while driving a
Volkswagen Golf GTI
(225/45 R17) on
mostly country roads
This year I took the plunge and bought a set of WR A4s despite the lack of online reviews. I was attracted by its assymetrical design and overall inclination towards wet&dry conditions, as Romania only has snow for about two-three weeks a year. After driving a few hundred miles with them on my Mk5 GTI, I have to say they match the character of the car very well.
I have to start by saying these didn't give me the impression of an expensive premium tyre without drawbacks, but I think they are a good choice for people who drive fast and/or have "sporty" cars.
In terms of grip there is nothing bad to say about them, I've driven on both dry and wet roads (no ice/snow yet) and they had no problems coping with some very spirited driving. I enjoyed my car both in high-speed driving on mountain roads and under heavy rain with these tires. The best thing about them is that they made the balance of the car very pleasant, as it has moved from heavy, eeek, horrible, hateful understeer to a small amount of safe FWD understeer which can be easily overcome if you know what you're doing. Back to the Nokians: as they are winter tyres, they are very soft when compared to a summer tyre (local temperatures are at about 5-10 degrees Celsius) and this results in the chassis having a lot of small movements from the tyre flex. At first you think this isn't a good thing for a sporty car, but it turned out to be a lot of fun without affecting stability or road feeback. Of course, this softness also increases the roll in corners, but it also makes the car become very progressive. I'd say in the dry and wet they are very good indeed for a winter tyre.
Except the extra tyre flex, the only drawback so far is the extra noise compared to my summer tyres (Dunlop Sport Maxx RT). This might be or might not be related to my wheel alignment; I'm saying this because I didn't hear as much tyre drone at constant speed, as I heard a high-pitch sound when applying torque (accelerating) to the tyres at speed. This also varies with the surface you're driving on, but overall these are definitely not the least "vocal" winter tyres out there.
Overall I am very satisfied with the performances of these tires. They aren't the most silent and they are quite soft at higher temperatures. However, having good road feedback and grip, allowing some little movements of the chassis thus making the car more playful and having a good balance between understeer and oversteer, make me recommend these tyres to anyone passionate about spirited driving.
These might be one of the best choices for spirited driving in countries with changing weather, except the expensive premium options (of which there is a complete lack in this size). The WR A4s are fun and they give you confidence, the most important two things for a hot hatch like a GTI. I'm waiting for the snow to hit Romania to see how they handle the white stuff.