2020 Nordic and Studded Winter Tyre Test

Test Summary
Dry BrakingPetlas Glacier W661: 29 M
Sava Eskimo Ice: 32.1 M
Subj. Dry HandlingPetlas Glacier W661: 10 Points
Linglong Winter Unicorn: 06 Points
Wet BrakingPetlas Glacier W661: 29.7 M
Linglong Winter Unicorn: 40.4 M
Wet HandlingPetlas Glacier W661: 33.7 s
Michelin X Ice North 4: 35.4 s
Subj. Wet HandlingGoodyear UltraGrip Ice 2: 9 Points
Nexen Winguard Ice Plus WH43: 6 Points
Snow BrakingContinental VikingContact 7: 50.2 M
Sunny SN3860: 53.6 M
Snow TractionContinental IceContact 3: 5.9 s
Sunny SN3860: 6.5 s
Snow HandlingContinental VikingContact 7: 48.3 s
Sunny SN3860: 53.2 s
Subj. Snow HandlingBridgestone Noranza 001: 9 Points
Sunny SN3860: 5 Points
Ice BrakingNokian Hakkapeliitta 9: 37.8 M
Sunny SN3860: 54.6 M
Ice TractionMichelin X Ice North 4: 3.7 s
Nexen Winguard Ice Plus WH43: 6.9 s
Ice HandlingMichelin X Ice North 4: 57.3 s
Sunny SN3860: 72 s
Subj. Ice HandlingMichelin X Ice North 4: 10 Points
Petlas Glacier W661: 04 Points
Subj. NoiseContinental VikingContact 7: 9 Points
Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9: 6 Points
Rolling ResistanceNokian Hakkapeliitta R3: 0.01 kg / t
Linglong Winter Unicorn: 5.30 kg / t
If you're planning on undertaking a massive Nordic friction and studded winter tyre test, having the right facilities to conduct the test in is key. Fortunately for Test World, they own one of the best independent arctic testing facilities in the world which is why we're super excited to see this 21 tyre test, covering all the key friction studless and studded winter tyres on the market.

All tyres are in the popular 205/55 R16, and were tested using a VW Golf. There were some interesting new tyres in the test, including the first test of the studless Michelin X-Ice Snow.

Many of the premium brands included have both studless friction and studded winter tyres in the test, which is why you'll see them twice in the data, so as you're going through the results looking at your favourite tyre make sure you're looking at the right version of it.

Overall, the usual contenders in the winter segment came out top. Continental, who dominate the European winter tyre tests, joint won the test alongside Michelin. 

The studded Continental IceContact 3 proved to have an excellent all round ability, with no huge weakness for a studded tyre, and the new studded Michelin X-Ice North 4 dominated on ice, and performed well in nearly all other criteria, showing only a slight weakness during wet handling testing.

Winter specialists Nokian aren't having the best time in the European winter segment at the moment, but they'll be happy with third place for their studded Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 tyre, and even happier as the winning studless friction tyre on test being awarded to the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3. 

One other interesting point for European readers, you'll notice some of the best tyres in the dry and wet are rated as some of the worst tyres overall in this test. This serves as a nice reminder that friction and studded tyres are tyres designed for climates that see extreme winters, which mean snow and ice on the ground for many months constantly. None of these tyres are suitable for a central European winter, where dry and wet is the dominant weather, so don't try fitting them in climates like the UK.

Dry

In the dry the budget Petlas Glacier W661 narrowly beat the Michelin X-Ice North 4. Sadly there was no objective dry handling data, the subjective data can be found in the overall results below.

Wet

The Petlas also proved best during wet testing, winning wet braking and wet handling.

Snow

Colder testing reversed the fortunes of the Petlas tyre, finishing at the back of the pack in all the snow and ice testing.

Continental dominated snow braking, taking first place with the studless VikingContact and second place with the studded IceContact 3

Continental again took the top two spots during snow traction testing, this time with the studded tyre ahead of the studless.

Snow handling testing brought a little advantage to the studless tyres, with the VikingContact again proving best, and the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 finishing second.

Ice

Ice testing naturally brings the advantage back to studded tyres, with the Michelin X-Ice North 4 matching the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 as the best during ice braking.

Michelin, Continental and Nokian also took the top three sports during ice traction.

Michelin rounded out the ice testing with anoher win for the X Ice North 4.

Environment

The tyres were rated subjectively for noise, with seven of the tyres on test finishing joint top.

Rolling resistance scores were based on the best tyre (Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3) being set at zero, then other the tyres ratings being how much more fuel they would use represented as a percentage.

Results

1st: Continental IceContact 3

Continental IceContact 3
Dry Braking6th+0.9 M
Subj. Dry Handling2nd-1 Points
Wet Braking3rd+3.7 M
Wet Handling11th+1.2 s
Subj. Wet Handling3rd-1 Points
Snow Braking2nd+0.2 M
Snow Traction1st
Snow Handling5th+0.5 s
Subj. Snow Handling1st
Ice Braking3rd+1.1 M
Ice Traction2nd+0.1 s
Ice Handling4th+2.9 s
Subj. Ice Handling4th-2 Points
Subj. Noise15th-2 Points
Rolling Resistance11th+2.99 kg / t
Positive: Short braking distances and good lateral stability on ice (but with a sharp maneuver there is a risk of skidding), good handling and control on snow, good handling in the dry.

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1st: Michelin X Ice North 4

Michelin X Ice North 4
Dry Braking2nd+0.3 M
Subj. Dry Handling5th-2 Points
Wet Braking5th+6.2 M
Wet Handling20th+1.7 s
Subj. Wet Handling9th-2 Points
Snow Braking4th+0.4 M
Snow Traction4th+0.1 s
Snow Handling8th+0.7 s
Subj. Snow Handling1st
Ice Braking1st
Ice Traction1st
Ice Handling1st
Subj. Ice Handling1st
Subj. Noise17th-3 Points
Rolling Resistance15th+3.59 kg / t
Positive: Excellent handling on ice - the tires reliably hold grip in any situation, including, for example, when hitting an icy area while cornering, good handling and a high level of safety on snow, good wet grip.
Negative: Tendency to understeer in the dry, high rolling resistance.

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3rd: Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9

Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9
Dry Braking8th+1 M
Subj. Dry Handling14th-3 Points
Wet Braking7th+6.9 M
Wet Handling15th+1.4 s
Subj. Wet Handling9th-2 Points
Snow Braking6th+0.5 M
Snow Traction4th+0.1 s
Snow Handling8th+0.7 s
Subj. Snow Handling1st
Ice Braking1st
Ice Traction2nd+0.1 s
Ice Handling3rd+1.5 s
Subj. Ice Handling2nd-1 Points
Subj. Noise17th-3 Points
Rolling Resistance14th+3.29 kg / t
Positive: High grip and excellent handling on ice, good handling in the snow, good directional stability.
Negative: Slow steering and poor handling in the dry.

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4th: Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3

Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3
Dry Braking3rd+0.4 M
Subj. Dry Handling5th-2 Points
Wet Braking9th+7.4 M
Wet Handling3rd+0.8 s
Subj. Wet Handling3rd-1 Points
Snow Braking11th+1 M
Snow Traction10th+0.2 s
Snow Handling2nd+0.1 s
Subj. Snow Handling1st
Ice Braking7th+4.7 M
Ice Traction8th+1.7 s
Ice Handling6th+3.5 s
Subj. Ice Handling4th-2 Points
Subj. Noise1st
Rolling Resistance1st
Positive: No obvious flaws, short braking distances and excellent handling on ice, very good handling and confident behavior on snow, above average performance in the dry and wet, stable during sharp maneuvers, low noise level, low rolling resistance.

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5th: Bridgestone Noranza 001

Bridgestone Noranza 001
Dry Braking18th+2.5 M
Subj. Dry Handling14th-3 Points
Wet Braking11th+7.7 M
Wet Handling16th+1.5 s
Subj. Wet Handling17th-3 Points
Snow Braking14th+1.3 M
Snow Traction1st
Snow Handling5th+0.5 s
Subj. Snow Handling1st
Ice Braking4th+1.9 M
Ice Traction4th+0.2 s
Ice Handling2nd+1.3 s
Subj. Ice Handling2nd-1 Points
Subj. Noise17th-3 Points
Rolling Resistance18th+4.29 kg / t
Positive: Good overall performance on ice, stable snow performance.
Negative: Long braking distances in the snow, dry and wet, inaccurate steering response and oversteer in the dry.

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6th: Hankook Winter i pike RS2

Hankook Winter i pike RS2
Dry Braking14th+1.6 M
Subj. Dry Handling5th-2 Points
Wet Braking4th+5.1 M
Wet Handling8th+1.1 s
Subj. Wet Handling9th-2 Points
Snow Braking6th+0.5 M
Snow Traction10th+0.2 s
Snow Handling11th+1 s
Subj. Snow Handling8th-1 Points
Ice Braking6th+3.9 M
Ice Traction6th+0.3 s
Ice Handling11th+4.3 s
Subj. Ice Handling4th-2 Points
Subj. Noise17th-3 Points
Rolling Resistance7th+2.39 kg / t
Positive: Good traction on ice, good handling and grip in the wet.
Negative: Relatively long ice braking with a tendency to oversteer on ice and in the snow, average braking in the dry.

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6th: Continental VikingContact 7

Continental VikingContact 7
Dry Braking12th+1.3 M
Subj. Dry Handling14th-3 Points
Wet Braking13th+8.8 M
Wet Handling6th+1 s
Subj. Wet Handling3rd-1 Points
Snow Braking1st
Snow Traction1st
Snow Handling1st
Subj. Snow Handling1st
Ice Braking9th+5.4 M
Ice Traction9th+1.8 s
Ice Handling7th+3.7 s
Subj. Ice Handling4th-2 Points
Subj. Noise1st
Rolling Resistance5th+2.09 kg / t
Positive: Short braking distances and excellent handling in the ice, optimum controllability in the snow, good handling in the wet.
Negative: Oversteer balance in the dry.

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8th: Michelin X Ice Snow

Michelin X Ice Snow
Dry Braking16th+2.2 M
Subj. Dry Handling5th-2 Points
Wet Braking15th+8.9 M
Wet Handling13th+1.3 s
Subj. Wet Handling3rd-1 Points
Snow Braking2nd+0.2 M
Snow Traction4th+0.1 s
Snow Handling3rd+0.4 s
Subj. Snow Handling1st
Ice Braking8th+4.9 M
Ice Traction7th+1.6 s
Ice Handling7th+3.7 s
Subj. Ice Handling8th-3 Points
Subj. Noise8th-1 Points
Rolling Resistance4th+1.79 kg / t
Positive: Short braking on ice (for a studless tyre), good handling and high level of safety in the snow, well balanced in the dry.
Negative: Slight slower steering response on ice, relatively long dry braking.

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9th: Linglong Green Max Winter Grip 2

Linglong Green Max Winter Grip 2
Dry Braking4th+0.5 M
Subj. Dry Handling18th-4 Points
Wet Braking10th+7.6 M
Wet Handling11th+1.2 s
Subj. Wet Handling17th-3 Points
Snow Braking8th+0.7 M
Snow Traction16th+0.3 s
Snow Handling14th+1.2 s
Subj. Snow Handling8th-1 Points
Ice Braking4th+1.9 M
Ice Traction4th+0.2 s
Ice Handling13th+4.5 s
Subj. Ice Handling8th-3 Points
Subj. Noise15th-2 Points
Rolling Resistance19th+5.19 kg / t
Positive: Short braking distances on ice, balanced in the snow, short dry braking distances.
Negative: Average ice handling, slow steering response in the dry, high rolling resistance, unbalanced ride quality.

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10th: Pirelli Ice Zero FR

Pirelli Ice Zero FR
Dry Braking8th+1 M
Subj. Dry Handling14th-3 Points
Wet Braking19th+9.6 M
Wet Handling8th+1.1 s
Subj. Wet Handling9th-2 Points
Snow Braking10th+0.8 M
Snow Traction4th+0.1 s
Snow Handling13th+1.1 s
Subj. Snow Handling8th-1 Points
Ice Braking13th+6.2 M
Ice Traction11th+1.9 s
Ice Handling5th+3.4 s
Subj. Ice Handling8th-3 Points
Subj. Noise1st
Rolling Resistance8th+2.59 kg / t
Positive: Short dry braking distances.
Negative: Unstable behavior on ice and snow, very long wet braking distances, lack of directional stability.

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10th: Goodyear UltraGrip Ice 2

Goodyear UltraGrip Ice 2
Dry Braking15th+1.7 M
Subj. Dry Handling5th-2 Points
Wet Braking6th+6.8 M
Wet Handling2nd+0.4 s
Subj. Wet Handling1st
Snow Braking4th+0.4 M
Snow Traction10th+0.2 s
Snow Handling16th+1.5 s
Subj. Snow Handling16th-2 Points
Ice Braking9th+5.4 M
Ice Traction9th+1.8 s
Ice Handling15th+6 s
Subj. Ice Handling8th-3 Points
Subj. Noise8th-1 Points
Rolling Resistance3rd+1.69 kg / t
Positive: Good traction and short braking distances on ice, short braking distances and good handling in the wet, low rolling resistance.
Negative: Relatively low lateral stability on ice, tendency to understeer in the snow, poor steering response in the dry.

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12th: Hankook Winter I cept iZ2 W616

Hankook Winter I cept iZ2 W616
Dry Braking12th+1.3 M
Subj. Dry Handling2nd-1 Points
Wet Braking13th+8.8 M
Wet Handling3rd+0.8 s
Subj. Wet Handling3rd-1 Points
Snow Braking11th+1 M
Snow Traction10th+0.2 s
Snow Handling10th+0.8 s
Subj. Snow Handling8th-1 Points
Ice Braking12th+5.7 M
Ice Traction15th+2.2 s
Ice Handling16th+6.7 s
Subj. Ice Handling15th-4 Points
Subj. Noise8th-1 Points
Rolling Resistance2nd+0.39 kg / t
Positive: Logical behaviour without unpleasant surprises in the snow, low rolling resistance, slow to react in the dry.
Negative: Unstable handling in the wet and on ice.

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13th: Sava Eskimo Ice

Sava Eskimo Ice
Dry Braking20th+3.1 M
Subj. Dry Handling2nd-1 Points
Wet Braking15th+8.9 M
Wet Handling5th+0.9 s
Subj. Wet Handling9th-2 Points
Snow Braking17th+1.8 M
Snow Traction4th+0.1 s
Snow Handling15th+1.3 s
Subj. Snow Handling8th-1 Points
Ice Braking11th+5.6 M
Ice Traction13th+2 s
Ice Handling12th+4.4 s
Subj. Ice Handling15th-4 Points
Subj. Noise1st
Rolling Resistance13th+3.19 kg / t
Positive: Good braking performance on ice, confident and stable dry handling.
Negative: Inaccurate steering in the wet, long dry braking distances.

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15th: Linglong Winter Unicorn

Linglong Winter Unicorn
Dry Braking6th+0.9 M
Subj. Dry Handling18th-4 Points
Wet Braking20th+10.7 M
Wet Handling19th+1.6 s
Subj. Wet Handling9th-2 Points
Snow Braking13th+1.2 M
Snow Traction10th+0.2 s
Snow Handling3rd+0.4 s
Subj. Snow Handling8th-1 Points
Ice Braking14th+7.2 M
Ice Traction13th+2 s
Ice Handling14th+4.7 s
Subj. Ice Handling8th-3 Points
Subj. Noise1st
Rolling Resistance20th+5.29 kg / t
Negative: Slow steering response response on ice and snow, low grip and insufficient handling in the dry and wet, high rolling resistance.

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16th: Bridgestone Blizzak Ice

Bridgestone Blizzak Ice
Dry Braking11th+1.2 M
Subj. Dry Handling5th-2 Points
Wet Braking17th+9 M
Wet Handling13th+1.3 s
Subj. Wet Handling17th-3 Points
Snow Braking17th+1.8 M
Snow Traction16th+0.3 s
Snow Handling18th+2.5 s
Subj. Snow Handling8th-1 Points
Ice Braking15th+8.1 M
Ice Traction15th+2.2 s
Ice Handling9th+3.9 s
Subj. Ice Handling8th-3 Points
Subj. Noise1st
Rolling Resistance9th+2.89 kg / t
Positive: Good handling in the snow, balance handling and short braking distances in the dry.
Negative: Understeer balance in the wet.

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17th: Nankang Ice Activa 2

Nankang Ice Activa 2
Dry Braking19th+2.7 M
Subj. Dry Handling18th-4 Points
Wet Braking12th+8.5 M
Wet Handling6th+1 s
Subj. Wet Handling9th-2 Points
Snow Braking16th+1.7 M
Snow Traction4th+0.1 s
Snow Handling5th+0.5 s
Subj. Snow Handling8th-1 Points
Ice Braking17th+9.7 M
Ice Traction17th+2.5 s
Ice Handling10th+4.2 s
Subj. Ice Handling8th-3 Points
Subj. Noise1st
Rolling Resistance6th+2.29 kg / t
Positive: Acceptable handling in the snow and on wet roads.
Overall: Low traction and braking on ice, poor grip and imprecise steering in the dry.

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18th: Nexen Winguard Ice+ WH43

Nexen Winguard Ice Plus WH43
Dry Braking17th+2.3 M
Subj. Dry Handling5th-2 Points
Wet Braking18th+9.4 M
Wet Handling16th+1.5 s
Subj. Wet Handling17th-3 Points
Snow Braking15th+1.6 M
Snow Traction10th+0.2 s
Snow Handling17th+1.7 s
Subj. Snow Handling16th-2 Points
Ice Braking16th+9.5 M
Ice Traction20th+3.2 s
Ice Handling17th+7.8 s
Subj. Ice Handling15th-4 Points
Subj. Noise8th-1 Points
Rolling Resistance12th+3.09 kg / t
Negative: Poor grip on ice and snow, long braking distances and poor controllability in the dry and wet, high rolling resistance.

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18th: Petlas Glacier W661

Petlas Glacier W661
Dry Braking1st
Subj. Dry Handling1st
Wet Braking1st
Wet Handling1st
Subj. Wet Handling1st
Snow Braking19th+3 M
Snow Traction16th+0.3 s
Snow Handling19th+2.6 s
Subj. Snow Handling19th-3 Points
Ice Braking19th+12.7 M
Ice Traction19th+2.9 s
Ice Handling19th+13.5 s
Subj. Ice Handling20th-6 Points
Subj. Noise8th-1 Points
Rolling Resistance9th+2.89 kg / t
Positive: Very good braking and handling in the dry and wet.
Negative: Very weak grip on ice, understeer in the snow.

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18th: Toyo OBSERVE GSI 6 HP

Toyo OBSERVE GSI 6 HP
Dry Braking5th+0.8 M
Subj. Dry Handling5th-2 Points
Wet Braking7th+6.9 M
Wet Handling8th+1.1 s
Subj. Wet Handling9th-2 Points
Snow Braking8th+0.7 M
Snow Traction16th+0.3 s
Snow Handling11th+1 s
Subj. Snow Handling16th-2 Points
Ice Braking18th+10.3 M
Ice Traction18th+2.8 s
Ice Handling18th+10 s
Subj. Ice Handling18th-5 Points
Subj. Noise8th-1 Points
Rolling Resistance17th+4.09 kg / t
Positive: Stable handling in the snow, short braking distance in the wet, stable and short braking distances in the dry.
Negative: Poor ice performance, high rolling resistance, high noise.

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21st: Sunny SN3860

Sunny SN3860
Dry Braking10th+1 M
Subj. Dry Handling5th-2 Points
Wet Braking2nd+2.8 M
Wet Handling18th+1.5 s
Subj. Wet Handling8th-2 Points
Snow Braking20th+3.4 M
Snow Traction20th+0.6 s
Snow Handling20th+4.9 s
Subj. Snow Handling20th-4 Points
Ice Braking20th+16.8 M
Ice Traction12th+1.9 s
Ice Handling20th+14.7 s
Subj. Ice Handling18th-5 Points
Subj. Noise14th-2 Points
Rolling Resistance16th+3.99 kg / t
Positive: Very short wet braking distances.
Negative: Practically no grip on ice and almost as bad in the snow, erratic handling in the wet.

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