Audi A3 winter tyres & wheels

by chris sanders on 11th November 2015

Update 10/11/15

audi_a3_new

Tyremen now have the new Audi A3 16″ (OEM) alloy wheels available for 2013-2015 models only £320 the set,

Wheels Specs: 6.5″ x 16 ET46, Package price example, wheels fitted with

205/55R16 Goodyear UltraGrip 9 £661 delivered.

205/55R16 Continental TS850 £618 delivered.

205/55R16 Michelin Crossclimate £615 delivered.

205/55R16 Nokian WR D3 £604.00 delivered.

To see all packages for this wheel click here

 

 

 

 

Next up in my Audi posts I look at winter driving in one of the Nations favourites, the Audi A3. I’ll investigate safe winter driving from the use of winter tyres and how winter wheel and tyre packages add increased convenience and better cold weather performance.

My advice here will be specific to A3’s 2003 onwards; in fact the tyre advice doesn’t really change for the older models it’s just that there was a change in the wheel spec as the new model came out. The information is also relevant for the new 2012 A3, our partner Tyremen has some new wheels which are specifically for the new model but the wheel and tyre set up is essentially the same.

Winter wheels and tyres for the A3 are a very big seller for our partner Tyremen and with good reason. Using winter tyres makes these vehicles fantastic in the winter, especially when a nice narrow size is used like that fitted to the base models. Many A3’s come out of the factory with tyre size 205/55R16 which is fairly narrow and a winter tyre in this size will work really well, offering great winter traction and short stopping distances. Standard A3’s are front wheel drive which is a major plus for winter performance and gives the Audi a huge advantage over its German rivals when it comes to getting about in the snow. If you opted for a Quattro version of the A3 then you will really benefit from the 4 wheel drive system during the winter and as long as you have the right tyre these vehicles will go anywhere, even in very harsh winter weather.

So assuming your vehicle has 16” wheels fitted and 205/55R16 tyres and you want to swap onto winter tyres, which are the best ones to go for? Well there are a number of great options available; I think the best 2 winter tyres for 2012 will be the Vredestein Snowtrac 3 and the brand new Continental TS850. The Snowtrac has been voted the best winter tyre available for a number of years running, they are made by a small Dutch company who are considered to be the best in the business when it comes to winter tyres. Certainly when it comes to pure snow performance they are the best thing out there and are very popular with customers in Scotland and those driving to the Alps. The Continental TS850 is brand new for 2012/13 and is the replacement to the hugely successful TS830 which was probably the most highly awarded winter tyre in 2010/11 in the key winter tyre tests. Tyre technology moves on all the time to the TS850 is bound to be a great product which will offer fantastic all-round winter performance.

If you currently have a larger wheel fitted as standard you could have either 17” or 18” tyres and if you wanted to just change the tyres then winter tyres are available in these sizes. However when it comes to winter tyres the narrower tyres work the best so many A3 drivers opt for reducing wheel size down to 16” which is totally acceptable and is done by the use of a winter wheel and tyre package. Our partner Tyremen have various wheel options which can be used starting at steel then going up to alloy with German made brands Alutec and Anzio. These are TUV approved which is a German quality certification mark which assures insurers that the part is suitable, (if you choose to tell them – not necessary) and has no impact on vehicle warranty. Tyremen also have some original equipment Audi wheels which are factory run but essentially new and are a fantastic option for winter packages as it keeps your Audi looking as standard as possible.

In addition to being more effective a narrower wheel and tyre set makes financial sense too if you plan on keeping the vehicle for a number of years as you remove the cost of swapping tyres each season which will cost around £120 per year. A 16” package will work on most A3’s, the only exceptions are the S3 and 3.2 litre V6 which need at least a 17” wheel to clear the larger brakes.

Going back to the vehicles that have 17” & 18” tyres fitted, they will be running on either 225/45R17 or 225/40R18 and tyre products offered in these sizes vary from the smaller size. The two brands mentioned previously still make fantastic products in these sizes. Vredestein produce the Wintrac Xtreme in both of these sizes, they are a fantastic winter tyre that will perform well in all winter conditions. They have the added benefit of lasting a very long time, we’ve never come across a winter tyre that offers the kind of mileage that the Wintrac does. Continental’s TS830P is a different pattern to the TS830 but was equally highly awarded last year; it had a bunch of tyre test winning performances. In these larger sizes both of these tyres are quite costly, if you wanted to keep the cost down a bit then solid mid-range offerings are available which will still offer great performance. The Uniroyal MS plus 66 for example are made by Continental so you get the same technology going into the tyre, it also had some top 5 winter tyre test performances of its own. Another good quality winter tyre is the Hankook W300, we get great feedback from customers on these and as a company Hankook now produce original equipment tyres for the likes of BMW, Mini and Audi.

You can get cheaper winter tyres, there are a bunch of budget winter tyres on the market but please don’t consider these! The fact that you’re reading this post you are obviously looking to make your vehicle safer in the winter and scrimping on the rubber will simply eradicate any benefit of changing.

I hope this helps, if you want to know anything else about winter tyres or wheels please don’t hesitate in contacting the friendly team at Tyremen, or post below and we’ll get back to you.

Also if you want to read further about any of the tyres mentioned above then you can find plenty of detailed information on winter tyre reviews.

Have a look at Tyremen’s great winter tyres packages. Or ring 0845 807 808 for more info.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Phil February 16, 2014 at 7:31 am

Having run Winter tyres on 16″ wheels on my A3 for 2 winters now, I would agree with the advice given in this post. However, the mild wet winter we have experienced here in the South of England has highlighted to me the importance of selecting a winter tyre which also has good wet braking performance ABOVE it’s intended operating temperature of sub +7 degrees C.

Last winter (2012/13) I fitted Winter Tyres to my A3 for the first time and ran them from 25th October through to early March. I dropped from 18″ wheels to 16″ fitted with 205/55 R16 Continental WinterContact TS830s. During this period, commuter morning & evening drive-times here on the south coast were pretty consistently below +7 degrees C, and dropped as low as -5 degrees C on occasions according to my dash thermometer. The Continental TS830′s lived up to their independent test results and proved to be very confidence inspiring on cold wet roads, ice & snow; the reduced wheel size also made for improved ride comfort over winter pot holes. I measured tread wear rate over the period and found it to be identical to my summer tyres wear rate. I was a convert!

25th October 2013, and I got the winter wheels & tyres out of the shed and refitted them. However, this winter, commuter drive-time temperatures have consistently hovered around +8 or 9 degrees, rising rapidly with the morning sun to + 10 or 11 degrees, and not falling off rapidly at night. The biggest hazard of Winter 2013/14 in the South of England has been the amount of rain and resulting deep standing water on the roads.

I was concerned that rather than enhancing safety I may actually have inadvertently compromised it by fitting Winter tyres in a mild wet winter. I found 2 test results which helped address my concerns around: resistance to Aquaplaning and Wet Braking (at temperatures above +7 degrees).

1. ‘What Car’ had run a comparative Summer/Winter tyre Aquaplaning test at +11 degrees C.

At this temperature the Continental TS830 Winter Tyres performed only marginally less well than Continental’s Summer equivalent. Given that I had also dropped a tyre width size from 225 40 R18 summer to 205 50 R16 winter (narrower should be more resistant to aquaplaning), I’m reasonably happy that resistance to Aquaplaning would be on a par with my summer tyres at this temperature. Source:

http://www.whatcar.com/car-news/wet-conditions/1206074

2. However, AutoCar’s comparative Summer/Winter wet braking tests above +7 degrees C proved enlightening. At +10 degrees C the Michelin Winter tyre took 7 meters further to stop on a wet road than the equivalent Michelin Summer tyre. Source:

http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-video/winter-tyres-tested-wet

(Not sure the ‘wet handling’ element of the AutoCar video adds anything as they explain that the surface at MIRA is low friction so more like ice, so not representative of the grip level on a typical wet British road at +10 degrees C).

At just 3 degrees above the prescribed +7 degrees C (i.e. +10 degrees C) wet breaking distances of Winter tyres increase significantly over their summer equivilent; in the same way Summer tyres wet braking distances increase when temperatures drop 3 degrees below +7 degrees C (i.e. + 4 degrees).

Clearly with the changable weather we have in the UK, you’ll never be right 100% of the time in terms of tyre for prevailing temperature. However, what the mild wet Winter of 2013/14 has highlighted to me is the importance of Tyre Labelling’s Wet Braking Performace lettering system. The testing methodology used is often criticised as Winter tyres are tested at the same standardised test temperature ( +25 degrees C) as their Summer counterparts. However, in a mild wet winter like the one we are experiencing here on the South Coast of England the wet braking distance Tyre Labelling coding for stopping distances above 7 degrees becomes highly relevant; and should be part of the consideration which chosing not just “a winter tyre”, but “which winter tyre”. The Continental TS830′s I have fitted have a ‘C’ rating, but some Winter tyres drop to lower letters which could significantly increase wet stopping distances in a mild winter over the summer tyres they were swapped for.

In year 2 of using Winter tyres on an A3 I certainly haven’t experienced the very direct and tangible benefits I experienced from them in the harsh cold winter of 2012/13 (and you could argue that in my location summer tyres would have been equally safe this year). However, as I established last year, the tread wear rate of the winter tyres is the same as my summers so I’ve used the same amount of rubber. Flooding has caused the roads in this area to explode into pot hole craters so, riding on 16″ winter tyres (rather than 18″ summer wheels) has certainly cushioned my wheels and the cars suspension components from damage from these pot holes, and also made the ride during the winter months more comfortable. My summer wheels will re-emerge from the shed in spring un-scuffed and uncracked; and with tyres with a good tread depth to deal with spring/summer rain. So, on balance, I’m still a convert to the merits and economics of changing to the correct winter tyre for the climate in my area of the UK.

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