Best Winter Snow Tire For Your Sports Sedan? Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3
Sports sedans have changed over the years. Originally real-wheel drive for the best possible steering response and handling, nearly every sports sedan today comes with all-wheel drive optional. Nearly every test vehicle we drive of this type has AWD, and dealers in winter states want them for their inventory because buyers find that they can extend their use to all-weather vehicles. Couple this with a good set of winter tires and you have a very capable all-weather vehicle with very little compromise when the weather is dry and mild.
Testing Winter Tires In Mild Weather
Because winter tires can be louder than all-season tires, and because they can sometimes make steering response a bit muted, we were happy to have the chance to test the Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4MATIC this past week in mild and mainly dry winter weather. This was the sixth sports sedan we tested over recent months and we fell in love with the vehicle. One addition that our fleet management company had made with Mercedes's support was to swap out the summer performance rubber for a set of four Pirelli Sottozero 3 winter tires.
Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 Performance
We knew from researching a good winter tire choice for the Tesla Model 3 that the Sottozero 3 was very highly rated. However, those ratings mainly focused on user-reported data for snow and ice driving. We are pleased to report that the mild-weather performance of the Sottozero 3 is outstanding in every way.
First, the tires add no detectable noise to the cabin. In fact, among the six sports sedans we tested, the other five wearing all-season performance rubber, the Mercedes was subjectively the quietest. This impressed us. The author owns three vehicles with Bridgestone Blizzak tires (two crossovers and a sedan) and they add a fair amount of noise.
Second, the CLA250 4MATIC with the Sottozero tires was outstanding in ride comfort and handling. The steering was sharp in spirited driving. More importantly, on the highway, there was no play in the wheel or drifting or tramlining. All of these negative changes have been found by this writer when winter tires are used on almost all vehicles. The Sottozero was a perfect match for the sporty and premium feel of the Mercedes CLA250 4MATIC.
We did not test the Sottozero 3 tires in snow due to the timing of the weather. However, in Tire Rack's ratings, the Sottozero 3 earns a rating of "Excellent" in snowy and wet conditions. Here is what one sedan owner said about the tires: "Took two trips to the mountain on them so far, one in an outright blizzard. Hit slush and standing water at freeway speeds and they didn't flinch. Didn't spin a tire all the way up the mountain - 35 miles of continuous winding uphill on mixed hard pack and loose snow."
Unlike crossovers and SUVs, sports sedans are not intended to be extreme weather vehicles. Adding winter snow tires enables a good AWD sports sedan to be a great ski weekend car and will get you to work any day the roads are open in safety, and with the knowledge you will never be sidelined by the snow and ice. You won't be praying for snow just to go test your vehicle. Instead, you will be hoping the winter tires are there in case you need them. We found the Sottozero 3 to be a great mild-weather tire. Like all winter tires, the Winter Sottozero 3 has the proper compound, sipes, and tread pattern to tackle wicked winter weather. Even better, they don't spoil the fun on the majority of winter days when the roads are dry and conditions mild.
Note: Torque news received no free products or payments for the publication of this story:
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For two decades he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his profile at Linkedin.