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2018/2019 winter tyre test: Auto Express magazine test

The British Auto Express magazine has tested and compared 8 winter tyres in the size 205/55 R16, a popular size on passenger cars. 1 summer tyre and 1 all season tyre were also tested to compare their winter performances.

The Auto Express winter tyre test on snow

2018 winter tyre test, 8 winter tyres were tested and compared by the Auto Express magazine. © Auto Express

A test reflecting UK driving conditions

Winter tyres are not only for snow. This is what the Auto Express magazine wanted to demonstrate in its 2018 winter tyre test. They selected the popular 205/55 R16 size for this test which is split into 3 separate categories and weighted depending on their importance for the everyday British driver:

  • Snow performance (20% of the overall score),
  • Wet performance (40% of the overall score),
  • Dry performance, noise, rolling resistance, price (40% of the overall score).

8 winter tyres were chosen from the most popular latest generation tyres, excluding Michelin whose Alpin 6 was not available for the tests.

Auto Express also added the winners of its last tests. An all season tyre, the Michelin CrossClimate +, and a summer tyre, the Continental ContiPremiumContact 5.

Winter tyre test on wet by Auto Express

© Auto Express

Alternatives which do not guarantee optimum safety

As expected, the Continental ContiPremiumContact 5 summer tyre is not good on snow. Not really a surprise for this summer tyre which almost failed to reach the test site given how tricky it was to drive on snow. It is just the opposite in dry conditions where it performs better than all the other tyres, with braking distances 7 to 10 metres shorter than them. Conclusion: ideal the rest of the year but to be avoided in winter.

The Michelin CrossClimate + all seasons tyre is a bit more balanced. With the weighting of Auto Express ratings, it even finishes on the podium for this test, above several winter tyres. This is mainly due to its very good performances in dry conditions and a safe drive on snow. On this surface, its surprised everyone with a shorter braking distance than all winter tyres.

Winter tyre test on dry by Auto Express

© Auto Express

Winter tyres suitable for temperate European conditions

The Bridgestone Blizzak LM001 EVO winter tyre delivered winter performances trailing behind its competitors. It systematically finished last in snow and aquaplaning tests. In the wet, it was not convincing either despite good performances when cornering. It is best in dry conditions, especially with the shortest braking distances. 

The Falken Eurowinter HS01 winter tyre proved to be promising. Despite its final ranking, it was close to the best. It was quite good on snow and in dry conditions. But it is less efficient in wet conditions with the longest braking distances of the comparison test. 

The Nokian WR D4 winter tyre, although it remains the winter reference, its competitors are starting to catch up. Still as efficient on snow where it ranks 2nd in all tests, it is not as good on wet surfaces. On this surface it finishes last in handling tests and in braking tests. Nevertheless, it remains a really good tyre with the lowest rolling resistance of all the tyres tested and dry performance above the others. 

The results for the Dunlop Winter Sport 5 show a balanced tyre, without being exceptional. Auto Express felt a reassuring tyre to drive despite a few shortcomings on snow. However, it lacked precision on dry roads, notably where its braking distances are a bit long. The British magazine regrets a slight lack of consistency for this tyre which could have easily finished on the podium.

When talking about the podium, the Pirelli Cinturato Winter and the Goodyear UltraGrip Performance Gen-1 share third place. For the Pirelli winter tyre, it is most at ease in winter conditions. Good handling in snow despite a slightly long braking distance, it maintained sufficient grip throughout the test on this surface. Second for wet handling, it left a good impression with Auto Express drivers. Although it provides good resistance in aquaplaning tests, it is a little disappointing in dry conditions where it finishes last in handling and braking tests. 

The Goodyear UltraGrip Performance Gen-1 winter tyre is efficient in all conditions. Auto Express drivers noted constant braking performance and good grip when driving on the track. Its rear was also very stable unlike some of its competitors. A little more mobile on snow, handling was quite good and it delivered short braking distances. In wet conditions, it is very safe particularly with its high resistance to aquaplaning where it is the best in the comparison test. In general, it is not noisy and its good rolling resistance justifies its relatively high price. 

The Hankook i*cept RS2 repeats last year’s performance. Again, this tyre is most at ease on snow, finishing first in each test on this surface. Same for aquaplaning tests. A little less dominant in other tests in wet conditions, it still remains an efficient tyre. In the dry, it has a good steering response which results in good test results on this surface. Its very attractive price is outweighed by a very high rolling resistance.

And like last year, the winner of the Auto Express test is the Continental WinterContact TS 860. There where Hankook gave the demonstration on snow, the Continental winter tyre did the same in wet conditions. First in each test on this surface which dominates winter conditions in western Europe. The British magazine’s drivers found it was at ease on this surface. Despite lesser performances in aquaplaning tests, it is still good in this category. On snow, it does quite well particularly with a second place in the handling test on this surface. It also performs well in dry conditions with a second place in handling and braking tests on this surface. Surprisingly, for a tyre that is so efficient in the wet, its rolling resistance remains relatively low. It is also the quietest tyre of the test.

Tyre

Ranking

Continental WinterContact TS 860

1

Hankook i*cept RS2

2

Goodyear UltraGrip Performance Gen-1

3=

Pirelli Cinturato Winter

3=

Dunlop Winter Sport 5

5

Nokian WR D4

6

Falken Eurowinter HS01

7

Bridgestone Blizzak LM001 EVO

8

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