Writing about the Nokian WR A3
Driving on a combination of roads
for 3500 spirited
I got these to replace the Nokian WR G2s that I'd had on for the previous 3 winters (and they would have lasted this winter too had I not left them on last summer). The G2s were excellent, and the A3s are better in every way except one: the turn in on high speed corners is not as tight, but the G2s were a lower profile at 215/45 R17 so I'll put that down to the change in size rather than a failing of the tyre design itself.
That aside, the A3s are brilliant. I've had them on for a couple of months now. Firstly in the mild conditions we had in the south west of england in november/december. They took a few hundred miles to wear in, during which time grip was not as good as I was used to, and I got some wheel-spin pulling away from hill-start junctions and some skidding and over-use of ABS, but once they were bedding in properly they tightened up a lot. Now they are very sure footed in the dry and also exceptional on damp to wet roads, with very little ABS action even with heavy braking on a damp road.
This winter has been very mild in the UK so far, compared to the last couple, but over the festive period I had the opportunity to test these tyres properly during a 2,400 mile round-trip through the Swiss/Italian alps to the Apennine mountains of Tuscany, and back via the Swiss/French alps and the mountain resort of Chatel.
Driving past Bologne on christmas eve saw the first encounter of snow as it fell on the motorway. Just a dusting really but as other cars slowed down a lot and pulled over from the outside lane, the car felt solid and sure-footed on the Nokians.
Later that evening, coming over a very windy mountain pass in Tuscany saw more snowfall as we climbed over the peaks, with up to 2-3 inches of snow on the roads. My car being a performance AWD vehicle fitted with appropriate tyres, I relished the slippery corners of the mountain pass with a big grin on my face. The back only stepped out of place when encouraged to do so with ample use of the throttle, and the front was only affected by understeer if going into the tight bends with a bit too much speed for the amount of lying fresh snow. In the case of the latter, a bit more throttle balanced it out nicely, or a slight tap on the brakes, which only once or twice got the ABS going.
It was on the return through the alps that I really got to put these to the test. 6" of fresh snow over 20+ miles, and in the coming days the same snow with more on top, all compacted and icy. Again the car was sure-footed and steadfast on the Nokians, only showing signs of faltering when I was getting slightly too confident, or having too much fun.
Of course I brought snow chains on the journey as most alpine regions and also other parts of italy require them by law if conditions dictate. They're the same set of chains I brought last time I did this journey 3 years (4 winters) ago when the WR G2s were new, and I've never fitted them to the car in all that time. With AWD and both sets of Nokians I've never had the need to fit the chains, not on packed ice roads, not in 10+ inches of snow, and they're solid on cold british winter roads, weather dry or wet.
The A3s are also very quiet, no problem with noise on the many motorway miles I did during this journey.
Will have to see how the wear goes, the G2s were good for 4 winters, I expect the A3s will be at least as good on wear.
Lastly, in this size they were very reasonable priced bought online from lovetyres, and spread over 4 winters they represent astounding value for money, especially when you consider a) the hassle they will save you if/when it snows or the roads are icy, and b) the fact they they could easily save your life, or at least that of your car in such conditions. At under £90 per year, that's a bargain!
If you have a RWD or FWD car, a full set of these will transform winter handling even without snow, and when the snow does come you can be confident that you'll still be able to get around. If you have an AWD car, these tyres will make you virtually unstoppable in ice and any snow that your car's clearance will pass.
I'm very happy with my choice (although next time I will go back to the 17" size for better turn in on dry roads), and I would recommend them to anyone. I don't understand why these aren't reviewed more in the media, as they represent such astounding value for money. Bear in mind they take a few hundred miles to break in properly, which I think is why they haven't scored so well in some group tests.