- Excellent dry performance
- The best winter tire for wet roads
- Marvelous traction and grip on snow and ice
- Very comfortable
- It doesn’t last as long as some of the competitors
- Slightly nosier
A handful of premium tire manufacturers are on top of the game when it comes to making one of the best tires in the industry. Among them is Pirelli, a manufacturer that has almost 150 years of experience in the business. Even though we know the brand from F1 and its performance, it has several other tire lineups.
The tire I’ll be dissecting today is a winter touring tire, the Sottozero 3. As a premium tire, Pirelli advertises it for premium cars, designed to be safe, comfortable, and perform well regardless of the winter conditions.
What are the features of the Pirelli Sottozero 3?
Pirelli didn’t spare any technology and put everything it got into the Sottozero 3. As you’d expect, the rubber compound is designed with low temperatures in mind, so you should expect it to grip well when the temperature is low.
The tread design is one aspect that offers multiple advantages. The Sottozero 3 has two wide circumferential grooves, which work alongside the lateral ones and the 3D sipes to offer excellent aquaplaning resistance.
On the subject of the sipes, the density is higher than some of the rival tilers, meaning that the grip on snow surfaces should be improved. Down the middle, the tread design features a directional pattern with double arrows. This is designed to increase traction on snow and should also offer better stability.
The 3D sipes on the shoulder blocks are made to help with handling and braking distances on dry roads.
PNCS, or Pirelli Noise Canceling System for short, is the company’s technology tasked with making the tire quieter. The inside of the tire has an additional layer of material that absorbs the noise the tire makes.
How does it behave on dry tarmac?
The Sottozero 3 is an excellent performer on dry roads, despite being a tire designed to be driven in the cold. You could easily compare the performance to a summer tire on a hot day.
All that technology that Pirelli put into the tire paid off as the Sottozero 3 has tons of grip in the corners. At some point, it will let go, but it won’t do it in an uncivilized manner; you’ll know when to expect a slide.
Traction is also excellent and only falls a tad short behind the Michelin Alpin 5. To be fair, the differences are so minor that most drivers won’t notice them in everyday driving.
One thing that the Sottozero 3 excels at is braking. The tire has the shortest stopping distances out of all its competitors in the premium category on dry roads.
How does it behave over wet and slippery roads?
A wet road is where the Sottozero 3 shines the most and has the best performance, except for the aquaplaning resistance. Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from bad, but there are one or two tires that seem to resist it better.
The traction is superb and even under more aggressive acceleration. As a result, even more, powerful cars won’t have traction issues. Grip is another area where the tire excels. It will hold you in place regardless of how much speed you’re carrying through the corner. It means that you can brake late, which is another thing the tire is very good at.
With one of the shortest braking distances in its class, you really can brake later with the Sottozero 3 and get a safe and confident feel.
How is it over snow?
As a winter tire, the Sottozero 3 is excellent, offering plenty of performance on snowy roads. Some of its competitors may offer a tad better performance, but again, I’m nitpicking here.
Light or heavy snow will not be an issue as the tire will have plenty of grip and traction. In terms of handling, it will provide plenty of confidence, and you will feel safe. Even though the BF Goodrich gForce Winter 2 may offer slightly shorter braking distances, the Sottozero 3 still is an excellent tire for driving on snow.
The tire is equally impressive on ice and offers all the performance you’d need to drive without any problems.
Is it comfortable and refined?
The Sottozero 3 is comfortable but not the quietest tire. Let me explain.
Winter tires aren’t known for being quiet, and the same goes for any premium tire. The Sottozero 3 is not terribly loud even at higher speeds, but some of its competitors are slightly quieter. I’m not talking about huge differences, and some may not even notice a difference.
Comfort levels are superb. Since it’s made for premium cars, the Sottozero 3 is super comfortable and can absorb almost all bumps or holes.
Is it good for off-roading?
Winter tires are a bit delicate, so off-roading should be avoided as much as possible. It can cope with mud pretty well as a winter tire, but the problem can arise from what’s beneath the mud. Damaging the tread will lead to other issues down the road, so stay on paved roads.
Is the Pirelli Sottozero 3 ideal for sporty driving?
I would say no, but I wouldn’t rule it out sporty driving completely. The Sottozero 3 has plenty of grip and traction, so spirited driving won’t be a problem. Unfortunately, the driving dynamics aren’t as good as some summer performance tires, killing the joy.
You could have some fun on a snow-covered and empty parking lot, but try to avoid racing tracks, as it will wear down the tire.
Pirelli Sottozero 3 Warranty
Now we come to a bit of a disappointment, and that’s the warranty. Pirelli offers the Sottozero 3 with a limited tread warranty. In other words, you don’t get a treadwear warranty like some of the other tires.
The slight positive thing is that the uniformity warranty lasts a year or the first 2/32 inch of wear.
Pirelli Sottozero 3 Pricing: Is it worth the money?
When you consider the performance, the Sottozero 3 is worth the money, despite the lack of a treadwear warranty. The starting price is a touch above the $100 mark. It may sound like much, but keep in mind that you are getting a premium tire.
Should I buy the Pirelli Sottozero 3?
You should buy the Sottozero 3, but you should also consider a few things first. I’m not going to say that it’s a bad tire, but I will need to point out a few minor weaknesses.
Starting with those is the lack of a specific treadwear warranty. Some rival companies offer their premium winter tires with a treadwear warranty. While we’re on the subject, the Sottozero 3 isn’t the longest-lasting tire in the category. On average you should expect around 30,000-miles, whereas with some others you may get up to 40,000.
The rest of the tire is all positive, and I have no complaints about it.
Dry performance is excellent, and the tire will offer plenty of grip and traction regardless of what you throw at it. If you really get into it, you could find a tire marginally better, but nothing that the average driver would care about.
Wet performance is the best out of any other winter tire you’ll find on the market. It’s stable; it feels planted; it takes a lot to upset the tire on a wet road. A slight disadvantage over its rivals is the braking distances, which are not the shortest in its class.
Snow and ice performance is again the best in the business. Any kind of snow in any type of form won’t pose a problem, and the Sottozero 3 will have plenty of traction to get going. The grip also won’t be a problem in the corners, and the tire will hold to the snowy road with maximum effort.
Winter touring tires are designed to be comfortable, and the Sottozero 3 doesn’t disappoint. The plush ride feels combined with almost no vibrations from the road is why Pirelli recommends it for premium cars. Noise levels aren’t the best, but considering how good the sound insulation is on premium cars, that shouldn’t be a problem.
I said that you should think about the Sottozero 3 mainly because of its longevity and warranty. Some would like a winter tire that can last longer, in which case they may be hesitant to go for this one. If that’s not an issue for you, then this is one of the best winter tires you can fit to your car.
What Vehicles Will the Pirelli Sottozero 3 Fit?
- Acura ZDX, TSX, ILX, RSX
- Audi A3, A4, A6, Q3, Q5, TT
- BMW 1, 3, 5, 7 series, X3, X5
- Ford Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo, C-Max, Kuga, Escape
- Honda Civic, Accord, Jazz, Odyssey, CR-V
- Hyundai i30, Elantra, Santa Fe, Tucson, Sonata, Genesis
- Infiniti G35, G37, Q45
- Lexus ES, IS, NX, RX
- Mazda 2, 3, CX-3
- Mercedes A, B, C, E Class
- Nissan Altima, Micra, Qashqai, Juke
- Suzuki Swift, Vitara, SX4
- Toyota Corolla, Camry, CH-R, Rav4
- Volvo 40, 60, 90 series
As you may have noticed, the list above doesn’t include premium-only models. The reason for it is that the Sottozero comes in a wide range of tire options, so you could fit it to an economy car.
Tire Sizes for Pirelli Sottozero 3
List of PirelliTire Reviews