- Premium-like performance at a lower cost
- Extremely quiet for a winter tire
- Excellent snow handling
- Short dry braking distances
- Aquaplaning resistance is average
- Wet handling could be improved
Over the years, many companies have gotten aboard the tire manufacturing train, and today we have a plethora of options. In some cases, I may say that we have too many choices, leading to confusion. As things stand now, most of the tires we purchase either come from the premium or mid-range segment. There are some good cheap options, but they don’t always seem like a good option. Today’s review includes a tire from the mid-range segment, specifically a tire made by Nexen.
The company was founded in 1947, and many may say that it doesn’t have the pedigree or heritage as Michelin or Pirelli. While that may be true, Nexen has provided us with some excellent-performing tires for a lower cost. A good price per performance ratio is what most of us are after, and the WinGuard Sport 2 seems to be a good option.
Developing a good winter tire is difficult, but making an ultra-high performance winter tire seems like an even more difficult job. Nexen has done it before with the WinGuard Sport and the second iteration of this model seems to bring some improvements.
The first generation of the WinGuard Sport wasn’t a bad winter performance tire at all. It was average or above average when compared to rivals from the same class. If Nexen made some improvements, can they be noticed, and will that help the tire climb up the performance rank?
What are the features of the Nexen WinGuard Sport 2?
The first difference between both generations of WinGuard Sport is the tread design. For the second version, Nexen went with a V-shaped tread pattern that seems to be the winning combination for traction and stability on various surfaces. Another area where the tread design can help is with water performance.
The circumferential zig-zag grooves work with the lateral ones in the V-pattern to improve aquaplaning resistance. It is achieved by helping the grooves evacuate the water more efficiently so that the blocks don’t lose traction with the road. The zig-zag grooves also help the tire on snow by having more biting edges to provide better traction.
Nexen used a technology called 3D Winter kerf, which is essentially 3D sipes. As with most winter tires, the goal of these is to improve traction on snow. In the case of the WinGuard Sport 2, these also help stiffen up the blocks for better driving dynamics.
Another feature that helps with wet performance is the grooves on the shoulder blocks. Even though their primary goal is to help with water evacuation, they also add additional biting force. As a result, the WinGuard Sport 2 should have better traction and grip on wet and snow.
How does it behave on dry tarmac?
With the noticeable improvements over the previous tire, the WinGuard Sport 2 performs much better on dry tarmac. This one can easily go against some of the premium winter tires.
Grip and traction won’t be an issue, thanks to the technology Nexen implemented. Aggressive acceleration or an enthusiastic cornering won’t be an issue as the tire will hold to the road without breaking a sweat.
When it comes to handling, it is clear that the WinGuard Sport 2 is performance-oriented as well. It responds pretty well to inputs and has a somewhat sporty feel to it. I noticed that it can squish a bit during the initial change in direction, but once it settles down, it’s excellent.
The stopping distances are excellent as well, putting the tire near the top of the mid-range class. For braking, the tire is very similar to the Michelin Alpin 5.
How does it behave over wet and slippery roads?
The wet performance is good, but it’s not a massive leap over the previous generation.
Starting off with the braking, the distances are very short. As a result, you can easily compare the tire with some premium winter tires.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the handling. It’s not terrible, but if I were to rate it, it would remain in the mid-range class. It holds well to the road, and there’s plenty of grip and traction. Despite that, once you push it harder, you can feel some slip.
The aquaplaning resistance also isn’t something that the WinGuard Sport 2 can brag with. It’s far from unsafe in those conditions and will remain planted, but some of the other tires in this class can handle more speed.
How is it over snow?
Snow performance is excellent, and we can see the WinGuard Sport 2 creeping into the premium zone.
The handling is among the best in its class, even better than some more expensive options. Compared to the previous generation, this is a big step in the right direction. There’s more than enough grip for the corners, and it can even take some spirited driving if you are aware of the tire’s limits.
Braking in a short distance won’t be a problem as the braking distances are pretty short. Despite that, they are only above average for the class, meaning that the premium tires will perform better.
The grip and traction are good on the ice if you go easy on the throttle and the brakes. It’s not a situation where the tire can take a lot of enthusiastic driving.
Is it comfortable and refined?
The comfort levels on the WinGuard Sport 2 are excellent, and the noise levels are even better.
That slight squish the tire has on the initial turn-in is the reason why it’s comfortable. Despite being performance-oriented, the tire is very comfortable. Vibrations and shocks are almost eliminated, but the tire may feel a bit floaty at times.
As for the noise, it is surprisingly quiet for a winter tire. In this regard, it’s the best in its class and outperforms many premium competitors. Even at higher speeds, it won’t drown the cabin with the tire roar.
Is it good for off-roading?
No, the WinGuard Sport 2 isn’t a tire that you should take off-roading. Dirt roads aren’t too big of an issue, but driving too long or too often will lead to premature wear.
You may have some success with mud, but since it’s not an off-road tire, try to avoid deeper patches.
Is the Nexen WinGuard Sport 2 ideal for sporty driving?
Yes, the WinGuard Sport 2 is good for sporty driving. The driving dynamics are good for a winter tire, and you can have some fun with it as long as you are aware of its limitations.
The responsiveness is good, and the tire turns in relatively quickly. The problem is that if you really nail it, you will start to notice more squishing. Also, the feedback from the road isn’t as pronounced as a summer performance tire.
It’s not terrible in this regard, but don’t expect wonders.
Nexen WinGuard Sport 2 Warranty
When it comes to warranty, the WinGuard Sport 2 doesn’t have one, at least not for treadwear.
Nexen’s limited warranty covers a free replacement under the material and workmanship warranty for the first 2/32 inches of the tread or 1 year.
Nexen WinGuard Sport 2 Pricing: Is it worth the money?
Yea, the WinGuard Sport 2 is a tire that’s worth the money. It starts from around $80, and when you consider you get similar performance to a premium tire that goes in the 3-digit zone, it’s a good bargain.
Should I buy theNexen WinGuard Sport 2?
Yes, you should, as the Winter Maxx 2 is an excellently performing tire at an affordable price. When you compare it to the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3, which performs similarly in most cases, the Dunlop model is a bit cheaper.
On the performance side of things, you have excellent levels of grip and traction in all conditions, which is what you’d want from a winter tire. Even though the braking distances take a hit, the tire is perfectly safe to drive and even confidence-inspiring in certain situations. The best aspect of it is how it handles on snow, making it one of the best in its class.
For comfort, don’t expect something you’d get with a grand touring summer tire, and you’ll be surprised at how well refined the Winter Maxx 2 is.
With some decent improvements over the first generation, the Winter Maxx 2 is an excellent premium winter tire, available for you at an affordable price.
What Vehicles Will the Nexen WinGuard Sport 2 Fit?
- Audi A3, A4
- BMW 1, 3, 5 series
- Ford Focus, Mondeo, C-Max, Kuga, Escape
- Honda Civic, Accord, Odyssey
- Hyundai Elantra, Sonata, Genesis
- Infiniti G35, G37, Q45
- Lexus ES, IS
- Mazda 2, 3, 6 CX-3
- Mercedes A, B, C Class
- Nissan Altima, Qashqai, Juke
- Suzuki Vitara, SX4, Swift
- Toyota Corolla, Camry, CH-R, Rav4, Yaris
- Volvo 40, 60, 90 series
It’s not the widest size range in the world, but you can fit the Winter Maxx 2 to plenty of hatchbacks, sedans, or crossovers. The list above is just a sample to give you an idea
Tire Sizes for Nexen WinGuard Sport 2
List of Nexen Tire Reviews