For obvious reasons we’re always on about the engine performance, fuel consumption, ride and handling quality, design and comfort in a vehicle. However, the tyres fitted to our vehicle are an important component and contribute immensely to its performance and ability to keep you safe.
I recently attended the launch of a new Continental tyre called the SportContact 6, a high performance tyre made for higher-end vehicles with wheels sized between 19 and 23 inches with 41 variations in terms of dimensions. Continental invited me to see if their marketing babble was more than just, well, babble.
The presentation mentioned that the tyres are rated to 350km/h and that the HondaCivic Type R set a Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time of seven minutes, 50.63 seconds with these tyres fitted. This piqued my interest - to say the least.
The idea behind the new technology put in these tyres is to make them perform well in both wet and dry conditions. There is a new tread pattern which makes use of what the brand calls “Black Chilli” - which means that the tyre surface features a flexible resin that flexes and fills in any small gaps in the road surface for optimal contact with the driving surface.
There’s also something called ?Force Vectoring? - which is basically ribs on the tyre’s surface that distributes load across the surface of the tyre. The final piece of technology fitted is called ?Aralon 350? - a fibre that’s twisted together and embedded in the rubber, which is said to help stabilise the tyre.
Does it work?
I had the opportunity to test the tyres on a wet skidpan and on the track, throughout the day. In the wet, the tyres felt good; we had 800Nm going through them courtesy of an E63 and CLS63 AMG before we had to set times in a special previous generation C63 AMG. It was in the dry though where I felt the tyres performed well. I had an A45 AMG with the tyres fitted and while its all-wheel-drive system makes for a bit of understeer, I could tell that the tyres were hanging on well. It was after all of the session though that we saw how well the tyres coped; the wear was acceptable, with no chucks mission or excessive scrubbing evident.
I have completed numerous track days and, besides my brakes, the single most important aspect that I check and ensure is made by a reputable brand and fit to the purpose, are my tyres. Those four strips of rubber are the only thing keeping you on the road, track or even off-road trail if you are so inclined.
Despite the fact that these Continentals are great tyres and will work well in road and track situations, I have to say that other large tyre manufacturers also make some seriously impressive products that rival these new models very closely. So, at the end of the day, find the tyres that suit your needs and spend a bit more money on a proven brand that has years of experience, delivering the goods.