April 8, 2015 – After a cold, heartless winter…

Well, March has ticked over into April and the cold grip of winter has finally softened. But if you live in an area where you’re still seeing snow, you shouldn’t be in the market for this tire – nor was it intended for you in the first place.

Having just driven on the Nokian WR G3s for the past four months, I can tell you that it hits the mark squarely between an all-season and a winter tire for typical winter performance. It’s one of those tires that is both quite good and sort of crap depending on what you compare it against. I was fortunately able to compare it to both an all-season and a proper winter tire on the same test vehicle so I can give you the full scoop.

In slushy or deep snow conditions, the Nokian WR is quite good. Deep grooves and a relatively soft compound make for predictable acceleration and braking. Uphill starts on a snowy road were no problem where I saw other cars on all seasons spinning and slipping. The letdown was the lateral stability on packed snow that you typically find on country roads. The outside edge blocks of a winter tire are sharp, such as on the Bridgestone Blizzaks that I used for comparison. The sharp edge digs into the snow to keep the car from slipping sideways and spinning.  The WR G3 has a rounded side edge that improves cornering on a dry road but leads to a noticeable amount of slip on packed snow. Lateral stability is only marginally better than that of the Goodyear Eagle all-season I compared it to.

When it comes to ice, don’t look for exceptional support from the Nokian. They’re not in the same league as a winter tire and seemed to perform about the same as the all-season. That said, you should never expect exceptional support from any tire on ice.  You just need to drive to the conditions and dodge idiotic (and often spinning) SUV drivers that believe AWD helps with braking and cornering.

The Toronto winter is over now (knock on wood) and the miles I put on the test tires were pretty well without incident. We saw a bit of snow, slush and plenty of bitter cold. We get nearly the same conditions every year and the roads are usually maintained adequately. For a city like this, Nokian WRs are a good fit so far.

Having already driven through the fall, I’m expecting the same solid performance this spring. I’m hoping for some torrential downpours to test the wet-weather grip! We’ll be back in a few months to continue this four seasons report.

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