Tires

Are studded snow tires a necessity?

Nokian

 (Nokian)

Being based in Finland, it's no wonder that Nokian Tyre has an aptitude for winter tires. Its product line has numerous snow-ready models, and the latest examples have gained traction in our tests.

One of Nokian Tyre's newest products is the Hakkapeliitta 8 studded snow tires. Like its predecessor, the Hakkapeliitta 7, the Hakkapeliitta 8 comes studded right from the factory.

Although Hakkapeliitta claims these so-called "Eco Stud” tires damage road surfaces less than traditional studs, we evaluated the Hakkapeliitta 8 only for ride and winter traction to avoid wear and tear of our test track. Testing included dry and wet braking, handling, hydroplaning resistance, winter traction, ride comfort and noise, and rolling resistance.  

What We Found

The Hakkapeliitta R2 proved to be a top-scoring snow tire with excellent snow traction and grip on ice. Plus, it rides comfortably and quietly. The R2 is a great choice where severe wintry conditions are common.

For areas where wintery conditions are moderate and roads are cleared soon after a storm, the Nokian WR G3 is worth considering. Nokian calls it an all-weather tire, and the tire does offer well-rounded performance. Our tests showed the WR G3 has very good snow traction; good stopping grip on dry, wet, and icy road surfaces; and secure handling. Plus, we projects the tire’s tread life to be comparable to its 55,000 mile warranty, making the WR G3 a good choice for year-round use. (Find out the truth about tire treadwear, and learn how to buy long-lasting tires.)

So where does the Hakkapeliitta 8 Eco Stud fit in? It’s a hardcore winter tire that has excellent snow traction and stopping grip on ice. The Hakkapeliitta 8 might be useful for clawing hard-packed snow and ice, but at least based on our test conditions, we did not experience a notable advantage over the impressive Hakkapeliitta R2.

It’s possible the Hakkapeliitta 8 studded snow tires would have an edge in certain wintry conditions. And ride comfort is a strong suit. But chose the studless Nokian models if a quiet ride is a high priority—the ticking stud noise is noticeable in the Hakkapeliitta 8.

For complete all-weather test results for these Nokian tires, along with their competitors, check our winter/snow tire buying guide and Ratings.  

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