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ADAC 2020: Winter Tire Test R16 for mid-class passenger cars

For motorists, the winter season starts not with the first frost, but with fitting or purchasing a new set of winter tires. In order to help motorists with choosing new tires for the upcoming winter season, the European industry publications are racing to publish the results of their independent comparative tire tests so that their readers could ultimately make an informed choice.

The season of publishing winter tire tests in the fall of 2020 was opened by Germany’s Auto Bild with its grand-scale test that involved over 50 models; it immediately was followed by other heavyweights, such as Germany’s ADAC motoring association.

In total, the two ADAC tests compared the performance by 28 models, relevant for 2020, in two sizes: 15 tire models for mid-class passenger cars in size 205/55 R16 91H (up to 210 km/h), and 13 tire models for SUVs and minivans in size 235/55 R17 103V (up to 240 km/h). And, while in the first case, only two tire models ultimately showed clearly disastrous results, in the second case only one winter model showed well-balanced performance and was rated as «Good». Let’s not get ahead of our story, though. First things first!

Vehicle overview of the dimension 205/55 R16
Manufacturer Model series
Audi                     A3                    
BMW                     1, 2, 3                    
Ford                     C-Max, EcoSport, Focus                    
Hyundai                      i30, Ioniq, iX20                    
Mercedes                     A, B, C class                    
Opel                     Astra, Meriva, Zafira                    
Skoda Octavia, Scala, Superb
Toyota Auris, Corolla, GT86
VW Caddy, Golf, Jetta, New Beetle, Passat, Touran

Snow, ice, wet or dry frozen pavement… Which tires will be the best to handle various weather conditions in the coldest time of the year? This question is answered by the ADAC experts and their tire test that involved 15 winter models in size 205/55 R16.

List of winter models tested:

The test car was a Volkswagen Golf GTI. The snow tests were performed in Ivalo, Finland. The pavement tests were performed at the Bridgestone test facility in Italy.

Results of the ADAC test 2020

Winter tire ranking 2020 from ADAC. Size 205/55 R16.
Winter tire ranking 2020 from ADAC. Size 205/55 R16. Click to enlarge.

The tires tested in the best-selling size — 205/55 R16 — made a positive overall impression on the ADAC test experts: out of the 15 models tested (the experts tested driving performance, safety, comfort and economy), five performed very well, and seven more completely satisfied the test experts with their performance. One of the models earned an «Average» verdict due to poor grip on dry pavement, and another two tires on test lost a lot of points due to poor wet traction.

Well-balanced tires on top

The victory in the test was won by the Bridgestone Blizzak LM005, which was particularly impressive on wet pavement. However, compared to other candidates to victory, it demonstrated the lowest resistance to wear.

Quick Take
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Bridgestone Blizzak LM005

Wet Performance Dry Performance Handling Snow/Ice Performance Comfort Treadwear
  • Year Released: 2019
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Eastern Europe & Central Asia
Bridgestone Blizzak LM005

The Michelin Alpin 6, on the other hand, which came second, can indeed boast a long tread life. Its expected mileage is almost 43,000 km. At the same time, the French premium-class development is almost up to the level of the leader of the competition.

The tests on snow were carried out in Ivalo, Finland
The tests on snow were carried out in Ivalo, Finland. Source: ADAC.

Dunlop Winter Sport 5 and Hankook Winter i*Cept RS2 W452 shared the third stair of the winners pedestal. These tires demonstrated adequate performance on wet, snow-covered and dry roads. At the same time, the Dunlop tire turned out to be more wear-resistant (expected mileage 39,500 km), and, to cap it all, the most fuel-efficient tire on test.

Quick Take
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Maxxis Premitra Snow WP6

  • Available Sizes in Line: 31
  • Year Released: 2019
  • Regions for sale: Europe
Maxxis Premitra Snow WP6

The fifth line of the ADAC 2020 test tournament bracket was proudly scored by the Maxxis Premitra Snow WP6 from Taiwan’s tire maker. This model completed the «green» group, where it was the best in dry tests, while on wet pavement and on winter surfaces it fell slightly short of its rivals in terms of grip and traction. Its resistance to wear is up to the level of the Bridgestone model. Quite a debut.

Average performers of the ADAC test

Seven of the tested tire models received a «Satisfactory» verdict due to obvious flaws found by the experts. Specifically, weak handling response on dry roads led to devaluation of the overall ranking for almost all of the tires: the necessity to make steering adjustments significantly compromises driving experience.

The Falken Eurowinter HS01 (6th place) got an average ranking not only for dry performance and also for snow grip.

Dry tests on the Bridgestone site near Rome.
Dry tests on the Bridgestone site near Rome. Source: ADAC.

Poor performance on dry pavement tarnished the reputation of the premium-class Continental WinterContact TS 860 and Goodyear UltraGrip 9+ (two 7th places), even though otherwise there were no issues found with these two tire models. The Continental model came second in the wet tests, while the Goodyear tires took off in the fuel efficiency test. One must note that for the winter season 2020/2021 the tire maker prepared the next model in line — Continental WinterContact TS 870, says the technical expert of, yet, considering the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences, the retail launch of this new model was rescheduled to the next year.

In spite of its low rolling resistance and good performance on snow, the Sava Eskimo HP2 (9th place) demonstrated an almost unsatisfactory performance in wet disciplines due to handling issues.

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Dry Performance Comfort Handling Treadwear Wet Performance
  • Year Released: 2016
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Eastern Europe & Central Asia
Sava Eskimo HP2

For the exception of its dry performance, the Toyo Observe S944 model (10th place) looked fairly good against the background of its rivals in the snow and wet pavement tests. It also turned out to be quite fuel-efficient.

Compared to other models, less than perfect handling response was shown by Pirelli Cinturato Winter (11th place) and Giti GitiWinter W1 (12th place). At the same time, the Pirelli model got the highest score in snow tests, while the Giti model showed a less than perfect result on wet pavement (which was due to weak hydroplaning resistance and poor handling response, even though it also behaved quite confidently on snow.

Quick Take
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Snow/Ice Performance Treadwear Comfort Handling Dry Performance Wet Performance
  • Available Sizes in Line: 20
  • Year Released: 2017
  • Regions for sale: Europe
Giti GitiWinter W1

The worst winter tires of the ADAC 2020 test

The acute deficit of dry traction completely failed the Semperit Speed-Grip 3 model and sent it plummeting down to the 13th line of the tournament bracket. At the same time, it must be said that it ensured quite decent performance on snow, and on dry pavement it delivered more traction than Dunlop.

Test Discipline: Handling on Snow.
Test Discipline: Handling on Snow. Source: ADAC.

The only retreaded winter tire on test, the King Meiler Winter Tact WT81 (14th place), became one of the two models that scored a hands-down «Not recommended» verdict from the test experts. This tire’s performance on wet pavement leaves much to be desired: it demonstrated not only the longest stopping distance but also the least accurate handling response. It also characterized by a serious lack of traction on dry pavement and ensures least riding comfort. Its snow performance was rated as satisfactory but it was still way below the average level demonstrated by the main bulk of the competitors.

Quick Take
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King-Meiler Winter Tact WT81

    • Year Released: unknown
    • Regions for sale: Europe
    King-Meiler Winter Tact WT81

    Curiously, the King Meiler Winter Tact WT81 expected mileage turned out to be the highest on test — about 45,000 km, which is longer than Michelin’s. However, you cannot hide an obviously poor performance behind a long tread life…

    The main outsider of the test — Tristar Snowpower HP (15th place). This winter tire demonstrated quite decent performance in dry disciplines, stunning the experts with the shortest braking distance, yet on snow and particularly on wet pavement its performance raised a lot of questions from the ADAC expert team. The most prominent issues of these Chinese tires on wet pavement were really poor handling response and lateral hydroplaning resistance.

    In conclusion

    Minimum safety tread depth
    Minimum Safety Tread Depth

    ADAC is reminding: when you buy new tires, they all must have the same date of manufacture, and the same technical specifications. If you buy a used set of tires from the previous year, make sure that the remaining tread depth is sufficient. For winter tires, ADAC recommends the minimum remaining tread depth of 4mm.