205/55R16

Moottori 2022: Studless Winter Tire Test R16

The Finnish magazine decided to check whether Asian tire makers can offer really good tires for a Nordic winter.

List of models tested:

The ban for importing tires from Russia and the deficit of source materials led to the fact that, according to analysts, the Finnish tire market is likely to be faced with a deficit of winter tires, particularly of smaller sizes, because the tire manufacturers, who relocate their production facilities from the Russian federation to other countries, invest first of all into manufacturing large-size tires that enjoy bigger popularity. In turn, the shortage of studded tires of some small sizes may cause even the most devoted fans of this type of tires in Finland to be forced to switch to friction tires, and in order to determine the best options in this segment, the local publication Moottori conducted its next test.

The tires were tested using Volkswagen Golf.
The tires were tested using Volkswagen Golf.

In the new test of tires in size 205/55 R16, it was decided to resume the eternal struggle between East and West, and the test involved four tire models from manufacturers from Europe and the USA and four from brands from Asia; one Asian tire was eventually able to make a pleasant surprise to the testers.

There were no surprises about the tire that scored the first place, and the winner was the new Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5, which, according to the experts «was performing in its own class». In the ice tests, the new model of the season showed the best grip and the best handling response, and in the braking test it was only inferior to the Michelin X–Ice Snow. At the same time, on the snow-covered track, the Nokian model was second to none, and won in all of the disciplines.

«On ice, the differences in the performance by the worst and the best tires turned out to be very significant — noted the representative of Moottori, Jussi Saarinen — For example, the braking distance demonstrated by the Federal tire, which was the worst in terms of braking, was 28% longer than that of the Michelin.»

In the wet braking test, the Nokian model came only fifth, and the obvious leader in this discipline was the Goodyear UltraGrip Ice 2. The best wet handling response was demonstrated by the Goodyear, Nokian and Continental VikingContact 7, while in the dry braking test the best results were shown by the Nokian model, followed by the Falken Winterpeak F-Snow 1 and Toyo Observe Gsi-6 HP.

The second line in the final standings was scored by the Michelin model, which was also predictable, but the bronze was unexpectedly won by the Falken tire, which surpassed the Continental and Goodyear, who had to settle for sharing the fourth line of the tournament bracket. The experts noted that the Falken’s high chart position testifies to the fact that the Asian tire makers are also capable of making really good tires for the Nordic winter, and the tire produced by Japan’s Sumitomo came third in all of the ice disciplines — acceleration, braking, and handling performance. In turn, the Continental tire disappointed the testers with its relatively weak ice grip, while its snow performance was on a habitually high level; the Goodyear tire was particularly good on wet pavement.

The last three lines were occupied by the Kumho WinterCraft Ice Wi51, Toyo and Federal Himalaya Iceo, falling behind the leaders by a large margin. At the same time, the Kumho tire will be the most preferable choice out of this trio because both Federal and Toyo are quite inferior to it, particularly on ice.

«On snow, the differences between tires often manifest in the activation of the ESC on a slalom track — if the tire cannot ensure adequate traction, the electronic system has to intervene at every corner — Saarinen noted. — By and large, the test showed that the Scandinavian-type friction tires can be very effective in the conditions of Scandinavian winter, but you still need to select them very carefully.»

1st place: Nokian / Hakkapeliitta R5

Quick Take
N/A 41

Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5

  • Year Released: 2022
  • Regions for sale: North America, Europe, Russia+
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5

  • Very strong traction, excellent handling response, and a short braking distance on snow and ice
  • Good handling response in the wet
  • Short braking distance on dry pavement
  • Relatively long braking distance on wet pavement

2nd place: Michelin / X-Ice Snow

Quick Take
82 57

Michelin X-Ice Snow

Snow/Ice Performance Comfort Handling Dry Performance Wet Performance Treadwear
  • Year Released: 2020
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe, Russia+, Japan, China
Michelin X-Ice Snow

  • Very short braking distance and good overall ice traction

3rd place: Falken / Winterpeak F-Snow 1

Quick Take
N/A 31

Falken Winterpeak F-Snow 1

  • Available Sizes in Line: 31
  • Year Released: 2021
  • Regions for sale: Europe
Falken Winterpeak F-Snow 1

  • Short braking distance, strong traction, and good handling response on ice
  • Short braking distance on dry pavement

4th place: Continental / VikingContact 7

Quick Take
90 58

Continental VikingContact 7

Price/Quality Comfort Snow/Ice Performance Dry Performance Wet Performance Handling Treadwear
  • Year Released: 2018
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe, Russia+, East Asia
Continental VikingContact 7

  • Good snow performance
  • Good handling response in the wet
  • Relatively weak grip on ice

4th place: Goodyear / UltraGrip Ice 2

Quick Take
87 42

Goodyear UltraGrip Ice 2

Comfort Dry Performance Wet Performance Snow/Ice Performance Handling
  • Year Released: 2014
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Goodyear UltraGrip Ice 2

  • Short stopping distance and good handling response on wet pavement

6th place: Kumho / WinterCraft Wi51

Quick Take
N/A 30

Kumho WinterCraft Wi51

  • Available Sizes in Line: 45
  • Year Released: 2020
  • Regions for sale: Europe
Kumho WinterCraft Wi51

  • Behind the leaders in all performance areas

7th place: Toyo / Observe GSi-6

Quick Take
66 39

Toyo Observe GSi-6

Comfort Dry Performance Snow/Ice Performance Treadwear Handling Wet Performance
  • Year Released: 2018
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe, Russia+, Japan, China
Toyo Observe GSi-6

  • Short braking distance on dry pavement
  • Weak performance on ice

8th place: Federal / Himalaya ICEO

Quick Take
N/A 15

Federal Himalaya ICEO

  • Available Sizes in Line: 36
  • Year Released: 2012
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada
Federal Himalaya ICEO

  • Very long braking distance and poor ice performance overall

Price