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Winter Tire Review Part 1: Hankook I*cept Evo 2 tires for the B6 A4 USP

If you recall, we recently purchased ourselves an old 2005 (B6) Audi A4 Ultrasport. It’s a car we’re having some fun with, even though we’re still in the ‘repair’ phase of ownership (years of neglect will do that to a car). Though, we’re almost finished fixing all of its annoying issues, thanks to its previous owner’s lack of maintenance. One of its issues we inherited was a set of bad tires. Not only were they cheap, no-name brand tires but they were beat up from years of curbing all (!) of the wheels. So it was time for a new set of tires and I wanted winter rubber for this upcoming season. Which is why I reached out to Hankook for a set of I*cept Evo2 winter performance tires.

 

Hankook is now one of the major tire suppliers for Audi in America, so I wanted to give them a try. I’ve never used Hankooks before, so I was curious to test them out. Thankfully, Hankook was gracious enough to send me a set of I*cept Evo2 winter tires, the brand’s all-new winter performance rubber. Admittedly, when they sent over the tires, the car was up on jack-stands as I replaced the timing belt, water pump, tensioners and belts over the course of a few days. After that, I had the tires put on.

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On my way to the tire shop to get the cheap all-season rubber swapped out for a proper winter set, the weather couldn’t have changed for the better. It was cold that morning but as I started to drive, a wintery mix started to come down hard. Some snow, some rain and very cold temperatures made for very slushy, slippery roads. Even with Quattro all-wheel drive, my little B6 was all over the road thanks to its crap tires. The poor traction control system was working overtime to reign it all in.

 

Thankfully, the tire shop wasn’t too far from my house and I made it there safely. After the new Hankook I*cept Evo2 tires were put on, the weather had turned more to snow. It barely accumulated an inch on the ground but it was enough to test the brand-new winter rubber right away. Immediately, I noticed a massive difference.

 

Obviously, the quality and condition of the tires made a big difference as well but the fact that I went from tires that weren’t capable of handling freezing temperatures to ones that thrived in them made more of a difference. The little B6 went from feeling like it couldn’t buy grip on the road to feeling incredibly confident. More importantly, not only was I confident in driving it safely but confident in pushing the car hard. There was actually grip, a lot of it.

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The combination of Quattro all-wheel drive and genuine winter performance tires made my little A4 USP feel like a baby rally car in the barely-an-inch of snow on the ground. Of course, that’s hardly a test but it’s the harshest weather we’ve had in New Jersey since having the new rubber installed.

 

Since then, though, I’ve driven the car quite a bit and noticed a tremendous difference in dry-road grip and capability. Turn-in is far improved, steering feel is improved and so too is overall grip. The car feels so much more planted and secure at speed, allowing me to lean on my all-wheel drive system and power out of corners. The A4 is so much more fun now that it has A) good, quality tires and B) tires that can handle the freezing temperatures of a New Jersey winter.

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Unfortunately, the wheels I have these tires on are nothing to look at just yet. They’re actually great looking wheels, as A4 USP models came with 18-inch wheels from a C5-generation RS6. However, the previous owner curbed all four of them pretty badly. I still don’t understand how someone curbs all four wheels. Nevertheless, all four wheels are in pretty bad shape. They won’t be that way forever, as I’m going to have them repaired because I simply love those wheels, but they look pretty gnarly at the moment, so I apologize for the photos.

 

So far, I haven’t been able to test the new Hankook I*cept Evo2 tires to their full potential, as the weather has been relatively mild in NJ so far this winter. However, winter has only officially just begun, so we expect to face many more frigid, snowy days in the coming months. After I have the chance to really sample these tires in some proper winter weather, I’ll provide another update. Until then, I want to say thanks to Hankook for the tires and stay tuned.

CategoriesA4 Editorial
Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.