Winter 2014 is here, and it's set to be another warm, wet winter. Naturally, this raises the question as to whether winter tyres are worth fitting, and while we're not likely to see the snowmageddon of 2011, the right tyre can still provide you with noticeable benefits, plus the added protection of mobility should the snow come.
2014 has seen three new premium winter tyre launches: the Continental Winter Contact TS850P, the Goodyear UltraGrip 9, and the Michelin Alpin 5. While all three move the performance of the tyres forward, they are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. This leaves our 2014 recommendations much the same as 2013, in short, you can't go wrong buying a Continental, Goodyear, Dunlop or Michelin premium winter tyre, with Nokian and Uniroyal also putting out excellent products at a slightly more wallet friendly price.
The main task of a European winter tyre is to balance wet and snow performance. Unfortunately for the wet UK climate, winter tyre manufacturers can lean too far towards snow performance, which work better in climates which see more snow and freezing conditions. Ideally, what we need in the UK is a "wet optimised" winter tyre, and thankfully these exist.
Modern all season tyres are simply winter tyres with a little more bias towards dry and wet running. This means while a full winter tyre might be 10% better in snow performance, the modern all season tyre should work better in the majority of the wet English winter. All season tyres also come with the added bonuses of being many, many times better than a summer tyre in the snow, which means they're slightly more up to the task of being run year round.
One slight caveat worth noting - don't get lulled into a false sense of security with all season tyres and think they're the BEST option for 365 days of motoring. We'd still recommend the switch back to summer tyres in the spring, as even the best all season tyre can't match a summer tyre in warm, dry conditions.
Once again, finding the "correct" all season tyre for the UK is difficult. No English car publication tests all season tyres, and when the Europeans test all season tyres they still concentrate on snow performance, giving snow scoring the highest weight in the final positions. We've linked relevant tests below, but for the majority of the United Kingdom, we'd recommend looking at the Bridgestone A001, Falken Euroall Season AS200, Vredestein Quatrac Lite, or Goodyear Vector 4Season
Winter Tyre Information
All Season Tyre Tests
Winter Tyre Tests