2021 Tyre Reviews Winter Tyre Test

In this tyre test we take nine of the best performance winter tyres in the popular 225/40 R18 size and test them in the dry, wet and of course snow to see what the best winter tyre is for the 2021/22 autumn and winter.

Dry BrakingMichelin Pilot Alpin 5: 37.95 MImperial Snowdragon UHP: 41.3 M
Dry HandlingMichelin Pilot Alpin 5: 44.8 sDunlop Winter Sport 5: 46.01 s
Wet BrakingBridgestone Blizzak LM005: 27.92 MImperial Snowdragon UHP: 38.03 M
Wet HandlingBridgestone Blizzak LM005: 49.09 sImperial Snowdragon UHP: 54.6 s
Straight AquaMichelin Pilot Alpin 5: 83.1 Km/HNokian Snowproof P: 75.4 Km/H
Curved AquaplaningBridgestone Blizzak LM005: 85.1 m/sec2Nokian Snowproof P: 76.5 m/sec2
Snow BrakingMichelin Pilot Alpin 5: 15.67 MImperial Snowdragon UHP: 16.99 M
Snow TractionMichelin Pilot Alpin 5: 5.26 sImperial Snowdragon UHP: 5.65 s
Snow HandlingMichelin Pilot Alpin 5: 86.2 sGT-Radial WinterPro2 Sport: 92.81 s
Snow CircleMichelin Pilot Alpin 5: 33.99 SGT-Radial WinterPro2 Sport: 36.3 S
Subj. ComfortDunlop Winter Sport 5: 10 PointsBridgestone Blizzak LM005: 8 Points
NoiseNokian Snowproof P: 68.6 dBHankook Winter i cept evo3: 73.2 dB
PriceImperial Snowdragon UHP: 55 Michelin Pilot Alpin 5: 127.29
Rolling ResistanceBridgestone Blizzak LM005: 8.566 kg / tGT-Radial WinterPro2 Sport: 10.612 kg / t
As always, we're testing some of the best central european / milder climate winter tyres on the market, and have a summer tyre as a reference tire so you can see the difference between winter and summer tires in the dry, wet and snow.

These are not nordic / extreme winter tires as found in the northern parts of North America, there will be a seperate test for these in the future.

225/40 R18 is a popular winter tyre size for vehicles such as the Audi A3 / A4, VW Golf GTI / R, BMW 1 Series and 3 Series, and many other vehicles with this wheel size.

Dry

Testing at 3c, the slowest around the dry handling lap were the Dunlop and Goodyear pairing, both exactly 1.21 seconds, or 2.5% off the fastest lap. Both tyres felt controllable, predictable and nice to drive on, but ultimately both lacking grip in these cool dry conditions.

Next up was the Hankook and GT Radial, both around a second off the best time. The Hankook was one of the softer feeling tyres around the dry handling, it didn't feel super precise and didn't appreciate being pushed laterally but it did feel great on the brakes, whereas the GT felt like it had some good traction out of the corners, but would lose some time mid apex.

Fifth, fourth and third was Bridgestone, Continental and Nokian. They all seemed to have similar levels of grip across the lap, however the Nokian was the nicest to drive quickly, offering a nice rounded grip circle and predictable handling.

Second place was the Imperial budget tyre. It didn't feel that good on the brakes, but cornering it felt like the best tyre here. Almost as if it's a summer compound that they've stuck some sipes in. Watch this space to see how that develops.

Finally, the fastest tyre of the group, nearly matching the summer tyres lap time, was the Michelin Pilot Alpin 5. This tyre wasn't the most fun to drive, probably sitting 3rd or 4th subjectively, but it had lots of grip both laterally and on the brakes.

As for the summer tyre, well, that was the fastest, and the most fun to drive, and the quickest to steer, and the most direct on brakes, everything you'd expect from a summer tyre, but at the 3c test temperature, it didn't have a huge advantage. Summer tyres usually lead in the dry at any temperature.

Dry braking was again led by the Michelin Pilot Alpin 5, with over a meter gap to the second placed Hankook Winter Icept evo 3, and Continental placed third with the new WinterContact TS870P. The summer tyre just edged out the winters at the cool 3c temperatures.

Wet

Like the dry, we tested at 2.5c to 3c in the wet, and like in dry, the group overall was very close.

Unable to repeat the surprise performance in the dry, the Imperial had the lowest levels of grip by far, it was over 10% behind the best, and if that doesn't sound much in your head, it really is when you're driving on it. Even though the grip circle felt rounded, it was rounded with no grip as you were constantly waiting on grip in all directions, you seemed to be sliding constantly, and you felt more like a passenger. Not recommended.

The next group of tyres consisted of Nokian, GT Radial and Dunlop. They were around 5%, or 2 seconds of the best, and all three sets of tyres just felt lower in grip than the fastest in the group. The Nokian and Dunlop both had a hint of oversteer in their balance, which made the car feel more playful, but ultimately cost time when combined with the limited traction, whereas the GT Radial needed to be driven in a really neat manner to make a quick lap.

Getting nearer the sharp end were the Continental, Michelin, and Goodyear, all around 1.5% off the best, or less then a second! The Continental felt like it had a very safe understeer balance with good lateral grip, but lost out a little in traction, and overall it just felt a little numb. The Michelin improved the steering feel a little, but again seemed to be a little traction limited, where the Goodyear was an easy tyre to drive quickly, giving more confidence than previous tyres and a neutral balance with just a hint over understeer.

While Hankook was only a few tenths on, I've separated it because it was my favorite subjectively being really lovely to drive and feeling like it had excellent grip in all directions. It just worked really well with the Golf 8, almost like it was an OE tyre and the lap time reflected that.

The Bridgestone Blizzak LM05 was over half a second faster than any other tyre! When testing blind, I've no idea what tyre I'm driving on, but when I'm making my notes in the car I like to try and guess which tyre is which, and after running wet braking, the Bridgestone was obvious. The tyre has grip, and lots of it. HOWEVER, it didn't feel that sporty, which meant I definitely found the Hankook and Michelin way more enjoyable to drive the lap on, which is an interesting tradeoff. Best grip, vs most fun. That's why I give you this data, so you can pick.

The summer tyre struggled at the cooler temperatures, it felt like it was sitting on the road rather than keying into it and it was a constant fight to get the car around the lap.

The Bridgestone LM005s wet advantage continued in wet braking, with nearly 1.5 meters advantage to the second placed Continental. Hankook again placed well, nearly tying with the summer tyre which fared better in wet braking than in handling. The budget winter tyre stopped over TEN meters behind the bridgestone, which is a huge gap and could easily be the difference between stopping and a crash.

There were some interesting differences between straight and curved aquaplaning, but on average the Continental, Goodyear and Hankook performed the best across both tests.

Snow

As with the all season test, I was unable to travel to Nokian tyres impressive winter testing facility due to travel restrictions, so instead hired a finnish independant test driver to perform the snow testing.

Snow traction was led by the Michelin Pilot Alpin 5, with the Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+ in second and Hankook Winter i*cept evo 3 in third.

Snow braking was again led by the Michelin Pilot Alpin 5, this time with the Nokian SnowProof P and Continental WinterContact TS870P in second and third places, which also closely matched snow circle results.

Snow handling rounded out the incredible Michelin performance with the French tyre again proving best in the important snow handling test, which makes it a flawless snow result for the Pilot Alpin 5. The tester said the Michelin had "Excellent overall grip level, Best balance between front and rear and steers effectively even though rear doesn’t slip much. Feels like Nordic winter tyre."

Goodyear placed second across the snow handling lap, 1.5% behind the michelin and described as having good balance with good front axle grip at all steering angles. The tyre oversteers a bit which helps turning.

Third place went to the consistent Hankook, which like the goodyear had excellent front axle grip at big steering angles and a stable rear axle, and the fourth place continental had a sharp front end and resisted oversteer very well.

As with the all season test, the summer tyre could barely make it to the circuit.

Environment

The Nokian Snowproof P had the lowest noise on test, with the impressive Michelin and Continental also performing well.

The Dunlop, Goodyear and Continental led the way in subjective comfort.

The Bridgestone and Continental also had the lowest rolling resistance, which is impressive given their performance in the dry and wet!

There was over 100% price difference between the best and worst tyres on test, with the cheap Imperial tyre once again proving you often get what you pay for with tyres.

Results

1st: Continental WinterContact TS 870 P

Continental WinterContact TS 870 P
  • 225/40 R18 92V
  • EU Label: C/B/71
  • Code: 0421
  • Origin: Germany
  • Weight: 9.08kgs
  • Tread: 8.5mm
  • 3PMSF: no
Test#ResultBestDifference%
Dry Braking3rd39.25 M37.95 M+1.3 M96.69%
Dry Handling4th45.51 s44.8 s+0.71 s98.44%
Wet Braking2nd29.41 M27.92 M+1.49 M94.93%
Wet Handling5th49.94 s49.09 s+0.85 s98.3%
Straight Aqua2nd80.8 Km/H83.1 Km/H-2.3 Km/H97.23%
Curved Aquaplaning4th83.9 m/sec285.1 m/sec2-1.2 m/sec298.59%
Snow Braking3rd16.24 M15.67 M+0.57 M96.49%
Snow Traction5th5.48 s5.26 s+0.22 s95.99%
Snow Handling4th88.22 s86.2 s+2.02 s97.71%
Snow Circle4th34.76 S33.99 S+0.77 S97.78%
Subj. Comfort3rd9.5 Points10 Points-0.5 Points95%
Noise3rd69.8 dB68.6 dB+1.2 dB98.28%
Price7th111.48 55 +56.48 49.34%
Rolling Resistance2nd8.758 kg / t8.566 kg / t+0.19 kg / t97.81%
A winter tyre with no real weaknesses. Excellent in all conditions and all tests.
Slightly slow steering.
The brand new Continental WinterContact TS870P was the king of consistency, and is a mighty impressive tyre. In many ways you could argue it's the best tyre on test, as the lowest it placed across all fifteen categories I scored on was fifth in wet handling, but only 0.9 seconds off the best, and fifth in snow traction. Every other test was "green", meaning it was in the top group of tyres.

Interestingly, it didn't win a single test, but with a string of fourth, thirds and second places in every single category, you can't help but appreciate the engineering that has gone into this tyre. It essentially has no drawbacks, which is an engineering masterpiece!

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1st: Michelin Pilot Alpin 5

Michelin Pilot Alpin 5
  • 225/40 R18 92V
  • EU Label: E/B/70
  • Code: 3320
  • Origin: Spain
  • Weight: 10.10kgs
  • Tread: 7.6mm
  • 3PMSF: no
Test#ResultBestDifference%
Dry Braking1st37.95 M100%
Dry Handling1st44.8 s100%
Wet Braking6th30.99 M27.92 M+3.07 M90.09%
Wet Handling4th49.8 s49.09 s+0.71 s98.57%
Straight Aqua1st83.1 Km/H100%
Curved Aquaplaning7th80.8 m/sec285.1 m/sec2-4.3 m/sec294.95%
Snow Braking1st15.67 M100%
Snow Traction1st5.26 s100%
Snow Handling1st86.2 s100%
Snow Circle1st33.99 S100%
Subj. Comfort4th9 Points10 Points-1 Points90%
Noise2nd69.4 dB68.6 dB+0.8 dB98.85%
Price9th127.29 55 +72.29 43.21%
Rolling Resistance4th9.142 kg / t8.566 kg / t+0.58 kg / t93.7%
Significant lead in the dry and snow tests, best straight aquaplaning resistance, low external noise, low rolling resistance.
Average wet performance with extended wet braking and poor curved aquaplaning resistance, high purchase price.
The Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 won both dry handling and dry braking, and was the best in ALL FOUR SNOW TESTS, and even had the second lowest noise and fourth lowest rolling resistance! It lost points in the important wet braking test where it only managed 6th, where the Continental was second, and while it was best in the straight aquaplaning test it could only manage seventh in the curved aquaplaning test. An excellent winter tyre for a climate which sees a lot of snow.

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3rd: Hankook Winter i cept evo3

Hankook Winter i cept evo3
  • 225/40 R18 92V
  • EU Label: E/B/72
  • Code: 3420
  • Origin: Korea
  • Weight: 9.1kgs
  • Tread: 8.1mm
  • 3PMSF: no
Test#ResultBestDifference%
Dry Braking2nd39.11 M37.95 M+1.16 M97.03%
Dry Handling7th45.81 s44.8 s+1.01 s97.8%
Wet Braking3rd29.61 M27.92 M+1.69 M94.29%
Wet Handling2nd49.7 s49.09 s+0.61 s98.77%
Straight Aqua4th79.7 Km/H83.1 Km/H-3.4 Km/H95.91%
Curved Aquaplaning3rd84.4 m/sec285.1 m/sec2-0.7 m/sec299.18%
Snow Braking4th16.27 M15.67 M+0.6 M96.31%
Snow Traction3rd5.38 s5.26 s+0.12 s97.77%
Snow Handling3rd87.95 s86.2 s+1.75 s98.01%
Snow Circle3rd34.69 S33.99 S+0.7 S97.98%
Subj. Comfort4th9 Points10 Points-1 Points90%
Noise9th73.2 dB68.6 dB+4.6 dB93.72%
Price2nd94.24 55 +39.24 58.36%
Rolling Resistance8th10.131 kg / t8.566 kg / t+1.57 kg / t84.55%
Short dry braking, very good performance in all wet tests including aquaplaning and the best subjectively around the wet handling lap, very good grip in all snow tests.
Sightly reduced dry handling performance, high external noise, high rolling resistance.
It's third place for the Hankook Winter I Cept Evo 3, another impressive tyre from Hankook, they certainly seem to be on a roll at the moment!

The only deficiencies in performance was a high external noise, high rolling resistance, and average dry handling, everywhere else the tyre excelled. It had the second shortest dry braking, second fastest wet handling lap with my favourite subjective handling, good wet braking, good aquaplaning resistance, and very good grip in all four snow tests.

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4th: Bridgestone Blizzak LM005

Bridgestone Blizzak LM005
  • 225/40 R18 92V
  • EU Label: C/A/72
  • Code: 4819
  • Origin: Poland
  • Weight: 9.84kgs
  • Tread: 8.1mm
  • 3PMSF: no
Test#ResultBestDifference%
Dry Braking8th41.11 M37.95 M+3.16 M92.31%
Dry Handling5th45.61 s44.8 s+0.81 s98.22%
Wet Braking1st27.92 M100%
Wet Handling1st49.09 s100%
Straight Aqua6th79.4 Km/H83.1 Km/H-3.7 Km/H95.55%
Curved Aquaplaning1st85.1 m/sec2100%
Snow Braking5th16.28 M15.67 M+0.61 M96.25%
Snow Traction8th5.59 s5.26 s+0.33 s94.1%
Snow Handling7th90.56 s86.2 s+4.36 s95.19%
Snow Circle6th35.88 S33.99 S+1.89 S94.73%
Subj. Comfort9th8 Points10 Points-2 Points80%
Noise5th70.5 dB68.6 dB+1.9 dB97.3%
Price8th111.68 55 +56.68 49.25%
Rolling Resistance1st8.566 kg / t100%
By far the best performance in wet braking and wet handling, good dry handling, excellent curved aquaplaning resistance, lowest rolling resistance on test.
Long dry braking, poor grip in the snow with very low snow traction.
The Bridgestone Blizzak LM005 is again the wet specialist, dominating the wet testing. This performance comes at the expense of dry and snow performance, making this an unbalanced tyre more suited to a winter climate that sees a lot of rain.

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5th: Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+

Goodyear UltraGrip Performance Plus
  • 225/40 R18 92V
  • EU Label: E/B/72
  • Code: 4520
  • Origin: Germany
  • Weight: 9.48kgs
  • Tread: 9.1mm
  • 3PMSF: no
Test#ResultBestDifference%
Dry Braking7th40.87 M37.95 M+2.92 M92.86%
Dry Handling8th46.01 s44.8 s+1.21 s97.37%
Wet Braking5th30.39 M27.92 M+2.47 M91.87%
Wet Handling3rd49.76 s49.09 s+0.67 s98.65%
Straight Aqua3rd80.3 Km/H83.1 Km/H-2.8 Km/H96.63%
Curved Aquaplaning2nd84.5 m/sec285.1 m/sec2-0.6 m/sec299.29%
Snow Braking5th16.28 M15.67 M+0.61 M96.25%
Snow Traction2nd5.3 s5.26 s+0.04 s99.25%
Snow Handling2nd87.54 s86.2 s+1.34 s98.47%
Snow Circle5th34.78 S33.99 S+0.79 S97.73%
Subj. Comfort2nd9.8 Points10 Points-0.2 Points98%
Noise8th72.1 dB68.6 dB+3.5 dB95.15%
Price6th106.58 55 +51.58 51.6%
Rolling Resistance5th9.427 kg / t8.566 kg / t+0.86 kg / t90.87%
Good grip in the wet with high aquaplaning resistance, excellent grip in the snow.
Slow dry handling lap, high external noise, high rolling resistance.
The Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+ had good grip in the wet and snow, but couldn't match the best tyres in the test in the dry. The Goodyear is usually well priced for a premium tyre.

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6th: Dunlop Winter Sport 5

Dunlop Winter Sport 5
  • 225/40 R18 92V
  • EU Label: E/C/72
  • Code: 2920
  • Origin: Germany
  • Weight: 9.26kgs
  • Tread: 9.1mm
  • 3PMSF: no
Test#ResultBestDifference%
Dry Braking6th40.39 M37.95 M+2.44 M93.96%
Dry Handling8th46.01 s44.8 s+1.21 s97.37%
Wet Braking4th30.36 M27.92 M+2.44 M91.96%
Wet Handling6th50.72 s49.09 s+1.63 s96.79%
Straight Aqua4th79.7 Km/H83.1 Km/H-3.4 Km/H95.91%
Curved Aquaplaning5th83.4 m/sec285.1 m/sec2-1.7 m/sec298%
Snow Braking7th16.4 M15.67 M+0.73 M95.55%
Snow Traction4th5.39 s5.26 s+0.13 s97.59%
Snow Handling5th89.18 s86.2 s+2.98 s96.66%
Snow Circle7th35.92 S33.99 S+1.93 S94.63%
Subj. Comfort1st10 Points100%
Noise7th71.2 dB68.6 dB+2.6 dB96.35%
Price5th101.87 55 +46.87 53.99%
Rolling Resistance6th9.624 kg / t8.566 kg / t+1.06 kg / t89.01%
Consistent performance in most tests with good aquaplaning resistance, good traction in the snow.
Slow dry handling lap, high external noise, high rolling resistance.
The Dunlop WinterSport 5 placed a well deserved sixth overall. The tyre was very consistent in nearly all tests with no real weaknesses other than a slightly slow dry handling lap, but unfortunately the tyre didn't excel in any test either.

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7th: Nokian Snowproof P

Nokian Snowproof P
  • 225/40 R18 92V
  • EU Label: C/B/70
  • Code: 0821
  • Origin: Finland
  • Weight: 10.25kgs
  • Tread: 8.6mm
  • 3PMSF: no
Test#ResultBestDifference%
Dry Braking4th39.81 M37.95 M+1.86 M95.33%
Dry Handling3rd45.31 s44.8 s+0.51 s98.87%
Wet Braking7th31.42 M27.92 M+3.5 M88.86%
Wet Handling7th51.31 s49.09 s+2.22 s95.67%
Straight Aqua9th75.4 Km/H83.1 Km/H-7.7 Km/H90.73%
Curved Aquaplaning9th76.5 m/sec285.1 m/sec2-8.6 m/sec289.89%
Snow Braking2nd16.01 M15.67 M+0.34 M97.88%
Snow Traction7th5.55 s5.26 s+0.29 s94.77%
Snow Handling6th90.1 s86.2 s+3.9 s95.67%
Snow Circle2nd34.4 S33.99 S+0.41 S98.81%
Subj. Comfort4th9 Points10 Points-1 Points90%
Noise1st68.6 dB100%
Price4th100.36 55 +45.36 54.8%
Rolling Resistance3rd8.995 kg / t8.566 kg / t+0.43 kg / t95.23%
Very good in the dry, good snow traction and snow circle, lowest noise on test, low rolling resistance.
Weak grip in the wet tests with the lowest aquaplaning resistance on test.
Nokian will be disappointed with seventh place for the Snowproof P, largely down to the wet performance of the tyre where it seemed to struggle both in the shallow water of the handling and braking tests, and the deeper water of the aquaplaning tests.

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8th: GT Radial WinterPro2 Sport

GT-Radial WinterPro2 Sport
  • 225/40 R18 92V
  • EU Label: E/C/72
  • Code: 2720
  • Origin: China
  • Weight: 10.75kgs
  • Tread: 8.7mm
  • 3PMSF: no
Test#ResultBestDifference%
Dry Braking5th40.27 M37.95 M+2.32 M94.24%
Dry Handling6th45.71 s44.8 s+0.91 s98.01%
Wet Braking8th31.94 M27.92 M+4.02 M87.41%
Wet Handling7th51.31 s49.09 s+2.22 s95.67%
Straight Aqua8th76.1 Km/H83.1 Km/H-7 Km/H91.58%
Curved Aquaplaning6th81.2 m/sec285.1 m/sec2-3.9 m/sec295.42%
Snow Braking8th16.49 M15.67 M+0.82 M95.03%
Snow Traction6th5.52 s5.26 s+0.26 s95.29%
Snow Handling9th92.81 s86.2 s+6.61 s92.88%
Snow Circle9th36.3 S33.99 S+2.31 S93.64%
Subj. Comfort8th8.5 Points10 Points-1.5 Points85%
Noise6th70.6 dB68.6 dB+2 dB97.17%
Price3rd96.28 55 +41.28 57.13%
Rolling Resistance9th10.612 kg / t8.566 kg / t+2.05 kg / t80.72%
Reasonable dry performance, well priced.
Long wet braking, weak aquaplaning resistance, reduced grip in all snow tests, high rolling resistance.
The GT Radial WinterPro2 Sport was significantly ahead of the budget tyre, but failed to match the performance of the best tyres on test.

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9th: Imperial Snowdragon UHP

Imperial Snowdragon UHP
  • 225/40 R18 92V
  • EU Label: C/C/72
  • Code: 2920
  • Origin: China
  • Weight: 9.74kgs
  • Tread: 8.0mm
  • 3PMSF: no
Test#ResultBestDifference%
Dry Braking9th41.3 M37.95 M+3.35 M91.89%
Dry Handling2nd45.1 s44.8 s+0.3 s99.33%
Wet Braking9th38.03 M27.92 M+10.11 M73.42%
Wet Handling9th54.6 s49.09 s+5.51 s89.91%
Straight Aqua7th76.2 Km/H83.1 Km/H-6.9 Km/H91.7%
Curved Aquaplaning8th78 m/sec285.1 m/sec2-7.1 m/sec291.66%
Snow Braking9th16.99 M15.67 M+1.32 M92.23%
Snow Traction9th5.65 s5.26 s+0.39 s93.1%
Snow Handling8th92.65 s86.2 s+6.45 s93.04%
Snow Circle8th36.06 S33.99 S+2.07 S94.26%
Subj. Comfort4th9 Points10 Points-1 Points90%
Noise4th70.2 dB68.6 dB+1.6 dB97.72%
Price1st55 100%
Rolling Resistance7th9.808 kg / t8.566 kg / t+1.24 kg / t87.34%
Good dry handling, low external noise, cheap purchase price.
Extremely long braking in all conditions, low grip in the wet with weak aquaplaning resistance, significantly reduced grip in the snow, high rolling resistance.
The Imperial Snowdragon UHP peaked in dry handling where it was fast, AND good to drive on, and it wasn't the noisiest tyre on test, but the tyre couldn't perform well in any other test, and had dangerously long wet braking distances.

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