Due to the fact that European winters become milder and milder, all-season tires sell better and better in this region. But are these tires a good choice or maybe a compromise in the conditions of global warming? This question was investigated by the expert groups of the German vehicle inspection organization GTÜ, German motoring organization ACE, and Austrian motoring club ARBÖ.
They tested eight all-season tire models in the size of 205/60 R16, which fits both midsized sedans, such as BMW 3 and Audi A4, and for vans, such as Peugeot Partner and Citroën Berlingo, as well as for minivans, such as Renault Scenic and VW Sharan.
List of models tested:
- Bridgestone Weather Control A005
- Continental AllSeasonContact
- Fulda MultiControl
- Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-2
- Hankook Kinergy 4S2 H750
- Michelin CrossClimate+
- Nexen N’Blue 4Season
- Nokian Weatherproof
- Continental WinterContact TS860 — winter tires (out of competition)
- Dunlop Sport BluResponse — summer tires (out of competition)
The comparative test of all-season tires 2019 was conducted in two countries; in Finland at a temperature about — 15°C, on the snowy roads of Nokian’s White Hell test facility, and in Austria near Vienna, at 22–26°C (disciplines on wet and dry pavement). The test cars were four Citroën Berlingos. All the tires were bought anonymously in December 2018.
For comparing the behaviors of the all-season and dedicated seasonal tires, the test involved a winter (Continental WinterContact TS860) and a summer (Dunlop Sport BluResponse) tire models.
Summer tires may become lethal on snow and ice
It comes as no surprise that the summer tires did not pass the snow tests because they could not even climb a small incline on the test track! The Berlingo would turn around its axis, and then slide down. Even in the acceleration and braking tests, the results shown by the summer tires were so poor that the experts gave them zero points. We repeat for the umpteenth time that summer tires on winter roads can be fatal, and, quite possibly, not for you alone!
Lack of grip on snow leads to an increase in the braking distance
However sad this may sound, the traction delivered by virtually all of the all-season tires in the «white» tests fell short of the level of the specialized winter tires. Particularly disappointing for the test experts were Michelin Crossclimate+, Bridgestone Weather Control A005, and Nexen N’Blue 4Season.
Fulda Multicontrol, however, became the lucky exception, all the more so because it finished the second, which won it silver in the test. Totally, this model scored two points more in the snow disciplines than the specialized winter tires did. And not just any winter tires — it surpassed Continental WinterContact TS860, the winner of the European-type winter tire test 2018. The all-season tire «pulled it through» thanks to its confident traction and effective braking.
It’s all different in summer operating conditions
As an all-season tire in the true sense of this term, the Fulda product is less than perfect. In the summer conditions, both on dry and wet pavement, this tire was one of the worst. On the whole, in the temperature range of 22–26°C, the all-season tires’ bias began to clearly show through. For example, Bridgestone Weather Control A005, one of the worst models on snow, surpassed the summer tires in the wet pavement tests.
In other words, many of all-season tires are biased towards the winter or the summer side, says the technical expert of Shina Guide. On the other hand, diversity of models is a good thing, because it gives you an opportunity to choose the tires that best fit your operation conditions.
The test winner lives up to its name
Continental AllSeasonContact is most of all suited for being used on snow, as well as wet and dry pavement. On wet pavement, these tires brake and handle just like winter tires, and on dry asphalt they behave like summer ones, which is definitely a plus. In the hydroplaning test, the best performance was demonstrated by the winter model. Generally, it was always easy for the test experts to predict how AllSeasonContact would handle this or that challenge.
How to score the third place in the tests
Probably, it was Nokian Weatherproof that demonstrated the best-balanced performance in different operation conditions, but one must admit that generally its traction falls short of the test leader’s.
For Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-2, snow and ice are not exactly the kind of environment that these tires tackle with ease. It was the «white» tests that stopped this model from scoring higher lines in the final standings.
«Recommended» on average
The gap between the results shown by the tires from the fifth to the seventh place is neglectable. Conditionally, this trio is headed by the all-season model Hankook Kinergy 4S 2 (H750). It is followed by Michelin Crossclimate+ and Bridgestone Weather Control A005.
Nexen N’Blue 4Season fell significantly short of its rivals, but it would be wrong to call this gap catastrophic, even though the recommendation from the test group is «conditional».
The results of the 205/60 R16 all-season tire test conducted by GTÜ/ACE/ARBÖ yet again prove: those who go for all-season tires, must realize that they go for a compromise and must make their informed choice based on the weather conditions, in which they are the most likely to drive.
At the same time, the opinion of the ARBÖ technical coordinator looks like this: «Many all-season tires are in fact a serious alternative to winter and summer specialized tires. Of course, they all have their pros and cons, depending on the kind of pavement that they are used upon, but generally speaking, we can recommend seven of the eight tested models».
In 2019, the ultimate answer to this question will be given by the large all-season tire test from Auto Bild, whose results will be published in the nearest future. To heighten your interest, we will only say here that Fulda Multicontrol and Nokian Weatherproof in the size 225/45 R17 could not make it to the final round.