2015 Sport Auto 19 Inch Winter Tyre Test

Test Summary
Best tyre for dry roadsContinental WinterContact TS 850 P
Best tyre for wet roadsContinental WinterContact TS 850 P
Best tyre for snowPirelli Winter Sottozero 3
The best tyre overallContinental WinterContact TS 850 P
The lowest fuel useContinental WinterContact TS 850 P
The quietest tyreVredestein Wintrac xtreme S
Nokian WR D4
Nankang Activa SV 55
This year, Sport Auto have tested seven different UHP winter tyres in 235/35 R19, on a VW Golf R.

Snow

Testing in Northern Finland for snow performance, the Pirelli won the snow tests with a precise steering response, quick lap time and solid traction and braking results. Other tyres stopped slightly quicker, but they lacked the Pirellis speed and balance during the other tests. Continental was the second best in test, winning braking and placing well in all the other tests, and the Michelin had an equally strong showing to third. The budget tyres from Star Performer and Nankang found themselves outclassed by the premium brands in the snow, finishing at, or near the bottom in all four tests.

19

Wet

For wet and dry testing, Sport Auto moved to Germany. Wet braking was dominated by Michelin, but with the budget Star Performer a surprise second place narrowly beating Continental, which rounded out the top three.

Wet cornering was similarly surprising, with Continental moving up to the top spot, star performer staying second and Vredestein taking third place. While the raw numbers showed the Star Performer to be up there with the Continental, the subjective balance was far more difficult to manage than the premium winner, with the car switching to sudden oversteer with the budget tyre, where the Continental offered safe, gradual understeer.

Dry

The dry performance was again dominated by Continental, winning three of the four tests. Star Performer have proven you can make a winter tyre work in two of the three categories, but it's very rare to find one tyre at the front of all the dry, wet and snow testing. Somehow, Continental have managed this with the TS850P.

Endurance testing

One test we've not seen before was a high speed rig test. VW tyre standards require tyres endure 10 minutes of running at 174 mph, so Sport Auto setup a rig with -3 negative camber (higher than the specification) and started running the tyres at 168 mph for 10 minutes. All tyres managed this, but when increased to the required 174 mph the Nankang and Star Performer tyres failed almost immediately. The Continental, Michelin, Nokian and Pirelli were fine up until 199 mph, and the Vredestein survived for 10 minutes at 205 mph!

Results

Continental WinterContact TS 850 P1st: Continental WinterContact TS 850 P
Total: 53.7 / Dry: 9.7 / Wet: 9.2 / Snow: 8.6 / Rolling Resistance: 10 / Noise: 7 / Overall: 9.2
Positive: Short braking distances on snow and dry roads, good handling and a high level of safety in the wet, precise steering response, low rolling resistance
Negative: Relatively low lateral stability on snow
Overall: Particularly recommended

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Michelin Pilot Alpin 42nd: Michelin Pilot Alpin 4
Total: 50.6 / Dry: 8.6 / Wet: 9 / Snow: 9 / Rolling Resistance: 8 / Noise: 7 / Overall: 9
Positive: Short braking distances and very good handling on snow, short braking distances on wet surfaces, good handling on dry surfaces
Negative: Relatively long braking distance on dry roads, weak resistance to aquaplaning
Overall: Particularly recommended

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Pirelli Winter Sottozero 33rd: Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3
Total: 49.9 / Dry: 8.7 / Wet: 8.3 / Snow: 9.3 / Rolling Resistance: 8 / Noise: 7 / Overall: 8.6
Positive: Excellent lateral stability and excellent handling on snow, good handling on dry roads
Negative: Weak resistance to aquaplaning
Overall: Recommended

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Vredestein Wintrac xtreme S4th: Vredestein Wintrac xtreme S
Total: 50.5 / Dry: 9 / Wet: 7.8 / Snow: 8.4 / Rolling Resistance: 7 / Noise: 10 / Overall: 8.3
Positive: Short braking distance and good traction on snow, acceptable handling and precise steering response on dry and wet surfaces, very low noise level
Negative: Average lateral stability and long braking distances on wet surfaces, poor resistance to aquaplaning
Overall: Recommended

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Nokian WR D45th: Nokian WR D4
Total: 50.2 / Dry: 7.4 / Wet: 7.9 / Snow: 8.8 / Rolling Resistance: 8 / Noise: 10 / Overall: 8.1
Positive: Good balance of features, short braking distances on snow , good resistance to aquaplaning, low noise level
Negative: Long braking distances on dry and wet surfaces, tendency to oversteer during an emergency maneuver in the dry, average handling on dry roads
Overall: Recommended

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Star Performer SPTS AS6th: Star Performer SPTS AS
Total: 45.6 / Dry: 9.1 / Wet: 8.7 / Snow: 6 / Rolling Resistance: 6 / Noise: 8 / Overall: 7.8
Positive: Short braking distances on dry and wet roads, good steering feel and control on wet tarmac
Negative: Very low grip and a strong tendency to understeer in the snow, high rolling resistance, high noise level
Overall: Conditionally recommended

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Nankang Activa SV 557th: Nankang Activa SV 55
Total: 44.5 / Dry: 8 / Wet: 6.5 / Snow: 6.9 / Rolling Resistance: 6 / Noise: 10 / Overall: 7.1
Positive: Acceptable level of safety in the dry
Negative: Low lateral stability and overall weak grip on snow, long braking distances on dry and wet surfaces, poor resistance to aquaplaning, high noise level, high rolling resistance
Overall: Not recommended

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