March 10, 2015
Every music act dreams of a hit song that takes them to the top of the charts. And once they get it, there is probably nothing harder than repeating the magic next time around. While many other tires in the Ultra High Performance All-Season category have tended to focus heavily on dry and wet weather performance for spring, summer and fall driving, Continental chose to follow its own beat from its original ExtremeContact DWS. Purposeful good looks and careful tuning gave it best-in-class light snow traction, while also providing good wet weather performance and sufficient dry handling to satisfy most drivers. It's this combination that gave the ExtremeContact DWS a unique place in the category, and a solid lead in consumer ratings soon after it debuted.
Six years later it's time for Continental's next release, the ExtremeContact DWS 06. One look at the "DWS 06" and you can see Continental is playing a familiar tune. The new tire has a strong family resemblance to its predecessor, with its unique, aggressive-looking asymmetric tread pattern that is very familiar to anyone who has owned the previous-generation tire.
With the release of the ExtremeContact DWS 06 scheduled for May 2015, Continental invited several members of the Tire Rack team to preview production-spec tires in a variety of conditions prior to the tire's commercial launch. In addition to experiencing dry and wet traction and handling, Continental felt it important to give a little seat time driving in snowy conditions, too.
This demo used a pair of sporty MINI Cooper S Hardtop 2 Doors to compare the new ExtremeContact DWS 06 with its predecessor, the original ExtremeContact DWS. The dry demo consisted of a compact road course with a five-cone slalom and a mix of decreasing radius turns, rapid transitions and sweeping corners.
This dry handling comparison showed the increase in stability and lateral traction of the new ExtremeContact DWS 06, particularly at the entry to the several decreasing radius turns on the course. In comparison, the new DWS 06 felt more stable (particularly at the rear of the car) when still braking hard and beginning to turn down towards the late apex.
Part 1 - Wet Handling Course: Lower speed, but similar course to the dry handling demo, Audi A4 Sedans were used to navigate a ribbon course that winds around with a mix of sweeping turns, braking zones and a few pylon-marked transitions.
Even though it was not the Quattro version, the front wheel drive Audi A4 sedans handled very well, without the usual power-on understeer of most FWD vehicles. Or, maybe it was the tires, as both the new ExtremeContact DWS 06 and its predecessor felt sure-footed during all phases of the drive, with a modest advantage felt with the new DWS 06.
Part 2 - Wet VDA: The open expanse of the VDA (Vehicle Dynamics Area) and nothing more than orange pylons to hit, gave the freedom to really push the envelope and explore the grip limit of both tires. This time a pair of BMW M235I coupes were used as the test platform.
Like we found on the wet handling course, both versions gripped well, with a small but noticeable advantage to the ExtremeContact DWS 06, particularly in the higher speed sweeping turns, and also when braking and turning at the entry to the transition-intensive slalom.
The format of the demo with Audi A4 sedans didn't allow for a full objective test, but did show the ExtremeContact DWS 06 didn't give up any ground versus its predecessor.
|Tire||50-0mph ABS Stop (feet)|
|ExtremeContact DWS 06||100.5|
In a separate experience Continental also provided the opportunity to drive the ExtremeContact DWS 06 and its predecessor back-to-back in snowy conditions, using MINI Cooper S Hardtop 2 Doors.
Part 1 - Snow Handling: Snow handling was evaluated by making several runs through a slalom and handling course with the traction and stability control on. Both cars navigated the packed snow with good steering control and maneuvered around the cones with the traction and stability control occasionally assisting. As expected, the snow-packed and rutted course caused some abrupt slippage for both the new ExtremeContact DWS 06 and the ExtremeContact DWS, but it was easy to adjust the steering angle and speed to place the vehicle back onto the desired path as the traction and stability control efficiently worked in the background.
Part 2 - Snow Acceleration and Braking: Acceleration and braking were evaluated in a drag race-style demo, with a pair of MINIs fitted with DWS 06 and its predecessor lined up side-by-side. Drivers were given the green light and told to press the gas pedal to the floor with traction control fully engaged. Both cars had the traction control light blinking for the first few car lengths until the tires gained more secure footing. At the end of the acceleration run, each driver was instructed to apply the brakes as hard as possible with ABS assisting to bring each car to a complete stop. Both vehicles accelerated and stopped with similar results while staying nearly side-by-side for the entire exercise.
Finding the right balance between road manners, dry handling, wet traction and winter weather capability is the challenge faced by every manufacturer designing a new tire for the Ultra High Performance All-Season category. And when you have a tire as popular as the outgoing ExtremeContact DWS, the development team at Continental has an extra layer of pressure to make sure they come up with another hit.
From our brief experiences with the ExtremeContact DWS 06 it appears that at the very least Continental has developed the new tire to build on the strengths of its predecessor, with good dry handling along with a bump in wet traction and equal-to-somewhat-better snow performance. Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to evaluate how the DWS 06 rides and drives on the open road. We're anxious to get production tires into our warehouse so we can conduct a full road, wet and dry track test and a full winter evaluation during the coming test season. Stay tuned for those test reports.
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Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The ExtremeContact DWS 06 (DWS for Dry, Wet & Snow) is Continental's Ultra High Performance All-Season radial developed for drivers of sports cars, sports coupes, performance sedans and sport trucks. The ExtremeContact DWS 06 is designed to satisfy their year-round driving needs by blending dry and wet road performance with light snow and slush traction. Read more.
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