The winter season is fast approaching and many drivers are once again faced with the decision of which winter tyres to choose for the coming season. This year, we don’t expect to see too many new models – most manufacturers have recently introduced their new models and currently we don’t have any information on significant new releases. At the same time, that means that we also have plenty of test data to base our recommendations on, although it will of course be interesting to keep an eye on the 2023 winter tyre test results.
Michelin – Pilot ALPIN 5 (SUV), Alpin 6
Michelin offers two main winter tyre models – the Pilot Alpin 5 (SUV) and Alpin 6.
The Pilot Alpin 5 is a tire introduced in 2020, replacing the previous PA4 model. It has passed 8 tests to date, plus 2 tests of its very similar SUV variant. And its test results have one thing in common – it is almost unrivalled among tyres from the same segment in terms of snow disciplines – traction, braking distance, handling and lateral guidance.
|2||Tyre Reviews||Test winner||225/40 R18||2021|
|2||Autobild||Test winner||225/45 R18||2021|
|1||AutoMotorSport||Very good||245/45 R19||2022|
|1||Autobild||Test winner||225/45 R18||2023|
Add this to Michelin’s commitment to ensure that the tyres do not deteriorate in handling performance over their life cycle and you have the ideal candidate for places where there is snow on the roads, or for drivers who specifically seek out driving in the snow, even on the race track. Its frequently highlighted strengths also include dry braking and above-average dry handling. Testers often praise its dynamics and precise steering response on both dry and snow. It also surprises with its low noise level.
For smaller and medium-sized cars, there’s the Alpin 6, a tyre introduced back in 2018 that is, in our opinion, overdue for an update. Its main strengths are low rolling resistance and long mileage, so in theory it could be a good choice for electric cars (although there are also dedicated winter models such as the Hankook ION), but given the still high price tag, we weren’t too convinced by its handling characteristics or test results.
|6||Autoklub ČR||205/55 R16||2020|
|4||AutoMotorSport||Very good||225/50 R17||2020|
|3||Autoklub ČR||225/45 R17||2022|
|3||Autozeitung||Highly recommended||225/45 R17||2022|
|7||Tyre Reviews||225/45 R17||2022|
Continental – WinterContact TS 870 / TS 870P
Next up, let’s take a look at Continental’s now legendary WinterContact range, which has been winning tests since the revolutionary TS850 was first introduced, which is now 10 years ago.
The latest additions to the WinterContact range are the 870 badged models, the TS870 and TS 870P, both introduced in 2021. The P version is aimed at performance cars and is produced in larger sizes, while the base model covers less powerful and smaller cars.
In the new version, Continental has further fine-tuned its winter tyre so that it’s perfectly balanced – in practice, this means that while it doesn’t outright excel in any of the disciplines when testing, and you’ll find a model that’s better than the TS870P practically in every discipline, you also won’t find a model that’s as good as the TS870P in every discipline.
|1||Tyre Reviews||Test winner||225/40 R18||2021|
|2||AutoMotorSport||Very good||245/45 R19||2022|
Continental prides itself on versatility and safety in all circumstances, and the TS870 (P) is just that. The tyre testers appreciate this, and no wonder – winter traffic, at least in central Europe, can alternate between snow, wet and dry within a few hours, so the tyre has to be ready for anything. However, it is often criticised for its higher rolling resistance and lower durability – where the aforementioned Michelin is better.
|2||AutoMotorSport||Very good||195/55 R16||2021|
|1||Autoklub ČR||225/45 R17||2022|
|1||Autozeitung||Test winner||225/45 R17||2022|
|2||Tyre Reviews||Highly recommended||225/45 R17||2022|
Bridgestone – Blizzak LM-005
Bridgestone currently has only one main winter tyre model that covers the majority of the market – it’s called Blizzak LM-005 and is made in impressive number of sizes – 213 to be exact, from R14 to R22.
And the reason why we mention it in our review is clear – it excels in tests and beats its competitors in the wet, which we consider to be practically the most important role of a winter tyre, as most critical situations occur in the wet. At the same time, it has balanced handling characteristics on other surfaces and is often recommended in tests. If we had one criticism, it would be the longer braking distance in dry conditions and the higher noise level. It is also worth mentioning that it is about 10% cheaper than Continental and about 20% cheaper than Michelin.
Hankook – Winter i*cept evo3 W330
And as is customary, Hankook has also its representative among the best winter tyres. It’s called Winter i*cept evo3 and in my eyes, it has replaced Nokian in it’s position, which until a few years back held the status of an affordable winter tyre without sacrificing premium handling characteristics. Compared to the Nokian, however, the Hankook represents virtually no compromise – it attacks the top ranks in tests, even managing to win the Autobild 2021 test along with the Michelin Alpin 5.
|3||Tyre Reviews||225/40 R18||2021|
|1||Autobild||Test winner||225/45 R18||2021|
It’s very close to the Blizzak LM-005 in terms of features, and it’s also very wet-oriented, where it’s a little better at preventing aquaplaning and a little worse at traction and braking distance – but it’s still above the rest. At the same time, it provides very balanced wet and dry handling.
There are a few other tyres worth mentioning that make sense and may be available in your size. Among them are definitely tires from Goodyear, namely the Goodyear UltraGrip Performance SUV Gen-1, GoodYear UltraGrip Performance+ and GoodYear UltraGrip 9+, while an alternative to Hankook is the European brand Vredestein with its Vredestein Wintrac Pro.It is definitely worth looking at a price comparison of current offers in your size. And, to answer the question from the title – yes, there are. The task of a winter tyre is far more complex than the summer one and it is way more difficult to make a tyre that does it all, like the Continental i mentioned earlier. But if you are on a budget, there is going to be an article with non-premium choices for winter driving coming out next week.