Winter tyres test: reviews and prices 2014

Winter tyres test online review 2013
16 Jan, 2014 6:30am Kim Adams

Winter tyres UK test and review 2014: price, quality and cheap tyres

Winter tyres: when the cold weather sets in, the need for improved grip becomes a big issue on the roads. So if you're thinking about increasing the safety of your car, read our winter tyres test 2014 via the links to the left.

With up to three times the grip of standard summer tyres when driving on snow, the improved safety winter tyres offer is clear. Winter tyres also have better grip in the wet when temperatures go below seven degrees - which is a significant chunk of the year, especially for commuters. With a rough winter forecasted for this year, wintr tyres are looking like an even better investment.

Some 4x4 owners might say they don't need the extra grip that winter tyres provide - but that's not actually true. Our winter tyres vs 4x4 grip test video proves otherwise with some startling results.

The doubters, however, point to the lack of snow in much of the UK, plus the extra cost of storing summer tyres when not in use. However the improved traction in the wet and with new ‘hotels’ to store tyres while off your car readily available, it's undoubtedly worth buying a set of winter tyres for your car if you plan on driving over the colder months.

 Driving in the snow

It's also important to know how to drive in the snow. You can read our helpful advice and tips for a detailed look at the subject, but here's an overview. The first thing to know about snow driving is to be prepared - make sure you leave early, take extra kit with you (for example, a shovel and warm clothes), and make sure there's no ice on the wipers or in the washer jets.

Once you're on the road, drive smoothly, without using sudden movements. The same goes for the brakes - try not to lock up and trigger the ABS system (on modern cars). If you do start to slide, stay calm and straighter the wheels to allow them to turn and gain grip. Of course, always think further ahead so you're not surprised by a tricky stretch of road or a sudden need to brake.

But which winter tyre to buy? Winter tyre development has stepped up in recent years, with speed ratings climbing and a steady stream of new designs hitting the market. To find out which is now the one for your car, we headed for the sub-zero temperatures of Nokian’s test centre in Ivalo, close to the Russian border in northern Finland.

For the tarmac tests we used Nokian’s proving ground in Tampere, Finland, using a Skoda Octavia. Eight tyres in the highly popular 225/45R17 size – as found on big-selling hatchbacks and family saloons – were put through their paces. We also used our test-winning summer tyre in this size as a comparison to see the advantage winter rubber has in slippery conditions.

As you’ll see, the results were incredibly revealing...

• Test car used: Skoda Octavia 

How we found a winner

We did a number of tests, and try to ensure all have the same influence on the overall result. So, for easy comparison, we rated the winner of each test at 100 per cent and scored the others relative to that. First, we add up the percentage scores for each test. Then, we apply a weighting to ensure that tests with a large performance gap between best and worst– such as aquaplaning – count the same as those with a small gap. Price is only a minor consideration.

We tested:

- Snow braking
- Snow traction
- Snow circle
- Snow handling
- Slushplaning
- Straight aquaplaning
- Curved aquaplaning
- Wet handling
- Wet braking
- Dry handling
- Dry braking
- Cabin noise
-Rolling resistance
- Price 

1st place - Nokian WR D3
2nd place - Continental ContiWinterContact TS 850
 3rd place - Goodyear UltraGrip 8 Performance 

Disqus - noscript

"Despite two relatively mild winters"
what planet have you been living on? it may of been mild in the south but not everybody lives there.

I dont doubt that winter tires offer higher levels of traction and safety, but for me, they are a financial extravagence too far.

Where is the comparison with the summer tyres ?

This is a review from about 3 years ago. Thank goodness for copy and paste :)

I never understand why they don't consider all season tyres in these reviews. In our temperate climate with variations from -2 to plus 10 in the same day, mild wet winter days and sub zero early spring mornings, they are the obvious choice.

What about mid range and budget brands like Falken and Nankang? Many motorists will be buying these cheaper brands it would be interesting to see how they stand against the premium tyres featured by AE.

and bridgestone?

They have included Hankook for the mid range brand and Zeta as a budget brand.

Why were the Michelin PA4 high performance tyres not included?.
They have been tested by "Yourselves" and YOU said they were the "Best high performance winters tested" Ha Ha you guys need a longer memory.

I suggest you leave your car @ home for obvious reasons in that case...

Three Winters ago I bought a set of four, used 4.5mm tread remaining Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D from a German Tyre importer and put them on our Galaxy. We had plenty of snow and they were quite simply superb - stop, start, hills, cambers, turns all with ease and better than my Range Rover especially once the snow was compacted. Paid £120 inc delivery and fitting and got 2 winters out of them. Have just bought four Vredestein Wintrac 4 Extremes for the same money. I can get about if the weather is bad and its cheaper than fixing at best a broken bumper - a headlight costs £120 these days...

Cant afford winter tyres?
Ask yourself :-
Would you play football or rugby in your brogues? How much do you pay for a pair of Adipures?
How much is your car / job/ family worth?
Still can't afford Winter tyres?

There is no comparison. Summers will not work at all in the winter. Period.

You're joking , right?

Put on a set of Matador's last week for £320 fitted. This is Continental's budget range and already they are proving themselves in the wet and cold at night. Even if they only last two years that's only £160 a year, which is peanuts. The alternative is not to be able to use the car in icy weather, and to have terrible grip in the rain. Modern low profile summer tyres are just awful in winter, so winter tyres have become a must.

Why can't we have a summary table for these sorts of test that shows the individual results for each tyre? We can then see the comparisons you have made in rating them. If we want it we have to do a lot of cutting and pasting into Excel.

Shown in the paid for publication, can't give it all away for free!

eh...exactly which 'big-selling' hatchbacks use a 225/45R17 size tyre then ? That size represents the minority of cars, hence the reason more credible tyre tests go with 205/55R16 tyres. I've never seen Nokian top the reviews before - seems rather suspicious considering the fact you carried out the tests at their own test-centre.
As others have said, only listing a top 3 is daft and pointless.
Message for people who don't think it's a good idea have winter wheels - if you get a set and use them for 6 months each year, you'll then only use your summer tyres half as much. So after say, 10 years you finally need to replace both sets of tyres, you won't have actually spent more money overall on tyres compared to replacing in single set every 5 years. You can get plain black steel wheels new for about £40 each, or even less 2nd hand. I spent £700 on TS 850s and new alloys (a German make, can't remember the name), all fitted and delivered. Believe me, it's worth the investment, even if it does take up space in the garage and mean faffing with a jack and spanners twice a year.

Cant read the results for the Michelin tyres says dont have permission. Please FIX

Period?! Full Stop you mean surely. Yanks posting on Autoexpress - whatever next?

Nope, totally serious. Never had a problem yet getting stuck with normal/summer tyres with plentiful tread on FWD car. There is also the small point of being a good driver in poor weather conditions. Winter tyres will not stop you having a crash in winter weather!!

See above reply to 'coladin'

Interesting Nokian won on it's own test track. . . .
For the record I have an Octavia 4x4 fitted with Goodyear Vector 4Season M+S 205/60/15 (Same as standard Tyre size) We drove from Guernsey up to see the relatives in Finland for Christmas, drove over to Norway for the New Year before driving back across Scandinavia and Europe. As a true all rounder they are A-MA-ZING! Dry roads in France, rain in Belgium, freezing slush in Germany, Powder Snow in Sweden, -18C Ice Roads in Finland, and the whole lot in Norway! In a race around a track the Conti 850 would win, but the Vectors are great on predictability. Very easy to feel grip and in nearly 4000 miles of winter driving we didn't have a single 'moment'! If I was to get full winters it would be the Utragrips or the Conti, with the highest profile Tyre & wheel combination I could get over the brake calliper.

The first time I drove on my M+S tyres was from Guernsey to Austria. As I was going through Verdun it started to snow very lightly and the roads were not treated. I didn't feel any difference, but the bloke following behind me span out, collected the car next to him and slammed them both in to the side of the cutting. Winter tyres stopped me crashing on winter weather. He didn't have as good tyres as me and paid the price. As I have a small child I put a priority on keeping the car correctly serviced for the conditions. It's a basic as antifreeze.

Interesting! I think new tyres are absolutely a great investment over the winter period.

That said, we all put off these extra safety measures until winter officially arrives, but you never know when that is in the UK - it could be July!

Better to be safe...

Winter tyres will absolutely prevent you having accidents in cold weather. I drive an Allroad Quattro, pretty capable in slippery conditions, but with M&S tyres it is totally transformed, stops better, grips better and is far more capable than when on its P Zero's below 7 degrees, and in the snow there is no comparison.
If you think winter tyres are extravagant then you have not used them. If you can't tell the difference you are not as good a driver as you think you are.
On top of that, deeper, narrower rubber provides better rim protection from potholes.

The summer and winter tires are SO much better...summers are better all year except on ice and snow...and winter tires so much better on ice and snow without giving up wet performance...I would not go back to all-seasons

I drove my motorcycle all year with summer tires in British Columbia with Brit weather... and Ontario and only once was I caught out on an ice covered bridge where cars with all-seasons were also losing control

My Skoda Octavia vRS, has Continental TS 850 225/45 17 94XL because of the large brake discs & calipers..

With ATS Radial rims and some shopping around the whole lot came in at the £950 mark, the ride is smooth & quiet and better than the stock summer tyres, so I can see in the spring the stock summer tyres being traded in for some better Conti's.

I had Nokian WRG2 winter tyres and they were ok but nowhere near as good as Vredestein Wintracs which never won any tests so to see Nokians beating the Conti which has cleaned up elsewhere is a tad suspicious

And don't forget while you're using your winter tyres, you're not wearing out your summers.

M+S,marks and spencer?

Only listing a top 3...?
I see a top 8, you don't?

Winter tyres and M & S tyres are two distinct things

AEX 1,341
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