Vi Bilägare 2018: Winter Studded Tires Test (205/55 R16)

The first frosts are just around the corner but there is still enough time for choosing your winter tires. Warm September is the perfect time to make a decision about your new set, and very valuable information for that comes in the form of the results of tire comparative tests that indicate the pros and cons of this or that specific model.

This article is devoted to the 2018 test conducted by the Swedish publication Vi Bilägare, whose expert group tested the performance of seven 205/55 R16 winter studded tires.

Specially for the drivers who are still unsure about whether or not they really need spikes in winter, the test included one of the best friction (studless) models of Scandinavian type, available on the Swedish market. This was done specifically to demonstrate the fundamental difference between studded and studless tires designed to be used in harsh winter conditions.

Vi Bilägare 2018: Winter Studded Tires Test (Tires)

List of models tested:

For the winter studded tire test, Vi Bilägare 2018 procured only tires that had at least 130 spikes in them, half of the models equipped with more than 190. Considering the fact that the test team members were so concerned about the number of spikes in the tire, we think that they would be very interested to see the new Michelin X–Ice North 4 model that has about 250 spikes in the size 205/55 R16. However, this exceptional tire was not to appear on test because the manufacturer insisted on submitting tires for the test only before they are officially put on sale.

The «white» tests of the popular Swedish publication were carried out in mid-February 2018 at the White Hell testing ground in Finland. The air temperature at a relatively low humidity varied from -1°C to -8°C. As a test car, the compact five-door hatchback Volvo V40 was used.

On dry and wet pavements, all the tests of winter tires had been made in May 2018 on the testing ground in Finland’s Tampere. The temperature oscillated from +5°C to +14°C. In order to determine the tires’ fuel efficiency, Volvo V60 D2 was used.

Test Summary

Ice

Acceleration on ice

Nokian
3.97
Continental
3.99
Bridgestone
4.12
Yokohama
4.30
Gislaved
4.71
Goodyear
5.10
Friction tire
5.74
Nexen
6.98

Info! Acceleration(5-25 km/h).


This test was about determining the time necessary for the car to accelerate from 5 km/h to 25 km/h. The results of the test directly had to do with the number of spikes that the tire was equipped with. The top positions of the tournament bracket were occupied by the more «toothy» models on test, for the sole exception of Nexen tire that miraculously lost even to the studless control.

Braking on ice

Continental
10.59
Nokian
10.67
Bridgestone
11.61
Goodyear
11.66
Gislaved
12.05
Yokohama
12.23
Friction tire
15.31
Nexen
17.69

Info! Braking (25-5 km/h).


Measuring the braking distances of the spiked tires on ice when slowing down from 25 km/h to 5 km/h with the ABS on, showed that the gang was ruled by Continental and Nokian, while the worst results — with extra 7 meters — were shown by Nexen. Yet again.

Handling on ice

Nokian
73.5
Continental
74.6
Bridgestone
76.9
Gislaved
80.9
Goodyear
81.3
Yokohama
81.5
Friction tire
83.3
Nexen
86.4

Info! Average Speed, km/h.


The final protocol of the ice handling test included the average lap time calculated on the basis of three runs. Here the leading positions were scored by Nokian and Continental, thanks to their predictable behavior and stable traction regardless of the weather conditions. The friction tire yet again outdid the Nexen model that ironically was literally strewn with spikes.

Snow

Acceleration on snow

Friction tire
5.77
Nokian
5.79
Yokohama
6.03
Bridgestone
6.05
Continental
6.05
Gislaved
6.05
Goodyear
6.09
Nexen
6.40

Info! Acceleration(5-40 km/h).


In accelerating on snow from 5 to 40 km/h, the victory was scored by the studless tire of Scandinavian type but generally the differences between the tested models’ performances were neglectable. At the same time, even on snow the Nexen could not straighten out the poor impression that it originally made on the Vi Bilagare test group during the ice tests.

Braking on snow

Friction tire
3.97
Nokian
3.99
Yokohama
4.12
Gislaved
4.30
Continental
4.71
Goodyear
5.10
Bridgestone
5.74
Nexen
6.98

Info! Braking (40-5 km/h).


In ABS-assisted braking from 40 km/h to 5 km/h, the soft rubber compound combined with thick rows of lamellas helped the no-name studless tire to affirm its supremacy. The Nokian and Yokohama did all they could to keep the pace. The Nexen tire again showed the poorest result.

Handling on snow

Continental
90.5
Nokian
92.0
Gislaved
92.1
Goodyear
93.0
Bridgestone
93.2
Yokohama
94.5
Friction tire
94.8
Nexen
97.5

Info! Average Speed, km/h.


The best average lap time in the handling test, calculated on the basis of three runs, was shown by the Continental winter studded tires. The Gislaved product showed handling response that was as good as Nokian’s. As for Yokohama, however, this tire had issues with lateral stability even on snow. The friction tires go into a skid sooner than the spiked ones. Not counting the Nexen tire, of course.

Asphalt

Braking on wet

Goodyear
3.97
Continental
3.99
Gislaved
4.12
Yokohama
4.30
Nokian
4.71
Nexen
5.10
Bridgestone
5.74
Friction tire
6.98

Info! Braking (100-0 km/h).


When braking on wet pavement from a 100 km/h to a full stop, the friction tires were no match for the spiked models: the difference between the friction tire’s braking distance and the «worst» spiked Bridgestone is more than four meters, while the gap between the studless one and the best spiked Goodyear is more than eight meters.

Braking on dry

Continental
51.63
Friction tire
52.08
Nexen
52.14
Goodyear
52.38
Gislaved
52.53
Yokohama
52.80
Nokian
53.59
Bridgestone
53.86

Info! Braking (100-0 km/h).


On dry asphalt, the friction tire made a leap upwards but it still was unable to outdo Continental. Bridgestone tires, together with Nokian, turned out to be among the worst.

Other disciplines

The results of other test disciplines are gathered in a special table. The fuel consumption was measured with Volvo V60 D2 at 80 km/h. The noise in the cabin of Volvo V40 D2 was measured for 10 seconds. The noise ranking also included subjective evaluations made by the test experts.

 Vi Bilägare 2018: Winter Studded Tires Test (Other disciplines)
Subjective evaluation of handling response: 5 — Excellent. 4 — Good. 3 — Average. 2 — Mediocre. 1 — Bad.

Results

Vi Bilägare 205/55 R16 Winter Studded Tire Test Summary, 2018
Vi Bilägare 205/55 R16 Winter Studded Tire Test Summary, 2018

The seventh place was scored by Nexen WinGuard WinSpike WH62, the tire that simply disappointed the test team. In spite of its 190 spikes, this tire scored in the final standings fewer points than even the model that did not have a single spike in it. This tire was failed by its weak traction and grip on ice and snow. The only strong point of this tire that the test team was still able to detect was its low noise emission.

Nexen WinGuard WinSpike WH62
Nexen WinGuard WinSpike WH62

The sixth place was scored by Yokohama IceGuard IG65, which was presented back in 2017. The directional tread pattern of this model and its 172 spikes were meant to enhance the tire’s winter performance but, as it turned out, this was achieved at the expense of sacrificing the tire’s lateral stability on ice and snow. At the same time, the lateral performance of this tire on wet pavement does not raise any questions.

Yokohama IceGuard IG65
Yokohama IceGuard IG65

The Bridgestone Noranza 001 tire, which came the fifth in the Vi Bilagare 205/55 R16 winter studded tire test, has 190 spikes, just as the Continental and Nokian models. However, its traction on ice and snow is slightly weaker than that of the mentioned premium models. Such a low position of Bridgestone Noranza 001 in the tournament bracket is explained by its rather low scores on wet and dry pavement.

Bridgestone Noranza 001
Bridgestone Noranza 001

The fourth line of the tournament table was scored by the Gislaved Nord*Frost 200 tire, which became possible thanks to its well-balanced performance on various types of pavement. At the same time, as the testers stressed, this tire lacks handling stability in the dry. Having only 130 spikes, this model, produced by one of Continental subsidiaries, was one of the best in the «snow» disciplines, which allowed it to score a rather high chart position.

Gislaved Nord*Frost 200
Gislaved Nord*Frost 200

The bronze prize of the Vi Bilagare 205/55 R16 winter studded tire test was won by the model Goodyear UltraGrip Ice Arctic. Due to the fact that it only had 130 spikes in its arsenal, it could not compete with «toothier» leaders of the test when it came to snowy and icy roads. However, its wet braking performance was a highlight.

Goodyear UltraGrip Ice Arctic
Goodyear UltraGrip Ice Arctic

The silver medal of the test was won by the spiked tire Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9. Then, of course, the question arises, why wasn’t it awarded the first prize (which is usually the case, for example, in Russian industry magazines). When it was engineered, the Finnish developers were more focused on achieving a higher level of ice and snow traction, sacrificing the braking performance on dry and wet pavements. And it was this shifting of priorities that was crucial in summing up the results.

Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9
Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9

The Continental tire, although on a par with Nokian on ice surfaces, performs slightly poorer on snow during acceleration and braking, while its handling on snow did not raise any comment. The safe and predictable behavior of Continental IceContact 2 on snow coupled with effective braking performance on dry and wet surfaces brought this German tire the title of the best spiked tires 2018/2019 according to Vi Bilägare.

Continental IceContact 2
Continental IceContact 2

Outside the standings

If you are considering buying a set of friction tires of Scandinavian type, make sure you analyze the weather conditions of the region where you will be most likely to drive. As the test results show, studless tires rule on snow, losing out on ice to their studded rivals.

However, there is also the other side of the story — the results show by the studless tire in acceleration and braking on ice outstrip the «achievements» of one of the toothiest models on test Nexen WinGuard WinSpike WH62 (190 spikes) while the handling response of the friction tires is quite comparable to the response and lateral stability of Yokohama IceGuard IG65 with its more than 170 spikes.

On wet pavement, the studless tires were also no match for their rivals but on dry pavement they were among the leaders in terms of the stability of handling response.

However, the difference between the studded and studless tires is more than just the measurement figures. The most important index of the tires’ safety is their behavior in a critical situation. Good tires must be easily controllable without sudden loss of grip, and this is particularly easy to detect at high speeds.

The unquestionable advantages of friction winter tires are their riding comfort and eco friendliness. They have the lowest rolling resistance and the lowest noise level in the car cabin.

UPD. After the dust settled, it was finally announced that the studless «out-of-standings» model on test was Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3.

Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3