For this year's Tire Reviews winter tire test, we've got nine sets of the most popular winter tires, half of which are brand new tires for this year!
As always I'll be testing in the snow, wet and dry, and looking at rolling resistance, noise and comfort, to ensure you get the best overview of all the new winter tires!
|Dry Braking||▲Michelin Alpin 6: 36.60 M||▼Bridgestone Blizzak LM005: 39.40 M|
|Dry Handling||▲Bridgestone Blizzak LM005: 79.8 s||▼Petlas Snow Master W651: 81.9 s|
|Subj. Dry Handling||▲Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2: 100 Points||▼Petlas Snow Master W651: 070 Points|
|Wet Braking||▲Bridgestone Blizzak LM005: 27.30 M||▼Petlas Snow Master W651: 39.50 M|
|Wet Handling||▲Bridgestone Blizzak LM005: 097 s||▼Petlas Snow Master W651: 111.8 s|
|Subj. Wet Handling||▲Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2: 100 Points||▼Petlas Snow Master W651: 010 Points|
|Straight Aqua||▲Kleber Krisalp HP3: 83.50 Km/H||▼Petlas Snow Master W651: 71.20 Km/H|
|Curved Aquaplaning||▲Continental WinterContact TS 870: 8.1 m/sec2||▼Petlas Snow Master W651: 4.8 m/sec2|
|Snow Braking||▲Bridgestone Blizzak LM005: 27.20 M||▼Michelin Alpin 6: 29.60 M|
|Snow Traction||▲Petlas Snow Master W651: 4.70 s||▼Semperit Speed Grip 5: 5.40 s|
|Snow Handling||▲Petlas Snow Master W651: 112.2 s||▼Vredestein Wintrac Pro: 118.5 s|
|Subj. Snow Handling||▲Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2: 100 Points||▼Vredestein Wintrac Pro: 085 Points|
|Subj. Comfort||▲Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2: 100 Points||▼Petlas Snow Master W651: 085 Points|
|Noise||▲Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2: 68.5 dB||▼Michelin Alpin 6: 69.8 dB|
|Price||▲Petlas Snow Master W651: 100.00||▼Continental WinterContact TS 870: 166.49|
|Rolling Resistance||▲Petlas Snow Master W651: 6.7 kg / t||▼Vredestein Wintrac Pro: 9.2 kg / t|
The slowest tire on test was the Vredestein Wintrac Pro, 5.2% off the best. This tire was a joy to drive as everything it did was smooth and progressive, but it just lacked a little grip.
The next bundle of tires were less than 4% behind the best, and you're going to be surprised, it's the Semperit, Continental and Bridgestone. If you know your winter tires, you'll know this is unusual as the Continental and the Bridgestone are excellent in the snow, and they all were here too, there are just some very new tires in this group which have performed very well! The Bridgestone felt the most rounded, but they were all incredibly close.
The Michelin Alpin 6 was next, less than 3% off the best, again lovely to drive, just picked up a little more understeer than most hurting the lap time, perhaps it'll do better in traction and braking.
The new Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2 was fourth, 2.3% off the best, and the new Hankook Winter ICept RS3 was third, just 1.2% behind the fastest! The Pirelli was subjectively lovely, you could drive it easily and quickly and I super enjoyed it, and the Hankook just had a huge amount of grip!
Kleber, which is a Michelin second tier brand came second. This will be no surprise if you've been following winter tire testing last year, the Krisalp HP3 is constantly one of the best, if not the best in the snow in all tests, so when I found out it was the Kleber here (I was testing blind) I wasn't overly surprised.
What I was surprised about was the best tire in snow handling being the Petlas, which is by far the cheapest tire here. This tire was simply exceptional in these very cold conditions, it was fastest in snow handling and had very good marks subjectively too, the only negative perhaps being slightly peaky grip.
You might be confused, as generally the message from testing is that budget tires are bad. In this example, it's not the biggest surprise that the Petlas has done well in the snow, as cheap tires can be very good at one thing, at the expense of everything else.
What will be a surprise is if this tire also does well in the wet.
Unfortunately the Petlas was not a surprise in wet handling. The tire just slides around totally unpredictably, the steering really tells you nothing that's going on underneath you, and the grip is so limited it was the only tire I did two laps instead of four, though they were exactly the same, then gave up as I didn't want to risk coming off and damaging the test vehicle. It might only be 15 seconds in lap time but I can't explain how difficult it was to drive.
Kleber and Semperit were next, way ahead of the budget, but still around 5 seconds off the best. The both had a little oversteer in the balance but were otherwise fine, just lacking a bit of wet grip.
The Michelin Alpin 6 finished sixth. This tire had the safest balance of the group, with almost no unpredictability or oversteer, but lots of mid corner understeer really hurts a lap time.
Pirelli and Vredestein almost tie for fourth in time, and were two of the most fun tires to drive, both feeling playful and giving good steering feedback and response, these two were fun to drive.
The smallest margin ahead was the Hankook which was certainly grippy, but lost a little time on corner exit as you had to be a little more careful with the throttle.
That only leaves Continental and Bridgestone, and if you're familiar with winter tire testing, I bet you can guess who was fastest. The Continental put up a good fight, and rewarded a little more of a smoother driving style, but it couldn't knock bridgestone from it's almost guaranteed number one spot in wet handling. Once again the Blizzak LM005 was the best in wet handling, feeling extremely strong on the brakes, turn in and mid corner, with a safe understeer balance like the Michelin, just more grip.
This is what I learnt during dry handling. They're all non performance winter tires. The data is below, and if you want a 17" non performance winter tire to handle well in the dry, I'd go with the Pirelli.
Ignoring the budget and the Kleber, they were all actually very impressive considering dry handling testing is WAY out of their designed operating parameters.
The internal noise and subjective comfort of the tires was all extremely close, but the Pirelli and Bridgestone had a small edge. The Petlas was the most noisy tire internally, but the difference from best to worse was less than 2 dB.
The Petlas did have a huge lead in fuel use with an unusually low rolling resistance. The Bridgestone was the best of the rest.
View Results as a single table and adjust the score weighting
1st: Bridgestone Blizzak LM005
Fastest dry and wet handling, shortest wet braking, good aquaplaning resistance, excellent snow braking, low noise, lowest rolling resistance.
Long dry braking distances, average snow handling.
As in previous tests the Bridgestone Blizzak LM005 wasn't the best in dry braking, and wasn't quite as balanced as some of the other tires in snow handling, but they were the only weaknesses of the LM005. The LM005 excelled in the wet grip tests with the best grip in wet handling and the shortest wet braking distances, it also won the snow braking and performed well in snow traction, had some of the lowest noise on test and the lowest rolling resistance of the top tires. A thoroughly deserved test win for the Japanese giant, congratulations to Bridgestone.
2nd: Continental WinterContact TS 870
Excellent in the wet, very good snow braking and traction, good dry handling, low rolling resistance.
Average in car noise, average snow handling.
The Continental WinterContact TS870 might be one of the older new tires in this test, but you can never count Continental out of a winter tire test, and the TS870 had an exceptional run of results. It was the best tire in the wet overall, being one of the few tires which excelled in both the wet grip tests and the deeper water tests of aquaplaning. In the snow it was better longitudinally than laterally, which helps it in the overall results as braking is the highest weighted scoring, and it also was good during dry handling even if it struggled a little in dry braking, PLUS had a relatively low rolling resistance. Very impressive tire, another one worthy of being highly recommended.
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3rd: Hankook Winter I cept RS3
A very balanced tire, excellent grip in all wet tests, good in the snow, good in the dry.
Slightly elevated internal noise level, average rolling resistance.
The new Hankook Winter I*Cept RS3 continues Hankooks impressive results, and other than an outlier in snow braking, it is a winter tire with no major weakness. IT was impressive in the dry, very impressive in the wet and thoroughly enjoyable around the snow handling track with predictable handling and high levels of grip. A good aquaplaning resistance and high snow traction cements the tire in third place and is a tire I highly recommend.
4th: Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2
Enjoyable dynamic tire to drive in all conditions, short dry braking, good snow handling, lowest internal noise.
Low aquaplaning resistance, weaker snow braking, high rolling resistance.
The new Pirelli Cinturato Winter 2 was the most fun tire to drive in all conditions. It was the winter tire of the group that seemed to focus more on lateral grip than longitudinal grip, and while it wasn't the best in snow braking or the aquaplaning tests, it was great in snow handling, wet handling and dry handling and a very likable tire. A deserved fourth overall and a tire I recommend.
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5th: Semperit Speed Grip 5
Excellent in the dry with fast handing and short braking distances, very good aquaplaning resistance, very low rolling resistance.
Low grip in wet handling and braking, limited grip in the snow.
The Semperit Speed Grip 5 in fifth was essentially exactly as good as the Vredestein in the dry, not as good in the wet grip tests but much better in the aquaplaning tests, a little better in the snow but it did have one of the best rolling resistances on test. I'd like to see some more wet performance from this tire to push it further towards the best of the group.
Read Reviews Buy from £86.39
6th: Vredestein Wintrac Pro
Excellent in the dry with fast handing and short braking distances, good trip in the wet, low noise.
Weakest snow handling result of the group, low aquaplaning resistance, low snow traction, very high rolling resistance.
Sixth place overall went to the impressive Vredestein Wintrac Pro. This tire was excellent in the dry, held its own in the wet with good subjective handling and was a quiet tire. Unfortunately it wasn't the strongest in the snow with the slowest snow handling time and the worst traction, it struggled in the deeper water of the aquaplaning tests and had the highest rolling resistance of all the tires on test. Potentially an option for climates like the UK who really want to fit a winter tire instead of an all season tire, but not a strong option anymore for a climate with a lot of snow.
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7th: Michelin Alpin 6
Shortest dry braking, good aquaplaning resistance, safe snow handling balance.
Poor snow braking, reduced grip in the wet grip tests, high rolling resistance.
The Michelin Alpin 6 finished seventh overall. As usual, it was a very good tire in the dry with the shortest dry braking, however its wet and snow performance didn't live up to the usual Michelin brand expectations and it had one of the highest rolling resistances on test. A test to forget for the French manufacturer, especially after the Michelin CrossClimate 2 won the Tire Reviews all season test in the same size and same conditions.
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8th: Kleber Krisalp HP3
Excellent in the snow, high aquaplaning resistance, low noise.
Long wet and dry braking distances.
The Kleber Krisalp HP3 was another tire that excelled in the snow, and it had great straight aquaplaning resistance, and while it was nowhere near as bad as the Petlas in the wet, it still couldn't match the best on test, especially in the important wet braking test meaning eighth overall is the best it could manage.
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9th: Petlas Snow Master W651
Excellent in the snow, fastest snow handling lap, best snow traction and good snow braking. Very low rolling resistance.
Extremely long wet and dry braking distances, very difficult to control in wet handling, very low aquaplaning resistance.
The Petlas Snowmaster W651 really is the snow master of this group, finishing as one of best in the three snow tests. However like other budget tires it can't continue that performance onto other surfaces and is particularly bad in wet handling, with low grip and a very difficult balance.