The best all-season tyres 2018
Decide which all-season rubber to fit with the help of our comprehensive test
As their name suggests, all-season tyres are designed to operate across a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures. This makes them ideally suited to the UK, where sometimes it can seem as if we get all four seasons in the space of a month, let alone a year.
Come sun, rain or snow, then, all-season tyres should have you covered. They could even render winter tyres obsolete – in the UK at least – negating the need for a second set of tyres. This is made possible thanks to a combination of unique compounds and tread patterns that prevent the tyres from hardening in colder temperatures (unlike summer tyres), bringing greater levels of grip and traction in such conditions.
However, all-season tyres are also inherently compromised due to their remit: dedicated winter tyres will better handle the extremes of a British winter, while a good set of summer tyres will deliver more grip and traction in warmer, drier conditions.
How we tested them
We visited two test facilities, one in Finland, the other in Germany, to assess the eight tyres – all measuring 205/55 R16 – across two dozen metrics. The former location provided a more extreme environment in which to test the tyres, at and over the limit, while the latter offered conditions akin to the UK’s. To contextualise the results we exposed a summer and a winter control tyre to the same tests, too.
Each tyre was attributed a percentage score in each of the individually weighted categories. The winner in each test was awarded 100 per cent and the rest were graded in reference to it. The scores of each tyre were then totted up to provide an overall average score for that tyre.
Here we attempted to mimic an emergency stop on snow, when the brakes and ABS system work to bring the car to a standstill as the tyres struggle for grip. We hit the brakes at 26mph and measured the distance taken to decelerate to 3mph.
We timed how long it took to accelerate from 3mph to 26mph under full throttle, traction control switched on. The better the performance, the greater the chance that the car could ascend a steeper incline.
Compressions, cambers, tight turns and long sweepers on this snow-covered track put the tyres to the test. The tyre that enabled the fastest lap was the winner here.
This test was against the clock, too. Keep the nose tucked in and attempt to set the fastest lap without running wide. This ultimately showed which tyre offered the most lateral grip in these conditions.
Here we discovered how well the tyres managed in deep water. The better designed the tread, the more water could be displaced from beneath the tyre, ultimately yielding more grip. The car was placed on a rail system with one driven wheel in the water. We then accelerated hard until the tyre in the wet was spinning 15 per cent faster than its opposite number in the dry.
A flooded section of tarmac was the platform for this test. We drove the car through it, with lock dialled in, attempting to go faster with each pass, until all grip was lost. We recorded the lateral G – the higher the better.
We conducted this test in winter and summer temperatures, measuring the distance covered after applying the brakes at 50mph.
As above, this test was replicated in both weather environments. Here we recorded a lap time that translated to a percentage score.
As for the snow circle, but on a slippery, watered-covered surface.
We hit the brakes at 62mph and measured the distance taken for the car to come to a halt.
Just like wet handling test, we timed a few laps of the circuit and took an average. Here we could assess the tyres at the limits of adhesion.
This measures the force needed to turn a tyre, which has a direct impact on fuel economy. The more force required, the more fuel the car will use.
We hooked up a sound meter on the car to measure noise levels as the car coasted down from 50mph over a trio of surfaces.
Price had a small influence on the overall result, with emphasis placed on performance. Prices came from Blackcircles and were correct at the time of publishing.