Best of two worlds

It’s of­ten said that com­fort tyres do not of­fer sporty han­dling and per­for­mance tyres are un­com­fort­able. Con­ti­nen­tal Tyres claims it has found the so­lu­tion in the new Premi­umCon­tact 6.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Tyre Marks - By LEE PANG SENG car­sifu@thes­tar.com.my

CARS are be­com­ing qui­eter on the move and the deci­bels in the in­te­rior get even lower as you move up the premium model lad­der and this has ex­posed how noisy tyres are as they pick up the var­i­ous fre­quen­cies gen­er­ated over the dif­fer­ent types of road sur­face.

At the same time, the tyres are ex­pected to per­form well in ride com­fort, good fuel mileage as well as in grip and sta­bil­ity through wind­ing roads.

Con­ti­nen­tal AG has ob­vi­ously re­ceived its fair share of feed­back in these ar­eas and has fo­cused its de­vel­op­ment ef­forts to come up with a tyre that is as quiet as it should be to com­ple­ment cur­rent car de­vel­op­ments while not com­pro­mis­ing other ar­eas of tyre per­for­mance.

Its lat­est tyre prod­uct is the Premi­umCon­tact 6 that is meant to take over the role of the Con­tiPremi­umCon­tact 5 and Con­tiS­portCon­tact 5.

By de­sign, based on the tyre name, the former is de­signed more for premium mo­tor­ing where com­fort is prized higher than sporty driv­ing and that is where the lat­ter tyre is bet­ter sought af­ter.

With the Premi­umCon­tact 6, Con­ti­nen­tal has de­cided to up the game by pro­vid­ing a tyre that would meet premium com­fort­able mo­tor­ing needs while cater­ing to sporty driv­ing as well.

It’s all a mat­ter of pro­vid­ing the best mix of in­gre­di­ents that go into the mak­ing of a tyre, from the tread pat­tern, side­wall de­sign to the blend of rub­ber and chem­i­cal com­po­si­tion that would yield the de­sired level of per­for­mance.

In de­vel­op­ing the Premi­umCon­tact 6, Con­ti­nen­tal used the Con­tiS­portCon­tact 5 as the bench­mark to achieve the sporty as­pect while not for­go­ing the com­fort side.

The even­tual prod­uct was found to im­prove in al­most all ar­eas of tyre per­for­mance; han­dling up 3%, mileage im­proved by 15%, ex­te­rior noise qui­eter by 10% and in­te­rior noise by 2% while match­ing the Con­tiS­portCon­tact 5 in dry and wet brak­ing, and rolling re­sis­tance.

It only lost out in hy­droplan­ing or aqua­plan­ing by 5%, which was con­sid­ered ac­cept­able with the big­ger foot­print.

Con­ti­nen­tal sees this as a suc­cess­ful res­o­lu­tion of what it calls ‘tar­get con­flicts’ in achiev­ing the op­ti­mum in dry han­dling (stiff­ness of tyre), wet brak­ing (soft­ness) and rolling re­sis­tance (soft­ness) through tyre com­pounds and tread pat­tern.

It also de­vel­oped the tyre ac­cord­ing to ve­hi­cle dy­nam­ics, es­pe­cially in how the tyre would com­ple­ment the car when tak­ing cor­ners, de­scribed as an­other tar­get con­flict.

That too, Con­ti­nen­tal says, its Premi­umCon­tact 6 would pro­vide the steer­ing pre­ci­sion and sta­bil­ity to en­joy a ‘fun to drive’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the car.

The proof of the pud­ding is in the driv­ing and this was gained at the Mon­te­blanco Cir­cuit in Seville, Spain where we par­tic­i­pated in three driv­ing rou­tines, each to sam­ple a dif­fer­ent as­pect of the im­proved tyre per­for­mance.

The first was the public road drive, al­beit a short one of about 2km cov­er­ing the ap­proach roads to the cir­cuit at speeds be­tween 40 and 70kph.

Four Mercedes-Benz E220d were pro­vided; two had Con­tiPremi­umCon­tact 5 tyres (225/55 R17, the big­gest for this range) and the other two ran on Premi­umCon­tact 6 (245/45 R18).

We were to ex­pe­ri­ence the rou­tine in the same or­der, i.e. as driver or as pas­sen­ger when mov­ing from one car to the other; we ex­pe­ri­enced that feel as a rear pas­sen­ger.

There was no dif­fer­ence in tyre noise as both new and old ran as quiet as could be ex­pected and it was only in road im­pacts that the dif­fer­ence was dis­cerned, es­pe­cially when run­ning over bumps.

We felt an ex­tended res­o­nance of the road im­pact with the Con­tiPremi­umCon­tact 5 while that of the new Premi­umCon­tact 6 was short and sweet; just a thud.

That made the ride more com­fort­able as you don’t feel the road im­pact any more than nec­es­sary.

The sec­ond rou­tine was driv­ing three fast cars - Volk­swa­gen Golf GTi, Subaru WRX and Re­nault Me­gane RS275 – that were all shod with the Premi­umCon­tact 6 tyres, with pres­sures set to the re­spec­tive car man­u­fac­turer’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

We fol­lowed a pace car for three laps around a short sec­tion of the cir­cuit (1.3km) with mostly cor­ners turn­ing right and one left at full bore speeds; brak­ing hard into the cor­ners and ac­cel­er­at­ing hard out.

Good di­rec­tional feel of the Premi­umCon­tact 6 tyres was en­joyed for the quick cor­ner bash­ing, es­pe­cially in the Golf GTi with its au­to­matic trans­mis­sion (245/40 R18).

The im­pres­sive part was not hear­ing the tyres squeal when the cars were pushed through the cor­ners.

We found it a has­sle shift­ing gears for the man­ual trans­mis­sion Subaru WRX (we did not drive the Re­nault as it was an­other man­ual trans­mis­sion car) and kept mostly in third and fourth, fall­ing some­what be­hind the pack ex­cept on the short straight.

Nev­er­the­less, we were push­ing the car fast enough through the cor­ners and still didn’t hear the tyres (225/40 R18) protest­ing au­di­bly.

The third rou­tine was in ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the im­proved sta­bil­ity and grip of the new Premi­umCon­tact 6 against the Con­tiS­portCon­tact 5 and Con­tiPremi­umCon­tact 5 in a BMW 640d.

We felt this was a lit­tle flawed; al­though the cars were the same, each car was in a dif­fer­ent state of wear and tear, con­sid­er­ing that we were the last me­dia group to en­joy this ex­pe­ri­ence.

This drive rou­tine had us go­ing through slaloms at a con­stant 90kph, tak­ing a par­tic­u­lar cor­ner at 100kph and do­ing lane changes at 80kph to 90kph to gauge en­try and rear sta­bil­ity.

We turned the steer­ing less with the Con­tiS­portCon­tact 5 and new Premi­umCon­tact 6 (based on the gauge fixed be­hind the steer­ing wheel), while we had to work the steer­ing more with the Con­tiPremi­umCon­tact 5 while cov­er­ing three laps each in the BMWs with the re­spec­tive tyre.

Im­proved rear sta­bil­ity was felt in the Bim­mer with the Premi­umCon­tact 6 and it was the Con­tiPremi­umCon­tact 5 that squealed a lit­tle when the ve­hi­cle was pushed through the cor­ners.

Con­ti­nen­tal came up with a mea­sur­ing sys­tem to gauge tyre im­prove­ments in the re­spec­tive area us­ing a BMW 640d that ran on dif­fer­ent tyres so that re­sults were con­sis­tent.

And this equip­ment used for the ex­er­cise was said to cost more than dou­ble that of the price of the BMW 640d!

That’s plenty of money Con­ti­nen­tal is will­ing to spend to en­sure its fi­nal prod­ucts are top­notch.

Con­ti­nen­tal tyres be­ing tested with BMW cars at the Mon­te­blanco Cir­cuit.

The equip­ment used to check the per­for­mance of the Con­ti­nen­tal Premi­umCon­tact 6 tyres stored in the trunk of the BMW 640d.

A steer­ing move­ment gauge fit­ted in a test car to check for steer­ing de­vi­a­tion caused by Premi­umCon­tact 6 tyres.

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