Original article follows; originally published on November 24, 2014
Let’s face it, the whole winter tire thing sucks. They’re a pain to swap, store, and frankly they’re an expense that properly chaps the hindquarters. And although they’re the most important winter safety feature on the vehicle, many choose to forgo the ritual for all the reasons stated above. And the truth is, if you live in a city that gets a mild winter and has regular plow service, you can usually get away with it.
But what if it was easier? What if there was a single, magical tire that worked in all weather conditions and you didn’t need to swap them with the tilt of the earth’s axis? A tire that gave you winter grip when an all-season would fail while also standing up to the summer heat without melting and shredding into balls of ejected rubber?
Having extensively tested several top brands over the years, I’m a staunch believer in winter tires. So when Jonathan Yarkony proposed year-long test of Nokian’s third-generation WR all-weather tire beginning this winter, a hearty laugh did follow. But like many urbanites, I don’t really have space to store an extra set of tires and rims. And after some Guantanamo-style pressure application by our dear leader editor; here I am, risking life and car, embarking on a 12-month journey of ice, snow, rain, blazing heat and potholes. And I’m doing all of this for the loyal readers of Autos.ca.
Nokian WR G3 All-Weather installed on a 2014 Honda Accord, Nokian WR G3 compared to Goodyear Eagle LS-2 All-Season. Click image to enlarge
Mounted to my 2014 Honda Accord are a set of 225/45R18 Nokian WRs (slightly narrower than the OEM spec 235s.) At the end of each season, I’ll provide a detailed report on the tires performance. And while I’d probably say “wish me luck with the snow,” I’ve already logged a few proper winter km and so far I’m impressed.
After the first 500 km…
In the first two weeks of testing, I’ve encountered temperatures ranging from 15 above to 10 below and a mix of wet, dry, snowy and icy road conditions. So far my impressions are pretty simple. They’re softer than the factory installed Goodyear Eagle LS2s, which makes for a more comfortable ride but also means more body-roll in fast bends. That said, the footing has been solid through the wide temperature range with grip-loss coming on progressively and predictably as you push harder. If you’re looking for truly sharp performance, you’ll find them too compromised. However, the same compromise makes them perfect for the average family hauler looking to pack on safe, easy miles.
The only time I easily found the limit of grip was a panic stop on very hard-packed snow. The ABS gave my right foot a nice massage but ultimately brought the car to a halt without too much drama. We’ll see how it does in the deep snow (a rarity in Toronto.) Stay tuned!
*Note: The tires for this test were supplied free of charge for testing purposes by Kal Tire, the exclusive supplier of the Nokian WR G3 in Canada.