235/55R18

Vi Bilägare 2022: SUV Studded Tire Test R18

One of the tires involved in the new Vi Bilägare test was shedding its studs so fast that it was disqualified. The tire maker admitted to the problem and offered the consumers a free replacement.

List of models tested:

In 2022, the Swedish magazine Vi Bilägare conducted its first test of SUV winter tires in size 235/55 R18. The test car was a Volvo XC40; this tire size fits other popular car models, such as Audi Q3, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan, as well as the electric Mercedes EQA and EQB.

The test involved tires from a number of popular brands, such as Continental, Goodyear, Michelin, Nokian, and Pirelli. At the same time, Bridgestone is preparing a replacement for its current generation of tires (in Sweden, the company is offering studded tires from the Noranza line), and Japan in this test was represented by Sumitomo, which not so long ago released a new studded model under the brand of Falken. In addition, the test involved a Maxxis tire — in 2021, the Taiwanese brand unexpectedly won in the VB summer tire test, and the Swedes decided to test what a winter tire produced by the same company would be capable of.

The differences between premium and cheaper tires turned out to be obvious even before the actual tests began because, as the experts noted, on the tires produced by acclaimed brands had the same spike protrusion throughout the entire tread. At the same time, in the case of Falken, a few studs protruded more than others or were embedded in a somewhat lopsided fashion, while the Maxxis tire so much as missed three studs from the start, even though the studs were factory-installed. After the run-in — the testers drove 500 km on all the tires — the spikes in Maxxis shifted the most, and their protrusion increased by 0.2 mm, which is an unusually large amount. An even bigger surprise was that the Falken model lost a few spikes already during the run-in, and it kept on doing it during the tests — eventually, only 49 and 64 spikes out of 200 remained. Ultimately, this led to disqualification, but first things first.

The tests were started at a proving ground not far away from Älvsbyn in Norrbotten (Sweden), where the tires were tested on slalom tracks — ice and snow-covered — in order to evaluate their lateral grip and behavior on the limit and after losing grip altogether. The snow tests continued in the state-of-the-art Piteå tire testing center, where stable conditions are provided for high reproducibility of results, and the final stage was carried out in Tampere (Finland), where tires were tested on dry and wet pavement.

Ice

The best ice traction was demonstrated by Goodyear, Nokian, and Michelin, the Goodyear having a slight lead. The Continental and Falken tires had certain difficulties on ice, and the worst tire in this respect turned out to be Maxxis, the biggest stud protrusion not being helpful.

Ice Acceleration

Goodyear
2.34
Nokian
2.36
Michelin
2.39
Nordman
2.47
Pirelli
2.56
Continental
2.79
Falken
2.89
Maxxis
3.05

Info! Acceleration time from 5 to 15 km/h, sec.


The Goodyear tire was also the quickest to stop the car on ice, and second-placed was the Nokian, which also demonstrated an impressive braking performance. A little bit of a disappointment was the Continental tire, while in the case of Maxxis the grip during the braking was even lower than during the acceleration, and the stopping distance turned out to be 50% longer than that of Goodyear’s.

The ice braking test was led off by the Nokian that demonstrated the best lateral grip on test. The Michelin tire also had an impressive grip but was prone to under steer, and could not tackle sharp corners as brilliantly as Hakkapeliitta. The Falken tire, in turn, ensures easy handling response and reliable traction on the real wheels; Pirelli gives a lightning-fast response to the driver inputs with a slight oversteer, and the inexpensive Nordman surprised the testers with a very good grip in corners.

Ice Braking

Goodyear
11.14
Nokian
11.62
Michelin
12.68
Nordman
12.74
Pirelli
13.94
Falken
14.23
Continental
14.40
Maxxis
16.51

Info! Braking in the range of 25–5 km/h, m.

Ice Handling

Nokian
42.49
Michelin
43.01
Goodyear
44.39
Falken
44.82
Pirelli
45.05
Continental
45.53
Nordman
46.31
Maxxis
46.93

Info! Lap time, sec.


Snow

In snow acceleration tests, tires often show almost identical results, and this would have been the case this time around as well, had it not been for the Maxxis tire, which suddenly had problems with traction. The best by this parameter was Michelin, followed by Falken and Goodyear.

Snow Acceleration

Michelin
5.41
Falken
5.47
Goodyear
5.50
Pirelli
5.58
Continental
5.62
Nokian
5.63
Nordman
5.69
Maxxis
6.31

Info! Acceleration time from 5 to 25 km/h, sec.


The Michelin tire also scored the maximum number of points for effective braking performance in hard-packed snow, and Maxxis again fell behind the competition, its 35 km/h braking distance being a meter longer than that of Nordman’s, which came last but one.

Just as on ice, the snow handling tests were led off by Nokian and Michelin, the tires by the Finnish brand following the set trajectory particularly well. At the same time, Continental and Nordman provide plenty of feedback through the steering wheel, and behave predictably at the limit, but the second tire has traction that is slightly weaker than that of the leaders.

Snow Braking

Michelin
11.09
Nokian
11.15
Goodyear
11.31
Falken
11.44
Continental
11.73
Pirelli
11.73
Nordman
11.99
Maxxis
12.90

Info! Braking in the range of 35–5 km/h, m.

Snow Handling

Nokian
77.65
Michelin
77.99
Continental
78.53
Pirelli
79.20
Goodyear
79.41
Falken
79.53
Nordman
80.86
Maxxis
82.52

Info! Lap time, sec.


Wet

Only straight hydroplaning resistance was evaluated, and the best tires to evacuate water from the contact area were Maxxis and Falken, while Nokian and Michelin tackled this task significantly worse.

Straight Hydroplaning Resistance

Maxxis
59.5
Falken
59.2
Continental
58.7
Goodyear
55.7
Nordman
55.5
Pirelli
55.1
Nokian
54.6
Michelin
53.9

Info! Float speed, km/h.


In the wet braking test, three tires could boast very good results, the Falken coming first. The tire that was the longest to stop the car was the Michelin, whose 80 km/h braking distance was one meter longer than that of the Nordman, which came last but one. The Nokian could not score a lot of points either.

On a slalom track, top places were occupied by Maxxis and Pirelli, while the Nokian was commended for quick response to the driver inputs; Michelin was clearly prone to understeer at low speeds, Nordman’s behavior was a little bit temperamental, toggling between oversteer and understeer, and driving on Goodyear, it was hard to follow the set trajectory.

Wet Braking

Falken
36.41
Pirelli
36.44
Maxxis
36.59
Continental
37.32
Goodyear
37.99
Nokian
39.22
Nordman
39.51
Michelin
40.66

Info! Braking in the range of 80–5 km/h, m.

Wet Handling

Maxxis
41.34
Pirelli
41.41
Continental
41.52
Falken
41.52
Nokian
41.53
Goodyear
41.82
Nordman
42.05
Michelin
42.28

Info! Lap time, sec.


Dry

In terms of dry braking, the group was predictably closer than during the wet braking test, the best tires being Maxxis and Pirelli. The Nokian and Michelin had better results than on a wet track, and the last line was occupied by Nordman.

The dry handling performance was only subjectively evaluated, and the first place was shared by the Pirelli model that ensured the best stability and handling response, and the Michelin model that provided lots of feedback.

Dry Braking

Maxxis
33.98
Pirelli
34.44
Falken
35.42
Nokian
35.98
Michelin
36.08
Goodyear
36.36
Continental
36.71
Nordman
36.87

Info! Braking in the range of 80–5 km/h, m.

Dry Handling

Michelin
5
Pirelli
5
Falken
4
Maxxis
4
Continental
3
Goodyear
3
Nokian
3
Nordman
2

Info! Subjective, points.


The score for the fuel saving performance was given after measuring the fuel consumption by the VW Tiguan 2.0 TDI on an oval track at a speed of 70 km/h. The Michelin tire with its compact, yet numerous, spikes demonstrated the lowest rolling resistance on test; a good result was also shown by Nokian. The differences in the results shown by other tires were insignificant.

Environment

Michelin
5.50
Nokian
5.73
Pirelli
5.88
Continental
5.92
Falken
5.94
Maxxis
5.94
Goodyear
5.96
Nordman
5.96

Info! Fuel consumption at 70 km/h, l/100km.


The cabin noise was measured in two speed modes, but the subjective evaluation had more weight in the combined score. The quietest tire (both by measurement and subjectively) was the Michelin; the Continental model was also pretty quiet. The Nokian model was pretty loud but the noise it made was homogeneous — which cannot be said about the Maxxis tire, which (just like Nordman) scored only 1 point out of the possible 5.

Noise at 70 km/h, dB

Michelin
70.6
Pirelli
71.4
Continental
71.5
Goodyear
71.6
Nokian
71.8
Falken
71.8
Maxxis
72.9
Nordman
73.6

Info! The noise level at a speed 70 km/h, db(A).

Noise at 110 km/h, dB

Michelin
75.5
Continental
75.9
Pirelli
76.2
Goodyear
76.4
Maxxis
76.9
Nokian
77.1
Falken
77.5
Nordman
77.8

Info! The noise level at a speed 110 km/h, db(A).


Noise, subjective evaluation, scores

Michelin
5
Continental
4
Goodyear
3
Pirelli
3
Falken
2
Nokian
2
Maxxis
1
Nordman
1

Info! Subjective, points.


Verdict

The Michelin X–Ice North 4 has long since been one of the leaders in independent tire tests, and this time around the SUV version of this French tire again won the first place — sharing it with the Nokian model. In the size that was used in the test, the Michelin tire has 280 mini spikes installed in it, which improve ice grip, particularly longitudinal. At the same time, during the cornering the tire was clearly prone to understeer, which required an extra angle of the turn of the steering wheel. A similar type of behavior was demonstrated on tarmac, the main shortcomings of this tire being a long wet braking distance and weak hydroplaning resistance. On the whole, the Michelin will be a good option for those who value ice and snow grip; at the same time, this tire ensures a good riding comfort, and its rolling resistance was the lowest on test.

Result summary. Vi Bilägare Winter Tire Test — 235/55R18 Places 1–8. (click to enlarge)
Result summary. Vi Bilägare Winter Tire Test — 235/55R18 Places 1–8. (click to enlarge)

The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 — a new model that was released last year — traditionally for the tires of this brand was very effective on ice and snow, where it demonstrated excellent lateral grip and quickly responded to the driver inputs, giving you lots of driving pleasure (even though the tire is indeed prone to oversteer, which rises under loads). On tarmac, the new Nokian tire brilliantly executed the emergency lane switching exercise, reducing the chance of a skid, yet at the same it had a somewhat fuzzy handling response, was rather loud, and had a relatively weak hydroplaning resistance.

The Goodyear UltraGrip Arctic 2 cans third, including thanks to very effective ice acceleration and braking. At the same time, in corners — both on ice and snow, as well as on wet and dry pavement — the traction was no longer as high as that of the leaders, which, combined with a fuzzy steering response led to the fact that it was difficult for the driver to follow the required trajectory. But then again, this tire will not bring you any unpleasant surprises.

The fourth line of the tournament bracket was occupied by the Pirelli Scorpion Ice Zero 2, which, just as the passenger tire Ice Zero 2, showed itself to the best advantage in the tarmac tests. As the VB experts noted, this Pirelli model was slightly reminiscent of summer tires, and it also had the highest speed index of all the tested tires — H (up to 210 km/h). On dry and wet pavement, the Pirelli model quickly responded to the driver inputs, provided excellent stability (including under loads), and had a short braking distance. On snow, however, its grip was a little weaker than that of the leaders, and the tires still brought lots of driving pleasure.

The Continental IceContact 3 failed to impress the testers this time: its overall grip was not as strong as that of the other premium-class tires, on all types of surfaces. First, the Continental model was inferior to its rivals on ice, which is a very serious minus for a studded tire, but the experts noted that the IC3 always informs the driver when the grip limit is achieved, and behaves in a predictable way with a slight inclination towards understeer, which makes cornering even safer. The Continental also received high scores for sound comfort and good hydroplaning resistance; the VB experts went on to say that during the test the studs shifted only slightly, which means that they were embedded in the tread very securely (as we remember, the IC3 used to have an issue with that.

The next line in the tournament bracket was occupied by the Nordman 8 SUV, which, although it inherited the tread pattern from the premium Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV, is manufactured from a stiffer compound, and the grip it delivers is clearly weaker than what was demonstrated by the Nokian tires a few years ago — at least in the SUV version. The Nordman model ended up in the bottom part of the bill, and lost a few points due to unstable behavior, as well as loud noise and a pretty high rolling resistance.

Only seventh place was scored by the Maxxis Premitra Ice Nord 5 SUV (NS5), and the experts said that, although the Taiwanese manufacturer had already gained a solid reputation in the passenger tire segment, in order to repeat this success on the market of winter tires designed for Nordic latitudes, the company would still have to do a lot of work. The studs in the NS5 turned out to be very shifty, and after the run-in their protrusion became longer than that of all the other tires. At the same time, despite this, the tire’s ice grip was much worse than that of the rivals, and the Maxxis also performed surprisingly poorly on snow. The NS5 performed much better on asphalt, demonstrating effective braking, good stability and excellent hydroplaning resistance, but due to poor results on snow and ice and a clear imbalance in performance, the tires occupied the last line in the final standings.

The Falken Winterpeak F-ICE tire scored more points than Maxxis, Nordman, and even Continental, and would have come fifth (again, even surpassing Continental), but… was ultimately disqualified because, as the VB experts noted «not a single tire in the history of our tests would shed studs so fast!»

The tire maker addressed the issue and conducted an in-company investigation. «We are aware that during the Vi Bilägare test of studded tires our tire Falken Winterpeak F-Ice 1 in size 235/55R18 104T XL was disqualified because of a technical failure that took place when we were studding the tire. We are very sorry about that, particularly in view of the fact that otherwise the tire would have been in the Top Five — noted Daniel Hupke, manager Technical Service and Quality Assurance of Falken Tyre Europe GmbH — Our in-company investigation revealed that in some cases during weeks 49 and 50 the process of stuffing the tires in the specified size was going in violation of the appropriate standards Nevertheless, we can confirm that the other sizes of the Winterpeak F-Ice 1 model do meet all the requirements, and Falken guarantees that these studded tires, manufactured at other periods, are totally safe to use, and, in addition, all our tires are covered by the five-year Falken warranty.»

The Falken, Nokian, and Michelin tires after the tests (the Michelin was showing the least signs of wear; they were slightly more prominent on Nokian, and Falken lost more than half of its studs)
The Falken, Nokian, and Michelin tires after the tests (the Michelin was showing the least signs of wear; they were slightly more prominent on Nokian, and Falken lost more than half of its studs)

Hupke added that «with the purpose of giving our customers maximum satisfaction» the company is offering the drivers a free replacement for the tires in size 235/55R18 104T XL with the 4921 and 5021 dates of manufacture.

«We would like to yet again bring our apologies and assure our customers that we are very serious about this situation, and view it as a great opportunity to continue raising the bar and offer our customers products of the topmost quality — the Falken representative stressed, abdingtet that «a vivid proof of the quality of our tires is the third place that the studless model Falken Winterpeak F-Snow 1 occupied in the new test conducted by Finland’s Moottori magazine.»

Speaking of the other characteristics of the Falken tire, the experts noted that it had an unusually supple rubber compound (52 points by Shore), which improved the handling performance under loads on snow and ice. At the same time, the overall ice grip was weaker than that of the leaders. The Falken tire also demonstrated a very good wet performance, it had a very short wet braking distance and a strong hydroplaning resistance; on dry pavement, the tire also quickly stopped the car, but the response to driver inputs was somewhat fuzzy and it was hard to follow the set trajectory in corners.

1st place: Michelin / X-Ice North 4 SUV

Quick Take
N/A 33

Michelin X-Ice North 4 SUV

  • Available Sizes in Line: 29
  • Year Released: 2019
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Michelin X-Ice North 4 SUV

  • Excellent snow and ice grip
  • Good feedback through the wheel and good handling in the dry
  • Low noise emission
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Weak grip on wet pavement
  • Low hydroplaning resistance
  • Relatively poor grip in sharp corners

1st place: Nokian / Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV

Quick Take
N/A 35

Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV

  • Year Released: 2021
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe
Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV

  • Excellent snow and ice grip
  • Great lateral stability on all types of surfaces
  • Low hydroplaning resistance
  • Long braking distance on wet pavement
  • High noise emission

3rd place: Goodyear / UltraGrip Arctic 2

Quick Take
88 50

Goodyear UltraGrip Arctic 2

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

  • Excellent traction and short braking distance on snow and ice
  • Lack of handling precision in corners
  • Relatively high rolling resistance

4th place: Pirelli / Scorpion Ice Zero 2

Quick Take
N/A 34

Pirelli Scorpion Ice Zero 2

Handling Snow/Ice Performance
  • Available Sizes in Line: 42
  • Year Released: 2019
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: Canada, Europe, Russia+
Pirelli Scorpion Ice Zero 2

  • Good grip on tarmac
  • Precise steering response and good handling feedback on all types of surfaces
  • Average ice traction
  • Reduced hydroplaning resistance

5th place: Continental / IceContact 3

Quick Take
87 52

Continental IceContact 3

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

  • Good hydroplaning resistance
  • Low noise emission
  • Good handling performance under loads
  • Reduced ice grip
  • Relatively long braking distance on all types of surfaces

6th place: Nokian / Nordman 8 SUV

Quick Take
N/A 31
  • Year Released: 2021
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+
Nokian Nordman 8 SUV

  • Good traction and short braking distance on ice
  • Relatively poor performance in all of the disciplines
  • Very noisy

7th place: Maxxis / Premitra Ice Nord NS5

Quick Take
N/A 21

Maxxis Premitra Ice Nord NS5

  • Available Sizes in Line: 16
  • Year Released: 2017
  • Studded
  • Regions for sale: Canada, Russia+
Maxxis Premitra Ice Nord NS5

  • Short braking distance on tarmac
  • Very good results on wet pavement
  • Weak grip on ice and snow
  • Very noisy

8th place: Falken / Winterpeak F-ICE 1

Quick Take
75 32

Falken Winterpeak F-ICE 1

Snow/Ice Performance Dry Performance Wet Performance Comfort
  • Available Sizes in Line: 30
  • Year Released: 2020
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe
Falken Winterpeak F-ICE 1

  • Short braking distance on tarmac
  • Excellent hydroplaning resistance
  • Weak traction on ice
  • High noise emission
  • Lost a large number of studs during the test, and was disqualified

Price