What's the best winter tire for a Corvette Stingray?

Driving your Corvette this winter?

(Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images).

If you plan to drive your Corvette Stingray in the winter, it's crucial to swap out your summer tires. We review the difference between winter and all-season tires, and recommend the best sets for your Corvette. 

See also: 5 Tips to Driving a Corvette in Winter

Why change from the Michelin Pilot Super Sport?

The 2014 Corvette Stingray rolls on the ultra-fast Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP tires.

Michelin's Super Sport, the OE tire for the Corvette Stingray, has superb traction and braking for wet pavement. But its summer-rated compounds are designed to handle subzero temperatures. The tread pattern, which has been optimized for high performance, doesn't give enough grip for winter weather. 

What's the difference between winter tires and all-season tires?

Photo courtesy of Michelin and Brian Remsberg.

The description for an all-season tire is a little misleading, as it's really built for three seasons, but not specialized for any.

"You're always going to get the best performance by having a product that's optimized for the use it's intended for," says Jim Knowles, a tire expert with Michelin.

"You can use an all season tire, which is a good all-around product, but you're never going to get the max performance in the winter or the maximum performance in the summer out of that."

If you can afford it, buy a set of winter tires to run during the cold months.

"During the winter months you're going to get the highest level of safety out of the vehicle, because winter tires are going to offer the highest level of snow and ice traction in cold temperatures," Knowles explains.

"All-season tires are a compromise. They're a good compromise in a lot of cases. But they're still not as much of a performance in the summer or the winter as you can find switching between a winter and a summer tire."

See also: Is there a winter tire for the Corvette Stingray Z06?

Best winter tire: Pilot Alpin PA4

Michelin specially developed the Pilot Alpin PA4 as a winter tire for ultra high performance sports cars. Its asymmetrical pattern is designed to provide maximum snow traction on the inside shoulder. The outside shoulder, which carries more load in a corner, is strengthened. The tread pattern on the outside is also optimized for better wet/dry handling.

During their comparison test, TireRack.com editors rated the Alpin PA4 in first place overall, beating out Bridgestone Blizzak LM060, Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D and Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3.

"Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 offered the best overall traction and handling stability" along with Bridgestone's Blizzak LM60, say editors, "with the Michelin showing a measurable advantage in acceleration and cornering traction."

It was one of the most "responsive and stable during light handling situations," capable of quickly changing directions. Editors also praised its braking and traction.

"The Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 delivers the best balance of performance in this group, driving well on the road plus providing good ice, snow and very good wet traction," summarized TireRack.com editors.

In Consumer Report's test on winter performance tire, the Alpin PA4 was also recommended after tying for first place. Editors called its traction, handling and resistance to hydroplaning "impressive." They did note, however, that braking on both wet and dry pavement was only "so-so." 

SEE ALSO: The Pilot Alpin PA4: Michelin's Winter Tire for Corvettes

Runner up: Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3

Pirelli opted for a different direction when designing its tread pattern for the Sottozero 3. A double arrow design runs down the center of the tire. Grooves separating the center from either shoulder are designed to move water away from the tire in wet conditions. Similar to the Michelin winter tires, the Sottozero 3 use 3-D siping to boost grip.

"This third generation tire shifts to an aggressive directional tread pattern that should aid slush and wet traction in addition to being able to chew its way through deeper snow," described TireRack.com.

In the same TireRack.com performance winter tire comparison, the Pirelli tires placed second overall. It felt just as responsive and stable as the Michelin tires, with good braking and cornering on wet pavement. Overall, editors say it has "good ice and wet traction and nearly matched the Pilot Alpin PA4's handling out on the road."

"In the dry the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 displayed the highest traction, followed closely by the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4," say editors. The Pirelli is louder than the Michelin tires, but editors remark that the tread noise isn't "overly harsh."

TireRack.com also allows consumers to rate tires. At the top of the owner survey for performance winter/snow tires is the Sottozero 3.

SEE ALSO: Best Replacement Tires for a C6 Corvette