2016 Auto Express Winter Tyre Test

Issue 1,443 of the weekly UK publication Auto Express contains their excellent 2016 winter tyre test! This year Auto Express have tested eight winter tyre patterns in 205/55 R16 using a VW Golf, and like other publications have included an all season and summer tyre for comparison.

All Season and Summer

While the paraphrased winter tyre test results can be found below, and the full results on the Auto Express website, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the summer and all season tyres comparative performance to the full winters.

Summer

Unsurprisingly, the summer Dunlop Sport BluResponse tyre failed completely in the snow, providing only 30% of the best winter tyres braking and just 19% of a winter tyres traction. Also unsurprisingly, the summer test was the best in the dry, stopping the car 18% sooner than the best winter, and being the fastest in the dry handling lap, albeit only by 1.6%.

Somewhat more surprising was the summer tyres performance in the wet, particularly wet braking. It's often found that even at the cross over temperature of 7c, summer tyres still offer a wet braking advantage due to the compromises sipes, the small cuts in rubber in winter tyres, have under braking. Auto Express found, when testing around 4-5c, the summer tyre could only 63.8% of the best winters braking result, a huge disadvantage.

All Season

The Nokian WeatherProof all season tyre highlighted the interesting conundrum of winter-bias all season tyres.

When compared to the test winning Continental WinterContact TS860, the Nokian all season had better snow traction, better snow braking, better snow handling, worse wet braking and wet handling, worse dry handling, and only slightly better dry braking.

Looking at the balance of performance of the two tyres, the Nokian is infact the better winter tyre, and the Continental the better all season tyre. The results of the Auto Express all season tyre test, due next week, will make for interesting reading!

Full Results

Continental WinterContact TS 8601st: Continental WinterContact TS 860
Total: 100 / Overall: 100
Overall: Another test, and another win for the new Continental WinterContact TS860. Somehow the newcomer managed to be the best tyre in dry handling, wet handling, wet braking, had the lowest fuel use AND lowest cabin noise. While it wasn't the best tyre in the snow, it was close enough, taking second place in snow braking and third place in snow handling. The only real weakness was aquaplaning, where it scored fifth and seventh overall. The best winter tyre of the test, and a more of an "all season" tyre than the all season tyre.

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Nokian WR D42nd: Nokian WR D4
Total: 99.7 / Overall: 99.7
Overall: Like the test winning Continental, the Nokian WR D4 excelled in almost every test. It had the strongest snow braking and traction results, finished third and fifth in wet braking and handling tests, won dry braking and was within 1% of the best in dry handling. The main weakness of the Nokian was the rolling resistance, where it finished last, a full 15% behind the best in test.

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Pirelli Cinturato Winter3rd: Pirelli Cinturato Winter
Total: 99.3 / Overall: 99.3
Overall: The new Pirelli Cinturato winter takes a well deserved third place. Like the Nokian, the Pirelli was strong in the snow and the wet, and while it didn't win any of the tests overall, it always placed strongly in the key areas. It struggled a little more in the dry, placing sixth and seventh in dry braking and handling, but neither result was more than 3% worse than the best, such as the closeness of the test. Again like the Nokian, the tyres rolling resistance was the real weakness, 15% worse than the best.

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Goodyear UltraGrip Performance Gen 14th: Goodyear UltraGrip Performance Gen 1
Total: 99 / Overall: 99
Overall: Like the top three tyres, the Goodyear proved to be an extremely balanced winter tyre, only narrowly being beaten by the new patterns for 2016. Second in both the snow and wet braking tests, it struggled a little on the wet circle test, and finished last in the dry handling test, albeit only 1.9% behind the winning Continental. Unlike the Nokian and Pirelli, the Goodyear had an excellent rolling resistance score, placing third.

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Michelin Alpin 55th: Michelin Alpin 5
Total: 98.5 / Overall: 98.5
Overall: The Michelin Alpin 5 proved to be a snowmaster, winning the snow circle and snow handling tests, but as with many modern Michelin tyres, had a compromised aquaplaning result. A strong balance in the dry, and third place in the wet handling tests were highlights. Not the best rolling resistance on test, but not the worst.

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Bridgestone Blizzak LM0016th: Bridgestone Blizzak LM001
Total: 98.4 / Overall: 98.4
Overall: The Bridgestone Blizzak LM001 finished last year's winter test dead last, so being close to the Michelin and sixth overall will be a welcome result. Excellent aquaplaning results and low cabin noise boosted the overall score, however the tyre struggled in the wet, and particularly dry braking where it finished last. Due an update in 2017.

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Dunlop Winter Sport 57th: Dunlop Winter Sport 5
Total: 97.7 / Overall: 97.7
Overall: The Dunlop Winter Sport 5 proved to be an excellent dry weather tyre, equalling second place in dry handling and dry braking. The results slipped to mid pack in the wet, and was the worst overall in the snow. Second overall in the rolling resistance test saved it from last place overall.

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Hankook Winter i cept RS28th: Hankook Winter i cept RS2
Total: 97.6 / Overall: 97.6
Overall: Like the Dunlop, the Hankook was happiest in the dry. In the wet the RS2 struggled, a full 19% behind the best in the wet braking, and second to last in the snow testing. While Hankooks summer tyres are now amongst the best, the winter tyres need more development.

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