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Winter tire test 2021 (195/55 R 16 H) for small cars

Especially with small cars like VW Polo or Seat Ibiza, real winter professionals should be raised during the cold season. Find out why which tire is the best – or which one best suits your individual requirements – in this test.

πŸ† The test winner at a glance:

  • The test winner Bridgestone Blizzak LM005 is a very safe all-rounder in winter with the best performance on wet and cold roads. With a final result of 8.7, he is half a point ahead of the runner-up. Simply order here.
  • In order to ensure the best possible accuracy and reliability of results, all tests in this test are carried out several times - as far as possible. A progressive evaluation scheme is used, which takes into account both the objective evaluation by measuring devices and the subjective rating by the experienced test drivers. When handling on snow or on a wet or dry track, a balanced, safe driving behavior that corresponds to the expectations of the presumed target group leads to an optimal rating.

    The aquaplaning tests, each carried out separately in the longitudinal and lateral direction, provide information on the reaction of the tires, for example when driving through deep ruts. The level of the critical floating speed when driving straight ahead and the achievable lateral acceleration when crossing water according to VDA criteria are intended to show the safety reserves of the tires. The consumption-influencing tire rolling resistance is determined as far as possible in two different test laboratories on roller test benches.

    The results are included in the evaluation in the form of an average. This assessment is based on the European legislation on tire labeling relevant to the tire label. In order to ensure the results in the long term, the tested products are usually compared with tires from subsequent test purchases in random follow-up tests. In focus: the top three of the test as well as products with atypically good performance or unusual signs of wear. Deviations or abnormalities would lead to the test exclusion, combined with appropriate reporting.

    A standard that could not be maintained due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic while the test was being carried out. Access to tire testing sites was severely restricted or not possible. Also, unusual signs of wear, deviations from the norm or abnormalities could not be determined during the evaluation. We ask for your understanding that the usual checks were suspended for this test.

    Bridgestone Blizzak LM 005 (test winner)

    (+) Safe braking and easy vehicle control on snow (+) Outstanding wet grip with very short braking distances and safe cornering on wet roads (-) Slightly longer braking distances on dry asphalt

    Conclusion: Very safe all-rounder in winter with the best performance on wet and cold roads (8.7 points, very good).

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    Continental WinterContact TS 870

    (+) Good winter performance that harmonises perfectly with the ESP control system of the Polo (+) High cornering safety in snow (+) Safe handling, even on wet and dry roads (-) Small weaknesses only when cornering in wet conditions and when braking on dry asphalt

    Conclusion: Quiet and particularly fuel-efficient broadband winter tire for all weather conditions (8.2 points, very good).

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    Vredestein Wintrac

    (+) Very inhomogeneous on snow despite good braking and traction performance: tires and ESP control of the Polo work against each other (+) Surprisingly good dynamic properties on the other hand in the wet (+) In the dry short braking distances, precise Cornering characteristics (-) Significant side-slip noise when cornering

    Conclusion: Strong cornering on wet roads, powerful braking on dry roads. Our price-performance tip (8.1 points, very good).

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    BF Goodrich g-Force Winter 2

    (+) Outstanding snow properties (+) With the exception of slightly longer braking distances, decent driving dynamics on dry routes (-) Poor results on wet roads

    Conclusion: On snow unbeatable - the BF Goodrich leads in the alpine classification (7.8 points, good).

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    Michelin Alpin 6

    (+) Spontaneous, dynamic and highly adhesive winter tire on dry-cold asphalt (+) Good cornering grip in the wet (-) Slightly longer braking distances on snow and wet roads (-) Slightly more limited Ride comfort

    Conclusion: With small deficits on snow and wet, the Michelin offers the highest driving safety in the dry (7.7 points, good).

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    Goodyear UltraGrip 9+

    (+) Good cornering grip and active handling on snow (+) High cornering safety even in heavy rain (-) Slight braking deficits on all surfaces (-) Comparatively loud rolling noise when driving past

    Conclusion: Despite weaknesses in braking, the Goodyear proves to be quite safe in corners, especially in the wet (7.5 points, good).

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    Pirelli Cinturato Winter

    (+) Short braking distances and good traction on snow and in dry corners (+) Good and easy to control despite the somewhat reduced level of lateral support (-) Compared to the good traction and braking performance, lateral support is too weak Snow (-) Long braking distances and weak cornering grip in the wet

    Conclusion: Strong on snow, safe with aquaplaning - Pirelli is only weak when braking in the wet (7.5 points, good).

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    Falken Eurowinter HS01

    (+) Acceptable snow and wet performance (+) Good propulsion on snow, preferably with traction control switched off (+) Good rolling comfort (-) Less precise, spongy handling and reduced grip level in dry corners

    Conclusion: Inexpensive but well-balanced tire in the medium performance range with weaknesses in detail on snow (7.1 points, good).

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    GT Radial Champiro WinterPro2

    (+) Cornering and forgiving on dry roads (+) Good cornering grip on wet (+) Comfortable (-) Poor performance on snow (-) Sluggish linkage (-) Unbalanced Wet behavior with clear load change reactions in curves (-) Humming coasting and slipping noise

    Conclusion: With acceptable braking performance, the Giti cannot convince in curve dynamics (7.1 points, good).

    Toyo Observe S 944

    (+) Very good grip and certainly understeer in dry corners (+) Sluggish but forgiving handling (-) Long braking distances, especially on snow (-) Weak winter properties (-) Only moderate wet performance

    Conclusion: At a reduced performance level, a balanced tire with weaknesses especially on snow (6.9 points, satisfactory).

    Tough tests in ice and snow

    Powerful and high-torque engines, sporty vehicle use and large tire widths, frequent long-distance operation: all challenges that sometimes require compromises in snow traction with high-performance winter tires. Challenges that a winter tire for small cars does not have to face directly. The usually limited range of services offered by these cars allows, for example, the use of softer rubber compounds that are more flexible in the cold and therefore have better grip on snow and ice. The comparatively small tire width also makes it easier to evacuate slush and melted water, which is an advantage in the event of dangerous aquaplaning. All reasons why the little ones often get through the winter better and safer than some big ones.

    In a complex test, we analyzed which tires work best with snow and ice and how the winter rubbers cope with other adversities of this time of year, especially with cold and wet roads.To test the suitability of the ten tire models for winter, in the spring of this year they first went to Swedish Lapland, the test Mecca of the European car and tire industry. Around 2,500 kilometers to the north on roads that are often snow-covered - on your own axis, without alternative under pandemic conditions.

    In the accompanying truck, alongside last year's winner Bridgestone Blizzak LM 005, were the BF Goodrich g-Force Winter 2, the new Conti WinterContact TS 870, the rather inexpensive Falken Eurowinter HS01, the new Goodyear UltraGrip 9+, and the GT Radial Champiro WinterPro2 , the proven Michelin Alpin 6, the Pirelli Cinturato Winter, Toyo's Observe S 944 and last but not least Vredestein's new Wintrac.

    The braking, traction, cornering and handling tests on snow show which of these is best able to cope with the wintry conditions: The BF Goodrich is unbeatable here, leads by a clear margin and would therefore be the recommendation for special from our selection snowy regions. Pirelli, Continental, Bridgestone and Vredestein also perform well – only Toyo falls behind with long braking distances and little cornering grip.

    But: Are snow-covered roads in Central Europe really still a wintry reality? In many regions rather not. A good winter tire must be able to cope with this road condition. However, it is more important – because the corresponding situation occurs much more frequently – to have the cold, wet road under control. Crucial here: How well does the tire grip when braking on wet, slippery asphalt? What reserves does it offer in corners that are approached a little too quickly? How does it react when puddles suddenly form in ruts or between the remains of slush and there is a risk of aquaplaning? And: In these situations, can inexperienced drivers still manage it?

    Bridgestone strong when wet

    We tested that a few weeks later and three days' journey further south on a proving ground in northern Germany. Here we check the capabilities of each tire model exactly where it matters: at the limit. We measure the braking distances, compare the grip when cornering at the adhesion limit and drive through artificial puddles at precisely specified speeds – even when cornering. We also check how safely the car can be brought back under control in the event of driving errors.

    Anyone who primarily demands very good wet properties will find the Bridgestone Blizzak LM 005 by far the most reliable tire there. No one grips better in wet corners, but especially when decelerating: Its braking distances from 80 km/h are stable and almost two meters - half a car length - shorter than those of the toughest competitor.Above all impressive: At the point where the Polo with Bridgestone tires comes to a standstill, a car with GT radial tires that is fully braked at the same time rushes at around 25 km/h, on Pirelli Cinturato even at almost 32 km/h over. It's unthinkable if there was a crash between these vehicles.

    So nobody can hold a candle to the Bridgestone in the wet. Only Goodyear Conti and Vredestein come close with good performances - Falken also manages to distance Michelin with acceptable results; GT Radial and Toyo are still struggling with detail weaknesses. And BF Goodrich as well as Pirelli show again that good grip on snow can have a negative impact on wet performance.

    If it were just a question of aquaplaning protection, i.e. the ability to displace water or slush from the tire tread in heavy rain or in ruts, Pirelli would be at the top - no one else can do it so well. Conti and – again – Bridgestone are quite safe in this discipline. Goodyear and Falken also cope well with the conditions in heavy rain.

    Dynamic, safer Michelin

    And what about dry and cold roads? Is the Bridgestone also unbeatable here? No, that's Michelin's territory, which leaves the field behind with outstanding grip, high driving precision and the shortest braking distances. Essentially, the safety-related results of the ten candidates in the dry are quite similar: Bridgestone and Vredestein are close on Michelin's heels, Toyo surprises with amazing cornering stability and safe and fast lap times in dry handling, only Falken and Goodyear are out of the ordinary because of slightly longer braking distances .

    The question "Which tire for whom?" we were almost done with that. For alpine regions with lots of snow: BF Goodrich. If you want pronounced safety in the wet, you can't get past the Bridgestone, and if you tend to avoid nasty winter weather of all kinds, but appreciate the best driving dynamics and high safety on dry, cold roads, the precise but expensive Michelin is the best choice for winter.

    The generalist? That is, as our ride through the seasons has proven, the Bridgestone that has been able to outperform the competition with good performances in all disciplines. Even in price, because the Japanese is currently still available in the middle range around 100 euros.

    Why doesn't he still get the best grade? From our point of view, this comparatively small tire size in the test could be coordinated and produced with more commitment than the higher-quality, more expensive tires for sporty compact and mid-range vehicles - because even small cars deserve all the know-how of tire construction when it comes to safety.

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