225/50R17

Teknikens Värld 2023/24: Comprehensive R17 Winter Tire Test - Bridgestone vs. Kontio & More

Winter is unpredictable, and a dependable tire is the first line of defense against treacherous road conditions. From tire durability to unmatched performance, it’s crucial to invest in the best. In light of this, the Swedish magazine Teknikens Värld has provided a comprehensive tire test after conducting an exhaustive test on 18 different winter tire models across multiple categories and price points.

The Background

Previously, renowned tire brands like Bridgestone, Continental, Michelin, Nokian, and Pirelli dominated the Scandinavian market with tires produced in their Russian factories. However, the dynamic has now shifted. A slew of new brands has emerged, marking Michelin's debut with tires produced in Canada.

Volvo V60: The Chosen Vehicle for Tire Testing. Source: teknikensvarld.se
Volvo V60: The Chosen Vehicle for Tire Testing. Source: teknikensvarld.se

With a mission to deliver clarity and transparency to consumers, Teknikens Värld always includes even the most budget-friendly options in their evaluations. This tire performance test brought into focus Bridgestone Blizzak Spike 3’s introduction, boasting a staggering 264 studs. Interestingly, Finland’s private brand Kontio, produced in China, sported a whopping 268 studs, making their performance on icy terrains a subject of immense curiosity.

Performance Metrics

1. Braking: The Quintessential Safety Test

Braking, beyond doubt, forms the foundation of tire safety. It's not just about stopping, but about how efficiently and reliably a tire can halt a vehicle across various terrains:

  • Terrains Tested: Ice, Snow, Dry Asphalt, Wet Asphalt.
  • Top Performers: The studded Goodyear UltraGrip Ice Arctic 2 and the friction-based Continental VikingContact 7 Scandinavian type showcased exemplary performance, especially on treacherous icy and snowy surfaces.

Interesting Insight

The Continental, made of a softer compound, surprisingly surpassed the Goodyear, which is constructed of a stiffer material, on asphalt surfaces.

2. Handling: The Test of Agility

A tire's handling ability gauges its responsiveness and stability:

  • Standout Performer: The Continental VikingContact 7 dominated various conditions, be it snow or ice.
  • Noteworthy Mention: Studded variants like the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 also showcased commendable prowess, particularly on snowy tracks

3. Aquaplaning: The Water Challenge

Aquaplaning resistance is crucial to ensure the tire maintains contact with the road in wet conditions:

  • Best in Class: Bridgestone Blizzak LM005 European type stood tall, paralleled by Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2, both exhibiting excellent resistance.

4. Moose Test: The Unexpected Emergency

This test replicates sudden evasive maneuvers, mimicking the unexpected appearance of obstacles such as a moose:

  • Leading the Pack: Both Michelin and Rotalla European-type tires came out on top, underlining how significantly tires can influence overall vehicle responsiveness and safety

5. Comfort: The Journey's Pleasure

Driving comfort is often underrated but is crucial for longer journeys and urban commutes alike:

  • Cream of the Crop: The Continental Scandinavian and Rotalla European variants were unrivaled in their segment. Their capacity for noise minimization and adept shock absorption set them apart.

6. Economy: Efficiency in Motion

A tire's impact on fuel efficiency is an often overlooked but essential factor in the total cost of ownership:

  • Fuel Saver: The Continental VikingContact 7, devoid of treads, emerged as the most economical choice. Notably, it showcased enhanced rolling resistance, marking a significant improvement from its predecessors.

The Verdict

Unquestionably, the Continental VikingContact 7 emerged as the reigning champion, demonstrating remarkable tire durability, tire performance, and a blend of comfort and economy. With the next-generation VikingContact 8 set to launch next year, the future holds much promise.

Goodyear’s commendable placement with three of their models in the top 5 underscores their commitment to tire safety and performance. However, Nokian tires, known for their winter prowess, faced challenges on asphalt terrains.

The assessment echoed a critical sentiment: safety should never be compromised for cost. Brands like Kontio may offer appealing features, such as a high stud count, but fall short on essential criteria like braking distance on wet asphalt.

In sum, this exhaustive review serves as a lighthouse for those navigating the vast sea of tire options, emphasizing that investing in the best tire brands can be a lifesaver during the chilling winter months.

Results

Here's a concise evaluation of the top winter tires based on thorough testing:

1. Continental / VikingContact 7

Quick Take
89 56

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

  • Pros: Snow braking, snow handling, comfort, economy
  • Cons: Longitudinal aquaplaning resistance
  • Verdict: A standout winter tire, albeit with subpar aquaplaning resistance.

2. Goodyear / UltraGrip Performance 3

Quick Take
89 46

Goodyear UltraGrip Performance 3

  • This tire replaced Goodyear / UltraGrip Performance+
  • Available Sizes in Line: 91
  • Original Equipment (OE) tires for:
    • • Volkswagen Passat NMS II Facelift [2021 .. 2025]
  • Recommended Tire by Tests
  • Year Released: 2023
  • Regions for sale: Europe
Goodyear UltraGrip Performance 3

  • Pros: Balanced performance, wet handling, resistance to longitudinal aquaplaning
  • Cons: Ice braking
  • Verdict: Impressive overall balance, but struggles on very slippery surfaces.

3. Goodyear / UltraGrip Arctic 2

Quick Take
88 53

Goodyear UltraGrip Arctic 2

  • Year Released: 2021
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Goodyear UltraGrip Arctic 2

  • Pros: Balanced performance, snow braking
  • Verdict: Not the quickest on ice but delivers a balanced performance. Studded but still offers decent comfort.

4. Pirelli / Cinturato Winter 2

Quick Take
86 45

Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2

Price/Quality Dry Performance Wet Performance Snow/Ice Performance
  • Year Released: 2021
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2

  • Pros: Controllability on wet pavement, resistance to longitudinal aquaplaning
  • Cons: Ice braking
  • Verdict: Works decently on snow and ice; comparable to summer tires on asphalt.

5. Bridgestone / Blizzak LM005

Quick Take
88 56

Bridgestone Blizzak LM005

Price/Quality Wet Performance Dry Performance Comfort Handling Snow/Ice Performance Treadwear
  • This tire replaced Bridgestone / Blizzak LM001 Evo
  • Available Sizes in Line: 224
  • Original Equipment (OE) tires for:
    • • Audi e-tron [2019 .. 2023]
    • • Volkswagen T-Cross I (C11) [2018 .. 2023]
    • • Audi A3 8Y [2020 .. 2023]
    • • Mercedes-Benz C-Class Br205 [2015 .. 2021]
    • • Volkswagen Caddy V [2020 .. 2023]
    • • Lamborghini Reventon [2007 .. 2009]
    • • Audi Q4 e-tron FZ [2022 .. 2024]
    • • BMW X7 G07 [2018 .. 2022]
    • • Lamborghini Revuelto [2023 .. 2024]
  • Recommended Tire by Tests
  • Year Released: 2019
  • Regions for sale: Canada, Europe, Russia+
Bridgestone Blizzak LM005

  • Pros: Braking on wet and dry pavements, wet handling, resistance to longitudinal aquaplaning
  • Cons: Ice braking
  • Verdict: Excellent overall, with only a slight struggle on ice. A bit higher rolling resistance.

6. Goodyear / UltraGrip Ice 3

Quick Take
N/A 36

Goodyear UltraGrip Ice 3

  • Year Released: 2023
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Goodyear UltraGrip Ice 3

  • Pros: Ice performance, performance on snow
  • Verdict: High grip on ice and snow with satisfactory aquaplaning resistance.

7. Michelin / Alpin 6

Quick Take
85 55
Price/Quality Wet Performance Comfort Dry Performance Handling Snow/Ice Performance Treadwear
  • This tire has been replaced by Michelin / Alpin 7
  • This tire replaced Michelin / Alpin 5
  • Available Sizes in Line: 73
  • Original Equipment (OE) tires for:
    • • Ford Puma II (J2K) [2019 .. 2023]
  • Recommended Tire by Tests
  • Year Released: 2018
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe, Russia+, Japan
Michelin Alpin 6

  • Pros: Handling on wet pavement
  • Cons: Ice braking, ice handling
  • Verdict: Reduced grip on ice due to a stiff rubber compound. Performs well on snow and asphalt.

8. Bridgestone / Blizzak Spike-03

Quick Take
78 40

Bridgestone Blizzak Spike-03

  • Year Released: 2023
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: Europe
Bridgestone Blizzak Spike-03

  • Pros: Ice braking, ice handling
  • Cons: Comfort
  • Verdict: Excels on ice but falls short on other terrains. Noisy with high rolling resistance.

9. 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

  • Pros: Snow braking
  • Cons: Braking on wet pavement
  • Note: Heavier when made in Canada compared to its Chinese counterpart.

10. Nokian / Hakkapeliitta 10

Quick Take
94 58

Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10

  • Year Released: 2021
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: North America, Europe
Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10

  • Pros: Handling on ice
  • Cons: Resistance to longitudinal aquaplaning, comfort

11. Nokian / Hakkapeliitta R5

Quick Take
84 43

Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5

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

  • Pros: Snow braking
  • Cons: Resistance to longitudinal aquaplaning
  • Note: 10-point penalty due to poor aquaplaning resistance.

12. Continental / IceContact 3

Quick Take
86 49

Continental IceContact 3

Handling Dry Performance Wet Performance Snow/Ice Performance
  • Year Released: 2019
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Continental IceContact 3

  • Pros: Snow braking
  • Cons: Performance on ice, economy
  • Verdict: Expected better performance. High rolling resistance for a studded tire.

13. Nexen / Winguard Ice Plus

Quick Take
69 39

Nexen Winguard Ice Plus

Comfort Snow/Ice Performance
  • Year Released: 2018
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Russia+
Nexen Winguard Ice Plus

  • Pros: Snow braking
  • Verdict: A developing tire with potential but currently sits in the mid-range for grip and comfort.

14. Triangle / SnowLink PL01

Quick Take
N/A 18

Triangle SnowLink PL01

  • Available Sizes in Line: 41
  • Year Released: 2015
  • Regions for sale: Canada, Europe, Russia+
Triangle SnowLink PL01

  • Pros: Price, economy
  • Cons: Ice handling
  • Verdict: Budget-friendly but offers lower performance levels. However, it does have low rolling resistance and good comfort.

15. Kumho / WinterCraft ice Wi32

Quick Take
N/A 26

Kumho WinterCraft ice Wi32

  • Year Released: 2021
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Kumho WinterCraft ice Wi32

  • Cons: Controllability on wet pavement, resistance to longitudinal aquaplaning, comfort
  • Verdict: Refinements remain needed. Studded design improves ice grip but reduces asphalt performance.

16. Kontio / IcePaw

Quick Take
N/A 19

Kontio IcePaw

  • Available Sizes in Line: 1
  • Year Released: 2020
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Kontio IcePaw

  • Cons: Braking on wet and dry pavements, economy
  • Verdict: While it performs decently on snow and ice, it struggles on wet surfaces and has a high rolling resistance.

17. Winrun / Winter-Max S1 WR60

Quick Take
N/A 28

Winrun Winter-Max S1 WR60

  • Available Sizes in Line: 16
  • Year Released: 2022
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Winrun Winter-Max S1 WR60

  • Cons: Performance on ice, comfort, economy
  • Verdict: Despite large stud protrusion, the tire's performance on ice is subpar. It ranks low in comfort, making it one of the least recommended tires on the market.

18. Rotalla / S210

Quick Take
N/A 19
  • Available Sizes in Line: 84
  • Year Released: 2014
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe, Russia+
Rotalla S210

  • Pros: Price, course stability
  • Cons: Ice braking, snow braking, handling on ice, snow handling
  • Verdict: An inexpensive option that seems to be a converted summer model. Its traction on icy and snowy terrains is significantly lacking, posing a potential safety risk.

This comprehensive ranking offers consumers insights into the performance, strengths, and weaknesses of the most popular winter tires on the market. Making an informed decision is paramount to ensure optimal safety and performance during harsh winter conditions.