What Are The Top Winter Tire Brands?
Anyone who's a keen watcher or participant in any kind of auto sport will know how much difference a good set of tires can make to handling and performance, but the importance of a good tire-choice isn't just the preserve of those going as fast as possible on marble-smooth tarmac race tracks. Anyone who lives where cold weather is an everyday part of life in the winter should know how important a good set of winter tires can be, and how they can be a life-saver when things get really bad. However, not everybody appreciates just how much tires can differ in quality and how much this can affect their performance on the snow and ice, but the difference between good and not-so-good tires can be staggering. So, here's a look at some top winter tires available in Canada right now, and it's often a question of getting what you pay for.
A look across the Canadian media suggests one tire is pretty widely regarded as the best out there at the moment, and the tire in question is the Bridgestone Blizzak WS 80. The Blizzak line was actually the first of all winter tires to utilize a special rubber compound designed and engineered to dramatically improve performance on ice. The current WS 80 version is now the sixth-generation of the Blizzak concept, and it pretty much remains the one to beat.
There are a number of contenders just below the Bridgestone, and one is the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 which some rate as high as the Blizzak when it comes to studless ice and snow tires. The Flex-Ice full-silica compound of the Michelin retains its flexibility at very low temperatures for phenomenal winter performance. However, it's also highly rated for its ability to maintain its firmness at warmer temperatures, which improves wear, grip and fuel efficiency and it comes highly recommended for passenger cars and mini vans.
The Hakkapelitta R2 is Nokian's answer to the Bridgestone Blizzak WS 80, and was actually the ice braking champion in recent European tire testing. It comes with a higher speed-rating than the Hakka 8 thanks to the confident braking and sharper handling it offers on the pavement. It's an especially good choice if your drive a rear-wheel-drive sporty type of vehicle and you want a good balance between performance in severe weather conditions and decent handling on pavement.
The WinterContact SI from Continental has replaced the ExtremeWinterContact and delivers improved grip when cornering and braking. The tread design is directional, which means it does limit options for tire rotation if they're found to be displaying uneven wear. However, the design of the tread on the new tire sticks more on ice and bites into the snow more, and it's available in 33 different sizes so there's one to fit the majority of current passenger cars and SUVs.