Best winter tyres for 2023 – are premium tyres worth it?

The winter season is fast approaching and many drivers are once again faced with the decision of which winter tyres to choose for the coming season. This year, we don’t expect to see too many new models  – most manufacturers have recently introduced their new models and currently we don’t have any information on significant new releases. At the same time, that means that we also have plenty of test data to base our recommendations on, although it will of course be interesting to keep an eye on the 2023 winter tyre test results

Michelin – Pilot ALPIN 5 (SUV), Alpin 6

Michelin offers two main winter tyre models – the Pilot Alpin 5 (SUV) and Alpin 6.

The Pilot Alpin 5 is a tire introduced in 2020, replacing the previous PA4 model. It has passed 8 tests to date, plus 2 tests of its very similar SUV variant. And its test results have one thing in common – it is almost unrivalled among tyres from the same segment in terms of snow disciplines – traction, braking distance, handling and lateral guidance.

Michelin Pilot Alpin 5: Tests
3AutobildExemplary225/40 R182020
1ADACGood235/55 R172020
1AutobildExemplary245/45 R182020
2Autobild245/45 R182020
2Tyre ReviewsTest winner225/40 R182021
2AutobildTest winner225/45 R182021
4AutobildGood245/40 R192022
1AutoMotorSportVery good245/45 R192022
1AutobildTest winner225/40 R182023
3Sport AutoVery good225/40 R182023
1AutobildTest winner225/45 R182023
1Tyre ReviewsTest winner225/45 R182023
2Autobild225/45 R182023

Add this to Michelin’s commitment to ensure that the tyres do not deteriorate in handling performance over their life cycle and you have the ideal candidate for places where there is snow on the roads, or for drivers who specifically seek out driving in the snow, even on the race track. Its frequently highlighted strengths also include dry braking and above-average dry handling. Testers often praise its dynamics and precise steering response on both dry and snow. It also surprises with its low noise level. 

For smaller and medium-sized cars, there’s the Alpin 6, a tyre introduced back in 2018 that is, in our opinion, overdue for an update. Its main strengths are low rolling resistance and long mileage, so in theory it could be a good choice for electric cars (although there are also dedicated winter models such as the Hankook ION), but given the still high price tag, we weren’t too convinced by its handling characteristics or test results. 

Michelin Alpin 6: Tests
5AutomotorsportGood215/55 R172019
3AutobildExemplary225/45 R172019
3Autobild225/45 R172019
2ADACGood205/55 R162020
4Autoexpress205/55 R162020
6Autoklub ČR205/55 R162020
13Használtautó.hu205/55 R162020
4AutoMotorSportVery good225/50 R172020
5ACERecommended225/50 R172020
3AutobildExemplary225/55 R172020
5AutoMotorSportGood195/55 R162021
3ADACGood195/65 R152021
2AutobildExemplary205/55 R162021
12Autobild205/55 R162021
4TÜV225/45 R172021
2ADACGood225/50 R172021
4ADACGood185/65 R152022
1AutobildExemplary215/55 R172022
3Autobild215/55 R172022
4ADACGood215/60 R162022
3Autoklub ČR225/45 R172022
3AutozeitungHighly recommended225/45 R172022
7Tyre Reviews225/45 R172022
6Autoexpress225/45 R192022
2ADACGood205/60 R162023
2ADACGood225/45 R172023
6Autoexpress225/45 R172023

Continental – WinterContact TS 870 / TS 870P

Next up, let’s take a look at Continental’s now legendary WinterContact range, which has been winning tests since the revolutionary TS850 was first introduced, which is now 10 years ago. 

The latest additions to the WinterContact range are the 870 badged models, the TS870 and TS 870P, both introduced in 2021. The P version is aimed at performance cars and is produced in larger sizes, while the base model covers less powerful and smaller cars.

In the new version, Continental has further fine-tuned its winter tyre so that it’s perfectly balanced – in practice, this means that while it doesn’t outright excel in any of the disciplines when testing, and you’ll find a model that’s better than the TS870P practically in every discipline, you also won’t find a model that’s as good as the TS870P in every discipline.

Continental WinterContact TS 870 P: Tests
1Tyre ReviewsTest winner225/40 R182021
2Autobild215/55 R172022
8AutobildGood215/55 R172022
3AutobildExemplary245/40 R192022
2AutoMotorSportVery good245/45 R192022
4ADACGood205/60 R162023
3AutobildExemplary225/40 R182023
4Sport AutoVery good225/40 R182023
3AutobildExemplary225/45 R182023
3Tyre ReviewsHighly recommended225/45 R182023
7Autobild225/45 R182023
1AutobildTest winner225/60 R182023
4ARBÖRecommended235/55 R182023
1Tyre ReviewsTest winner235/60 R182023
4AutomotorsportVery good255/45 R202023

Continental prides itself on versatility and safety in all circumstances, and the TS870 (P) is just that. The tyre testers appreciate this, and no wonder – winter traffic, at least in central Europe, can alternate between snow, wet and dry within a few hours, so the tyre has to be ready for anything. However, it is often criticised for its higher rolling resistance and lower durability – where the aforementioned Michelin is better.

Continental WinterContact TS 870: Tests
1Autoexpress205/55 R162020
2AutoMotorSportVery good195/55 R162021
1AutobildExemplary205/55 R162021
4Autobild205/55 R162021
1TÜV225/45 R172021
1ADACGood185/65 R152022
1ADACGood215/60 R162022
1Autoklub ČR225/45 R172022
1AutozeitungTest winner225/45 R172022
2Tyre ReviewsHighly recommended225/45 R172022
1Autoexpress225/45 R192022
1ADACGood225/45 R172023
1AutoexpressTest winner225/45 R172023

Bridgestone – Blizzak LM-005

Bridgestone currently has only one main winter tyre model that covers the majority of the market – it’s called Blizzak LM-005 and is made in impressive number of sizes – 213 to be exact, from R14 to R22.

And the reason why we mention it in our review is clear – it excels in tests and beats its competitors in the wet, which we consider to be practically the most important role of a winter tyre, as most critical situations occur in the wet. At the same time, it has balanced handling characteristics on other surfaces and is often recommended in tests. If we had one criticism, it would be the longer braking distance in dry conditions and the higher noise level. It is also worth mentioning that it is about 10% cheaper than Continental and about 20% cheaper than Michelin. 

Hankook – Winter i*cept evo3 W330

And as is customary, Hankook has also its representative among the best winter tyres. It’s called Winter i*cept evo3 and in my eyes, it has replaced Nokian in it’s position, which until a few years back held the status of an affordable winter tyre without sacrificing premium handling characteristics. Compared to the Nokian, however, the Hankook represents virtually no compromise – it attacks the top ranks in tests, even managing to win the Autobild 2021 test along with the Michelin Alpin 5.

Hankook Winter i*cept evo3 W330: Tests
2AutobildExemplary225/40 R182020
5Autobild245/45 R182020
6AutobildExemplary245/45 R182020
3Tyre Reviews225/40 R182021
1AutobildTest winner225/45 R182021
2AutobildExemplary245/40 R192022
4AutobildExemplary225/40 R182023
6Sport AutoGood225/40 R182023
4Tyre ReviewsHighly recommended225/45 R182023
6AutobildGood225/45 R182023
8Autobild225/45 R182023

It’s very close to the Blizzak LM-005 in terms of features, and it’s also very wet-oriented, where it’s a little better at preventing aquaplaning and a little worse at traction and braking distance – but it’s still above the rest. At the same time, it provides very balanced wet and dry handling.

Other options

There are a few other tyres worth mentioning that make sense and may be available in your size. Among them are definitely tires from Goodyear, namely the Goodyear UltraGrip Performance SUV Gen-1, GoodYear UltraGrip Performance+ and GoodYear UltraGrip 9+, while an alternative to Hankook is the European brand Vredestein with its Vredestein Wintrac Pro.It is definitely worth looking at a price comparison of current offers in your size. And, to answer the question from the title – yes, there are. The task of a winter tyre is far more complex than the summer one and it is way more difficult to make a tyre that does it all, like the Continental i mentioned earlier. But if you are on a budget, there is going to be an article with non-premium choices for winter driving coming out next week.