Viking7, Hakka R3, Pilot Alpin PA5 on AWD BMW?

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Asking in case anyone has overlapping experience with these three tires or similar offers. I know they are from different classes or categories. I've been using dedicated snow tires for decades (generally paired with dedicated UHP summers. In the 90s, all season summers). I ramble here about what I've observed over the last 25 years or so and why I've never had a winter tire that I've said "I'm getting these again!". I or immediate family have run:
  • Michelin XMS100*
  • Michelin Alpin (the originals)*
  • Dunlop Wintersport M3*
  • Michelin Pilot Alpin PA2
  • Pirelli Snowsport 210
  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta RSi*
  • Bridgestone Blizzak WS60*
  • Dunlop WinterSport 3D*
  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2*
  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 SUV
  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV
The ones with stars have been on my personal vehicles driven in winter (gen2 Acura Integra, BMW E39 528i sport, BMW E90 328i sport, BMW F10 535i X-Drive w/KWv3s). I'm in the suburban Toronto area and it's my theory that our particular winter mix is difficult for any tire to master, and every winter tire leaves me wanting in some way.
  • The Alpins had effortless winter traction, so much so that the only thing that ever stopped me was heavy slop so deep that it lifted the tire up off the ground. But, highway handling felt unsafe at 105kph and over - delayed reaction, overshoot, felt like they blew up like balloons. I did a lot of Interstate-class driving at the time and needed to fix this, so...
  • The Dunlop M3s were heralded in reviews as an amazing winter tire. Their dry grip was good, handling confidence good, braking good, winter traction for the first season was also good. The E39s particular alignment/suspension wore all of the edges off of the sipes and I was left with no winter traction despite lots of tread depth. After sliding through a few stop signs while people around me were having no trouble, I threw them out with 9/32" on them and got Hakkas (also had a baby - prioritize safety)
  • The Hakka RSis had great winter traction where the worst of conditions felt like driving on a gravel road. They totally destroyed non snow/ice braking and handling though unless it was really cold. At -15C they came alive. In the dry at -20C they felt like UHP summers in their prime - tight, snappy, grippy, progressive roll off and fantastic winter traction. Above freezing in the wet they rolled off so bad it was like driving on an oil slick. If it was 7-10C and raining (this happens occassionally during our winters) it was like driving on glare ice. I stayed home.
  • The WS60s came with the E90 I bought when my E39 was totaled so I didn't "choose" them. All around they did well. Better than I thought they would in the dry/wet. But - they still had the Blizzak thing where only half the tread depth is true winter so they didn't do "well" for all that long and really rolled off winter grip quickly.
  • The Dunlop 3Ds came with my F10. They did OK in the wet/dry. They had good winter grip when accelerating, but hugely less so for braking. To the point where I became quite surprised how little braking traction I had compared to my acceleration and turning, catching me out a couple of times but luckily hitting nothing. I did not observe odd sipe wear to immediately explain this. The compound started to age and dry. Combined with poor braking I got rid of them before they were worn out and got the R2s.
  • The Hakka R2s are currently on the car. Nokian fixed whatever was wrong with the RSi compound in the "warm wet". The non-SUV R2s really impact dry/wet braking and steering response, the SUV version seems to have designed around this with the continuous center rib and Aramid construction but the SUV version isn't made for my F10. The R2s aren't great in the wet, generally make the car understeer a lot, and I spend the winter tip-toeing around even on nice dry days because they just sound like they're tearing apart. When it snows, they've been fantastic combined with AWD, at least in the first couple of seasons. I actually look forward to a trip out in the snow as long as there wasn't a lot of congestion.
So in winter we get some really cold snaps, but it doesn't usually stay for more than a week at a time - these are easy for most winter tires. Most snow happens around freezing, meaning the intersections get packed and polished into ice in minutes. Snow is heavy and gets salted instead of plowed, meaning we drive a lot in "cookie dough" that's heavy, clogs up treads, floats cars more than wet slush and is generally a messy PITA. Even worse, when we get a storm it often starts as heavy wet snow, then transitions to a couple of hours of rain, then some freezing rain, then a flash freeze. It's almost always this same pattern for storms - Nor'easters or Colorado lows.

We don't get much cold "squeaky snow", which even the several-year old M3s could excel in. My R2s tear this stuff up the odd time we get it. Sometimes there's weeks in a row where it's nothing but brine/wet. If it's dry it is either a major high speed highway or very cold. The brine tends to pull moisture from the air and keep the roads wet indefinitely until it gets below -10C then dry areas emerge.

So, it seems like my winters aren't "extreme" enough for Hakka offerings to shine. If it was consistently colder, they would probably be a no brainer. On the other hand, I've had serious deficiencies with every "sport" winter tire I've tried, pushing me back towards "full" winter tires. Granted they were both from Dunlop. The Blizzak formula was better all around than I thought they would be, but the half-life tends to steer me away from them.

So, I am looking at my R2s and I'm down around 6-7/32" on the rears. This could be their last season. Are the PA4/5s good enough when I get winter weather but will really sharpen things back up in the warm, wet? Lots of people seem to like the Viking7 too. Or just go with whatever Nokian is selling next fall (R3? R4?)

EDIT: and I'm not talking about tearing it up aggressively all winter. Yep, I know you "slow down" in the winter. I'm just talking about the occasional 5-6/10ths driving to make it through that advanced green, or not feel like I lose so much braking to squirmy tires, nor that I need to hover around like a limo driver with unrestrained passengers in the back sipping martinis etc...
 
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They aren't in your list, but I've been running General Arctic 12's on my RWD BMW 328i now for 4 years and love them. When they finally wear out, I'll replace them with the same. I bought them off the recommendation of a coworker at the time who owned the same chassis of car. I now have 4 family members who all bought them, and 2 friends who also own BMWs that bought them.

The price is good, they handle well and are quiet, grip is excellent, and so far they have been wearing pretty well. I also don't drive this car gently.
 
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They aren't in your list, but I've been running General Arctic 12's on my RWD BMW 328i now for 4 years and love them.
+1 on the Arctics. I still have the original Arctics on my RWD 530i and have been very happy with them. Getting ready to replace them with Arctic 12.

Wife has Hakka R2 SUV on her Q5 and we've been happy with them as well. Obviously can't be compared, but I feel my 530i with Arctics is equally capable during winter, sans all wheel drive, of course.
 
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I had those dunlop M3's on a 2007 focus and they did great for first 2 seasons.. 3rd season as you mentioned I was making a 90degree left turn in relatively mild winter conditions and it turned into a 180 backwards onto the sidewalk.. They went from good winter tire to worse than average allseasons for some reason.

Currently running the viking contact 7's on a 2020 elantra they definitely handle dry and wet closer to a standard touring tire (vs blizzak etc)
These have better traction in the dry and wet than the OEM tires (which I didnt like)
Winter traction is amazing even in sloppy slush. Of course this isnt a performance car.

I'm not sure the contis would make you happy(not sporty enough) but I am sure they would disappoint you less than any of those listed tires.

The new michelin xice snow might be a good choice too. They opened up the tread abit so its now better in slush than their previous max traction on "smooth hockey ice" optimized pattern..

If you are prioritizing sport tires.. I would go for these
Whatever the latest contiwintercontact you can get in Canada such as Continental ContiWinterContact TS 830
Dunlop 4d
Michelin alpin pa5

 

Craig in Canada

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Thanks for all replies so far. One specific follow up:

I'm not sure the contis would make you happy(not sporty enough) but I am sure they would disappoint you less than any of those listed tires.

The new michelin xice snow might be a good choice too. They opened up the tread abit so its now better in slush than their previous max traction on "smooth hockey ice" optimized pattern..

If you are prioritizing sport tires.. I would go for these
Whatever the latest contiwintercontact you can get in Canada such as Continental ContiWinterContact TS 830
Dunlop 4d
Michelin alpin pa5

Here's a crux of my challenge. I've been disappointed by every "sport" winter tire I have owned (though both were Dunlop). I don't think the same was true of the others on the list for their owners (PA2 etc...), but they weren't mine. Some were my dad's and they drove to Florida for the worst of every winter (and needed a winter tire that wouldn't melt off while they were down there). Different needs... I think a loaner F30 I had a couple of winters ago had V-rated Pirelli winters on which, I think, had terrible reviews but performed quite well, I thought.

Again, I'm not driving around at 8-9/10ths in the winter, but extreme winter tires like the Hakkas suck all of the precision and BMW-ness out of the car in all conditions except the really harsh stuff when I am glad to have them. I don't have a good feel for how much worse the winter traction would be on PA5s, or just how much less compromise might be present in Viking 7s. I've never found a review or informative forum/blog post that directly compares something like the PA5 to the R3 or V7 because they're in different segments. I know edyww hates his R2s :)

I was watching the release of the X-Ice Snow last year. I got the impression that it kinda flopped, but I'll take a fresh look.

EDIT: Looks like General doesn't make the Arctic12 in my current winter size - 245/45/18 winter (style 237s that came on the car) 245/40/19 summer (style 351M that comes with sport package variants). I don't plan on buying any more/different wheels for the car and don't believe 17s fit over my front brakes.
 
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...the intersections get packed and polished into ice in minutes.

If you need excellent ice traction, forget about the sportier winter tires, and stick with the studless tires. If you like Nokian, the R3 Is improved over the R2 in the areas of wet and dry traction, but it gives up a little ice traction as the tradeoff. Every winter tire design is a compromise. The Viking Contact 7 has been winning most of the international winter tire tests over the last few years (those tests are heavily weighted towards ice traction).
 
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Another studless winter tire to consider is the Goodyear Ultra Grip 2.


Goodyear's studless alternative excels as the best studless Nordic tire on wet roads, a surface that is usually the Achilles heel of this tire category

It also achieves top results when the road is dry.

Despite being the best in the asphalt laps, Goodyear also has short braking distances on snow and ice.

However, there is something demanding in the turns on a winter surface. The grip can disappear relatively suddenly, and it alternates a little strangely between upper and lower steering.

Overall, Ultra Grip Ice2 is the best option for those who are considering choosing a continental winter tire, but who still want good grip on ice.

This makes it a good choice for those who mostly drive on bare roads, but who still travel to snowy areas from time to time.

PLUS:
Best of the Nordics on bare ground - on wet as well as on dry.

MINUS:
Appears somewhat nervous at the grip limit on snow and ice.

 
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They aren't in your list, but I've been running General Arctic 12's on my RWD BMW 328i now for 4 years and love them. When they finally wear out, I'll replace them with the same. I bought them off the recommendation of a coworker at the time who owned the same chassis of car. I now have 4 family members who all bought them, and 2 friends who also own BMWs that bought them.

The price is good, they handle well and are quiet, grip is excellent, and so far they have been wearing pretty well. I also don't drive this car gently.
I have them on Forte first season so far and even wife who drives the car mentioned how smooth they are, she never notices anything on the car. Great tires, had original Arctics on for prior 7 seasons.
 
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I've never found a review or informative forum/blog post that directly compares something like the PA5 to the R3 or V7 because they're in different segments.
In this test , the Continental TS870 is compared to 7 studless winter tires.


Continental winter tire Continental TS870


As expected, the TS870 exhibits a total superiority in the open field disciplines [dry and wet roads].

The fact that the type of tire has been developed for rainy winters is shown by the sky-high resistance to aquaplaning - better than a summer tire.

Driving safety and steering feel are also in a class of their own.

The TS870 manages quite well on snow.

On the other hand, it quickly turns out that this type of tire is not adapted for frozen surfaces, with disturbingly long braking distances when the wet road freezes.

Good communication at the grip limit means that this premium tire is still easier to drive than a poor Nordic alternative.

PLUS:
Aquaplaning. The open field properties.

MINUS:
Braking distance on ice. Somewhat more noise than the Nordic ones.

 
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Sounds like you need to look into the Blizzak LM001. More performance oriented, which works well when you have X-Drive, and less harsh winters than we get here in Ottawa. But maybe not as performance orientated as the Pilot series of winter tires. It’s the OE winter tire on the new 3.
 

Craig in Canada

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Blended response to a couple of items below:

If you need excellent ice traction, forget about the sportier winter tires,

Well, do I? I gave an example of how my winter is ever changing and presenting new challenges. I would guess I spend 75-90% of time and miles in the wet. But, on the other hand, what's going to send me into the ditch, curb or colliding with another vehicle? A patch of ice. Sure, most times it starts snowing "typically" (not a storm) the existing salt on the road will either melt it as it falls (sometimes going through a heavy slush phase), or if it overwhelms the salt already applied a salter will come along and salt it. Before that happens, then we have "intersection ice". The Dunlops (both M3 and 3D) would give me heart-in-throat moments a handful of times per winter no matter how gently I tip-toed. All of the others I just need to be sure to brake extra early and hope those behind me do the same.

Arctic12 not available in my size, sadly.

Conti - TS870 not available in my country. TS860 not in my size (only larger and lower profile - my size isn't "sporty enough"). TS850 is available.

LM001 - I will check those out. They are available in my size. @mightymousetech what do you run? Assuming either of your bimmers see winter. Ottawa is "less harsh" in some ways, but I bet it's easier to find a single tire that copes. As I mentioned, if it was colder overall I think I would have fewer issues. It's the warm, cold, brine, flip-flop. When we get a snow/rain/freezing rain/flash freeze storm, you seem to get just snow and cold. I'd rather have straight forward snow and cold. The same challenges are true for snow blowers, but we're not talking about that :)

EDIT: After double checking, it looks like Michelin isn't making my size in PA5s yet either - I was sure I checked. Right now the PA4 would be my option in Canada in my size.
 
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LM001 - I will check those out. They are available in my size. @mightymousetech what do you run? Assuming either of your bimmers see winter. Ottawa is "less harsh" in some ways, but I bet it's easier to find a single tire that copes. As I mentioned, if it was colder overall I think I would have fewer issues. It's the warm, cold, brine, flip-flop. When we get a snow/rain/freezing rain/flash freeze storm, you seem to get just snow and cold. I'd rather have straight forward snow and cold. The same challenges are true for snow blowers, but we're not talking about that :)
The E90 is my winter car. I run Hakka R2 in a 225/45/17 square and just live with how crappy they handle in above freezing temps. They are magical when it is really cold and in snow. My summer tires on that car are an UHP all-season, so I can take them further into the fall than a purely summer tire, so that helps a bit.
 
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Blended response to a couple of items below:



Well, do I? I gave an example of how my winter is ever changing and presenting new challenges. I would guess I spend 75-90% of time and miles in the wet. But, on the other hand, what's going to send me into the ditch, curb or colliding with another vehicle? A patch of ice. Sure, most times it starts snowing "typically" (not a storm) the existing salt on the road will either melt it as it falls (sometimes going through a heavy slush phase), or if it overwhelms the salt already applied a salter will come along and salt it. Before that happens, then we have "intersection ice". The Dunlops (both M3 and 3D) would give me heart-in-throat moments a handful of times per winter no matter how gently I tip-toed. All of the others I just need to be sure to brake extra early and hope those behind me do the same.

Arctic12 not available in my size, sadly.

Conti - TS870 not available in my country. TS860 not in my size (only larger and lower profile - my size isn't "sporty enough"). TS850 is available.

LM001 - I will check those out. They are available in my size. @mightymousetech what do you run? Assuming either of your bimmers see winter. Ottawa is "less harsh" in some ways, but I bet it's easier to find a single tire that copes. As I mentioned, if it was colder overall I think I would have fewer issues. It's the warm, cold, brine, flip-flop. When we get a snow/rain/freezing rain/flash freeze storm, you seem to get just snow and cold. I'd rather have straight forward snow and cold. The same challenges are true for snow blowers, but we're not talking about that :)

EDIT: After double checking, it looks like Michelin isn't making my size in PA5s yet either - I was sure I checked. Right now the PA4 would be my option in Canada in my size.
Why don't you see what Gislaved has?

Especially since the Arctic 12 are hand-me-downs from Gislaved (Nord Frost 100)

Current version of the Nord Frost:

Also the Nokian WR G4 started life as a central european (aka Performance Winter to us yanks) WR A4 tire, then labelled it and made supposed tweaks to market it as an all-weather tire for the US/Canada market.

I should also add.... maybe consider Nitto. Their old SN-2's had a loyal following. I had them, and liked them overall. Replaced by now SN3 (which is a directional tire)
 
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The E90 is my winter car. I run Hakka R2 in a 225/45/17 square and just live with how crappy they handle in above freezing temps. They are magical when it is really cold and in snow. My summer tires on that car are an UHP all-season, so I can take them further into the fall than a purely summer tire, so that helps a bit.
I took off R2 off Tiguan yesterday for WS90. Cannot remember last time I was so excited for getting rid of certain tires.
 

Craig in Canada

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I took off R2 off Tiguan yesterday for WS90. Cannot remember last time I was so excited for getting rid of certain tires.

As the weeks go by, I would be interested in your direct comparison of the two on the same vehicle. Did you have the R2 SUV version on the Tiguan? My SO has had R2 SUV and R3 SUV on a Sienna and I think they are quite superior to the non-SUV for things I'm looking for. I'd get the SUV version for the F10 if it came in my size.
 
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As the weeks go by, I would be interested in your direct comparison of the two on the same vehicle. Did you have the R2 SUV version on the Tiguan? My SO has had R2 SUV and R3 SUV on a Sienna and I think they are quite superior to the non-SUV for things I'm looking for. I'd get the SUV version for the F10 if it came in my size.
Yeah SUV version. Junk!
They are good in snow and ice, but dry is seriously bad, and wet borderline dangerous. Their performance drop is noticeable as times go by compared to Michelin, Bridgestone or Continental.
Bridgestone WS70 I had before on that car were much better IMO.
And the noise they make? Geez.
In that category IMO Continental Viking 7 is best tire. I have it on BMW in 205/55 R16 size and they are excellent tire in snow and ice, very good in dry and wet, quite, comfortable. My suspension on BMW is bit too much for that size so will be moving to 17” in winter too (I am adding bigger brakes, so 16” won’t work), but I think it is best rounded winter tire of that category.
 

Craig in Canada

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Yeah SUV version. Junk!

My R2s are non-SUV, and I find the SUV versions of R2 and R3 preferable. Interesting... I find the SUV version has less impact on braking and has improved steering response. I have not compared back to back on the same vehicle of course. On the Sienna, throwing on the R2 or R3 SUV is basically no disadvantage compared to the all seasons run for summer. By comparison, putting the R2s or any other winter tire on the F10 is profound (and the F10 to begin with is a bloated oinker lacking most of the "BMW-ness" found in its predecessors).

They are good in snow and ice, but dry is seriously bad, and wet borderline dangerous. Their performance drop is noticeable as times go by compared to Michelin, Bridgestone or Continental.

My RSis I found dangerous if warm and wet. The R2, R2 SUV and R3 SUV I would never have personally labelled with "borderline dangerous" in the wet. I've heard your feedback on this before though and it's quite significant for you. I wonder why it's so different in your Tiguan application. I believe I dug up similar comments about wet traction on the Nokian WR of the same vintage as the RSis so I think they had a compound problem which has since been fixed.

In that category IMO Continental Viking 7 is best tire. I have it on BMW in 205/55 R16 size and they are excellent tire in snow and ice, very good in dry and wet, quite, comfortable. My suspension on BMW is bit too much for that size so will be moving to 17” in winter too (I am adding bigger brakes, so 16” won’t work), but I think it is best rounded winter tire of that category.

I was reading some reviews on the Viking7 yesterday. It seems to be that it scored in the bottom of comparison for everything braking related, while the WS90 seems to prioritize braking over other handling characteristics. *shrug* Viking7 is still on my list, and interested in hearing about your WS90s.
 
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Will see about WS90. I had on X5 DM-V2 which had same compound as WS80 and they were tricky in ice. Abrupt loss of traction without any hint of progressive loss. So will see about WS90. It seems they improved a lot of stuff compared to WS80.
I am super happy with Viking 7 on BMW. They don’t have size for Tiguan, that is why I went WS90. I might try Michelin X-ice snow next time on BMW.
 
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