We carried out a number of different tests in snow, in the wet and in the dry to recreate the different conditions of winter.
Our test recreates the moment when the traffic suddenly stops and you stamp on the brakes. We hit the brakes, triggering the anti-lock system at 25mph, and slowed to 12mph. Using road test gear, we calculated how long it would take to come to a halt. The result is an
average of several stops.
This test measures just how much grip each pattern has. With the traction control off, we repeatedly accelerated in second gear from walking pace until the wheels spun, and used a g-meter to measure the traction. As with the braking test, the result is based on two complete tests each made up of an average of 20 measurements.
The last of the machine tests on snow measures the cornering force each tyre has. On freshly graded snow, we drove at a steady 19mph, swerving from side to side, using the same amount of lock each way. A g-meter measured the side forces generated by each tyre and an average of several runs was used to determine the final result.
The sweeps, climbs and hairpins of the handling track combine all the tests done on the lake a few kilometres away. We turned off our VW Golf’s stability control to let the tyres reach their limits, but retained the anti-lock brakes. We did several laps on each tyre, using the best for our results.
All those tiny sipes that open and grip on snow have to deal with deep-standing water here. The test measures how quickly the tread can pump out water from under the tyre. The car is hooked on to a rail system and repeatedly accelerated with one wheel in a 7mm water trough. The difference in wheelspin is measured, plus the speed when it hits 15 per cent – the point control is lost.
There's no rail system here as the car is repeatedly driven through a flooded section of a tarmac circle. A g-meter measures the side force as speeds are increased until all grip is lost. This assesses how well water is pumped out from under the tread when cornering. Both aquaplaning test results are based on average scores.
With temperatures hovering around seven degrees Celsius, where winter tyres start to have an advantage, we took an average of several laps of the track for this result. We kept braking points the same and found time by carrying more speed and accelerating earlier.
Drivers are most likely to get to or exceed the limit of their tyres’ grip when emergency stopping on wet roads, and this is one of the reasons why it is part of the new tyre labelling laws. A rail ensures precisely the same parts of the flooded braking strip are used to stop from 50mph. A series of stops was done and an average taken for the final ranking. Like wet handling, this test was carried out when the temperature was around seven degrees Celsius.
Tread patterns with sipes and small tread blocks are not ideal for dry road handling. Those flexible tread blocks that work so well on snow move around on tarmac, reducing grip. We timed a section of the dry handling track, which included a number of long sweeps and quick direction changes. Average times were used for a ranking.
Imagine repeatedly emergency stopping from motorway speeds and you get the idea of this test. We used the same strip of tarmac for all tyres, measuring from 62mph to a stop, allowing the brakes to cool between each test. Extreme results were removed and an average taken of the remainder for our result.
Not to be confused with the rating included in the new tyre- labelling legislation which measures ‘pass by’ noise. Our test focuses on what drivers are most concerned about – interior noise. It was done on the Contidrom’s noise, vibration and harshness track, coasting on tickover from 50mph on a variety of surfaces. We took an average of the noise readings recorded on each tyre.
Critical for fuel economy and included on the new labels that must be shown to all tyre buyers from 1 November. Our test, done to industry standards, measures the power needed to turn a steel drum on its own, and when there is a tyre pressed on to it. The less power needed, the more fuel-efficient the tyre. Our results are based on an average of two tyres. Around a five per cent drop in rolling resistance means a one per cent cut in fuel consumption.
This is the crucial factor for most drivers – but shouldn’t be, given how critical tyres are to staying safe. That’s why it plays a small role in our ranking. The prices here come from our test-winning online tyre retailer lovetyres.com and are correct at the time of writing. The Linglong figure is what lovetyres.com would charge if it was part of its range. It delivers tyres to buyers, so add around £13 to the figures here to cover fitting and delivery.