Braking on snow
The first of our tests measured the braking distance of each tyre from 25mph.
The winter tyres stopped our Volkswagen Golf test car in an average of 17.7 metres, while the summer tyres took more than twice that distance.
Even the worst winter tyre, the budget Nankang Snow SV-2, pulled up a massive 11 metres shorter than the best summer tyre in the test.
Click for full size graph
Braking on ice
We also measured braking distances on sheet ice from 12mph.
The average stopping distance of the winter tyres was 12.5 metres, while the summer equivalents took an extra 6.5 metres to bring the car to a halt. The budget Nankang was the only summer tyre to post a vaguely respectable stopping distance in this test but, as youll find out in the following pages, theres a big penalty to pay for this elsewhere.
Traction on snow
Braking performance is critical for safety, but a tyre also needs sufficient traction to pull away without spinning. We measured how much acceleration force each tyre could take before it started to spin.
Again the winter tyres were far grippier. On average they handled nearly 2.5 times as much force than the summer tyres before losing traction.
The scientific tests here show precisely how well each of the tyres gripped when braking and accelerating in snowy and icy conditions, but they dont tell us about the handling characteristics of the tyres. So we also carried out some subjective tests, scoring each tyre out of 10 for grip, handling predictability and steering feedback. The winter tyres not only hung on better through the corners, they also gave more warning before losing grip and provided more feedback through the steering wheel.