Review: Pirelli Scorpion Winter Tire

Excellent size coverage and proven performance for SUVs and crossovers.

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Pirelli offers a wide range of winter and snow tires for consumers looking for a premium product — from high-performance options for ultimate handling and control to studless tires built for extreme snow conditions. 

But for shoppers seeking an SUV, crossover or light truck tire from the Italian brand, the Scorpion Winter product line is the top offering to conquer the white stuff.

We chose it as our top SUV winter tire in the premium segment for our Best Winter Tire guide, though it’s a crowded space with other great upscale contenders including Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT and Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV, to name a few. 

Pirelli’s winter tire family:

  • P Zero: high-performance
  • Sottozero: focused on maximum control
  • Cinturato: comfortable ride and eco-friendly
  • Scorpion: SUV & crossover tire
  • Carrier: designed for vans
  • Ice: for extreme winter conditions

Below are Pirelli’s ratings for the Scorpion Winter:

Dry:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Ice:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wet:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Comfort:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Snow:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mileage:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

So, is the Pirelli Scorpion Winter tire any good and worth the money? 

As we discussed in our Best Winter Tire Guide:

The Scorpion Winter has a been a leader in its class since its launch eight years ago, with several comparison test wins to its name. It was designed to provide high traction and grip for the high power and torque delivered by luxury SUVs and crossovers from the likes of Audi, BMW and even Lamborghini. According to Pirelli, engineers paid particular attention to downhill braking on low-grip surfaces and cornering. 

Pirelli Scorpion Winter Tire Review
The Scorpion Winter is designed to provide high traction and grip for the high power and torque delivered by luxury SUVs and crossovers. Photo: Amee Reehal

A dozen luxury manufacturers have homologated the Scorpion Winter for use on almost 50 of their vehicles, including on the latest luxury electric vehicles such as the Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC. The available size range – from 16-22in – is said to cover more than 85% of the market.”

So, in short — yes, these are good tires and worth the money particularly for buyers willing to spend the extra cash on a tire which offers great control in snow and wet conditions, excellent braking and handling, and low noise and rolling resistance. 

Review: how do the Pirelli Scorpion Winters perform & what are the key features?

We mounted Scorpion Winters on our 2019 Subaru Outback 3.6R family chariot for two winter seasons now, including the entire 2019 season and a portion of this 2020 winter season at time of writing (yes, we already have loads of snow here in November in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Canada). 

Pirelli Scorpion Winter Tire mounted on Subaru Outback
Pirelli Scorpion Winter tire tested on late model Subaru Outback. Photo: Amee Reehal

While it’s not wise to keep snow tires on during the warmer summer months, we opted to keep these Pirelli snow tires on year-round (though we did not drive it much), giving a good idea of how they perform in completely dry conditions.

Great traction in the snow

When the first big dump of snow arrived, one of the first things I noticed with the Scorpion Winter’s was the exceptional traction control. To get a little technical here, the directional and symmetric tread pattern sporting a modular block geometry and sipe layout attributed to this. These features help increase the rubber’s grip on the snowy roads while still providing braking performance on more dry surfaces.

A new tread pattern compound on the outer edge of the tire also maximizes grip on both snow and wet road conditions resulting in some weight reduction, according to Pirelli, leading to better fuel consumption while still benefiting from maximum grip on snowy, wet roads. 

Pirelli Scorpion Winter Tire with new tread pattern
Pirelli Scorpion features a new tread pattern compound with innovative materials. Photo: Amee Reehal

Braking and handling in wet conditions

These tires also provide great braking control, both on snow as well as icy roads, ensuring our near 5,000-pound, wagon-style SUV came to a proper stop — an important factor in everyday winter driving especially when approaching sleek intersections. In addition, two and four version circumferential grooves help improve the tire’s water expulsion.  

Dry road performance

When the snow on the roads temporarily melt and all ice vanishes, how do these tires handle? This is something Pirelli really focused on with the Scorpion Winter, ensuring dry condition driving was not compromised in any way. The company added a new mould profile including a more optimized footprint area, to produce a progressive and responsive handling tire in these more dry road conditions.

Pirelli Scorpion Winter Tire Review
Pirelli Scorpion Winter Tire Review. Photo: Amee Reehal

Takeaway

End of the day, consumers have a plethora of choices when it comes to winter-rated snow tires for their sport utility or small pickup — from budget-friendly choices to more expensive offerings like the Pirelli Scorpion Winter. Of course, many if not most opt for all-season tires during winter (here’s our guide to the best all-season tires to keep in mind).

Based on my experience, this tire offered terrific down-hill braking, great cornering even on ice, all while maintaining total control with maximum stability in snow, wet and dry conditions. In general, when the snow, sleet, and ice becomes an everyday reality, the huge difference winter-rated tires make in performance is abundantly clear – above all, providing the extra safety drivers expect.

Amee Reehalhttp://www.ameereehal.com/
Shooting motors professionally since film was a thing, Amee's work has appeared in various outlets including NBC Sports, Chicago Tribune, SuperStreet, GlobeDrive, MotorTrend, and others. Today, he's a full-time digital & content marketing consultant helping brands grow online, the managing editor at TractionLife.com, and always a photographer. Find him travelling, spending time with his kids & family. Or golfing, poorly.

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