Teknikens Värld 2019: Large Winter Tire Test - 225/50 R17

December 26, 2019
Teknikens Värld 2019: Large Winter Tire Test - 225/50 R17

The Swedish motoring magazine tested 18 models of winter tires in three categories.

List of models tested:

The fact that in Scandinavia, just as in all of the northern countries in general, one must drive on dedicated winter tires in the wintertime, is obvious to everyone who cares about his own and other people’s safety, yet this year something has changed, and this something will make it a lot easier for the manufacturers of the so-called all-season tires to sell their product on the Scandinavian market.

Since January 1, 2019, Scandinavian Tire & Rim Organization (STRO) stopped publishing the list of winter tires approved for being used in Sweden and Norway in winter. As the STRO spokesman noted, this list, which was published for years, was very useful for the consumers, proving them with important information. When this list first came out in the mid 1990’s, there were no special signs or icons embossed on the tires’ sidewalls that could say which tires could be used in the conditions of northern winter, and which could not. Now there is a three-peak icon (3PMSF) that performs this function, which essentially makes the STRO list redundant.

The list used to be formed with the input from the manufacturers and independent experts, and this meant, among other things, that Michelin, for example, could not get the approval for its Michelin CrossClimate model, even though it was indeed marketed as an all-season tire. Now the rules have changed, and any tires bearing the 3PMSF icon can be considered fit to be used in the wintertime, i.e. Michelin CrossClimate can be legally used in winter (even in spite of the fact that Michelin itself has recently made reservations about the seasonal character of this tire line). However, it’s not just about Michelin but about all new-generation all-season tires, which, in accordance with the trend of today, very often get the snowflake icon. The new TV test did not, of course, involve tires of this category but this may change in the future because in the recent tire tests by Test World, for example, these tires were already present.

Wet surface

In the new test, the Swedish magazine was testing tires of size 225/50 R17, and not the usual 205/55 R16. It was the second time in 20 years that TV tested tires with a 17-inch fitting diameter, and this has to do with the fact that the sizes of summer tires keep growing along with the summer ones. We can also add that the test car — Volvo V60 — cannot be equipped with tires with a fitting diameter of less than 17 inches.

The tests involved eight spiked tires, six studless tires of the Nordic type, and four winter tires made for the Central Europe, all the three types traditionally clashing in the final standings. By doing this, TV demonstrated one more time which differences exist between the tires of these categories.

The tests were performed on snow, ice, and asphalt because winter tires are expected to show adequate behavior on all types of road surfaces. All of the tires were rated in accordance with one and the same scale, which makes it possible to compare them directly. The snow and ice tests were performed this time around in the Swedish city of Arvidsjaur lying a little south of the Arctic Circle; the wet pavement tests were performed in the city of Gislaved, where the test track was equipped with sprinkling equipment. The experts note that, possibly, this is the only test facility where you are allowed to conduct tests of spiked tires without having to remove the spikes from them.

Snow surface

The scores on ice and snow were given on a 20-point scale; on asphalt — on 20-point scale because the winter performance still remains a priority.

Braking Efficiency Tests

Based on the results of the TV tests of the previous years, one could expect that in the first part of the tests the situation will be pretty much the same with the top places being scored by spiked tires (because the scores on ice and snow were by default higher than on asphalt). It turned out as much, with the best braking performance demonstrated by the Continental tire, which was also praised for its exceptional grip on snow and ice as well. The best among the tires of the Nordic type became Nokian, and among the European tires — the low-budget Delinte, which came as a little bit of a surprise. In addition, the Delinte model demonstrated a striking balance between its driving properties on various types of surfaces and made quite good grades.

Yet another model that stood out against the background of the other tires, only in the negative sense of the word, was Kormoran (also available under the brand names of Riken, Strial, Taurus, and Tigar), which had extremely weak grip on ice, and great scores on asphalt. Such lack of balance, as the TV experts note, is absolutely unacceptable for spiked tires because who will buy tires of this type, based solely on their driving performance on asphalt?

Yet another point of interest is the fact that this year the results of the wet pavement tests were more diverse than they used to be. Probably, it has something to do with the fact that the tests involved wider tires, which have more difficulties draining the water to the sides, which often lead to an increase in the braking distance.

Braking Efficiency Tests
Brand / Model Tire type Ice Snow Wet Surface Dry Surface Total

Continental

Studdable

20

20

4

6

50

Gislaved

Studdable

18

20

3

5

46

Goodyear

Studdable

16

18

4

6

44

Michelin

Studdable

16

18

3

6

43

Nokian

Nordic 

16

16

3

7

42

Bridgestone

Studdable

14

16

4

7

41

Continental

Nordic

16

18

1

6

41

Delinte

European 

14

14

6

7

41

Nexen

Nordic

14

16

3

7

40

Linglong

Nordic

14

16

2

7

39

Nokian

Studdable

14

16

3

6

39

Nordman

Studdable

14

16

2

7

39

Continental

European 

6

14

9

9

38

Michelin

Nordic

14

16

2

6

38

Michelin

European 

6

12

10

10

38

Goodyear

European 

2

14

9

10

35

Kormoran

Studdable

6

14

7

8

35

Federal

Nordic

8

16

2

8

34

Handling Tests

HANDLING TESTS

Results of the spiked tires

There are no doubts that when it was designing the third-generation IceContact tire, Continental placed its bets on the ice and snow traction above everything else. The efforts were not in vain, and now in these conditions the Continental model does surpass all the other tires thanks to its truly impressive level of traction. Last year’s new model from Michelin, which at the moment was the best in terms of ice handling, delivered a great performance this year as well, but Continental raises the bar even higher. What came as a surprise, however, were the relatively low points scored by the Nokian model that demonstrated an obvious lack of traction. So obvious that it was surpassed on ice by the budget-friendly Nordman from the same tire maker. The worst model among the spiked tires turned out to be Kormoran that occupied the last place in the final standings. According to the test experts, the traction delivered by these tires was so weak that these tires were «totally useless».

On snow, Continental was again head and shoulders above all of its rivals, which, for the sole exception of Kormoran, also handled this part of the test rather adequately. On wet pavement, the differences between the tires were minimal, with only Kormoran standing out thanks to its slightly higher grades this time. But then again, this does not make up for such poor grip on ice and snow that it demonstrated earlier. Generally, all of the spiked tires performed pretty much on the same level, their traction falling a bit short of the tires of the two other categories. It is also worth mentioning that both of the spiked models from Nokian, which used to have serious issues with wet pavement, made pretty good grades this time around.

Results of studless tires of the Nordic type

The balance of power among the tires of this class was pretty obvious. The undisputed leader is Continental with Nokian and Michelin following closely behind and the three other tires, which are all significantly less expensive, occupying the bottom lines of the tournament bracket. The studless Continental tires were indeed able to demonstrate a truly outstanding grip on ice, where their traction was even higher than that of some of the spiked tires, and, still more importantly, in the tests with different temperature conditions. Now add to this great grip while cornering and the ability to tackle very high loads.

On snow, the Continental tires win again thanks to their well-balanced performance, while the wet pavement tests were won by the Nokian model, which became the best in its class by demonstrating steering response better than all of its rivals. Tires of this category feature a softer tread compound because they do not need to hold the spikes, and this does make a difference to their behavior on asphalt. The Nokian tires are far from the European type but they still were able to make pretty good grades on wet pavement.

The tires of the European type are fundamentally different in terms of their performance, the best of them — Continental, Goodyear, and Michelin — behaving exactly as they were expected to, meaning, demonstrating relatively poor performance on ice, which has to do with their extra rigidity. At the same time, the inexpensive Delinte made quite a surprise, their grip on ice being as strong as that of some of the spiked tires. On snow, the differences grew less prominent, yet Delinte was still able to maintain its leading position in its class. But then again, all the four tires made good grades.

On wet pavement, the European tires get an edge thanks to their rigidity, and here their behavior is closer to that of the summer tires. At least, this applies to the Continental model that clearly demonstrated a better handling response than all the other tires. Goodyear and Michelin fall slightly behind, while the Chinese Delinte demonstrated an unpredictable and unsafe performance, showing such poor results that got a verdict of «thoroughly not recommended».

Handling Tests
Brand / Model Tire type Ice Snow Wet Surface Total

Continental

Studdable

20

20

5

45

Continental

Nordic

20

18

5

43

Gislaved

Studdable

16

18

5

39

Goodyear

Studdable

16

18

5

39

Michelin

Studdable

16

18

5

39

Nokian

Nordic

16

16

6

38

Michelin

Nordic

16

14

5

35

Nokian

Studdable

10

18

6

34

Nordman

Studdable

12

16

6

34

Delinte

European 

14

16

3

33

Continental

European 

8

14

10

32

Goodyear

European 

8

14

9

31

Michelin

European 

8

14

9

31

Bridgestone

Studdable

8

16

5

29

Nexen

Nordic

8

16

5

29

Federal

Nordic

6

16

4

26

Linglong

Nordic

8

14

4

26

Kormoran

Studdable

2

14

7

23

Hydroplaning Resistance

hydroplaning resistance
Hydroplaning resistance

The more rigid the compound, the more open the tread design, and, consequently, the higher the tire’s hydroplaning resistance. For this reason, year after year the first places in this discipline are scored by the tires of the European type that are closer to summer tires in terms of water evacuation.

The differences between the best and the worst tires in this particular test were huge, and it is also worth mentioning that the Delinte model, which had a very short braking distance on wet pavement, was only able to perform on the level of Scandinavian tires.

With the weird lack of balance of its properties, the spiked Kormoran model drew the experts’ attention yet again by surprisingly demonstrating the best performance in its class. Yet this still does not make up for its poor grades on ice. Possibly, this result was due to the fact that this tire got its tread design from the studless Kormoran snow model that refers to the European type of tires.

The worst of all the contestants in this discipline turned out to be the high-end tire Nordic models from Nokian and Continental, and their results yet again remind us just how difficult it is to make one and the same tire ensure good traction on snow and ice, at the same time effectively evacuating water on wet pavement. According to the experts, they have not yet seen a single tire of this category that would combine all of these properties.

TV also emphasizes that tires with good hydroplaning resistance are also likely to be able to handle slush-planning with ease, which was confirmed by the previous tests. Today, the slush tire tests are not performed anymore because it is very hard to ensure the consistency of results in them.

Hydroplaning Resistance
Brand / Model Tire type Rate of grip loss, km/h. Points

Continental

European 

74,3

10

Goodyear

European 

73,5

10

Michelin

European 

74,0

10

Kormoran

Studdable

64,1

7

Delinte

European 

59,6

5

Goodyear

Studdable

57,2

4

Continental

Studdable

56,8

4

Gislaved

Studdable

55,7

3

Nordman

Studdable

55,7

3

Federal

Nordic

55,4

3

Nokian

Studdable

55,3

3

Nexen

Nordic

55,2

3

Bridgestone

Studdable

54,2

2

Linglong

Nordic

53,9

2

Michelin

Nordic

53,6

2

Michelin

Studdable

53,5

2

Nokian

Nordic

52,9

1

Continental

Nordic

52,1

1

The elk test

The elk test is essentially a very specific emergency maneuver when the pilot abruptly swerves to the left lane and then, 11 meters later, just as abruptly returns the vehicle to the original lane. Initially, Volvo V60 approached the start of the section at a speed slightly under 70 km/h, which does not sound like much if you drive down the highway, yet this speed turned out to be much too high for such maneuver. So high that very few tires were capable of tackling this task in such conditions!

THE ELK TEST
The elk test

The difference between the maximum speed of the worst and the best tires on test was 9 km/h, with the European-type Continental and Michelin models being the best. This victory comes quite expectable but it is also worth mentioning that the best of Scandinavian tires fell short only a little. The experts are also emphasizing that this few kilometers’ difference is in fact a lot and that it feels quite strongly while driving.

The whole bottom part of the tournament bracket was occupied by the spiked tires, which is quite unusual. What is also with mentioning is the poor stability of the new spiked Continental model that felt too soft and was prone to understeer. «This is not what we expected from this brand new model» — the TV spokesman said, adding that the spiked Michelin and Bridgestone tires also had similar issues, only to a smaller extent. «This is not what we expected from this brand new model» — the TV spokesman said, adding that the spiked Michelin and Bridgestone tires also had similar issues, only to a smaller extent.

Brand / Model Tire type Maximum Speed, km/h. Points

Continental

European 

71

10

Michelin

European 

71

10

Goodyear

European 

70

9

Federal

Nordic

69

8

Michelin

Nordic

68

7

Delinte

European 

67

6

Nexen

Nordic

67

6

Nordman

Studdable

67

6

Linglong

Nordic

66

5

Nokian

Nordic

66

5

Gislaved

Studdable

65

4

Goodyear

Studdable

65

4

Nokian

Studdable

65

4

Continental

Nordic

65

4

Bridgestone

Studdable

64

3

Michelin

Studdable

64

3

Continental

Studdable

63

2

Kormoran

Studdable

62

1

Comfort

Comfort was the only parameter that was evaluated on a solely subjective basis. Ultimately, the whole responsibility was laid upon the pilot to assess the noise level of the tires both on the test track and on the usual roads, including worn-out and pebbled surfaces. Ultimately, the whole responsibility was laid upon the pilot to assess the noise level of the tires both on the test track and on the usual roads, including worn-out and gravel surfaces. The cruise control feature was used, and the testers invited the same pilot that has been involved in these tests since 2001.

The very notion of riding comfort is extremely wide, yet this time around there were no problems with detecting the winner, and the title of the most comfortable tire on test went to the studless Continental model of the Nordic type. And, curiously, its main competitive advantage, which is also considered in this discipline, was its road holding ability. This term implies the tire’s ability to keep the car moving straight on its course without the necessity to make steering adjustments, and tires with a good road holding ability indeed make the ride much more comfortable and pleasant. Yet another strong side of Continental is its good handling feedback, and, besides, it absorbs the shock from the road bumps, providing extra acoustic comfort. It must be said that this tire model was named to be the most comfortable in last year’s test, when tires in the size of 205/55 R16 were compared, meaning, Continental indeed did a great job in this direction.

The worst grades for the tires of the Scandinavian type went to the Lingling model, which demonstrated poor road holding ability and a generally unstable behavior, losing track after hitting road bumps, large and small. In addition, Linglong demonstrated a high level of noise emission.

The last place of all the tires on test was scored by the spiked Kormoran that was very noisy regardless of the road surface. It is also characterized by an unstable behavior, including on totally even surface. In addition, Kormoran won’t ride in a straight line, and when the shock absorbing performance on large bumps was evaluated, it also tackled this task worse than the other tires on test. In other words, there is nothing positive to say about them, judging by the results of the tests.

An unpleasant surprise were the low grades of the new spiked Continental model, which also demonstrated average road holding ability and unstable behavior, which the experts attributed to the decrease in the rigidity of the tire’s construction. As was already said, creating the perfect balance between the tire’s characteristics on snow, ice, and asphalt is a very challenging thing to do, and Continental failed to do that as well, because its new spikes, as TV noted, do not meet any of the stability requirements.

Environment

ENVIRONMENT

While it has been quite a long time since TV started evaluating the fuel efficiency of the tires, measuring their rolling resistance in laboratory tests (and removing the spikes) seven years ago the magazine got the opportunity to test this parameter in the real world and evaluate how long the car can go with a certain amount of fuel on these or those tires.

The difference between the best and the worst tires amounted to 4.8% of fuel consumption, the last place scored by the spiked Gislaved, with which the consumption was 5.855l/100km. The results of the most economical tires — Nokian, Scandinavian type — is 5.58l/100km, and it must be said that this Finnish tire maker maintains the traditional of manufacturing winter tires with low rolling resistance. Compared to Gislaved, the Nokian tires can save up 82.5 liters of fuel during 30000 km.

Brand / Model Tire type Maximum Speed, km/h. Points

Nokian

Nordic

0,5580

10

Goodyear

Studdable

0,5605

9

Linglong

Nordic

0,5656

8

Nexen

Nordic

0,5682

8

Bridgestone

Studdable

0,5701

7

Nokian

Studdable

0,5708

7

Goodyear

European 

0,5721

7

Federal

Nordic

0,5734

6

Continental

Nordic

0,5747

6

Delinte

European 

0,5747

6

Michelin

Studdable

0,5754

6

Nordman

Studdable

0,5787

6

Kormoran

Studdable

0,5806

5

Continental

Studdable

0,5814

5

Michelin

Nordic

0,5841

4

Continental

European 

0,5841

4

Michelin

European 

0,5841

4

Gislaved

Studdable

0,5855

4

The Verdict

The first TV winter tire test 225/50 R17 ended up in almost complete domination of Continental, whose model won in all the three categories. The best model in the final standings was Continental IceContact 3, but the experts noted that the situation was far from unambiguous. Of course, it makes perfect sense to place your priorities on the winter driving characteristics when designing new tires of this type, and it is quite possible that the Continental was the most effective model on snow and ice in the entire history of TV tests. One way or another, even though such setting of priorities does make the tires perfect for the residents of northern regions who inevitably drive on snow and ice in the wintertime, many other drivers still get to drive on most diverse types of surfaces in winter, including dry and wet pavement, and for those the best option would be the tires with a carefully calculated balance of characteristics.

Although the Continental model did become the leader of the test, it incurred criticism from the TV editorial office, which mainly had to do with the fact that it did not have a good road holding ability on dry pavement, its behavior being temperamental, which, according to the experts, was not at all the case with the previous model — Continental IceContact 2.

Teknikens Värld: Large 225/50 R17 Winter Tire Test (2019)
Teknikens Värld: Large 225/50 R17 Winter Tire Test (2019)

In last year’s test (which involved tires in size 205/55 R16), the spiked Continental tires of the second generation demonstrated a much better performance in terms of road holding ability. Besides, during that test, the top three tires showed virtually the same results, and this time the gap was more prominent, and the Continental model could make a leap forward precisely thanks to its accent on ice and snow traction, enhance at the expense of sacrificing other characteristics, and we must keep that in mind.

The best of the studless tires of the Nordic type is again the Continental model this year, yet it combines great traction on snow and ice with good riding comfort, and not just any riding comfort but the best riding comfort on test. The manufacturer is the same but these tires also demonstrate a great road holding ability, in spite of the fact that they are made of very soft tread compound. Yet again, however, it must be borne in mind that tires of this category may have issues with hydroplaning and slush-planing.

The TV spokesman also added that the price range of the 225/50 R17 tires was much wider than that of 205/55 R16, and you may find it worth your while spending some time online in order to find the best deal.

1st place: Continental IceContact 3
Continental IceContact 3
Continental IceContact 3

Positive:

  • Exceptionally high grip and great handling response on snow and ice

Negative:

  • Less-than-perfect road holding ability that influences the riding comfort (falls short of the previous-generation tires in this respect)
  • High price.

The winner among the spiked tires.

2nd place: Continental VikingContact 7
Continental VikingContact 7
Continental VikingContact 7

Positive:

  • Very good grip on ice and snow.
  • Very good road holding ability.
  • The best riding comfort.

Negative:

  • Relatively weak results on wet pavement

The winner among the studless tires of the Scandinavian type.

2nd place: Goodyear UltraGrip Ice Arctic
Goodyear UltraGrip Ice Arctic
Goodyear UltraGrip Ice Arctic

Positive:

  • Well-balanced performance and absence of any prominent drawbacks.
  • Great handling response in any weather conditions.
  • Low rolling resistance.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
4th place: Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3

Positive:

  • Great handling response on snow and ice
  • The lowest rolling resistance on test

Negative:

  • In some of the disciplines, the soft tread compound made a negative difference, for example, in the hydroplaning resistance test
5th place: Continental WinterContact TS 860
Continental WinterContact TS 860
Continental WinterContact TS 860

Positive: 

  • Great handling in the wet and in the dry
  • Great riding comfort

Negative:

  • Relatively weak results on snow and ice as compared to the spiked tire of the same brand (which is, after all, quite expectable)

The winner among the studless tires of the European type.

5th place: Gislaved Nord*Frost 200
Gislaved Nord*Frost 200
Gislaved Nord*Frost 200

Positive: 

  • Great handling response on snow and ice
  • Relatively inexpensive

Negative: 

  • Low riding comfort
5th place: Michelin Alpin 6
Michelin Alpin 6
Michelin Alpin 6

Positive: 

  • Acceptable performance on snow
  • Particularly great results on wet pavement
  • Great riding comfort

Negative: 

  • Weak performance on ice
8th place: Goodyear Ultragrip Performance Gen-1
Goodyear Ultragrip Performance Gen-1
Goodyear Ultragrip Performance Gen-1

Positive:  

  • Excellent hydroplaning resistance

Negative:

  • The longest braking distance on ice among all the tires
8th place: Michelin X–Ice North 4
Michelin X–Ice North 4
Michelin X–Ice North 4

Positive:  

  • Good results on snow and ice (the fact that Michelin did not score the first place only speaks about how tough the competition was this year)

Negative:

  • Long braking distance on wet pavement
  • Poor hydroplaning resistance
  • Weak results in the elk test
10th place: Delinte WD6
Delinte WD6
Delinte WD6

Positive:  

  • Surprisingly good results for a cheap Chinese tire
  • Ice and snow performance on a par with the tires of the Scandinavian type

Negative:

  • Weak results on asphalt

11th place: 
Michelin X-ice Xi3

Positive:  

  • A time-tested tire, soon to be replaced by a new model
  • Good performance on snow and ice
  • The result of the elk test better than was expected

Negative:

  • Poor results on wet pavement

12th place: 
Nexen Winguard ice Plus WH43

Negative: 

  • Lack of balance between the longitudinal and the lateral grip, meaning, the car is OK when moving forward but can easily go into a skid while cornering. Hence a short braking distance, but a less-than-perfect handling response on ice

13th place: 
Nokian Nordman 7

Positive:  

  • This tire demonstrated a better performance than the premium Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9

Negative:

  • The snow, and particularly the ice traction is worse than that of the leaders (and worse than was expected)

14th place: 
Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9

Positive:  

  • Good grip snow
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Acceptable results on wet pavement

Negative:

  • Weak results on ice (the experts noted that they tested the tire again and again, always with the same result, and what happened to Nokian is still a mystery)

15th place: 
LingLong Green-Max Winter Ice I-15

Positive:  

  • Low rolling resistance
  • Lack of balanced performance

Negative:

  • Weak traction on snow and ice, which is unacceptable for tires of Scandinavian type

16th place: 
Bridgestone Noranza 001

Positive:  

  • Acceptable performance on snow
  • Low rolling resistance

Negative:

  • Weak traction on ice
  • Although Bridgestone is considered to be premium-grade tires, its performance falls obviously short of its stated class

17th place: 
Federal Himalaya ICEO

Positive:  

  • Acceptable grip on snow (but where in the world is the region where you drive solely on snowy roads?)

Negative:

  • Lack of balanced performance
  • Very weak traction on ice
  • The worst tire in its class
  • Unreasonably high price

18th place: 
Kormoran Stud 2

Positive:  

  • Good grip on wet pavement (the tire’s one and only strong side, and, besides, this parameter is of secondary importance for spiked tires)

Negative:

  • Lack of balanced performance
  • On ice, these tires are pure junk
  • Not recommended.
Search