CONTINENTAL EXTREMECONTACT TIRESDRIVING THE NEW CONTINENTAL EXTREMECONTACT TIRES
Posted March 11 2009 05:53 PM by eurotuner
Filed under: Editorials
It’s 7:30am and the sun rises from the San Bernardino Mountains shedding its yellow glow as consoling warmth on Los Angeles County. We’re up obnoxiously early for a Tuesday, but for good reason – we made the trek to California Speedway in Fontana, CA for a day of tire testing and racing. On the agenda - wet and dry handling, the oval course, time attack, braking and precision driving, karts and a road test. It’s a car enthusiast’s wet-dream, but we here to evaluate Continental’s newest ExtremeContact DWS and DW tires, so we pretend to be scientific.
Continental is renowned for supplying original equipment tires to some of the world’s leading car manufacturers such as BMW, Porsche and Mercedes. They’ve also supported the tuner market, offering its ContiSportContact3 tires for performance enthusiasts to enjoy extraordinary grip in the wet and dry.
The new ExtremeContact tires are a tiny step below the ContiSportConact family but will be exclusive to US enthusiasts. The ExtremeContact isn’t geared to the constraints of OE fitment, they’re about affordable performance exclusively for the US market. This means, more sizes and better availability stateside. So how do they performance?
Abbreviated for Dry, Wet and Snow, we tested the DWS on both wet and dry conditions. The DWS tire features new chamfered edges, giving the tire more surface area to grip the road in turns for improved dry performance. As the tire blocks shift in a corner, the chamfered edges come into play and maintain the tire’s footprint. The groove curvature was also improved to disperse water on wet pavement, while snow traction is an added feature thanks to the tire’s ability to collect snow in the tread blocks and create unique snow-on-snow grip.
The tires also have a neat DWS logo stamped into the trad blocks. When new, all three letters can be seen. But as they wear, the S (for snow) will eventually disappear, meaning there’s not enough tread to effectively work in winter. Then the W (for wet) will gradually wear away, meaning the tires lack insufficient tread depth to channel water. Finally, the S (for summer) lettering will remain until the tires are worn to unsafe levels. This simple inspection system, also employed on the ExtremeContact DW, allows you to check your tire wear with a simple glance.
With all this technology, the all-season DWS was engineered perform well tire.
Pushing the DWS to the max in a RWD BMW 328i, a FWD Mazda 3 and a RWD Mustang GT, we were impressed with the tire on both wet and dry surfaces. We also found the tires ran quieter than some of its close competitors.
In a tire test, we push the cars harder than we’d dare on public roads, yet the tires provided tremendous grip, results in no spins or embarrassing cone-killing incidents.
The best way to describe the DWS is that they give you added confidence. Tackling long sweepers or slaloms at speed, they provided incredible security. And when we pushed too hard, traction was quickly restored in a totally predictable manner.
The DWS tire has a UTQG rating of 540 A A (meaning they’ll be long-lasting) and come in 16-24” sizes with aspect ratios of 25-55.
The DWS tire is designed to operate year-round. But if you live in a warmer climate and want the extra confidence of a “summer” tire; the DW fits the bill.
It features much of the features of the DWS, such as chamfered edges and enhanced grooves, but it’s engineered more dry and wet performance without making compromises to handle snow conditions. This makes it a more suitable tire if you live in a warmer climate with occasional rain.
We tested the DW on even more demanding courses and found them extremely rewarding. In comparisons with premium competitor tires, the cheaper DW tires were never left wanting. In fact, they exceeded their performance in areas such as turn-in precision when cornering.
The real test of the DW came on the Speedway’s oval track and road course. On the oval, we tested the tires capabilities with high-speed laps around the Nascar ringbowl Although most racers would be reaching 180mph, we took race-prepped Toyota Celicas onto the course and reached speeds in excess of 115mph on the high banking. Not the fastest race car by any means, the Celica highlighted the stability of the DW tires at high speeds. The tires felt solid, grippy and comfortable around the two-mile oval.
On the road course, we also pushed the DW tires to the limits in the same rae-prepped Toyota Celicas in a Time Attack challenge where we fought for the best lap time of the day. The infield track consisted of 13 turns in 1.45 miles, enough to test the tires on tight S-turns, hairpins, sweepers and straight-aways.
Since the front-wheel drive Celicas were underpowered, getting a quick lap meant maintaining momentum, so traction would be key. Again, the DW tires performed like ultra-high performance tire, giving us more confidence than expected from a street tire, feeling more like an exotic race tire.
The DW will come available in 16-21” sizes ranging from aspect ratios of 25-55. The tire has a UTQG rating of 340AA A.
At the end of the day, it was nothing but smiles. We tested two great tires in six different events. The new DW and DWS will be in North American tire stores this summer. For our full review of the ExtremeContact DW and DWS tires, pick up the June ’09 issue of eurotuner magazine.