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Best all-season tyres 2020: the top all-weather tyres tested and reviewed

The UK’s variable weather makes it a prime market for all-season tyres, but which set is best? We test them back-to-back.

Booming sales mean that all-season tyres are not just the focus for drivers looking to deal with extreme conditions, but also producers, who are updating or expanding their ranges to meet demand. The pace of change means that several new tyres have been launched since our test started in early March, too.

Our all-season test faced the same challenges as our winter one, so although our snow and wet tests were completed before the pandemic struck Europe, quarantine requirements meant we had to forego our usual dry handling assessment. However, while this has a greater role in all-season tyres than for winter designs, it’s still not a key performance area. To ensure we still had a set of useful results, proving ground staff completed dry braking and cabin noise tests on our behalf.

We return to the popular 225/45 R17 size here, and bought samples to ensure we tested what you can buy. Goodyear and Hankook supplied their samples, but we later ensured these were the same as those on sale by comparing wet braking results with purchased sets.

There’s been a change of focus in some all-season tyres, with a greater emphasis on wet and dry performance at the expense of snow grip. Continental, with its new generation of all-season tyres, took the win when we last tested this size. Will it prevail again, or will the more winter-focused tyres succeed?

What we tested

We bought what the maker specified in terms of speed and weight ratings. Speed ratings covered V (up to 150mph) to Y (up to 186mph). We’ve included each tyre’s EU label, too, with A being the best for economy (RR) and wet grip (WG). The pass-by noise figure (N) is in decibels, and the lower it is, the better.

Tyre ratings

Tyre

Load

Speed

Economy / Rolling Resistance (RR)

Wet grip (WG)

Noise (N - decibels)

Continental AllSeasonContact

94

V

C

B

72

Cooper Discoverer All Season

94

W

C

B

70

Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3

94

W

C

B

70

Hankook Kinergy 4S2

94

W

C

B

70

Michelin CrossClimate+

94

W

C

B

69

Vredestein Quatrac Pro

94

Y

E

B

71

How we tested the tyres

Snow 

We broke new ground this year with our winter testing because, despite returning to Ivalo in northern Finland once again, we were at a new facility – Hankook’s Technotrac. It’s next door to the Test World facility we used with the Korean producer in 2016, and features two handling circuits plus areas for straight-line tests. 

We used the 1,200m flat handling track, which combined long sweeps that allowed the tyre’s balance to be assessed, with tighter sections testing lateral grip and traction on lock. Average lap times provided the result. Traction and braking were combined into one test, timing how long it took to accelerate from 12-31mph and then the distance taken to slow to 6mph. An average of several runs was used.

Wet 

It was back to the familiar surroundings of the Contidrom near Hanover, Germany, for wet testing. No need to learn the handling track here because we’ve completed hundreds of laps around the circuit, which weaves its way through trees inside the banked oval. Average times from a series of laps formed the result. 

On the way to the handling track we timed 10 laps around the wet circle, which provided a measure of pure lateral wet grip. The site’s rail system ensured that every stop in the braking test was done on same piece of tarmac. We measured the distance taken to stop from 50mph, and did a series of runs to get a result. 

The rail was used again for straight aquaplaning, where the car was accelerated with one wheel in 9mm of water. The speed where the tyre in the water was spinning 15 per cent faster than the other – the point where control is lost – was measured over multiple runs. The water depth dropped to 6mm for the lateral test, where the car was driven at increasing speeds around a large tarmac circle with one section flooded. Lateral g-force was measured until all grip was lost through the flooded track.

Dry 

No handling tests this year thanks to travel restrictions, but proving ground staff completed braking, measuring the distance taken to stop from 62mph. An average of stops was used to get the result.

Rolling resistance Key for fuel economy, this measures, to industry standards, the force required to roll a weighted tyre. To see a one per cent change in fuel consumption requires around a five per cent movement in rolling resistance.

Noise 

Unlike the EU label, which measures pass-by noise using specially sealed cars to focus on what the tyre generates, our test focused on cabin levels. This year it was measured at 62mph on smooth tarmac.

Price 

We used online tyre retailer and multiple Auto Express test winner Black Circles to provide our fully fitted prices. The figures are what it charged at the time of writing; if it does not stock a tyre, the cost is what it would charge. Price plays a small role in the overall ranking, because our test prioritises performance and safety.

Picking a winner

To reflect the UK’s weather, snow performance was 10 per cent of the overall result, with wet representing 50 per cent and the remainder split between the other tests. 

Essentially we converted the results into percentages. These were then added together, with weighting in each category designed to ensure tests with a wide performance difference did not have undue influence on the result. We also focused on the safety-critical tests – braking and handling. In each tyre’s results, the winner was rated at 100 per cent and the rivals ranked relative to that benchmark.

More all-season tyre reviews

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Get ready for winter on the roads

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