All-season tyres are currently experiencing an unprecedented surge in popularity, leading manufacturers to invest heavily in their development. Test publishing organisations are also paying them more attention. For instance, Autobild conducts a comprehensive two-stage test on these tyres. In the first stage, the braking distance of the tyres is measured under both dry and wet conditions. Based on these results, candidates are chosen for the second, more in-depth stage. This year, 16 tyres made it to this round, culminating in the selection of the best all-season tyre for 2023 — according to Autobild’s assessment.
In addition, this year Autobild has included a summer tyre and a winter tyre in the test, so we can compare how much of a compromise all-season tyres are. And in the case of braking distance, you could say not so much – the summer tyre stopped first in the wet, of course, but it was just over two metres away from the best all-season tyre, which in this case is the Bridgestone, which is a big difference to how a purely winter tyre brakes in the wet, so in winter the situation is reversed and the all-season tyre has the edge.
Premium versus budget tyres
A few budget tyres then made it through to the final from better positions, but in the second phase of the test it became clear that the premium manufacturers have more invested in development after all and in a relatively young sector they overwhelmingly beat the cheaper competition – it’s rare to find six premium tyres in the top positions. And it just goes to show how complex a matter a modern all-season tyre is – it has to work in the snow in winter, but at the same time it can’t be as delicate as a winter tyre to withstand the warmer temperatures of summer. But let’s take a look at a few specific models that caught our eye.
The Michelin Crossclimate 2, or rather its first model, is the original all-season tire that ushered in a new era of all-season tires. The long-awaited second model is unbeatable in the snow, where it always follows closely behind the winter tyre and even matches it in the slalom. This, along with slightly better dry braking distance, has secured it the top spot ahead of Continental’s second generation all-season tyre, the Allseasoncontact 2. But it managed to beat the Michelin in its royal discipline, which is mileage. albeit by less than 2,000 kilometres, according to projections. But otherwise the tyres are very similar, with the Continental being slightly better in the wet, thanks to its shorter braking distance and better handling.
And then Bridgestone’s new Turanza All Season 6 had to settle for third place. The same fate also befell the Vredestein Quatrac, which was not helped by the absolute best wet mark. In the other positions we find Pirelli and Goodyear, however, for us it is mainly interesting to see the 7th place, where we find the Kleber Quadraxer 3, which belongs to the Michelin concern and which, considering its price, offers very good handling characteristics. And if it weren’t for its poorer wet handling and shorter mileage, the tyre might have placed even better. It even left behind the slightly more expensive Hankook 4S2, which regularly ranks very well in tests.
Other more affordable tyres, such as the BF Goodrich, Kumho and Nexen, are next. A rather disappointing 11th place is then given to the new Dunlop Sport All Season, which is rather expensive considering its qualities. Another disappointment is the ranking of the Firestone Multiseason (13th place) and the Falken AS 220 Pro, both of which were spoiled by low mileage, which is a fairly crucial criterion in Autobild tests. For both tyres we’re talking about a lifetime of just over 30,000 km, by comparison the best in the test is the Nexen N Blue 4Season2, made in the Czech Republic, with an estimated 75,000 km, more than twice as long. The Nexen, together with the Michelin Crossclimate 2, won the eco-award “green tyre”.
And finally, the traditional question – are all-season tyres worth it?
And the answer is not simple – if we are talking about handling characteristics, then given the parameters of previous winters, which can be almost summer but also very winter, I would say yes – better all-season tyres are practically best prepared for such fluctuations. Another argument for all-season tyres is comfort – no need to make a service appointment in a few weeks at peak times and worry that winter will come early, the tyre is already prepared for everything. Then, of course, there are no frequent retreading costs, which are also not insignificant in terms of tyre life – only occasional rebalancing needs to be addressed. So do winter tyres have any disadvantages at all? They do, but paradoxically most of all compared to summer tyres – they are less slippery and therefore last longer, they can have lower fuel consumption and, most importantly, they are also better in the wet. The difference is not very marked, but it is clear from the results of this test that braking and wet handling are simply better on summer tyres. On the other hand, we come back to the fact that you will experience many of these situations on winter tyres, which in turn are almost always worse than all-season tyres in these disciplines. All-season tyres are also quite strong at preventing aquaplaning, even compared to summer tyres.
But when it comes to costs, there is a catch – the summer tyre will last a bit longer and given that usually, you use the summer tyre a longer part of the year than the winter tyre, chances are you are going to be changing the allseason tyre sooner than you would your summer tyre. If you already own a second set of wheels for your car, switching to allseasons usually doesn’t make much sense money-wise, the benefit is only the comfort. On the other hand, without second set of wheels, using allseason tyres make a lot of sense – the tyres wear down by changing, it costs quite a lot to change them twice a year so using allseason tyres can help cut down some of these costs, even with the higher price tag than the summery tyres have.