It is quite a common phrase among various car-related communities that ‘all-season’ tires are actually ‘no-season’ tires. This statement is used to reflect how most all-season tires are rather bad at handling cold temperatures and snowfall while also sacrificing significant overall grip in warmer temps.
In recent years, a new category of tire has begun work its way into the discussion: The ‘All-Weather’ Tire. All-weather tires are supposed to be able to handle winter temps, ice, and snow much better than standard all-seasons while still providing good tread-wear, wet weather performance, and comfort in warmer weather.
In this article, I am going to review the Nokian WR-G4. I have had a set on my 2016 Subaru WRX-STI for over a year and a half and feel like I have driven on them through enough various situations to put together a fairly good picture of what these tires are capable of.
Disclaimer: The opinions in this article are my own and have no quantified data of my own to back it up. I have no affiliation with Nokian Tires other than the fact that I have bought and used their products (Although I’m sure this article reads like a commercial for Nokian). I also have zero credentials other than reading insane-amounts of tire tests and reviews. Like seriously, I LOVE reading about tires more than any other thing car-related.
Nokian Tyre is a long-established tire company based out of Finland. They aren’t as popular as some of the larger tire manufacturers, but chances are that if you live somewhere where snow-tires are common or mandated, you have heard that Nokian makes an excellent snow-tire. Nokian actually developed the first winter tires and have carried on their expertise in this category with tires like the Hakkapelita R3, Hakkapelita 9, and Nordman 7 which are some of the best-performing winter-weather tires on the current market.
The WR-G4 is the 4th rendition of the all-weather ‘WR’ line and is not a dedicated winter-tire. It has the all-weather-rating required 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol and carries a solid, but not spectacular 500tw A A UTQG rating and is sold with a 60,000 mile treadwear warranty.
The tire is sold in North America in about 45 different sizes from 14" all the way to 19". Nokian also sells the physically similar WR-G4 SUV in a number of additional sizes from 16" up to 20".
Even at a quick glance at the tread, you can see that the tire has aggressive siping, a couple of deep center channels and some long, swept ribs. The design bears much similarity to some well-regarded tires like the Continental Extremecontact DWS or the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4. Nokian advertises that the tire is made of an ‘all weather dual-performance compound’ and claims that its style of siping results in better lateral stability over standard, more horizontal siping.
In regular, daily driving, the WR-G4 is a pleasant tire to live with. Road noise was significantly reduced over the OEM Dunlop Sportmaxx RT’s and also offered a noticeably smoother ride over all surfaces. The increased comfort does come at the cost of increased sidewall flex in hard cornering.
In warm weather, the WR-G4 performs like a regular, unassuming all-season tire. They have good hydroplane resistance and wet weather grip. If you push them to their limits, they will provide you with early and progressive audible feedback. In quick maneuvers like slaloms, they feel a bit ‘floaty’ at times, but nowhere near what most winter tires, but you are never going to confuse it with a high performance summer tire.
When the temperatures start to drop below 45-degrees, that is where the WR-G4 really starts to separate itself from the conventional all-season tires. The compound used in the WR-G4 stays soft and pliable which allows it to better able to keep its grip on the cold road. Dry and damp roads with temps below 40-degrees are where the WR-G4 really excels in its performance.
Once the snow starts to fall and ice begins to form, the WR-G4 is up to the task. As long as there is ground clearance, the WR-G4 will provide good all-around traction, but it does it in a manner that is less confidence inspiring than most full winter tires. The many grooves and sipes help dig into fresh snow and slush very well. Hard packed snow feels a little less grippy, but still quite formidable. Sheet ice is awful for almost any tire without studding, and the WR-G4 struggles as well. But the tires are still compliant enough to get you moving or stopped in reasonable distances and they have enough grip that adjusting the center-differetial in the STI netted significant handling changes.
The Nokian WR-G4 can be purchased online from a number of places (But not TireRack for some reason). Simple Tire, Tires-Easy, and TiresByWeb are all sites that carry the WR-G4 as well as most of the rest of the Nokian’s tire lineup.
In 245/40-R18, the WR-G4 is competitively priced at $162/tire shipped. Here is a list of some other all-season and all weather tires that TireRack has highly rated for comparison:
- Vredestein Quatrac Pro- $169
- Continental Purecontact LS- $185
- Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate- $184
- Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+- $197
- Michelin Crossclimate+- $193
- Goodyear Assurance Weatherready- $186
- Vredestein Quatrac 5- $127
- Firestone Weathergrip- $147
Note: All prices listed is what they were listen for at the time of writing the article. Places like SimpleTire change their prices quite often.
While having separate winter and summer tires is still the best way to making sure you are on the best tire for the weather you are in, not everyone has the ability and/or luxury of being able to do it. An all-weather tire like the Nokian WR-G4 does an exceptional job of bridging the gap. It’s not going to out-perform dedicated seasonal tires on paper, but it will provide superior and safer winter traction over a standard all-season while being on par with them in warm weather.
The WR-G4 is a tire that is exceptionally adequate as a year-round tire and for the money, you will be hard-pressed to find too many other tires that can keep up with it.
The author, who goes by Joe in real life, is an avid automotive enthusiast with a particular passion for Mazda rotaries. You can find him at many Western New York SCCA and surrounding area events autocrossing his RX-8. He can be reached at AkursedX@gmail.com (If you are an automotive company and want to give me free stuff to write about, let me know!) More of what I’ve written can be found here: CLICK HERE