2010 marks the start of the UK automotive magazine industry taking winter tyres seriously with the largest weekly magazine publishing the 2010 Auto Express winter tyre test.
Auto Express launched its interest of winter tyres with style, testing 6 premium winter tyres against 13 rigorous tests and included an all season and summer tyre for comparison. All tyres were tested in 205/55 r15 on a VW Golf.
The snow tests covered the braking, traction and handling of the various tyres on a snow covered frozen lake. Braking was tested first, and of the winter tyres the Goodyear was the only tyre to dip below 18 metres. The rest of the winter tyres were extremely close, stopping within 2 metres of the Goodyear while the all season tyre needed another 5 metres.
The summer tyre stopped in a massive 43.14 metres, 25 metres longer than the winter tyre! This means when you had stopped on the winter tyre, you would still be doing 20 mph on the summer tyre having both braked from 25mph!
The Goodyear also outperformed the rest of the tyres in the traction test, with over 3 times the grip of the summer tyre. The snow handling lap was very close, with all 6 winter tyres finishing within seconds of each other over the 100 second lap. Unsurprisingly summer tyre was a handful, offering very little grip and took over 160 seconds to get the car to the finish.
For the UK climate a winter tyres wet performance is more important than the snow performance, with wet braking being the top priority.
At near freezing temperatures the Dunlop and Continental winter tyres out performed the summer tyre during the wet braking test. At 7+c this result was reversed, but in both tests the results were extremely close.
The summer tyres more sporty tread design helped it win the wet handling course (at 7+c) but the Nokian was an extremely close second thanks to sporty handling and good feel. Once again, the results were close with just 3 seconds between the best time and the worst time, which was set by the all season tyre. Unfortunately the wet handling course wasn't run again in colder temperatures as the wet braking run was.
The Goodyears aggressive tread design won the aquaplaning tests with the all season scoring poorly in last place. The Nokian was the last of the winter tyres due to a tread pattern optimised for clearing slush rather than water.
Unsurprisingly, the summer tyre won the dry tests in the relatively warm temperatures, winning the braking test by stopping the car in just 39.2 metres. Reflecting other summer VS winter tests, the best winter tyre stopped approximately 10% behind the summer tyre at 44 metres. The dry handling test was much closer, with the Dunlop and Nokian just 2% behind the summer tyres laptime.
Fuel Economy and comfort
Proving once again that winter tyres aren't noisy fuel guzzlers, four of the six winter tyres had a lower rolling resistance than the summer tyre while two of the winter tyres were actually quieter than the summer counter part.
Auto Express have done a great job highlighting the importance of winter tyres to the UK public. Auto Express thoroughly recommend winter tyres for the UK climate thanks to the increased safety they bring. You can find the full write up in issue 1138.