2011 Sport Auto Performance Winter Tyre Test

With wheel sizes steadily increasing, 225/45 R17 is fast becoming the most popular tyre size for the average car. With this in mind, Sport Auto have tested 5 high performance winter tyres in 225/45 R17 on a rear wheel drive BMW 3 Series to see which tyre combines best snow characteristics, with an all round sporty dry and wet performance. Unsurprisingly, with such a premium product the results are very close. The Nokian, despite being the cheapest tyre on test, manages to blend leading snow performance with the best dry handling, but drops a few points in the wet tests on its way to overall victory. The Dunlop Winter Sport 4D places second thanks to a strong all round performance, and the Michelin wins the wet weather tests, but finishes 3rd thanks to a comparatively poor snow effort.

The Goodyear finishes 2 points behind the Michelin, with a very similar overall result to its Dunlop brother, albest slightly weaker in the snow and the Pirelli finishes 5th, extremely strong in the wet but disappointing in the dry and the snow.

What do these results show? With hundreds of millions of pounds spent in research and development, even the best winter tyres still have to compromise in certain areas. With the results so close, it's important to make sure you pick a tyre that is right for your driving conditions.

The Results:

1st: Nokian WR D3

Nokian WR D3
  • 225/45 R17
  1. Total: 248
  2. Dry: 68
  3. Wet: 81
  4. Snow: 99
The Finnish brand Nokian clearly show their snow expertise by winning the snow and dry tests, combining two key qualities of a winter tyres. When wet, the D3 score slightly weakens due to poor "on the limit handling", switching between under and oversteer.

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2nd: Dunlop SP WinterSport 4D

Dunlop SP WinterSport 4D
  • 225/45 R17
  1. Total: 243
  2. Dry: 63
  3. Wet: 90
  4. Snow: 90
The Dunlop Winter Sport 4D is the winter tyre to have on any terrain. Characterised by good ride, the Dunlop narrowly missed out on the test win due to slightly poor dry braking.

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3rd: Michelin Alpin A4

Michelin Alpin A4
  • 225/45 R17
  1. Total: 242
  2. Dry: 67
  3. Wet: 95
  4. Snow: 80
Perhaps the sportiest tyre on test, the Michelin Alpin A4 wins the wet tests and only trails the leading dry tyre by 1 point. Unfortunately it seems the sporty characteristics in the dry and wet leave the Michelin scoring poorly in the snow, leaving the BMW with understeer.

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4th: Goodyear Ultra Grip Performance 2

Goodyear Ultra Grip Performance 2
  • 225/45 R17
  1. Total: 240
  2. Dry: 62
  3. Wet: 92
  4. Snow: 86
While the Goodyear is closely related to the Dunlop, the different design approaches are obvious. The Goodyear has a much safer approach, which leaves the car understeering when it could develop extra grip at the risk of dynamic instability. Still, a good all round result, only slightly weaker than the Dunlop in the snow.

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5th: Pirelli Sottozero Serie II

Pirelli Sottozero Serie II
  • 225/45 R17
  1. Total: 232
  2. Dry: 60
  3. Wet: 94
  4. Snow: 78
When wet, the Pirelli is one of the best tyres for a sporty drive, giving just a little understeer on the limit. Unfortunately the Pirelli can't carry the performance through to the dry or the snow, taking over 2 metres longer than the Nokian to stop in the dry.

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