Barum Polaris 5 Review

Barum Polaris 5 is an affordable winter tire, where you don’t really compromise on a lot. Let’s check out its merits.

Winter Tire Comparison
Barum Polaris 5 is getting popular day by day, due to it’s superb value for money.

Key Takeaway

The Barum Polaris 5 excels in:

  • Dry Handling: Offers impressive steering responsiveness and balance, matching top-tier winter tires.
  • Snow Traction: Effective snow-to-snow contact due to its unique lug and siping structure, providing commendable snow performance.
  • Tread Longevity: Despite lacking a treadwear warranty, it lasts about 40k miles on average, making it a good value as a budget pick.
  • Fuel Economy: With an average tread depth and stiffer rubber, the tire shows reduced rolling resistance, aiding in decent fuel efficiency.

Though the tire needs improvement in terms of the following:

  • Dry Performance: Tread design limits rubber-ground contact, diminishing overall grip.
  • Wet Grip: Lacks flexibility in its sipes and misses an interlocking siping design, resulting in below-average wet traction.
  • Ice Traction: Performance on icy terrains is below average due to its stiffer rubber compound and limited siping.
  • Tread Noise: Generates more noise, lagging by 3 decibels compared to quieter winter tires.

Info on Sizes: The Barum Polaris 5 comes in 74 total sizes, in 13 to 19 inches wheels, with sizes having speed ratings of T, H and V, load ratings in SL and XL, and tread depth ranging 9 to 10/32″. Moreover, the weight ranges from 15 to 26 lbs, and the tire doesn’t come with any treadwear warranty.

Also Note: Since the tire is the best overall budget pick, I added it to my list of top winter tires, check it here:

Polaris 5’s Structure

The Barum Polaris 5 comes with a directional tread pattern, which is pretty typical in winter tires.

Polaris 5
Barum Polaris 5 tire offers one of the best fuel economy, among its direct competitors.

It’s tread comes with 4 ribs, as can be clearly seen from the image, where two outer elongated lugs are shoulder ribs, and the central ones combined, form 3 circumferential grooves.

All these ribs although have two common features, where they have longitudinal/slanted slits, and similar off-set edges. But there are still a lot of differences to note as well.

For example, the central blocks run in pairs, where every two of them are joined up with each other, with rubber ridges.

Moreover, these lugs carry a mixture of linear and wave-like siping pattern.

Moving towards shoulders, the elongated lugs have linear siping only, and lugs here are prominently separated by thick lateral grooves as well.

Dry Performance

On dry terrains, a tire’s traction is crucial. The quality of this traction is determined by the rubber’s contact consistency and adaptability to road surfaces.

Dry Directional Grip

Directional grip pertains to a tire’s performance in a straight-line, like when it moves on highways, for example.

This grip gets calculated by the tire’s braking effectiveness, and depends highly on how well the tire’s central rubber/tread area contacts the ground.

That’s why it makes sense why the Barum Polaris 5 isn’t doing so well here. If you consider its tread again, you’d see how it’s central area is full of voids, not allowing ample rubber to meet with the ground.

This results in limited overall grip values, (compared to its direct competitors).

Dry Handling

During maneuvers, a tire’s lateral stability becomes paramount. The shoulder regions of the tire play a critical role in ensuring balance and responsive handling during turns.

Now surprisingly, the Barum Polaris 5 being a budget tire, does pretty well here.

I mean it’s performance is on par with top-tier winter tires here, like the Continental WinterContact for example. So how is it doing that, even though its lacking so much in terms of directional grip?

Well, this has to do with the tire’s stiffer rubber, and robust nylon cap ply (in its internal construction), as they allow for excellent overall steering responsiveness.

Even though the tire enters the corners slower (since it takes more time to slow down), its still gives you superb mid-cornering feedback, relatively.

And as a result you get remarkable under and oversteering balancing on this tire, which translates in to top-notch overall handling capabilities.

Fuel Economy

A tire’s weight and traction profile dictate its rolling resistance, which in turn influences vehicle fuel efficiency directly.

Now, Barum Polaris 5 is a pretty decent pick here. The tire has an average tread depth between 9-10/32″, and that combined with its stiffer rubber, its lugs don’t flex a lot.

This is significant because excessive lug flex (as tire maneuvers), can increase energy demands, potentially compromising fuel economy.

In other words, greater the lugs move, more would be the rolling resistance, as lugs are more sticky towards the ground.

Wet Performance

Effective performance on wet roads hinges on tire’s design and rubber composition, both tailored to provide water displacement from the tread, and allow for good wet grip and resistance to hydroplaning.

Let’s check both these out.

Resistance to Hydroplaning

Now most of the water gets out with the help of grooves (on tires), and so they provide most of the hydroplaning resistance.

Or in other words, without efficient groove design channeling water out, there’s a risk of tires floating or aquaplaning

Now the Barum Polaris 5 provides most of it’s wet traction from its grooves. The tire has the edge of directional pattern which also includes grooves running at all angles.

So you get pretty decent overall float speeds with this tire.

Wet Grip

Wet grip mostly comes from sipes which manage residual water particles, (which weren’t cleared off with grooves).

And Barum Polaris 5 performs below average here. Although its groove do most of the work, its sipes lacking the needed flexibility, (mainly due to its stiffer relative rubber), aren’t able to provide, what one would say, good enough wet traction.

It’s actually one of the weakest point of this tire.

Moreover, the tire also lacks highly needed interlocking siping design, particularly on its shoulder lugs, compromising its overall wet handling times, and steering response.

Though don’t get me wrong, its still not too bad, its just comparing other tires in the category, you see a noticeable difference.

Tread Noise

Noise generated by tire treads is a product of air oscillations within tread patterns. That’s why tires with larger tread voids, usually end up intensifying this acoustic output.

And it’s one of the main reasons, why the Barum Polaris 5 is pretty loud.

To give you an idea, comparing with the quietest winter tire, the Barum lacks by 3 decibels (as seen on tests).

Side Note: Out of all top winter budget picks, the Kleber Krisalp HP3 (review), offers one of the quietest ride, relatively.

Tread Longevity

When it comes to principal indicators of a tire’s lifespan, tread depth, it’s rubber composition and structural weight are the most crucial ones.

Having said that the Barum Polaris 5 provides a great value as a budget pick, since it lasts a good amount of time, relatively.

On average, the tire lasts about 40k miles, even though it doesn’t come with any treadwear warranty.

The tire with its lighter weight, and stiffer rubber composition, basically rubs its lugs with less friction with the ground, allowing for decent tread longevity, overall.

Overall Winter Performance

For a tire, winter conditions necessitate optimized performance metrics due to the specific challenges posed by cold temperatures, snow, and ice.

Ice Traction

This measures a tire’s proficiency on icy terrains, where key factors include the rubber compound’s responsiveness at low temperatures and the intricacies of the tread design, which enhance the tire’s adherence to this slippery surfaces.

Now the Polaris 5 lacks in both these key areas, resulting in below-average overall ice performance.

The tire comes with a pretty stiffer rubber, relatively, which don’t allow its biters to properly grip on the slippery icy surface.

Moreover, it doesn’t have enough biters to begin with. Unlike most winter tires having a lot of interlocking sipes, the tire has linear siping predominately across its tread.

And since such siping structure tend to stiffen up with extreme maneuvers, it doesn’t allow the Barum’s tire to have good enough overall ice performance.

Though its snow grip on the other hand is okay.

Snow Traction

Snow-covered roads present challenges distinct from icy conditions.

And here, efficient snow traction requires a tire to effectively penetrate and grip snow layers while simultaneously ensuring self-cleaning capabilities to prevent clogging.

Now the Barum Polaris 5 with more voided up structure provides exactly that. It’s lugs are act as scoops, throwing snow backwards, generating good enough acceleration, while it’s thick siping slits provide the needed snow to snow contact.

(This contact is important here, as snow isn’t that sticking towards rubber, and instead generates far greater friction, when it rubs against itself).

So overall, the Polaris 5 does pretty well, when it comes to snow performance.

To Sum Up

In evaluating this tire’s performance across multiple terrains and conditions, there are some notable observations. Let me share them with you in a short/quick manner.

When it comes to dry performance, the Barum Polaris 5 offers slightly limited overall traction, mainly because of its lacking linear grip.

Though it still good enough there, especially when you see its wet traction, which is the tire’s weakest point.

Moreover, as a winter tire, although its performance on icy terrains is subpar because of its stiffer rubber and limited siping, it excels in snow traction with its unique lug and siping structure.

Moreover, you also get a pretty loud tire here too.

But I guess it all evens out, considering that the tire comes in a budget, relatively, and offers more value as it generates relatively less rolling resistance.

So it offers you with better fuel economy, and tread life.

In other words, out of all winter tires, Polaris 5 provides you with the best value (according to my experience).

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