In the run-up to the first snowfalls and really low temperatures, the French publication L’Argus announced the results of the 205/55 R16 winter tire test. The test involved only «crème de la crème» — premium brand tire models, which allowed the experts to announce their own version of the best winter tires for 2019/2020 season.
List of models tested:
- Continental WinterContact TS 860
- Dunlop Winter Sport 5
- Goodyear UltraGrip 9
- Michelin Alpin 6
- Nokian WR D4
- Pirelli Cinturato Winter
The Bridgestone Blizzak LM001 model could not take part in this test because at that moment, in the beginning of 2019, it was not yet available retail.
All the tests were made with a Volkswagen Golf VII 1.4 TSI 150; the tires were pumped up to 2.2 bar in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
All of the measurements were taken at Goodyear test facilities in January 2019. The snow tests were made in Switzerland not far away from Saint Moritz, while the asphalt tests were made in the south of France in Mireval.
The tires’ behavior on the road directly affects the driver’s feeling of safety. The models Continental WinterContact TS 860 and Nokian WR D4 offer not only the best performance but also the best driving experience. Lateral grip, stability, road holding ability… they were head and shoulders above the competition.
A few laps around a wet circle can help you to get a quick impression of the tires’ quality. However, this time around detecting the best models turned out to be quite a difficult thing to do because the results of the first four models were very close to each other. Still, Nokian WR D4 and Pirelli Cinturato Winter scored lower lines in the final standings due to their weaker traction.
Just like on wet pavement, some of the results shown by the tires in the dry were virtually identical. The top three — Dunlop Winter Sport 5, Goodyear UltraGrip 9, and Michelin Alpin 6 demonstrated really good performance.
The final standings
As the test experts noted, this was their most tense tire test ever. For the first time on record, the L’Argus test team could not come across a single bad tire model, which is, of course, a pleasant surprise.
The two leaders, Continental and Goodyear, demonstrated the best-balanced performance on various types of surfaces. At the same time, the testers were quite surprised to see Michelin and Nokian models at the bottom of the tournament bracket. The former is understood (Michelin is a French brand, and the test team’s pride must have been hurt), but the latter — why the tires by a company that specializes in fact in developing winter tires ended up at the bottom of the bill — is a question that is hard to answer.
The results that the tires demonstrated in individual disciplines indicate their strong and weak sides. For example, if you are going to drive chiefly on dry roads, Goodyear and Michelin will probably be the best choice.
If you drive mostly on wet roads, Continental and Goodyear will be your best friends. And, finally, for those who drive almost every day on snowy roads in the wintertime, the test experts recommend Continental and Nokian.
The L’Argus tire test does not include either wear or rolling resistance test. That’s why against the background of other motoring publications it looks somewhat incomplete. Had these two parameters, which influence both the operating costs (frequency of tire replacement, fuel consumption), and the environmental performance (tire production and recycling, fuel efficiency) been addressed, the final ranking might have looked slightly different.
Another comment — the test definitely lacked new models, such as Goodyear UltraGrip 9+ or Nokian WR Snowproof. For the Finnish model, hardly anything would have changed after a serious of failures in other tests, but Ultra Grip 9+ could have arguably claimed the first prize, like it did in the previous winter tire tests 2019/2020.