As some of you guys may already know, a few weeks ago, I bought a set of post-MMC 8th generation Civic Si rims on Kijiji. It comes with some Roadstone/Nexen Winguard Sport winter tires already mounted and balanced. I did not buy this set for the tires; I already have some Continental ExtremeWinterContacts in P215/45R17, I bought them mainly for the rims for my 2013 Honda Accord. But since they're already mounted and balanced, and it has tons of tread left, why not give it a shot? After all. I will never spend my money on this kind of tire anyway, so this may be my only chance to try them out.
I installed them Sunday afternoon. Yesterday was a holiday, so I did not drive yesterday, but I got quite a bit of highway and city driving on Sunday evening as well as this morning to work It was -7 degrees Celsius this morning, with a bit of snow on the highway, which provides some pretty decent testing ground for a set of performance class winter tires. In my personal opinion:
- Handing: A lot sharper than my ExtremeWinterContacts. The EWCs are quite soft, so I run them at 40 psi... I noticed all Continentals I've used calls for high pressure for best performance; running them at anything less is just unreasonable (My other set is Continental ExtremeContact DWS). The EWCs feel fine normally, almost like all seasons for the most part -- at least in 45 profile -- but quick steering inputs will be dampened thanks to the thick rubber blocks. The Winguard Sport is unquestionably sharper.
- Grip: Not too bad. Didn't have any chance in deep snow and ice, but in light snow with a minute amount of ice, it's pretty decent. If you live in Calgary or Vancouver, these tires are right for the season. (I still prefer studless ice and snow though. I want uncompromised winter performance in deep snow and ice, and tires like the ExtremeWinterContact and X-ice Xi3 does a fine job at behaving like an all season on dry road for the most part.)
- Rolling resistance: Better than my ExtremeWinterContacts, but I bet anything is. The ExtremeWinterContacts have some of the worst rolling resistance I've ever used. I can feel my car drag down when I let go of the gas pedal, and yes, that's at 40 psi. Fuel economy drops about 0.2L/100km to 0.3L/100km compared to my normal winter average using the ExtremeContact DWS, which is really good rolling resistance at 42 psi.
- Noise. Holy crap, they're loud. You can definitely hear the tires at ANY speed. The Winguard Sport is louder at 50km/h than my ExtremeWinterContacts at 100km/h. If noise is a concern, these tires are not for you.
Overall, these are cheap performance tires, and honestly, they're decent for the price. However, if I were to choose between the two, I would definitely get the ExtremeWinterContacts, except they're probably 1.5 to 2x the price. Unless you are interested in cornering like an idiot in the winter, or interested in doing really quick steering inputs repeatedly back and forth on dry road, the EWCs provide much better performance overall, with comparable driving feel as a regular all-season. The Winguard Sport is great if you don't care about noise, interested in sharp steering response when it's cold outside, and want to save cash.