ADAC compares widths of winter tyres: small or extra wide?

Dienstag, 13 November, 2018 - 12:45
The ADAC tested five tyre widths of the Dunlop Winter Sport 5 for the VW Golf in its comparative test. Source: ADAC /

Vehicle manufacturers have increasingly equipped their vehicles with bigger and wider tyres. Concerning summer tyres, driving dynamics are stressed, but what about the consequences of wider winter tyres? ADAC was interested in this question and for the first time, it tested five tyre widths of the Dunlop Winter Sport 5 for the VW Golf.

According to the general results of the ADAC, the smaller dimension shows advantages with regard to aquaplaning, slush and snow-covered roads, the wider is better on dry surfaces. All in all, the tyre company itself illustrates that there are fewer differences between the five sizes of one model than between different models of one size, which the ADAC regularly checks in its tyre tests. All the tyres, from quite small (195/65 R15) to extremely wide (225/40 R18) get the total grade “good”, as there are no significant performance differences.

The individual tests, however, show striking differences: Small tyres have advantages when starting on snow. Lateral guidance is also supposed to be better when bending. Additionally, the danger of aquaplaning on wet roads and on slush is as well lower with smaller tyres. According to ADAC, extra wide tyres start losing contact earlier than smaller ones: During an aquaplaning test with a water depth of 7 millimetres the tyres of size 225 already lost contact with the road at a speed of about 70 kilometres per hour, the smaller tyres of size 195, however, only at clearly above 80 kilometres per hour. Furthermore, the ADAC notices: In return, the tyre of size 195 shows some disadvantages on dry roads and concerning wear. Moreover, the wider tyre offers on dry roads advantages with regard to driving safety and steering feel.

Furthermore, better driving comfort caused by the higher sidewall is said to be a positive side effect of smaller tyres. You can add a favourable purchasing price: When looking at the five tested sizes, there is a price difference of about 85 euros between the smallest and the widest tyre, which will pay off in spite of the slightly higher wear of smaller tyres. Additionally, snow chains can only be used with smaller tyres. “Whatever tyre width is to be selected – it will pay off to have a look at a comparison of models in our regular tyre test. Regardless of the size, a good tyre is indispensable for safe driving”, explains Dr. Reinhard Kolke, Head of Test and Technology.