Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 vs SottoZero 2

Both Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 and SottoZero 2 are trusted allies when battling winter’s wrath, each offering unique weapons to combat icy roads and snowy paths. As winter approaches, let’s find out which ally stands strongest!

Pirelli SottoZero 2
Pirelli SottoZero 2

Quick Takeaway

Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 (review) performs better in:

  • Tread Wear: This tire features a lighter construction, putting less strain on the tire lugs during motion, hence prolonging its functional life.
  • Ice Performance: With advanced design elements, the Sottozero 3 offers superior traction and handling in icy conditions.
  • Wet Traction: It provides superior wet handling due to its enhanced water expulsion capabilities and effective siping, resulting in shorter braking distances.
  • Dry Traction (Directional Grip): With a more streamlined design and interlocking central lugs, this tire offers greater rubber-to-road contact and superior performance.
  • Handling: Compact shoulder blocks and lighter structure ensure balanced understeering and oversteering capabilities.
  • Tread Noise: Due to densely packed shoulder lugs and interlocking central lugs, this tire produces lower levels of noise.

Pirelli Winter Sottozero 2 performs better in:

  • Snow Performance: Engineered grooves on this tire provide better snow-to-snow contact, offering superior friction and grip.
  • On-Road Vibration: This tire offers superior impact comfort due to its more absorbent tread rubber and greater tread depth.


The longevity of tread, (largely influenced by the degree of rolling resistance), is a critical performance parameter where both tires demonstrate equivalent effectiveness.

Though still if you really have to pick one here, I’d say go with Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3, as the tire features a relatively lighter construction, exerting reduced strain on the tire lugs during motion, which effectively prolongs its functional life, a little more, comparatively.

The Sottozero 2 on the other hand, featuring less innovative tread compound is not as elastic, so it reaches the 2/32″ of tread depth limit faster.

Ice Performance

The Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 exhibits superior performance under icy conditions, as its advanced design elements, including unique biters dispersed throughout the tread and augmented by snow vices, yield marginally superior overall traction.

This innovative design, bolstered by multi-directional siping and snow vices, results in enhanced braking responsiveness and handling effectiveness across various snowy conditions.

In contrast, the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 2, though featuring multi-directional biters, fails to compete adequately. Its wider biters reduce efficiency on compacted ice where more aggressive, narrow siping is preferred, making it better suited for larger vehicles like SUVs due to its more extensive tread voids.

Wet Traction

Two primary elements influence wet traction performance: the tread design and the rubber compound, as together, they determine the tire’s ability to eliminate water (basically with the help of sipes and grooves).

Majority of water is removed with grooves, so these contribute to the hydroplaning renaissance the most, while the remaining left over water is dealt with sipes, which translate in to what we call wet grip.

Let’s discuss both in more details.

Now in terms of grip, the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 presents a slight advantage in wet handling due to its enhanced water expulsion capabilities (through its more effective siping).

These sipes are multi-angled and work along side the tire’s numerous other biters and overall asymmetric tread design to provide you with overall 4 feet shorter braking distances, and faster handling times on average.

In contrast, the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 2 does not offer as aggressive of the overall tread pattern, and it’s closed up tread design is also not so well designed when it comes to hydroplaning as well.

Hydroplaning is a condition, which is characterized by the disruption of tread contact with the road due to water interference. In simpler words, it’s when a tire starts to float.

And here the Sottozero 3 with wider grooves, offer a more effective dispersing of water, and in multiple directions too. So you get slightly better float speeds in both curved and linear aqua tests.

Snow Performance

Snow has a lot of types, but still two of them are the most important ones, there’s ice, and then there’s soft/fluffy snow.

And although the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 2 is overall lacking, when it comes to ice, the tire outperforms its updated version, thanks to it’s well engineered grooves, which provide better snow to snow contact.

This type of contact, basically offers better friction and overall grip, as snow adheres better to itself than to rubber.

The Sottozero 3 in comparison, is lacking here, as the tire struggles to accumulate a comparable amount of snow.

Dry Traction

Dry traction serves as a crucial performance metric for any tire, with its measure primarily contingent upon the quantity of rubber establishing contact with the road surface.

And this brings us to two pivotal elements here, directional grip and lateral traction. Let’s start with grip.

Directional Grip

The effectiveness of directional grip is largely reliant on the tire tread’s central region.

This correlation emerges from the fact that, as the tire rolls straight, the central most area is what bears the most weight pressure upon itself.

That’s why it makes sense why out of both tires, with a more streamlined design, the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 emerges superior.

The tire features interlocking central lugs, which offer greater rubber to road contact, and as these lugs are also backed up by powerful reinforced foundations, you get superior overall performance here, as showed by its average braking distance values on tests.

In contrast, the Winter Sottozero 2 doesn’t perform quite as well due to its broader grooves and less aerodynamically streamlined structure, which result in braking distances extending approximately five feet longer.


The caliber of tire handling is significantly determined by the shoulder design and overall weight of the tire. This is due to the inertia-induced weight shifting towards the tread edges during cornering.

And here, once again the Sottozero 3 seems to take the upper hand. But why? Well, because of two main reasons.

First, the tire’s compact shoulder blocks significantly enhance the level of rubber-to-road contact.

And second, the combination of the tire’s lighter structure and shallower tread depth restricts lug movement (or block bending) during cornering, thus ensuring balanced understeering and oversteering capabilities.

The Sottozero 2 on the other hand, lacks behind as it’s missing with both of these features mentioned above.

Comfort Levels

The degree of comfort furnished by a tire is substantially dependent on two factors: its level of noise generation and its ability to dampen vibrations.

Let’s examine each of these elements more closely.

Tread Noise

Tread noise typically originates from the collision of air particles with the tread walls of the tire.

So to put simply, larger tread voids tend to create a higher level of noise.

That’s why when comparing, the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 emerges as a quieter option, attributed to its densely packed shoulder lugs, the primary entry point for air.

Moreover, the tire’s interlocking lugs in the middle further dampen down the noise levels, as they vary slightly form one other in geometry.

This basically produces different sets of tones as air particles collide them, and those try to cancel out each other.

On-Road Vibration

While the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 2 may generate more noise, it outperforms its counterpart in the aspect of dampening road vibrations, thus offering superior impact comfort.

And this can be attributed to the more absorbent tread rubber and greater tread depth, which together provide a thicker buffer layer between the tire and any road surface irregularities.

Summing Up

After an extensive comparison, it’s clear that both Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 and Sottozero 2 come with their respective strengths and weaknesses. Despite their shared manufacturer, the two tires diverge quite a bit in terms of specific performance categories.

The Sottozero 3 particularly shines in longevity, with a slightly longer tread life, and in ice, wet and dry performance, providing superior traction and handling capabilities, thanks to its innovative design, multi-directional siping, and larger tread voids. It also has an edge in comfort, proving to be the quieter option due to its densely packed shoulder lugs and varying geometry interlocking lugs, which work together to mitigate noise.

In contrast, the Sottozero 2, though lacking in several areas compared to its updated counterpart, shows its mettle in terms of snow performance and on-road vibration damping. Its well-engineered grooves allow better snow-to-snow contact, enhancing friction and overall grip, while its more absorbent tread rubber and greater tread depth ensure superior impact comfort by buffering against road surface irregularities.