With winter completely underway, we got the opportunity to test out an all-season tyre and see if they’re really as good as their manufacturers say they are. We wanted to know if all-season tyres really are a good balance between summer and winter tyres, or whether the hype is just that, hype.
Since Goodyear recently released a brand-new all season tyre called the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen 3, we thought we’d review it and see how it holds up against its competitors.
About the Vector 4Seasons Gen 3
The Gen 3 is Goodyear’s latest all-season tyre, and one which uses three of Goodyear’s tyre technologies: Snow Grip, Dry Handling, and Aqua Control.
Snow Grip means that the tyre has a large number of sipes at its centre, providing better snow bite and improving handling by 5% compared to its predecessor (the Vector 4Seasons Gen-2).
Dry Handling means that the tyre has a strong crown and side shoulder blocks which reduce deformation during heavy cornering and lateral forces. According to Goodyear’s own estimates, this also increases the Gen-3’s dry braking performance by roughly 5% compared to its predecessor.
Finally, thanks to Aqua Control technology, the Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 is able to withstand impressive levels of aquaplaning and improve water dispersion thanks to deep and wide grooves in the tyre.
Motor Verso Test Details
To find out what the Gen 3 is capable of, we had to find a suitable stretch of road that would put the tyre through its paces. Obviously, you can’t do that in the heart of Birmingham or anywhere urban because it’s not a proper test, so we decided to head out to the Peak District in search of snow and ice.
The most suitable place we were able to find was the Snake Pass, a ribbon of tarmac crossing the Pennines, located between Glossop and the Ladybower Reservoir at Ashopton. It’s a wonderful stretch of road riddled with amazing scenery and an incredible set of twists and turns that seem to go on for miles (because they do).
We drove the road in early December when the weather is cold but not below freezing. Realistically, this is the UK, so we were never going to find a bit of road absolutely covered in snow and ice, and this was the closest we could manage. As it turns out, it proved to be an excellent testing ground for reviewing an all-season tyre.
We ended up driving a total of roughly 120 miles in the Peak District, with the temperature fluctuating between 0 degrees at the top of the Snake Pass, and 6 degrees Celsius in other areas of the national park.
About The Test Car – VW Golf R-Line MK8
We used the latest MK8 Golf as our test car. You have to remember that we’re testing out the tyre, not the car, so we wanted something where the limiting factor would be the tyre itself and not the car or us.
With the Golf, you can safely explore the tyre’s limits and feel the car work underneath you.
For this particular test, we had a 1.5-litre R-Line Golf, which is neither a flagship nor the slowest Golf out there. For what we had in mind, it fitted every single requirement and it allowed us to come back in one piece, safe and sound.
Testing The Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 Tyre
Since this was a relatively quick test, we didn’t have a summer or a winter tyre for comparison, but having driven thousands of miles on all kind of tyres on all kinds of roads, we had an idea of what to expect.
To accurately test the tyre, we divided each test portion into its own little segment. This way, we can break down how the tyre performed in each individual category and give a verdict.
Dry Grip – Vector 4Seasons
In the dry, Goodyear’s all-season tyre proved to be phenomenal. Going into this test, I had this preconceived notion that it would feel like a massive step down from a summer tyre. I thought it would have adequate grip in the dry, but nothing to write home about or get too excited. Having driven all kinds of summer performance tyres, I wasn’t expecting a lot, but I came away thoroughly impressed.
For starters, you honestly can’t tell that it’s not a summer tyre unless you’re pushing the car to its absolute limits and the road is bone dry. Even then, braking distance doesn’t seem to be affected compared to a summer tyre.
From behind the wheel, the experience felt identical to driving the Golf on summer tyres. The car never felt like it lacked any traction. You could definitely tell that they’ve worked extremely hard to make the Gen 3 a well performing dry tyre.
If you were to take a sportscar out on track, I’m sure you’d find the limiting factor of the Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 pretty quickly, but that’s not a real-world test. For everyday drivers who are going to be using this tyre all-year-round, 24/7, the Gen 3 felt perfect and was a great match for the Golf and UK roads.
Wet Grip – Vector 4Seasons
The main advantage of all-season tyres over summer or winter tyres is that you don’t have to change them every time seasons switch. You can continue using an all-season tyre throughout winter and summer when other drivers would ordinarily be changing over to the correct and adequate tyre.
Apart from that though, all-season tyres always seem to excel in wet weather. The special grooves in the tread itself work to push water away and disperse it from underneath the contact patch. This gives the tyre a much cleaner contact patch with the asphalt underneath it, therefore giving you grip.
If you look at the Vector 4Seasons Gen 3, you’ll notice how wide and deep those grooves run. Since wider and deeper grooves equal more volume, the latest Gen 3 is able to disperse water roughly 5% more effectively than its predecessor.
The end result is a tyre that inspires confidence even when it’s pouring down with rain. Having experienced aquaplaning before, I know that the feeling of losing control over your car is not pleasant.
Testing the car in standing water, what I found out thoroughly amazed me, because not once did I not feel like I wasn’t in control. The tyre felt like it was pushing the water away at a quicker pace than it was able to build up underneath the tyre. Obviously, I was being sensible and drove like any person would (maybe a bit more exuberant to explore the tyre), but I was blown away with the tyre’s performance.
For UK weather, where it feels like nine times out of ten it’s raining, the Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 really does make an excellent case for itself. If you’re mostly worried about all-season tyres not being good enough to cope in the wet, then don’t be. I can safely say that Goodyear’s latest all-season product is every bit as capable in wet weather as any other tyre out there.
Snow Grip – Vector 4Seasons
I didn’t have an opportunity to test the tyre out in deep or fresh snow since it wasn’t heavily snowing on the day of the test and most of the existing snow had melted away from the roads.
That said, however, I did get a chance to test the tyre out in semi-snowy conditions, i.e. leaving a snow-covered car park or pulling off into a resting area covered in snow. Despite being front-wheel-drive, the Golf had no issues with traction at any point of my manoeuvres.
Yes, part of that is down to the Golf and its brilliant electronic systems, but most of it is honestly down to the tyre. Had I been on summer tyres, I’m 100% certain that I’d have gotten stuck at least two or three times during this drive.
What these pictures can’t tell you is just how snowy some of the areas we encountered were. I’m fairly certain a 4×4 on summer tyres would have gotten stuck in at least one of them, so the fact that a small FWD hatchback with the correct tyres on managed to get through it, is a testament to how brilliant the Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 is.
Is it as good as a proper snow tyre? Well, obviously not, but I can safely say that it isn’t far off. Unless you find yourself driving in deep snow often (in the Scottish highlands maybe), I see no benefits to a snow tyre over a capable all-season one like Goodyear’s latest product, especially in the UK, where it snows just a few times a year.
Ice Grip – Vector 4Seasons
We ofcourse didn’t go out on a frozen lake, so we couldn’t test the tyre’s ‘pure’ ice performance, but if you find yourself driving on frozen lakes often, you’re either a rally driver or you might want to consider studded tyres.
In all seriousness, even though we didn’t encounter a lot of ice, the road did seem slightly frozen in a few places at the very top, but the tyre took it and handled it like an absolute champ. It never lost grip and neither the front nor the back stepped out of line.
Obviously, I was taking it easy whenever I thought ice was a possibility on the road as I didn’t want to find myself facing the other way, but I was thoroughly impressed with the tyre.
Bearing in mind this isn’t a full-on snow tyre, let alone one designed to cope with ice, the Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 did a brilliant job in the tricky conditions. In such a cold climate and really low temperatures, the tyre’s soft compound really came into its own, maximizing the contact patch and extracting performance from a surface that has very little grip to offer.
Road Feedback – Vector 4Seasons
This isn’t a performance tyre, so I wasn’t hoping for much, especially given the tricky weather conditions. Once again though, the Goodyears kept on surprising me by being quite communicative and confidence-inspiring. The Golf’s electronic steering was the limiting factor here because it’s designed with comfort in mind and ease of use, so it’s not particularly adept at transmitting feedback from the wheels, nor do I want it to be.
My point is that even with a numb steering feel and in treacherous conditions, the Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 inspired confidence and kept the car on the black stuff at all times.
Compared to a dedicated winter tyre these all-seasons have more surface tread and therefore grip on a dry or moderately wet road, meaning you can definitely place the car on the road much better and with more precision.
Handling – Vector 4Seasons
As I said before, I wasn’t gunning the car down the road like Chris Harris would, but I drove at a ‘spirited’ pace at times, when the road conditions would allow it. At regular-to-moderate pace, the tyre felt completely within its comfort zone.
The MK8 Golf is an excellent-driving FWD hatch, and Goodyear’s Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 further accentuated that by giving it the grip it needs to deliver.
The front end felt perfectly planted at all times, especially in the wet. The front axle felt glued to the road, which I couldn’t quite believe since the road was damp and I was expecting at least a little bit of slip.
The rear end kept itself in-line the entire time as well. No sudden oversteer moments or ‘oh deary me’ situations. Even when I tried lifting off the throttle mid-corner, the car continued tracking straight and true, following the predetermined path I was giving it with the steering.
I’m not sure how a more powerful, perhaps rear-wheel-drive car would cope using this tyre in these same conditions, but then again, I’m not sure there’s any tyre that’s suitable for that application.
On the whole, I was shocked to find just how much performance these all-season tyres had to offer. I expected them to be a happy medium between summer and winter tyres, slotting somewhere in the middle but being significantly worse than either of them. What I ended up discovering was that all-season tyres, particularly this all-season tyre, is 90% as good as a summer and winter tyre in their respective use applications, but in one package. Incredible.
Wear – Vector 4Seasons
Since this was only a 400-mile long test over a week, we couldn’t measure wear accurately or in any meaningful way, but given Goodyear’s track record I’m confident these will hold up for thousands of miles to come.
Reading several different forums online, we’ve seen users getting anywhere between 20k miles and even 30k miles from the previous gen, depending on how you drive and where you use the tyres predominantly. Obviously, if you’re conservative you might get more than 30k miles, whereas if you treat it like a performance tyre and barrel at every turn at full chat, you’ll get significantly less.
Don’t take these figures as any real indication of tyre wear since they are just estimates we’ve managed to find online and it will differ from car to car. Given our previous experience with Goodyear and their products, tyre wear is not something of a concern. They’ve always built sturdy, dependable tyres which are prone to regular wear when driven normally.
Comfort – Vector 4Seasons
On the road, I wasn’t able to establish any disconcerting or noticeable levels of difference in comfort between the Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 and any other summer or winter tyre I’ve previously used.
Tyre width and height are more of a factor in determining comfort levels than the actual type of tyre itself, but there are slight differences I can tell you right off the bat. For starters, there was less road noise using these all-season tyres compared to most winter tyres.
Because the grooves and the sipes aren’t as aggressive or deep as they are on a winter tyre, you hear less howling, especially at higher speeds. Around town, it doesn’t make any difference, but you can definitely tell the lack of road noise once you get going on the motorway.
Compared to summer tyres, the Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 feel plusher and more compliant, as most all-season tyres would, simply because they’ve got a softer compound that’s bound to flex more. You feel bumps and road imperfections less using this all-season tyre compared to any other summer tyre out there.
What I loved most of all is just how consistent the tyre felt in most road conditions and surfaces. It felt equally at home in the dry as it did in the wet. It never displayed any sudden drop off in performance when the road ahead changed, which is really uncommon if you’re used to conventional winter and summer tyres which are season-dependent.
What Did We Learn? – 4Seasons Gen 3
As we mentioned in the beginning, this was not a direct comparison or a side-by-side test using other types of tyres or tyres from different manufacturers. This was a strict review of Goodyear’s latest 4Seasons Gen 3 all-season tyre, but in doing so, we answered an important question and I gained a new perspective.
As it turns out, modern all-season tyres are a brilliant alternative to having two sets of tyres (winter and summer) and having to constantly alternate between the two as the seasons change. If you don’t want to spend money on two separate sets of tyres, or simply can’t be bothered to swap them out twice a year, just get an all-season set of four and run them year-round.
I should point out that if you’re driving a sports car and want the best performance in dry conditions, you should still opt for a performance-oriented summer tyre as that’ll give you the most grip (Check out the Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport for that). Likewise, if you live somewhere where snow is heavily prominent several weeks or months at a time every year, get a dedicated winter tyre to avoid getting stuck.
Conclusion – Goodyear’s Vector 4Seasons Gen 3
After experiencing Goodyear’s Vector 4Seasons Gen 3 all-season tyre, I’m thoroughly convinced that not only is it an incredible tyre, but it might be all the tyre you’ll ever need.
It’s as good as a summer tyre in most dry conditions, it can match a winter tyre for grip in most wet and snow scenarios, and it’s not bad at coping with an occasional ice patch on the road either.
If you’re still not convinced, I urge you to get one as your next set and see what an incredible tyre it is for yourself. Even if you’re not a big Goodyear fan, just go out and try an all-season tyre if you haven’t before. It’ll shock you in the best way possible.
Hats off to Goodyear and every other brand pushing the limits of tyre technology. Just a few decades ago tyres were considered to be nothing more than a few nylon strings interwoven together, and now look how far they’ve come.
Entire Specification of The Test:
Test location: Peak District, United Kingdom
Highest road: Snake Pass
Time of year: December 2020
Tyre test: Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen 3
Car: MK8 Golf R-Line – 1.5-litre Petrol FWD
Temp variation: 0c-6c
Distance: ~400 miles