Tire Review: Continental Extreme Contact DWS UHP All-Season Tire
Test Vehicle: 2006 Infiniti G35 6MT Sports Coupe
Test Track: Toronto Motorsports Park; local highways and roads.
Conditions: highly varied; snow-covered, icy, wet, dry, wide range of ambient temperatures from sub-zero to 10°C/50°F
Size: 225/40ZR19 front, 245/40ZR19 rear UTQG: 540 A A
The Ultra High Performance (UHP) All-Season tire category has really heated up over the last few years, with top quality rubber being built by the likes of BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Goodyear, Hankook, Michelin, and Yokohama to name a few. Most of the major players in the world of tires are present in this category for the very simple reason that this segment has seen rapid growth in demand. And it does make sense on some level for driving enthusiasts who live in four-season climates to want a tire they can thoroughly enjoy during the warm months but can get them through those cold, wet and even snowy winter months without requiring a second set of wheels and tires.
To be honest we’ve always been big believers in UHP summer tires for summertime street use, DOT racing tires for the track, and dedicated winter tires for the sub-zero months we suffer through here at Tune2Win headquarters. You just can’t beat the performance of a tire that’s specifically engineered for these very different types of use, but if your budget or your level of commitment dictates that you run on a single tire for all these types of use, then an All-Season UHP tire is exactly what you need.
Having previously tested Goodyear’s excellent Eagle F1 A/S offering in this category, a tire we found to be very impressive in the dry and around the race track and (much to our surprise) not too bad in light snow, we decided to pit this segment leader against Continental Tire’s new ContiExtremeContact DWS. Molded to a tread depth of 10/32nd, the ExtremeContact DWS uses a unique DWS tread wear indicator to make it easy to tell when the tire is no longer optimum for each of the three designated road conditions (D for Dry, W for Wet, and S for Snow). These tires also feature a “chamfered edge” dry road surface technology and asymmetrical tread design with stable shoulder blocks for enhanced responsiveness and cornering stability. There’s also a high void-to-tread ratio with enhanced groove curvature to improve water evacuation for outstanding wet handling, while the high-angle criss-cross “traction grooves” are designed to provide biting edges for improved wet road and light snow traction. Conti also claims an industry-leading treadlife on the ExtremeContact DWS as well as lower rolling resistance for improved energy delivery to the road surface.
Track testing a tire in mid January in Canada isn’t for the faint of heart, especially in a rear-wheel drive luxury sports coupe with a lowered ride height and an aftermarket front bumper and splitter, but we decided to press our luck and see how the Conti’s compared to the Goodyear’s at Toronto Motorsports Park. Track conditions were about as varied as you could possibly experience, with ambient temps around zero and a strange and wonderful mix of wet pavement, slush, ice, and even a few deep snowdrifts across several corners. This was going to be fun!
Starting off on a fresh set of 245/40-18 Goodyear Eagle F1 A/S tires mounted on 18’’ OEM G35 wheels, we familiarized ourselves with the track conditions before strapping the helmet extra tight and going for the gold on a 3-lap no-holds-barred test session. According to our Driftbox data acquisition system, our ’06 Infiniti G35 test vehicle circled the 1.8 km front half track in a best time of 1-minute and 5.3-seconds.
We then parked the G35 and swapped on the 19’’ OEM G35 wheels with freshly mounted 225/40-19 front and 245/40-19 rear Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires. For the first few laps the car felt quite twitchy as we wore the stickers off and scrubbed the tires in a bit, but once there was some heat in the rubber driver confidence began to rise and the fun really started. We repeated our 3-lap test session procedure, this time posting a best time of 1-minute and 3.1-seconds, just over two seconds a lap quicker than the Goodyears. We’ve turned hundreds of laps at this track, so we’re confident that these results are representative of each tire’s performance capabilities in the highly variable and very slippery conditions.
The grip generated by the ExtremeContact DWS was very impressive, especially through the snowdrift in Turn 4 and on the slicker sections of the track. We were able to brake much later and harder with the Continentals and could also get on the gas earlier and more aggressively thanks to the improved grip level.
Looking more closely at the data, the Goodyears were actually generating slightly higher average cornering g’s, most likely a result of their stiffer sidewall and lower void-to-tread ratio compared to the Continentals. But the ExtremeContact DWS’s more than made up for this during braking and acceleration, with longitudinal g-forces significantly higher than the Goodyears. This was especially noticeable going into Turn 1 at the end of the long front straight, where the Continentals allowed braking to be delayed by over 30 feet compared to the Goodyears.
We were also very impressed by the ExtremeContact DWS’s during the drive home from the track, where their softer sidewall, tread design and carcass construction meant ride comfort and road noise were both improved in comparison to the Goodyears. The UHP All-Season tire category does tend to emphasize performance during the three non-winter seasons since most testing is done in the dry and all the tire manufacturers want to show well in these conditions, but Continental has clearly paid very close attention to the ExtremeContact DWS’s winter performance capabilities. Whether or not this means some dry/warm weather performance is given up as a result remains to be seen, but Tire Rack’s warm weather testing of UHP All-Season tires places these Continentals squarely in the mix while their winter testing and our own show that the ExtremeContact DWS is a class-leader during the winter months.
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