ACE: All-season tyres still a compromise, but nevertheless a year-round alternative
Consumers benefit from independent tyre tests, but the advice given is sometimes conflicting. Whereas Auto Bild declares that all-season tyres can provide a safe solution for year-round motoring, ACE still believes motorists must live with a compromise when choosing these products.
Reporting the results of its latest test, the German motoring club comments that the ideal tyre for year-round use would be a “combination of three various tyres”, as individual models show particular strengths – but none show strengths in all conditions. ACE comments that when buying all-season tyres, motorists must “decide upon one and know the limitations”. It adds that its test failed to find a tyre “that can do everything”.
ACE conducted the test together with GTÜ and Austrian motoring club ARBÖ. They evaluated eight all-season tyres in size 205/60 R16 together with a summer and a winter tyre model. The tyres were fitted to Citroën Berlingo vans for testing, which took place in Austria and at Nokian Tyres’ ‘White Hell’ test facility in Finland.
Just one tyre ‘highly recommended’
ACE says that the Continental AllSeasonContact was the best from the eight at managing the ‘snow-wet-dry’ triad. According to ACE, the Continental tyre “brakes and steers more like a winter tyre in the wet and like a mix of summer and winter tyre on dry asphalt”. The only tested tyre to perform better in the aquaplaning test was the winter reference tyre evaluated alongside the eight all-season candidates. The test team also commended the AllSeasonContact’s handling, commenting that it is easy to predict how it will respond. But they saw room for improvement when it came to dry braking or during sudden load alterations.
Three snow specialists
Of the half-dozen tyres rated as recommended, three showed strengths in the winter disciplines. Along with the AllSeasonContact, runner-up tyre the Fulda Multicontrol was in “striking distance” of the winter reference tyre. So was the Nokian Weatherproof (4th place). “The all-season tyre from Fulda is actually superior to the winter tyre in regards to acceleration and braking on snow, however it is not quite so easy to master as the winter specialist”, wrote ACE.
The picture was different for the Bridgestone Weather Control A005 (7th place), Michelin CrossClimate + (6th place) and Nexen N’blue 4Season (8th place – conditionally recommended). ACE writes that the trio “offer at most emergency running characteristics on snow with such narrow limits that less-practised drivers would quickly lose control”. It adds that drivers should avoid these products when confronted with snow and ice. But bear in mind that these comments were written for a German audience. ACE notes that the three tyres are better suited to the lowlands of northwest Germany – a region with a similar climate to large swathes of the UK.
The tables turn when it gets warm
After praising the Multicontrol’s performance in snowy conditions, ACE comments that “the Fulda tyre is not perfectly suitable as an all-season tyre in the true sense of the word”. Its summer capabilities don’t make the grade, with performance found wanting in both dry and wet conditions. “It offers little lateral control and curls imprecisely through the obstacle course,” writes ACE.
But at 25 degrees Celsius, the Bridgestone tyre impressed with performance at summer tyre levels. The Michelin tyre and the Hankook Kinergy 4S 2 (5th place) also “like dry asphalt”, even if their wet performance was below the best in test. The Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-2 (3rd place) also delivered commendable results in the wet and dry disciplines, however, its weaknesses on snow prevented it from achieving a higher place overall.
Summer tyres can be deadly on snow & ice
The ACE/ GTÜ/ARBÖ test provides an insight into all-season tyres’ capabilities, as well as their limitations. It also makes something clear: If you want a single tyre to use both in summer and in the snow and ice of winter, don’t fit summer tyres. The premium summer tyre tested alongside the eight all-season products was knocked out of the winter test after the Berlingo failed to negotiate the small incline at the handling course. “Even when accelerating and braking on flat stretches, the results are so poor that the tyre scored exactly zero points.” ACE warns that “summer tyres are a danger to life” should snow fall or sleet turn to a hard frost.