I attended the Continental SportContact 7 tyre launch at Zwartkops Raceway to experience the German brand’s new performance tyres. I’ve not been to a tyre launch before and was curious to see what an event like this entailed.
Quick Look – Continental SportContact 7
- SportContact 7 is available in 47 sizes, ranging from 18 to 23 inches
- Safe handling for wet and dry roads
- Tailor made for performance in every vehicle class (sporty compact, sports sedan, sports cars, super cars and tuned cars)
- It is an original equipment fitment by Maserati (Levante, Quattroporte); Audi RS; BMW M; Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio; Mini Cooper S; Volkswagen Golf R; Renault Megane RS; and various models from Porsche, Mercedes-AMG, Lamborghini and McLaren
- Holds a speed record of 384.12km/h on a Lamborghini Huracán in Germany
What’s new on the Continental SportContact 7
Continental’s latest performance tyre has been developed for sporty vehicles and features three new technical tyre details, best described by Continental as: 1) an adaptive tread design that adapts to dry and wet roads; 2) a size-specific tread design offering maximum driving pleasure for every vehicle; and 3) Continental’s BlackChili rubber compound which is precisely matched to the adhesion of the asymmetrical tread for maximum grip.
Cars today are now heavier, and have increased engine performance than back in the day. Martin Buday, MD of Continental Tyre South Africa says:
“Since all articles in the new SportContact 7 range have an increased load capacity in accordance with the XL standard, we can easily fit heavier and more powerful cars whilst also supporting the trend towards greater sustainability.”
“With its fuel efficiency classified as class ‘C’ on the EU tyre label, the SportContact 7 offers one of the lowest values in the UUHP segment. That makes it a safe and appropriate choice for all sporty vehicles, whether conventional or electrically powered.”
Adaptive tread design (technical)
Continental explained that with an asymmetrical, adaptive tread design, the new SportContact 7 adapts to dry and wet roads, ensuring precise handling and cornering stability, along with exceptional control, safety and driving confidence, even at high speeds.
It says while driving on wet roads, the tyre’s footprint ends at the point of the highest water removal in the tread, to offer outstanding grip when braking, accelerating and cornering. When cornering on dry roads, the footprint shifts to the outer shoulder, which is designed to transmit the highest forces for stable handling.
New ‘locking elements’ in the outer shoulder ensure further stability, only enabling limited movement of the tread for high ride stability.
Zwartkops Raceway launch activities
At the launch event at the AMG Academy at Zwartkops Raceway, we got to experience the new SportContact 7 tyres alongside a “budget” brand, which was not disclosed for obvious reasons, and besides, isn’t the point. It was to showcase the new tyres vs a non-Continental one. We completed three different activities on the Mercedes-Benz AMG C63.
The first we did was driving at speed and applying breaks, taking a corner, and going through a slalom, i.e. zigzagging through cones. This one didn’t need us to test along side the “budget” tyre as it was more for regular driving and getting to see how it works.
The second activity was a bit of a crazy one where we drove at speed on a wet patch, but this we had to do on the “budget” tyre alongside the SportContact 7. On my run with the budget, I spun a little and ended up on the grass, but did it again and counter steered but it still showed the major difference against the Continentals, which didn’t make you feel concerned or out of control.
The last activity was a gymkhana in the skid pan, which has to be wet. And this is where it got competitive for all attendees because in typical fashion, it was a timed event on how quickly we could go through the (obstacle) course. This was done with both the budget and SportContact 7 tyres and also a good way to actually experience the tyres side by side.
My main takeaway and thoughts from the event: I felt confident driving a car with these tyres. This was apparent when applying breaks before going through the corner; accelerating on water; and going through the slalom.
The handling was excellent, couldn’t be faulted, and it made me feel confident doing the activities. The event was the true test of what it means to drive with a cheap tyre, and how potentially life threatening it can be. It was an eye-opening experience.
It really goes to show how ridiculous it is to buy a vehicle worth R2-3m if you’re going to slap the cheapest tyres on it when they need a replacement. I drive a Mini Cooper S and it’s great to know these tyres are standard for it, but when it comes to replacing tyres, by default I do not opt to buy the cheapest, and just as well.
Pricing differs based on different retailers. I’ve reached out to Autostyle.co.za and they have not received prices yet.
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. firstname.lastname@example.org