What tyres are currently fitted to your car? Wait – don’t go out and check. Off the top of your head. Can you at least name the brand?
Don’t worry – most motorists couldn’t. It’s a curious thing that we know so little about that which is most responsible for keeping us safe when we’re driving about. Of course, at Eastern Tyres, it’s a different story. We live and breathe tyres, and, yes, we have our favourite.
Here’s why. Simply put, their quality is unsurpassable. They come as standard on one in three European cars (including BMWs), and they just keep taking out the top awards. Since 2007, out of 513 tests carried out in Europe, they’ve won an extraordinary 422. That’s a whopping 82%.
And now we can add another. The Continental PremiumContact 6 has just been awarded first place in the 2020 Wheels Tyre Test. We thought this would be a great opportunity to take a look at what the experts want to see when putting tyres through their paces. Not only was Continental up against other top brands, it was fitted to a mid-sized SUV, one of the most popular car types on the road today. So the results are relevant to the real world.
The Slalom Test
Rapid direction change is a very effective way to determine how well a tyre grips. In a matter of seconds (six, to be precise), the Continental PremiumContact was switched from full lateral load in either direction six times. Apart from grip, this test also speaks to the build quality of the tyre.
Out of ten competitors, the PremiumContact came second, pipped at the post by … another Continental tyre, the UltraContact UC6. Both were considered the best tyre by some margin.
Dry Braking Test
How quickly you stop after slamming on the brakes isn’t only down to your brakes and ABS. Tyres play a massive part. In this test, the PremiumContact pulled up more than five metres shorter than some of its competitors, and did so with better and more consistent feel.
The tyres are seriously put through their paces in this stage. Two 90-degree corners and a 50km/h constant radius circle. This is all about tyre tenacity and understanding how well they can cope with repeated extremes.
You guessed it: the PremiumContact took first place, with the test driver declaring that “even when you leant on the tyre, it never felt like it was going to let go”.
One of the scariest situations for all drivers is finding themselves needing to slam on the brakes in the wet. This is where you really notice the difference between a good quality tyre and its run-of-the-mill cousin. In the dry braking test, the gap between the best and the worst was 6.87 metres; in the wet, 12.4. That’s three SUVs nose to tail.
But you needn’t worry if you’re sitting on PremiumContacts: they were less than a metre off matching their dry braking distance. Come hail or shine, they’ll pull you up in time.
Tyre compound and tread pattern are what counts when cornering safely in the wet. The PremiumContact was among the quickest tested, sticking like glue to the bitumen and doing everything competently, with the best feel from a driver’s point of view.
Not a safety issue, but certainly a comfort one. In a country that sprawls, long distances on tyres that send buckets of white noise into the cabin can cut any trip short. If you want any chance of hearing the lyrics on Bob Dylan’s new album, then the PremiumContact is what you’ll want fitted. It’s a testament to Continental’s engineers that they’re able to produce a tyre that grips better than any other and is also the quietest.
Consistency is the name of the game
A tyre that excels at one or two of the above categories isn’t worth much. Considering that these tyres were put through tests they’re likely to face at some stage in the real world, you need a tyre that is competent in all categories. That’s why the Continental PremiumContact 6 took out overall winner, with a percentage of 99.3, nearly three per cent higher than the runner-up.
As the test driver noted, “[the Continental] felt like the best tyre by some margin … it did everything really well … super consistent everywhere”.