The best winter tyres 2023: snow tyres tested

Everything you could need to know about winter tyres, and the best set to buy this winter.

A blue car driving through the snow

by Ryan Gilmore |
Updated on

When the temperature falls, most people will go searching for their grippy shoes to better tackle the ice, snow and water that winter throws at us. The same logic can be applied to your car's tyres. When the frost starts settling it can be tempting to change to a set of winter tyres. Question is, do you really need a set and if so, which are the best?

Thankfully our sister magazine Auto Zeitung in Germany has done thorough testing. It bought the latest crop of winter tyres anonymously from independent suppliers to see what is the best winter tyre you can buy in 2023.

Winter tyres: what we’re looking for

The official labels categorise tyres on efficiency, wet grip for braking and rolling noise - and classify each property with letters. We tested a range of parameters including deceleration, traction, steering precision and driving stability on various surfaces and under the same parallel conditions. We also rated comfort and resistance to aquaplaning (when the tyre floats on standing water, losing grip).

Designing a winter tyre that can excel in every discipline is difficult. Tyre makers juggle compound, tread design and carcass construction to find the elusive sweet spot where the rubber can cut through ice and slush, find grip in all conditions - whether slippery or dry - and serve up ride comfort, peace and quiet for drivers. Oh, and tyres must also last a long time and not disintegrate when the temperature climbs. It’s a tough gig.

These are often conflicting goals; if you improve a tyre’s efficiency, for example, grip in wet conditions decreases - and vice versa. If you reduce the profile depth for more steering precision, the tyre will float faster. If you design more slats - or sipes - in the profile to improve grip on snow, dry grip becomes worse. In short: all-rounders are the exception.

How we tested the best winter tyres 2023

A winter tyre being tested in the snow
©Photo: Auto Zeitung

Auto Zeitung always runs the tyre test with incredibly stringent rules to ensure reliable results:

• All tyres were purchased from independent retailers.
• Tests are independent with no manufacturer help. Each tyre is examined using reproducible driving manoeuvres at the limit on snow, wet and dry surfaces - with and without ESP stability control engaged. This is the only way we can say whether a tyre offers security during a spontaneous evasive manoeuvre. We also subjectively evaluate the comfort properties
• Each tyre has its rolling resistance tested on two different test stands.

The best winter tyres 2023

The best winter tyre 2023

The best winter tyre on sale, this option excelled in the snow, wet and dry.

**Auto Zeitung rankings
**Snow 147/150
Wet 147/140
Dry 136/150
Total 430/450

Best winter tyre for wet conditions

The best option in the wet, this tyre is well suited to milder winters. There is a touch of understeer in the snow though.

**Auto Zeitung rankings
**Snow 122/150
Wet 145/140
Dry 136/150
Total 403/450

Best winter tyre for overall safety

A good all-rounder, this tyre performed well on all surfaces but didn't stand out like the winners.

**Auto Zeitung rankings
**Snow 134/150
Wet 130/140
Dry 119/150
Total 383/450

The best winter tyre for fuel efficiency

This tyre offered the lowest rolling resistance which makes it a fuel-savvy choice. It did struggle in the wet though.

**Auto Zeitung rankings
**Snow 129/150
Wet 84/140
Dry 143/150
Total 356/450


A good offering for general winter driving, let down by snow and poor fuel efficiency.

**Auto Zeitung rankings
**Snow 119/150
Wet 113/140
Dry 121/150
Total 353/450

The best winter tyre for snow

Great for the snow, these tyres were outpaced in both the wet and dry.

**Auto Zeitung rankings
**Snow 142/150
Wet 96/140
Dry 110/150
Total 348/450


Bad in the snow and sluggish elsewhere, these tyres struggled.

**Auto Zeitung rankings
**Snow 105/150
Wet 112/140
Dry 120/150
Total 337/450

Find the correct tyres for your car online

The Amazon Garage homepage
©Photo: Amazon

Want to make sure that these winter tyres will fit your car? Amazon offers a feature called Amazon Garage which allows you to add your car and filter parts that are designed to fit. There is also a service called Amazon Confirmed Fit which will ensure that any tyre you look at fits your car. Kwikfit and offer similar services.

What are winter tyres or cold weather tyres?

Firstly: ‘winter tyres’ or 'snow tyres' as we’re accustomed to calling them, is actually a misleading title. These aren’t massive chunky mud-plugging boots with knobbly, noisy treadblocks and spiked studs. They're cold-weather tyres, designed to work in lower temperatures, on wet and dry roads, as well as giving better performance on snow and ice – which, given the inconsistent gritting on our nation’s road network, is just as well. We need a do-it-all tyre.

How do winter tyres work?

Winter/cold-weather tyres contain more natural rubber than regular tyres, and are constructed from a softer compound. This allows them to stay supple as temperatures drop below 7 degrees C in conditions where a normal tyre becomes hard and less keyed-in to the asphalt. The result? Higher grip levels on the road, even when the tarmac isn't covered in white.

It’s not just all chemistry, though: look at a winter tyre up close, and you'll see the tread is different to a more conventional tyre. The contact patch of a winter tyre is more rugged: it's covered in thousands of ‘sipes’ – tiny channels or grooves cut into the rubber which help warm them up – while also displacing water and slush at a faster rate. Winter tyres can have up to 10 times more ‘sipes' than your average tyres.

On snow, these little crevices work together with a larger tread. If you were to use a regular tyre, its channels would quickly become clogged with compacted snow – making for less-than-confident handling. On the downside, wobbly treadblocks mean cold-weather tyred cars are less responsive in milder conditions.

Should I buy winter tyres?

A silver VW Tiguan being driven in the snow
©Photo: Auto Zeitung

In the snow, winter tyres are an obvious option. They make for safer, more confident driving, and they improve grip significantly – but they’re also a gamble. Sure, we often have a cold snap in a typical British winter – but you can't bank on it. It takes just one mild winter (like 2020's) for you to question the extra expense of buying an additional set of rubber.

Cars can become notoriously unruly on winter boots, with vehicles closer to the performance end of things – like a DB11 AMR, for example – spinning the wheels in fourth.

In snow and cold weather, a seasonal rubber compound, chunkier tread and sypes work well – but they don't behave as they should if it's really mild and above the optimum operating range. We've driven numerous cars shod with winter tyres that have a chunkier ride quality, woollier steering and slippier handling in certain conditions.

It’s a complicated argument and one that comes down to your budget, and the predicted weather for the next few months. In colder countries, getting winter tyres is an easy decision, but in our more temperate British climate, we can’t even rely on a cold snap.

That said, if you can afford a set of winter tyres, they'll do far more to keep you mobile than picking an all-wheel drive car. If you want added peace of mind, have somewhere to store an extra set of rims (some garages will do this for you, at a price...) and need to keep mobile this winter, just do it.

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