The Finnish organization ran a comparative test of 21 studded and friction winter tires.
List of models tested:
- Bridgestone Blizzak Ice
- Bridgestone Noranza 001
- Continental IceContact 3
- Continental VikingContact 7
- Goodyear UltraGrip Ice 2
- Hankook Winter i*cept iZ2 W616
- Hankook Winter i*Pike RS2 W429
- Kontio IcePaw
- Linglong Green-Max Winter Grip 2
- Linglong Winter Unicorn
- Michelin X–Ice North 4
- Michelin X–Ice Snow
- Nankang Ice Activa 2
- Nexen Winguard ice Plus WH43
- Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9
- Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3
- Petlas Glacier W661
- Pirelli Ice Zero FR
- Sava Eskimo Ice
- Sunny SN3860
- Toyo Observe GSi-6 HP
The new test conducted by the independent Finnish organization Test World involved more than twenty studded and friction winter tires belonging to different price brackets. As always, the tires were tested on ice, snow, and wet and dry pavement. In addition, the experts were evaluating their noise emission, environmental performance, and road holding ability on uneven surfaces.
The list of tested tires includes a few new models, the most interesting one of them being the non-studded Michelin X–Ice Snow, which, although it did score a large number of points, still lost it in its class to its rivals from Nokian and Continental due to a longish stopping distance on asphalt.
In the studded tire segment, there was a debut by the Kontio IcePaw, which set a new record in the number of studs per tire. As the test showed, 270 spikes do indeed help to quickly accelerate and quickly stop on ice, yet the new model was not nearly as successful in terms of lateral stability, eventually scoring 7.6 points out of the possible 10.
As for the first place of the test, this year it was shared by the two quite popular studded models, Continental IceContact 3 and Michelin X–Ice North 4 (the previous stud number record-breaker), both tires scoring 8.9 points each. This year, Continental called off its new tires equipped with rubber studs which easily got dislodged from the tread, due to which this model got disqualified in several tests. But then again, this time around, this situation was avoided because the test involved tires in size 205/55 R16, while the ContiFlex studs were installed on tires with a 17-inch rim diameter and higher.
Both Continental and Michelin were highly rated for their ice traction, where they demonstrated reliable performance in any situation. In addition, both tire models demonstrated good handling response on snow, but on asphalt the Continental tires were prone to rear axis skid, while the Michelin’s wet traction was less than perfect.
The top tires’ list also included the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9, which is also capable of scoring high positions in the tournament brackets thanks to its excellent performance on snow and ice-covered surfaces. At the same time, on dry pavement, the Nokian model demonstrated delayed steering response, and could suddenly lose grip during an emergency maneuver.
The product of this Finnish brand was also rated as the best in the class of non-studded tires, where 8.3 points were scored by the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3. The Test World experts said that this tire had no prominent issues whatsoever, and ensured reliable performance virtually in any conditions — plus low noise and low rolling resistance. The second place among the non-studded tires was scored by the Continental VikingContact 7, which also demonstrated excellent performance on snow and ice, but was prone to losing grip during an emergency maneuver on dry pavement.
An unpleasant surprise this time came from Japanese brands. For example, the Bridgestone Blizzak Ice lost even to the cheap Linglong model, the problem being understeer on ice and wet pavement. On snow, the Bridgestone model behaved in a more confident way, but even here its grip fell short of that ensured by the leaders.
And, as for the Toyo Observe GSi-6 HP model, it came last among the non-studded tires, due to obvious issues with ice grip, where it could suddenly go into a skid. To make matters worse, the Toyo model demonstrated high rolling resistance and high noise emission; this tire also makes the driver make frequent steering adjustments while driving over an uneven surface.
The only tire that fared even worse than the Toyo model in the final standings was the Sunny SN3860 studded model, which was described by the testers as a tire «with criminally poor ice grip». According to the experts, the Sunny tires just won’t stick to ice, and the car keeps skidding left and right; on snow, everything was almost just as bad, and it was enough to make a small turn of the wheel to send the car flying. To do this tire justice, one must mention its short stopping distance on wet pavement, but it still demonstrated poor lateral stability, which significantly compromised the overall handling response.
Ice / Snow surface
The final ranking of the winter tires 2020
1st place: Continental IceContact 3
Positive: Short stopping distance and good lateral stability on ice (but a risk of a skid during an emergency maneuver). Good handling and overall control on snow. Good handling response on asphalt.
2nd place: Michelin X-Ice North 4
Positive: Excellent handling response on ice — the tires maintain dependable grip in any situation, for example, when unexpectedly hitting an ice-covered surface while cornering. Good handling response and high safety level on snow. On wet pavement, the tires keep reliable grip during an emergency maneuver.
Negative: Prone to understeer on dry pavement. Increased rolling resistance.
3rd place: Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9
Positive: Excellent grip and very good handling response on ice. Good handling response on snow (the tires will not bring you any unpleasant surprises in any situation). Good road holding ability.
Negative: Inaccurate steering response and prone to abrupt loss of grip on dry pavement.
4th place: Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3
Positive: No prominent issues found. Short braking distance and great handling response on ice. The tires ensure reliable grip in any situation. Very good handling response and confident behavior on snow. On dry and wet pavement, the tire’s performance was above average, which can be considered a serious achievement because successfully combining high traction on ice/snow and asphalt is quite a tall order. The steering response was somewhat delayed, but the tires kept up stable grip on the rear axle during an emergency maneuver. Low noise emission. Low rolling resistance.
Negative: The road holding ability could have been better.
5th place: Bridgestone Noranza 001
Positive: Good overall performance on ice (but if you make an abrupt turn of the steering wheel, the grip on the rear axle is not reliable enough). Confident behavior on snow.
Negative: Long braking distance on snow, dry, and wet pavementInaccurate steering response, and prominently prone to rear axle skid when driving on asphalt. Already an old model, and this is beginning to show through.
6th place: Continental VikingContact 7
Positive: Short braking distance and great handling response on ice. Optimum control in any situation on snow. Good handling response on wet pavement — the steering response is somewhat delayed but the tires ensure stable performance without any unpleasant surprises.
Negative: Prone to grip loss on the rear axle during an emergency maneuver on dry pavement.
7th place: Hankook Winter i*Pike RS2 W429
Positive: Good traction on ice. Good handling response and reliable grip on wet pavement.
Negative: Relatively long braking distance and prone to oversteer on ice. Prone to oversteer on snow. Delayed steering response and average braking performance on dry pavement.
8th place: Michelin X-Ice Snow
Positive: Short braking distance on ice (for non-studded tires). Good handling response and high safety level on snow. The tires keep up reliable grip on asphalt during an emergency maneuver (even though the steering response is somewhat inaccurate).
Negative: The steering response on ice is somewhat delayed — but the tires ensure stable performance in any situation. Relatively long braking distance on asphalt.
9th place: Linglong Green-Max Winter Grip 2
Positive: Short braking distance on ice. Logic behavior on snow. Short braking distance on dry pavement.
Negative: Insufficient steering feedback and handling response on ice. Delayed steering response on asphalt. High rolling resistance. Unbalanced overall performance.
10th place: Goodyear UltraGrip Ice 2
Positive: Excellent traction and short braking distance on ice. Short stopping distance and good handling response on wet pavement. Low rolling resistance.
Negative: Relatively low lateral stability on ice, due to which the tires may lose grip during an emergency maneuver. Prone to understeer on snowInaccurate steering response on dry pavement (yet the tires tackle emergency maneuvers with no problem).
11th place: Pirelli Ice Zero FR
Positive: Short braking distance on dry pavement.
Negative: Unstable behavior on ice and snow. At first, the tires demonstrate excellent lateral stability and handling response but then they may abruptly lose grip — and may recover it just as abruptly. Very long braking distance, relatively weak lateral stability and inaccurate steering response on wet pavement. Insufficient road holding ability.
12th place: Hankook Winter i*cept iZ 2 W616
Positive: Logic behavior without any unpleasant surprises on snow. Low rolling resistance. On dry pavement, the tires demonstrate delayed response to the driver’s actions, at the same time ensuring dependable grip on the rear axis.
Negative: Unstable behavior on wet pavement. Risk of going into a skid during an emergency maneuver on ice.
13th place: Kontio IcePaw
Positive: Excellent traction and short braking distance on ice. Good road holding ability.
Negative: Low lateral stability on ice, due to which the tires lose grip on the rear axle during an emergency maneuver. Long braking distance, and prone to skidding on snow. Weak lateral grip on asphalt. High noise emission.
14th place: Sava Eskimo Ice
Positive: Good braking efficiency on ice. On dry pavement, the tires ensure confident overall performance, keeping stable grip on the rear axle.
Negative: Prone to grip loss on ice (at high speeds). Inaccurate steering response on wet pavement (but the tires’ overall behavior is stable). Long braking distance on dry pavement.
15th place: Linglong Winter Unicorn
Negative: Delayed steering response on ice and snow (but the grip is rather strong). Poor grip and insufficient handling response on dry and wet pavement — the tires have problems tackling emergency maneuvers. High rolling resistance.
16th place: Bridgestone Blizzak Ice
Positive: Good handling response on snow (but the grip is generally lower than that of the leaders). Well-balanced behavior and short braking distance on dry pavement.
Negative: Prone to understeer on ice and wet pavement.
17th place: Nankang Ice Activa 2
Positive: Acceptable handling response on snow (but the tires may lose grip too suddenly). Acceptable handling on wet pavement (even though the tires demonstrate a slightly delayed response to the driver’s actions).
Negative: Poor longitudinal grip on ice (lateral stability is slightly better). Poor traction and inaccurate steering response on dry pavement.
18th place: Nexen Winguard Ice Plus
Negative: Poor grip on ice, both longitudinal and lateral. On ice, prone to skidding both on front and rear axles. Poor grip on snow during an emergency maneuver. Long braking distance and lack of control on dry and wet pavement. Insufficient road holding ability. Increased rolling resistance.
19th place: Petlas Glacier W661
Positive: Very high braking efficiency on wet and dry pavement. Very quick and accurate steering response on wet pavement (almost like summer tires); on dry pavement the situation is even better.
Negative: Very weak traction on ice. The tires can suddenly go into a skid, taking forever to recover grip and bring the car to a standstill. When cornering on snow, the tires on the front axle quickly lose grip, after which the rear wheels go into a skid as well. Insufficient road holding ability.
20th place: Toyo Observe GSi-6 HP
Positive: Stable behavior on snow, including during emergency maneuvers (although the frip could be stronger). Short braking distance and good lateral stability on wet pavement (but delayed steering response). Stable behavior and short braking distance on dry pavement.
Negative: On ice, the tires lose grip too suddenly, which is detrimental to handling response. Insufficient road holding ability. High rolling resistance. Increased noise.
21th place: Sunny SN3860
Positive: Very short braking distance on wet pavement.
Negative: The grip on ice is virtually nonexistent, and the car keeps on drifting to different sides. On snow, the situation is just as bad. Poor lateral stability, delayed steering response, and unstable behavior on wet pavement (on dry pavement the situation slightly improves).