Vi Bilägare: Winter Studded Tire Test R17 2019

Over the recent 50 years, the car makers from all over the world have been flocking to the remote town of Arvisaur, Sweden, in the winter for cold-weather testing. This year, they were joined by the experts of Vi Bilägare magazine, who decide this time to conduct their tire tests not in Finland, but in their homeland.

For the test, the experts selected seven spiked tires from Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear, Hankook, Michelin, Nokian, and Sailun; in addition the test involved one studless tire model. Regretfully, the list of the tested tires did not include Pirelli, whose Pirelli Ice Zero 2 tires were not available in the required size.

  1. Continental IceContact 3 - Winner

    The new continentals indeed turned out to be a model that was engineered with a maximum grip on ice and snow in mind. These tires are made from a very soft rubber compound, and in reality they are even softer than the studless Nokian tires. Thanks to this, it was possible to increase the tires’ winter traction, while the new rubber-coated studs contributed, among other things, to decreasing the noise level. The continentals were also the quickest to bring the car to a full stop on wet pavement, but it must be mentioned that their softness did them a bad turn when it came to dry pavement tests. In addition, the experts noted that, for all intents and purposes, these tires will be wearing down quickly.

    Acceleration on Snow / Ice   Snow Braking / Handling   Wet Braking   Ice Braking / Handling   Wet Handling   Dry Handling  
    Test Score:
    N/A 32
  2. Michelin X-Ice North 4

    With its 257 spikes, the Michelin tire stands out in its segment, and, although this time it was only able to come second, in actuality this tire ensures a very high level of safety on ice and snow. Besides, the Michelin designers were also able to combine improved riding properties in winter conditions with good handling response on dry pavement. Plus, Michelin turned out to be the quietest tire on test: after the test, it showed the least signs of wear out of all. Generally, it can be said that this time around Michelin showed the best-balanced performance.

    Ice Handling   Ice Braking   Noise   Dry Handling  
    Test Score:
    86 45
  3. Continental VikingContact 7

    Although many drivers tend to think otherwise, studless tires fall short of spiked ones when driving on asphalt, and this gap was particularly noticeable during the handling tests conducted on wet pavement. The reason is that their tread patterns with their numerous thin lamellas cannot tackle the task of draining the water, at the same time being very efficient on iced and snowy surfaces. In the ice tests, the Continentals vividly demonstrated just how effective the modern studless tires are.

    Ice Handling   Acceleration on Snow   Snow Braking / Handling   Noise   Dry Braking   Wet Handling   Acceleration on Ice   Dry Handling  
    Test Score:
    90 43
  4. Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9

    The Nokian tires scored a large number of points because they demonstrated a stable behavior and great handling properties almost on all types of road surface. They were always among the leaders in the ice and snow tests, and, in addition, they showed the best lap time on wet pavement. The Nokian tires showed their limitations on dry pavement where they demonstrated less-than-perfect performance and average handling response. Besides, the Nokian tires had poor hydroplaning resistance and a high noise level. According to the experts, generally speaking, Nokian are great tires created with a stress on ice and snow grip, but the rivals from Continental and Michelin managed to launch newer models that were able to surpass the Finnish model, which was presented back in 2017.

    Ice Handling   Ice Braking   Wet Handling   Acceleration On Ice  
    Test Score:
    86 40
  5. Hankook Winter i*Pike RS2 W429

    The second-generation Hankook i*pike tire was presented in 2018, and, since the time the VB test was conducted, that manufacturer has had the time to upgrade it. As experts note, one can hope that Hankook has increased the braking effectiveness on wet and dry pavements, which was definitely an issue with this tire. At the same time, Hankook demonstrated excellent hydroplaning resistance, and by this parameter they were able to surpass all of the rivals. Yet another peculiarity of Hankook is the biggest projection of the spikes among all the tested tires, and this affected the results that turned out to be worse than expected.

    Wet Handling  
    Test Score:
    N/A 35
  6. Goodyear UltraGrip Ice Arctic

    The test involved Goodyear tires that were manufactured with the use of SoundComfort technology that decreases the noise level. According to the VB experts, Goodyear tires generally have a reputation for being on the noisy side, and the extra noise suppressing level came in very handy; in this test the tires scored higher points for acoustic comfort than they did in the previous years. The Goodyear tires also had the smallest number of spikes among all the tested tires — 130 — so they did not show the best results on ice. These tires do quite an adequate job of tackling acceleration and braking, but in the handling test they were prominently prone to understeer, which kept them from showing the best lap time. At the same time, Goodyear demonstrated a good handling response and a short braking distance both on wet and dry pavements, as well as a high hydroplaning resistance.

    Wet Handling  
    Test Score:
    85 22
  7. Bridgestone Noranza 001

    The Bridgestone Noranza 001 tires were first presented in 2016, and now they cannot really hold their own against more recent models from other manufacturers. These tires demonstrated acceptable grip on ice, but on snow they were among the worst. On asphalt, these tires behave rather predictably but one must consider the fact that they had one of the longest dry braking distances on test. Generally speaking, Bridgestone delivered an average performance, occupying the seventh line of the tournament bracket.

    Dry Braking  
    Test Score:
    74 38
  8. Sailun Ice Blazer WST3

    China’s Sailun tires managed to disappoint the VB experts even before the start of the tests. All the tires needed to be driven in with a regular ride, and the Sailun tires started losing their spikes within the first 80 kilometers. And that was only the start of it. The Sailun tires were almost as soft as summer ones, and on ice and snow they delivered such a poor performance that they could not compete with all-season tires, let alone dedicated winter ones. The soft rubber compound was expected to at least create an advantage on asphalt, but on asphalt the Sailun tires also behaved in an unstable way, teetering on the edge of losing grip. The result is disappointing — the last place and the «Not recommended» verdict.

    Acceleration on Snow / Ice   Snow / Dry Braking   Snow / Dry / Wet Handling   Ice Handling / Braking   Noise  
    Test Score:
    N/A 18
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Date added
Oct 20, 2019
Date updated
Nov 06, 2019