Earlier this spring, Continental Tires were good enough to fly me out to the land of all things big: Texas. Our destination? The expansive Uvalde Proving Grounds: a testing facility of Continental’s products on a variety of scenarios from skid pads and wet grip circuits and emergency braking. We were on-hand for the launch of the ExtremeContact DWS06 – a new performance all-season tire launched by Continental to take on the tread wares of Michelin, Dunlop and Pirelli.
After a full day of head-to-head tests the Continentals had left quite an impression on me. The DWS06(Dry, Wet, Snow) in all of the tests thrown at it excelled against its rivals. That’s no coincidence, either. During our introduction to the DWS06 Continental specifically singled out in a handful of matrices where the DWS06 was able to provide a well-rounded, broader product on dry and wet traction, braking, lifespan and general comfort.
The last point was the only one I didn’t get try: comfort.
To be honest, it did run through my head at one point during the day. At the helm of a Melbourne Red M235i, sawing away at the wheel and dancing on the throttle in an attempt to hold a very crooked drift angle through a long, damp curve I did, if very briefly, wonder “how comfortable are these tires over an highway expansion joint?” The thought was quickly replaced by one related to how you counter-steer in a drift to avoid wedging a cone in the air dam.
Thankfully, Continental are very thoughtful and when I mentioned that comfort was the only element of their tires that I didn’t get a good sense for they were kind enough to, at their cost, forward me a brand new set of Conti rubber to give it a go.
Meet The Continental ContiSportContact 5 SSR
Earlier in the summer, on went a set of ContiSportContact 5 SSRs, spec’d at 225/45R18 , onto our Luxury Line 428i coupe. The ContiSport 5’s are a run-flat max performance summer tire that allows drivers to enjoy both the handling and grip of a normal summer tire while relying on the safety of continuing to drive to a safe location in the event of a puncture. The ContiSports replaced the OEM-spec Pirelli Cinturato P7’s which are all-seasons and the original set of rubber the 428i when we bought the car.
A few months later and the ContiSports have logged nearly 3,000 miles of mixed use between my wife and I with time split between road trips and daily driving. How did Continental’s product stand up to the high expectations I had leaving Texas? Let’s find out.
The short answer is yes, they did – thankfully – despite my exuberance for quick driving the SportContact set kept our 4 Series planted to the asphalt. When we wanted to.
As we were both going to try out the on the tires on the 4er and my wife would arguably spend the majority of the time with the car as her daily driver we focused on a few key areas of road compliance comfort and ambient noise. The question at hand was do these new tires improve the driving experience? Arguably, for a great set of tires the driver shouldn’t even be aware of them working away at all four corners of the car.
Road Feedback And Ride Comfort
Switching from the Pirelli P7’s over to the ContiSportContact 5 SSR’s was immediately apparent. Specifically, the car felt more compliant and more direct in its feedback. Driving Dynamics Control now seems to differentiate its Sport vs. Comfort settings. From the factory, the tire setup proved to be relatively stiff making ride comfort a bit jarring when snaking over Florida’s many, many pothole-repair-ridden roads. By contrast, with the Contis, thumbing the console-based suspension settings meant that Comfort mode actually felt as though the car had softer dampening and therefore a smoother ride – novel but disappointing that the factory tire setup seems to be, out of the box, ill-equipped to take advantage of its own settings. Tied in with comfort we found, over the last few thousand miles, that the “tire roar” produced from on-road noise of the tires seems to have diminished as a result of the tire switch. Again, it was a small but noticeable change and something that becomes more meaningful when you it applies to your daily driver.
Switching to the performance aspects of the tire – we were equally impressed by the communication of the tire. Having spent a year on the factory-installed Pirellis there was a sense of vagueness and lack of communication with driver and the road surface. BMW have received much grief from enthusiasts about the sensation (or lack thereof) of electric steering, however, switching to a summer tire from an all-season may likely have cured some of the feedback issues. Gone is a bit of the slackness in the wheel and replaced with an improvement in the overall responsiveness to steering inputs. Beyond the responsiveness our 428i has a greater connection to the road which translates to a greater sense of security – again, a very important trait for a daily driver.
Should I Buy One?
Coming off a few thousand miles and months of trying out the ContiSportContact 5s we are pleased with the overall performance. From a year of living with the Pirelli P7s, the ContiSports were a relief by curing a handful of comfort and noise issues. While the overall grip and responsiveness of the tires is up – it is difficult to gauge if the change stems from a switch to the Contis from the Pirellis or simply the change of a summer time to an all-season.
That said, we were impressed enough with the ContiSports enough that when it comes time to replace the tires again the Continentals will be a great summer tire option to substitute the factory run-flats.
Disclaimer: Continental provided us with this set of tires at no cost.