroyal MS Plus 77
Pros: Great performance on snow, high hydroplaning safety margin, pleasant riding comfort.
Cons: Moderate traction and handling response in the wet, average tread life.
15th place. Barum Polaris 5
Pros: Well-balanced handling response on snow and dry pavement, good hydroplaning resistance.
Cons: Increased braking distance on wet pavement, moderate expected mileage, increased rolling resistance.
16th place. Laufenn I Fit+
Pros: Good traction on snow, confident cornering, efficient braking performance, long tread life.
Cons: Insufficient traction on wet pavement, prone to understeer on wet and dry pavement.
16th place. Nokian WR A4
Pros: Well-balanced and safe handling response on dry pavement, low noise, low rolling resistance.
Cons: Poor handling response on snow, average hydroplaning resistance.
18th place. General Altimax Winter 3
Pros: Good snow traction, good price/quality ratio, low noise
Cons: Poor handling response on wet and dry pavement, average hydroplaning resistance.
This tire model made a significant leap up from Auto Bild’s 2019 winter tire test, where it was eliminated in the qualifying round, scoring the 35th place.
19th place. Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3
Pros: Convincing performance on snow-covered and dry surfaces, low rolling resistance.
Cons: Moderate traction and handling response in the wet, expensive price, average tread life.
It is more than obvious that for the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3, whose career began in 2013, the last-but-one place in the final ranking equals a red card and a need for a replacement that is way overdue.
20th place. Cooper Weather-Master SA2+
Pros: Good hydroplaning safety margin, low noise, inexpensive price.
Cons: Average snow and ice traction, prone to understeer on dry pavement, short tread life.
Having tested winter tires in size 245/45 R18 in 2020, the Auto Bild expert team emphasized that about a third of the more than 50 tested models were not at all worth the money indicated on their price tags.
In the cold time of the year, the test experts still recommend using the classic winter tires. As for all-season tires, on winter roads they can only be considered as an alternative for lightweight vehicles — from compact to midsize ones.