Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D winter tires

 

Dunlop Winter Sport D4 winter tires are part of Audi Canada's OEM winter wheel/winter tire package for 2018 Audi A4

225/70R17 Dunlop SP Winter Sport D4 winter tires are part of Audi Canada’s OEM winter wheel/winter tire package for 2018 Audi A4

We opted to have our 2018 Audi A4 quattro fitted for winter when we picked it up a couple of weeks ago.

Instead of the optional very low profile, ultra high performance 245/35R19s intended for maximum (summer) grip, we bought Audi Canada’s winter tire mounted on OEM Audi 17-in. wheels ‘package.’

Audi seems to have negotiated winter tire ‘deals’ with Continental, Dunlop, Michelin, and Pirelli.  Having had outstanding experience with Michelin X-ice Xi3 studless winter tires on our 2015 Subaru WRX and a Mercedes E430 4matic before that, I was hoping to get the Michelins again.

No luck.  For 2018 Audi A4s, the Audi tire package consists of the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D mounted on Audi 17-in. alloy rims.

This is the A4's right front Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D high performance tire. Note the unidirectional tread pattern

This is the A4’s right front Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D high performance tire. Note the unidirectional tread pattern

Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D

The Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D for our A4 is a 225/50R17, “H”-rated (for sustained speeds up to 210 km/h.)  Dunlop markets the 4D as a ‘sport performance’ winter tire, meaning it’s a compromise tire, intended to give better dry, wet and ‘handling’ performance than ‘pure’ winter tires, at the expense of slightly poorer snow performance.

The Dunlop 4Ds have a unidirectional tread pattern, so there are left and right side tires, and the sidewall shows these were Made in Poland.

Keen-eyed readers will see the recommended 225/50R17 winter tire package for the A4 is “-2” (or minus 2-in. in wheel diameter from the optional 19-in. wheels in the high performance tire/wheel package the car came with.)  The winter tires are narrower (225 mm vs 245mm) than the hi-perf summers because the narrower tread ‘digs’ through snow more easily than the wider tire, and more easily gains traction, compared to the wider tire tending to ‘float’ on the snow.  You will see the professional rally drivers fitting cartoonishly narrow tires on their cars for gravel and ice/snow.

Surprise test findings – the Dunlops place 1st out of 16 winter tires tested

I was surprised to find a German publication, Auto Bild 2014 Winter Tyre (sic) test in which the Dunlop 4D placed first among 16 tires tested, besting well known winter superstars such as the Michelin Alpin A4, Continental WinterContact TS 850, Nokian WR D3, Bridgestone Blizzak LM 32S and Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3.

Interestingly, Auto Bild recommended the Dunlop 4Ds as “The best tyre for snow” and “The best tyre for wet roads.”

First impressions

On dry pavement, the Dunlop D4s are quiet and comfortable.  Certainly, handling (considering the relatively ‘tall’ 50-series sidewalls) feels ‘cushioned’ and steering feedback is muted.  We’ll be able to do a better comparison in the Spring when we switch back to the 245/35R19 ultra-high performance summer tires.

On icy roads and snow, traction for accelerating and braking has been very good.  (I was following a FWD Toyota Camry today and accelerating from a stop when the light turned green, the Camry’s nose did the side-to-side sliding ‘dance’, a telltale sign of poor or little traction on ice covered city streets.  The A4 (aided by Quattro all-wheel-drive and the Dunlop winter 4Ds) accelerated from a stop with zero slippage.

However, on an icy 90-degree left hand turn merging onto a collector road and giving the Audi a goodly amount of throttle, the front end of the car slipped until I eased off the throttle, so I’d say the 4D’s lateral grip is not as good as (I remember) the Michelin X-ice Xi3s, which are a ‘pure’ (i.e. not a ‘high performance’) winter tire.

So far, so good.

 

 

 

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