Do I Need Winter Tires?

All-season, all-terrain, summer, touring, performance, passenger and WINTER?! With more tire types than we know what to do with, is it really worth picking up a specific tire based on the weather? I mean all-season claims to be all-season, right? We wanted to find out so we went and picked up a set of Continental Viking Contact 7s. Also, if we’re going to test these it would probably make the most sense to throw these on an AWD rally machine like an STI or maybe an Evo. So we threw them on a rear wheel drive coupe, A Toyota Supra.  

What Is a Winter Tire?

So what is the Viking Contact 7? It’s a dedicated winter tire, with a 3-peak mountain snowflake rating, which means it meets the severe snow service requirements of the U.S Tire Manufacturers Association. AKA, this tire should take on a Wisconsin winter without breaking a sweat. Looking at the tread pattern you can immediately see this is a different type of animal. Winter tires use an extremely different pattern then their summer and all season cousins. That’s because they need deeper tread and more sipes in order to be able to grip on snow, ice, and slush. In addition to that, winter tires are able to stay softer in colder temperatures, while a summer tire hardens up. Hard tires, means you’re going to have a hard time driving. Every tire manufacturer is going to call the tech that goes into their tire something unique to them, Continental pulled out of the name jar “Polar Plus”. Even though the acronym is PP, I still think it sounds cool.   

Is the Continental Viking Contact 7 Good?

Now that we know what a winter tire is, let’s slap it on our Supra. We went with a 255/35/19 square setup, even though the stock wheels on the A90 are staggered. We simply did this because that was the widest the Viking Contact 7s were available in. For comparison, the factory tire sizes are 255/35/19 in the front and 275/35/19 in the rear. So it really wasn’t too different with the most mild of mild stretches in the rear, it was barely noticeable. Side note- we also added some spacers to the stock wheels since the Soup is lowered and we didn’t want to look like a winter hovercraft.
With our tires on, we set out on our maiden flight. With some snowy conditions, and specifically finding roads the plows haven’t hunted out yet, we went in deep. Let me tell you, I was blown away. Truly. As a Wisconsin boy that has solely ran all-seasons since I was 16, I thought dedicated winter tires were a money grab or marketing ploy to get you to pick up yet another set of tires. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was driving better, and more confidently in my lowered RWD Supra than I was with my stock height, FWD Jetta on all-seasons.  Not only was I happy with how the car was handling, but one of the most notable differences was the stopping. You can feel and hear the tires grab the snow and bring you to a stop. Now as a disclaimer, this is still a sports car driving in snow. If you give it gas, if you jerk the wheel, if you drive like an escaped convict and found a BMW Supra with the keys in it, the car is going to slide and kick out. Winter tires are NOT a get out of jail free card. You still need to drive smart. What it DOES do, is make you feel confident when it kicks out that you can bring it back. It allows you to drive normally and comfortably rather than white knuckling your steering wheel while you try to figure out why your heat kicks in only when you arrive at your destination. 

So Is It Worth It To Have Winter Tires?

Obviously getting a set of winter tires is situational based. Depending on where you live, and how brutal your winters are. I’d say if you have to drive in snow more than 5 times a year, winter tires are a must and are completely worth it. Winter driving is some of the most dangerous driving we can do on public roads, investing in tires specifically designed and made for that can help protect not only your machine, but most importantly yourself and other drivers. All-season tires can be great, but they do not compare to a tire dedicated for the season. Think about getting a steak from a buffet, and a steak from a world renown steak house. The buffet one is probably ok, it’s definitely not cooked the way you like it, but it fills you up. The steak house steak melts in your mouth on the first bite, opens your eyes, and makes you question everything else you have been eating. It makes you clean the plate, and maybe scoop up some of that leftover juice once it’s gone. That’s winter tires. I’m not lying or exaggerating when I tell you I’d check out the forecast, and get excited when I see snow coming. I would wait for those powder days and go take the Supra out just to drive. If you don’t believe me, I made videos covering it all, go check it out. Driving a RWD car in Winter instantly became some of the most fun I’ve had in a car, and I can simply only thank the Continental Viking Contact 7 for opening my eyes to that. I can only imagine how a FWD or AWD car would tear up the streets with a set. If you have snow on your weather radar, make sure to pick up a set and mod your car at MartiniWorks. 

Dakota Stone

I like to slappa da wheel. Also, I drive a 2020 Toyota Supra. No, its not manual. The engine is from BMW.