With the launch of the latest performance tyre from the Germans, some of the media got to take a spin around Zwartkops raceway, pitting budget tyres up against the SportContact 7.
With the run up to the Festival of Motoring this week, I thought I’d give you a little insight into my day learning to drive with Continental at their SportContact7 launch about a month ago. Here’s what I got to experience.
Continental’s SportContact 7 has three new technical tyre details that are designed for safe handling on both dry and wet roads: an adaptive tread design that accommodates both dry and wet roads; a size-specific tread design that offers maximum driving enjoyment for every vehicle; and Continental’s BlackChili rubber compound that matches the adhesion of the asymmetrical tread for maximum grip.
“With the new-generation SportContact 7 we have a tyre designed to deliver safe and predictable handling in wet and dry conditions, while meeting the needs of performance car drivers, whether using their sporty vehicles on the road or at a track,” says Martin Buday, MD of Continental Tyre South Africa.
The updated version of Continental’s tried-and-true, sporty tyre is this SportContact 7. Since its introduction six years ago, the SportContact 6 has won first place and garnered the greatest praise in a variety of independent magazine tests, including ultra-high performance (UUHP) tyre tests conducted by the German publications.
The new tyre sees Continental redefine the standards of performance, generating high levels of trust in the handling characteristics of its new flagship tyre. “The focus of our development for the SportContact 7 was on having the best sporty tyre on the market for every vehicle class. This meant improving all performance criteria to combine maximum driving pleasure with maximum safety, along with sustainability in the field of ultra-high performance tyres,” Buday says. The SportContact 7 has delivered in all of these areas, with significantly improved handling on dry and wet roads or racetracks, matched to an extended service life compared to its predecessor.
“With the new SportContact 7 we have a product that meets the latest market trends, as cars have become around 10 percent heavier, while engine performance has increased by almost 30 percent. At the same time, the CO2 emissions of cars have been reduced by approximately 30 percent,” Buday 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,” he explains. “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
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.
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.
Tailor-made for every vehicle class
Conventional sports tyres react differently to different vehicle models, determined by the weight, size and engine of the car in question. Accordingly, the specifications of the SportContact 7 are adapted to each vehicle class. “Our new SportContact 7 is the first product in the high- performance tyre segment that is tailor-made for every type of vehicle, from sporty compact cars and high-performance sedans to sports cars, supercars and highly tuned cars,” Buday explains.
Continental developed new technologies, suitable for driving on the road and on the track, that are used depending on the tyre size which ensures that the typical driving feel of the SportContact family is retained, irrespective of vehicle. This includes a design tailored to different vehicle classes. “With the SportContact 7 range we have been able to adapt the stability of the sidewall, the grip under different loads, as well as the high-speed capability, handling and design of the tyre carcass to suit every vehicle class,” Buday says.
BlackChili rubber compound
The third technological building block of the new SportContact 7 is the BlackChili rubber compound, which has been adapted to the very rigid, low-profiled tyre design. Tyre engineers and chemists at Continental had to balance out various conflicting objectives to achieve excellent handling characteristics, while also significantly increasing mileage. An innovative mixing compound technology was developed which, together with the tread design, enables significant progress in handling characteristics.
Continental’s internal tests provided impressive values when comparing the SportContact 7 and its popular predecessor, the SportContact 6. Service life is extended by 17 percent, mileage on the racetrack increases by 10 percent, wet braking distances are reduced by eight percent, and the new SportContact 7 is six percent better in dry braking too. Handling and grip in both wet and dry conditions has also benefitted from the latest advancements (tests conducted with tyre size 245/30 R 20).
There are 47 sizes of the new Continental SportContact 7 available, with diameters ranging from 18 to 23 inches.
These tyres have been designed for both supercars and passenger vehicles with sporty features, and Maserati has already chosen it for original equipment fitment on its Levante and Quattroporte models.
There’s a wide range of vehicles, including the fast BMW M series and the RS series from Audi as well as the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the Mini Cooper S, Volkswagen Golf R, and Renault Megane RS are examples of compact automobiles that give these tyres the their stamp of approval.
Additionally, sizes that fit a variety of Porsche, Mercedes-AMG, Lamborghini, and McLaren are available. The Continental SportContact range has also been the choice of leading international brands such as AC Schnitzer, Abt, Brabus, Klasen, Lorinser, Techart and 9ff, and suitable dimensions of the SportContact 7 are planned for the top echelon of tuned cars such as the Brabus S 65 Rocket 900 Coupé.