Auto Bild sport tyre test: A surprisingly modest result for Continental

Continental’s had a good run of it in the spate of tyre tests published in time for summer 2017. From victory in the main Auto Bild summer tyre test to wins in those conducted by Auto Bild Sportscars, GTÜ and Gute Fahrt, the Continental Premium Contact 6 and SportContact 6 were deemed amongst the best that money can buy. It thus came as a surprise to see a Conti tyre sitting near the tail end of the newest Auto Bild test table.

In its test of size 245/40 R18 sport tyres, the German publication evaluated the Continental SportContact 5 – a tyre gradually being superseded by the PremiumContact 6 – along with eight other tyres, the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT2, Falken Azenis FK510, Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3, Hankook Ventus S1 Evo², Firestone Firehawk SZ90µ, Michelin Pilot Sport 4, Nokian zLine and Vredestein Ultrac Vorti. Testing was performed using an Audi TT.

Auto Bild voted the Michelin tyre its test winner, giving the Pilot Sport 4 a third victory alongside its auto motor und sport and sport auto wins. The tyre delivered convincing handling on wet and dry surfaces, direct steering response, short braking distances and good ride comfort. These qualities led to the Auto Bild testers to declare the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 an ‘exemplary’ tyre.

This rating was also given to runner-up tyre the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric and the third-placed Vredestein Ultrac Vorti. Neither tyre displayed any major weakness, although the testers did note that the Vredestein rubber had higher than anticipated rolling resistance. Aside from this, the Ultrac Vorti was considered to have well-balanced handling characteristics, and both tyres delivered short braking distances and a comfortable ride. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric was praised for its very good lateral control on wet and dry surfaces.

Fourth place was jointly occupied by the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT2 and the Hankook Ventus S1 Evo², tyres that delivered dynamic handling, short braking distances and good comfort. The pair were held back, however, by oversteer (Dunlop) and understeer (Hankook) in the wet. Sixth place was also shared by two tyres, the Falken Azenis FK510 and Nokian zLine. The pair were found to deliver stable cornering, neutral driving behaviour on dry surfaces, short braking distances on wet and dry surfaces, as well as good aquaplaning safety reserves (Falken) and good lateral control in the wet and low rolling resistance (Nokian). On the other side of the coin, the Falken tyre displayed oversteer during changes of load, and the Nokian “delayed steering response, marked oversteer during change of load and mediocre comfort.” All four tyres were given a rating of ‘good’.

The Continental SportContact 5 missed out on this rating, and was instead deemed ‘satisfactory’. Its strengths were said to be good safety reserves during aquaplaning, low rolling resistance and high levels of ride comfort. The main criticisms against the Continental tyre, and the factors primarily responsible for holding it back from a better rating, were braking distance, delayed steering response and “little lateral control on wet road surfaces.”

Ninth and last place was reserved for a tyre given a ‘not recommended’ rating. This was the Firestone Firehawk SZ90µ. Although it was found to have good aquaplaning safety reserves, the Auto Bild testers spoke of a “sluggish steering behaviour, unbalanced handling characteristics and too long a braking distance on wet and dry surfaces.” The Firestone tyre was also criticised for its high road noise.

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