I have used the Pirelli Snowsports on both an M5 and an M3, neither of which are stellar winter cars. With the Pirellis, the cars performed extremely well in 4-6 inches of snow. Obviously the STi will perform much better due to its AWD, and the ability to lock the diffs. 50/50.
The only downside to the Pirellis is that you need to have them very well balanced, preferably using a Hunter Roadforce machine. Sometimes the tyres aren't 'true' and have to have special care mounting, or be returned for a new tyre. Tirerack will do this at their expense, if the 'roadforce' is out of specs. on a tyre bought from them. The Pirellis are H rated and perform very well for a 'winter' tyre; just remember that they are NOT a match for the Bridgestones in dry weather conditions.
Have you considered the Dunlop winter H rated tyre which is very highly thought of?
Be careful, I not all sizes are created equal! When I looked at the Hakka 2's they had two sizes in our range, 225/45/17 and 225/50/17. I figured the 50 series would be better for winter since it is "thicker" so it would protect more. I looked at the specs and almost passed out...it is 32lbs per tire as apposed to 22lbs for the 45's. Thats 10 extra pounds of unsprung rotating mass at the worst possible location...the outer portion of the wheel.
So if I go the Hakka route I'll be going with the 45's.
I was also leaning towards 205's, but there is not much of a selection in 17's.
Depends on where you live. If I lived somewhere where I got tons of snow and the roads were covered from December till April I would definitely run a full fledged winter tire. All seasons are a compromise between winter and summer so you will not have the full performance of a summer tire during the summer nor a winter tire during the winter. With 300hp/300tq I think the better traction of a winter tire will help when the snow flies.
I was indicating to use the AS for just the winter months and switch to the stock summer tires the other 1/2 of the year. That is what I am doing. I don't like the handling of a winter tire when it's dry out.
Yea I was looking at the Dunlop Winter Sport M2, anyone hear good things about them? The M3'a are a little too much for me, I don't need the run flats. Was also leaning towards the 225/45HR17 size. I'm kinda clueless when it comes to high performance tires so need help here.
"Not need" and "what you can get away with" are two different things!
My wife's Forester has the "Beauty of...", but it blows chunks on its stock all seasons compared to my Impreza on snow's.
AWD will get you going faster, but you will be stoping and turning...or in your case, sliding...like any other car on all seasons. As a matter of fact I would take FWD with snows over AWD with all seasons any day!