Auto Express 2019 Winter Tire Test - 225/45 R17

November 7, 2019
Auto Express 2019 Winter Tire Test - 225/45 R17

The expert team of Great Britain’s Auto Express that performed a test of winter tires in the size of 225/45 R17 now knows the answer to the question which of the models is the best to tackle freeze and snow.

Getting ahead of our story, we will start off by mentioning that the test involved two facilities belonging to one of the interested parties: the «white» tests were conducted in Finland at the state-of-the-art test track White Hell (belongs to Nokian), while the cabin noise and hydroplaning resistance tests were done at a Nokian factory in the city of Nokia. But then again, ultimately it turned out that being in their own territory did not help Nokian tires much.

All the other disciplines were conducted at the test facility ATP Papenburg in Germany. Most of the tests were conducted by the pilots of Auto Express.

The list of ten winter models of the popular 225/45 R17 size was augmented by the experts with all-season and summer tires, which won in the respective tests earlier conducted by AE, in order to see how these would perform in different weather conditions.

List of models tested:

The test lineup included two new models of the winter season 2019/2020. According to Auto Express, they were provided by the manufacturers, but later on their wet braking performance was compared to that of the tires that were bought retail after the test was conducted. The results demonstrated by both new models stayed within the limits of tolerable allowances.

One must mention the absence of the new tire model Bridgestone Blizzak LM005, which already scored a fifth place in the final of the large Auto Bild test 2019, and a silver medal in the test conducted by Auto Motor und Sport 2019. It’s quite possible that this tire could have tipped the balance in the AE test 2019 as well.

Results of AE winter tire test 2019

The method of determining the winner by the British experts was improved by changing the calculation formula. Now the tire’s snow performance «weighs» 20% in the final standings, wet pavement weighing 45%. The rest of the percentage is evenly divided among the other disciplines. Whenever the judging panel was to make a choice, braking and handling performance prevailed. The winner of each of the test disciplines was taken as 100%, all the others scoring the percentage compared to the winner’s performance.

Snow surface

Braking on snow

Goodyear
100
Dunlop
99.2
Continental
98.3
Nokian
97.6
Hankook
97.3
Michelin
96.1
Falken
96.1
Vredestein
95.1
Pirelli
92
Toyo
87.9
Summer
45.6
All-Season
95.1

Traction on snow

Goodyear
100
Michelin
97.5
Dunlop
96.4
Continental
95.9
Hankook
94.9
Nokian
94.7
Vredestein
94.5
Pirelli
92.5
Falken
89.1
Toyo
87.2
Summer
37.8
All-Season
90.6

Slalom on snow

Goodyear
100
Nokian
97.7
Dunlop
97.3
Continental
96.1
Pirelli
95.8
Hankook
94.3
Falken
93.6
Michelin
93
Vredestein
92.7
Toyo
89.3
Summer
61.7
All-Season
89.1

Handling on snow

Dunlop
100
Goodyear
99.9
Hankook
99.8
Continental
99.3
Michelin
97.5
Nokian
97.2
Vredestein
95.3
Falken
95
Pirelli
94.9
Toyo
91.9
Summer
60.7
All-Season
97.9

Wet surface

Straight hydroplaning

Falken
100
Continental
94.2
Michelin
93.4
Vredestein
92.6
Pirelli
92.1
Toyo
91.9
Dunlop
91.8
Goodyear
91.7
Nokian
90.1
Hankook
89.8
Summer
94.9
All-Season
91.1

Lateral hydroplaning

Falken
100
Goodyear
98
Dunlop
97
Michelin
96
Vredestein
95
Continental
95
Nokian
94.1
Pirelli
94.1
Toyo
93.1
Hankook
92.1
Summer
93.1
All-Season
94.1

Wet braking

Continental
100
Goodyear
100
Falken
97.9
Michelin
96.9
Pirelli
96.6
Dunlop
96.4
Vredestein
95.3
Toyo
94.6
Nokian
93.1
Hankook
88.1
Summer
116.3
All-Season
102.9

Wet handling

Goodyear
100
Continental
99.7
Michelin
98.2
Vredestein
97
Dunlop
96.8
Pirelli
95.2
Falken
95
Nokian
93.5
Hankook
93.5
Toyo
91
Summer
95.3
All-Season
96.7

Lateral stability on wet pavement

Continental
100
Goodyear
99.5
Michelin
98.7
Vredestein
98.4
Dunlop
97.8
Nokian
96.5
Falken
96.1
Pirelli
95.4
Hankook
94.9
Toyo
90.8
Summer
100.5
All-Season
97.4

Dry surface

Dry braking

Nokian
100
Toyo
99.6
Vredestein
98.4
Pirelli
97.4
Michelin
96.8
Hankook
96.4
Goodyear
95.6
Continental
95
Dunlop
94.8
Falken
94.8
Summer
119.7
All-Season
98.1

Dry handling

Continental
100
Toyo
99.9
Vredestein
99.5
Nokian
99.3
Michelin
99.3
Pirelli
99
Hankook
98.9
Goodyear
98.9
Falken
98.6
Dunlop
98.1
Summer
101.6
All-Season
100.2

Rolling resistance

Nokian
100
Dunlop
92
Continental
91
Goodyear
89
Pirelli
88
Michelin
86
Hankook
80
Toyo
80
Vredestein
76
Falken
63
Summer
93
All-Season
94

Cabin noise

Goodyear
100
Dunlop
96.2
Falken
96.2
Nokian
95.2
Continental
93.3
Toyo
93.3
Pirelli
93.3
Vredestein
92.4
Hankook
88.6
Michelin
87.6
Summer
92.4
All-Season
94.3

Price

Toyo
£97.50
Pirelli
£100.82
Hankook
£100.92
Falken
£107.17
Dunlop
£116.68
Continental
£122.50
Nokian
£122.80
Vredestein
£123.88
Goodyear
£124.73
Michelin
£125.47
Summer
£92.57
All-Season
£107.06

Test Summary

225/45 R17 Winter Tire Test Summary Auto Express, 2019
225/45 R17 Winter Tire Test Summary Auto Express, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The Experts’ Feedback

The test winner — Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+

Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+
Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+

Engineered for heavy-duty vehicles, the UltraGrip Performance+ model, just like UltraGrip 9+, became a part of Goodyear’s renewed winter range. This tire model uses Winter Grip technology, which, thanks to the updated compound, allows the tire to stay more elastic at low temperatures.

This time, the tires lived up to the marketing promises. UG Performance+ dominated in the snow tests with almost a two-percent edge over the closest pursuer.

In addition, Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+ outstripped its rivals in the key wet tests — wet braking and wet handling. At the same time, on dry pavement this model scored two seventh places — but then again, all the results in the dry were pretty close to one another.

The UltraGrip Performance+, which won in the cabin noise test, will be the perfect option for those who prefer a quiet and slow ride. It also ensures a good balance between wet traction and fuel efficiency, which, as is known, is not always a compromise.

Verdict: A new benchmark model for the competing winter tire brands. Recommended.

2nd place — Continental WinterContact TS 860

Continental WinterContact TS 860
Continental WinterContact TS 860

The Continental WinterContact TS 860 tires were pretty phenomenal in the Auto Express winter tests, winning two last ones. However, they were still unable to pull the hat trick, even though they came very close. The model was just as successful in other tests 2017–2018, and was named the best European-type winter tire according to Shina Guide.

On wet pavement, the gap between the leader of the test and TS860 was minimal, and both models were pronounced the best in this area. However, although they shared the victory in the wet braking test, the lateral stability ensured by TS 860 was far more impressive, says the technical expert of Shina Guide. And when it came to snow tests, the lack of grip, as compared to the Goodyear product, grew still more prominent, which nevertheless did not stop the experts from naming WinterContact TS 860 to be a great tire for driving on snowy roads, with great balance and confident cornering performance.

WinterContact TS 860 ultimately topped the final protocol of the dry handling test.

Verdict: This model may have lost its crown but it’s still a great winter tire. Recommended.

3rd place — Michelin Alpin 6

Michelin Alpin 6
Michelin Alpin 6

Recently, the Michelin Company has been busy launching and marketing its tires, which, according to the company’s claims, stay safe to drive on, until worn down to a minimum legal tread depth. This is why the Alpin 6 tires, which follow the trend, have grooves that appear and keep widening as the tread pattern wears down. Thus, testing this model in a brand new condition may have not brought out the best in it, but the performance that it demonstrated was enough to raise it to the winner’s pedestal.

One would want to believe that the worn-down Michelin tires indeed have an edge over their rivals, but, in the case with the Michelin summer model, the Auto Bild tests have already disproved the words of the French tire maker: not only do they fail to outstrip their rivals — they performed significantly worse.

In the Auto Express test, the Michelin Alpin 6 tires proved to be most effective on wet pavement. On dry pavement, their performance came close to that of the best tires, but on snow they turned out to be less stable. Yet another issue with these tires is their increased noise that proved to be the highest on test.

Verdict: A promising debut by Alpin 6 that proved to be very effective on wet pavement. Recommended.

4th place — Dunlop Winter Sport 5

Dunlop Winter Sport 5
Dunlop Winter Sport 5

Since 2015, Winter Sport 5 from Dunlop has steadily occupied the top lines of the final tests of AutoExpress, and 2019 became no exception. This time around, the success of this model was determined by its good performance on snow in Finland, where it only came second best after Goodyear UG Performance+.

These tires scored the fifth place in the key tests on wet pavement, where their balance fell short of the leaders’. In spite of its decent fuel efficiency, poor performance of Dunlop Winter Sport 5 on dry pavement stopped this model from scoring higher lines in the final standings.

Verdict: Quiet and fuel efficient tires, dependable on snow.

5-6th place — Vredestein Wintrac Pro

Vredestein Wintrac Pro
Vredestein Wintrac Pro

Launched in 2018, Vredestein Wintrac Pro performed at its best on asphalt. Its best achievements are two third places on dry pavement, and three fourth places in the wet. In two of the four snow disciplines, it came the seventh. The lack of balance between the properties is evident. In addition, the model’s fuel efficiency leaves much to be desired.

Verdict: This model performs at its absolute best on dry and wet pavement, but its grip on snow, as well as its rolling resistance factor, is yet to be improved.

5-6th place — Falken Eurowinter HS01

Falken Eurowinter HS01
Falken Eurowinter HS01

Falken Eurowinter HS01 surpasses its rivals in terms of hydroplaning resistance, and showed effective performance when it came to wet braking. On snow, the only brand that it outdid was Toyo, although this tire showed a good balance of properties. Yet, in comparison to the best tires on test, its traction is still to be improved.

The weakest point of this model is its high rolling resistance. 63% out of possible 100% mean that this tire consumes about 7% more fuel than Nokian, which won in this discipline.

Verdict: Good on wet pavement, but the rolling resistance issue is yet to be solved.

7th place — Nokian WR Snowproof

Nokian WR Snowproof
Nokian WR Snowproof

The Nokian Tire Company will hardly be happy with the performance of its new WR Snowproof model on… well, on snow! Considering the fact that it demonstrated some decent results on dry pavement, it makes perfect sense to ask just what exact goal the Finnish engineers pursued when they were designing the Snowproof model?

For Nokian Snowproof, the start of its career was anything but success. The seventh place that it scored in this test continues a series of unsuccessful performances: 12th place in Auto Bild test 2019, and 11th place in Auto Motor und Sport test 2019. All the three tests were conducted in the 17-inch fitting diameter. Perhaps, smaller tire sizes will bring out the best in this model.

Nonetheless, the model topped the AE tests for dry braking and fuel efficiency, but the latter, for all intents and purposes, was achieved at the expense of penalty in wet traction.

Verdict: Comes at an attractive price, yet there is no certainty that this Nokian model ensures a well-balanced performance.

8th place — Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3

Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3
Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3

Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3, which appeared on the market in 2013, performed at their best on dry pavement, where one could nevertheless feel the lack of grip, especially if compared to the younger and toothy rivals. In the wet tests, they demonstrated average traction, and they didn’t seem to be able to tackle the Finnish snow at all, which stopped their upward climb in the tournament bracket.

Verdict: Impressive results for an old model, but the new rivals are definitely one step ahead.

9th place — Hankook Winter i*Cept RS2 W452

Hankook Winter i*Cept RS2 W452
Hankook Winter i*Cept RS2 W452

In the two recent Auto Express tests (in 2017 and 2018), these tires scored the second place, and how they ended up plummeting towards the bottom part of the tournament bracket is still a mystery. Yes, the test did involve some new models, but the snow performance of Hankook Winter i*Cept RS2 W452 was always a highlight, and these tires could always claim leadership in «white» disciplines. This year, however, they came only the fifth on snow.

The greatest damage to the model’s image was done by its wet traction performance, where it came the last by the sum of all disciplines, lagging about 13 percent behind the leaders.

Verdict: The unsatisfactory performance on wet pavement got in the way of scoring the former higher lines in the tournament bracket.

10th place — Toyo Snowprox S954

Toyo Snowprox S954
Toyo Snowprox S954

The Toyo Snowprox S954 model is a debutante in the tests conducted by AE, even though it is at least two years old — quite an age by the tire industry standards. Over this time, the rivals have launched new models; the company upgraded the rubber compound in the old model, and it turned out that Snowprox did in fact perform a lot better than the summer tires on test — but it was no match for the new winter rivals.

In all of the snow tests, Toyo Snowprox S954 fell at least 10% short of the leader’s performance. On wet pavement, it did come closer to the top — but the poor grip was hard to cover up. The Toyo tires only came alive on dry pavement, where they showed impressive grip and good steering response.

Fuel efficiency is also an issue with S954 (at least if compared to the best). There’s nothing wrong with Toyo tires, but still there are more efficient options out there.
Verdict: The results demonstrated by Toyo Snowprox S954 look pretty similar to the results of the previous-generation tires. The bar for winter tires has been raised a little bit since that time.

Out of competition

Continental AllSeasonContact

Continental AllSeasonContact
Continental AllSeasonContact

Michelin best described its CrossClimate all-season tires as «triathlete» — which did not win gold in any of the disciplines, yet demonstrated acceptable results in all of them. This definitely worsens the tire’s performance — but some drivers are ready to go for that for the sake of convenience, and when there are price constraints involved.

Continental AllSeasonContact could also be called an exceptional tire, but in the snow tests it came among the latest, falling 7% short of the best models. On wet pavement, it was able to surpass only two winter tires, and two more on dry pavement. On the whole, the experts recognized that the all-season Continental tires are pretty safe for year-round operation, and, what’s more, perfectly match the soft climate of Great Britain.

The summer tires Continental PremiumContact 6

Continental PremiumContact 6
Continental PremiumContact 6

In order to understand just why it is necessary to switch between winter and summer tires, it is enough to see the results in the snow braking tests. The weakest tires fell more than 50% short of the leaders in this discipline, which again goes to show that in summer it’s better to drive on summer tires, just like on winter tires in the wintertime.

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