May 22, 2015
Timing may be everything. Certainly in the Ultra High Performance All-Season (UHPAS) category the timing was right for Continental Tire when they launched the original ExtremeContact DWS. Other UHPAS tires of the time focused heavily on dry and wet handling, while providing winter traction that could be described as modest at best. The original ExtremeContact DWS changed the landscape for drivers who were looking for wintertime mobility from a tire that would also allow them to enjoy the sporty nature of their performance car during warmer months.
Six years later it's time for Continental's next Ultra High Performance All-Season tire, the ExtremeContact DWS 06. One look at the DWS 06 and you can see Continental is building on a proven design. The new tire has a strong family resemblance to its predecessor with its unique, aggressive-looking asymmetric tread pattern that will look very familiar to anyone who has owned the previous-generation tire. An advanced silica-enhanced all-season tread compound riding atop robust internal construction are tuned to provide responsive handling and reassuring traction in all four seasons.
To find out how the Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 performs, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing it with three of the newest and top-performing tires in the category — the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season, Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 and Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus. Our evaluation used 2014 BMW F30 328i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 245/40R18 tires mounted on 18x8.0 wheels.
Our 6.0-mile loop of expressway, state highway and county roads provides a great variety of road conditions that include city and highway speeds, smooth and coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt. This route allows our team to experience noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling, just as you would during your drive to school or work.
As you might expect, light road handling from this group of top performers received good marks all around. Just like we've found in past testing the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 responds quickly with a tight, direct feel in the steering wheel. From there it's a near-tie for 2nd best with the Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 having a slight advantage in overall feel. One consistent comment from our team of drivers is the noticeable improvement in steering response and precision with the DWS 06 versus memories of its predecessor, but a few drivers keyed in on the DWS 06's slight tendency to drift off center when cruising down the highway. Right behind, but really not all that different, was the Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus which displayed a very nice balance of on-center precision and predicable response to larger inputs. The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season was rated fourth overall by a small margin. This tire responds very quickly to even small inputs of the wheel. If you like a very eager tire, this is a good option, but some of our drivers found it to be a little too much of a good thing.
Responsive handing in a performance tire is great, but for most drivers there are plenty of miles spent rolling along over less than perfect pavement. Here the P Zero All Season Plus held the advantage over the others, doing a good job muting the sharpness of expansion joints and crudely patched potholes. Definitely not the ride quality of a touring tire, but surprisingly good for its performance design focus. The ExtremeContact DWS 06 followed, and rode reasonably well, but anecdotally felt as if it has given up a little comfort versus its predecessor, likely as a tradeoff for the improvement in handling. The Pilot Sport A/S 3 and Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season followed with appropriate levels, but seemed to give up a little ride comfort to get their responsive handling.
Combined, tread and impact noise levels for all four tires were tolerable with the Pirelli, Continental and Michelin tires very tightly grouped in our team's ratings. The noise score for the Goodyear tire was a little lower than the others due to its combination of tread noise and booming when encountering larger impacts.
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, a five-cone slalom and simulated expressway ramps. Run in both dry and wet conditions, the test track allows our team to experience the traction, responsiveness, handling and drivability normally only encountered during abrupt emergency avoidance maneuvers or competition events.
If you enjoy a romp around the cloverleaf, a blast along your favorite back road or are faced with an abrupt avoidance maneuver then any one of these tires will serve you well. In dry conditions on our test track, the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 feels stable, responsive and has lots of ultimate traction to hang on when asked to perform at the limit. The Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus feels a little lighter on its feet when driven hard, literally dancing through the rapid transitions of the slalom section on our course. The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season uses its quick steering response to help it get around the course quickly, but doesn't have as much composure at the limit as the others. Coming in close behind the others was the Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06, feeling noticeably better than we remember for its predecessor.
In wet conditions, three tires stood out with strong performances. The Pilot Sport A/S 3 was the clear leader, instilling confidence and quick lap times thanks to its very high level of wet grip. Not far behind was the ExtremeContact DWS 06 with high overall traction and composed handling. The P Zero All Season Plus followed with predictable handling and a little less ultimate grip than the Michelin and Continental tires. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season trailed noticeably, displaying lower overall grip, longer braking distances and less predictability when driving at the limit.
Winter weather is often unpredictable, and snow-covered roads change with every passing vehicle as they churn snow into slush or pack it down to polished ice. A constantly changing test surface makes side-by-side comparisons difficult, so we use a dedicated winter testing facility in Northern Sweden with acres of groomed snow that provides the consistency we need to get reliable acceleration and braking comparisons. This facility also has a prepared snow-handling course where we evaluate the stability and control of each tire during abrupt maneuvers. To simulate the icy conditions found at intersections or the black ice experienced out on the highway, we use ice at a local hockey rink and measure acceleration and braking traction.
Our official test of the Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 confirms what we found during our introductory drive last season: this tire doesn't sacrifice any winter performance versus its predecessor and is still a leader among the few Ultra High Performance All-Season tires that can deliver reasonable snow traction. The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season followed at a level that was a noticeable step behind. The Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 is able to start and stop in the snow with adequate capability, but struggles somewhat during cornering/handling. Trailing the others by a noticeable margin was the Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus, requiring just over 30' longer to stop our test car from just 25mph than the ExtremeContact DWS.
Our Real World Road Ride features a relatively flat 6.0-mile loop of 65 mph expressway, 55 mph state highway and 40 mph county roads along with two stop signs and one traffic light every lap. Our team drove each tire approximately 400 miles over the course of several days. Since we wanted to compare fuel consumption results that typical drivers would experience, our drivers were instructed to maintain the flow of traffic by running at the posted speed limits and sustain the vehicle's speed using cruise control whenever possible. They did not use hypermiling techniques to influence vehicle fuel economy
@ 15,000 Miles
|% vs. Most Efficient|
|Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06||29.9||501.7||-2.3%|
|Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season||30.6||490.2||--|
|Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3||29.8||503.4||-2.7%|
|Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus||30.2||496.7||-1.3%|
|*Our evaluation used Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.|
While none of the tires in this test were designed with low rolling resistance as a high priority, we did find a difference in observed vehicle fuel economy across the group. Based on our results the 0.8-mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of just over 13 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $3.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of just under $40 for drivers driving 15,000 miles per year.
It's important to note our test's fuel consumption measurements follow consistent procedures designed to minimize variables that could influence the results, however they do not represent an exhaustive long-range fuel consumption study. While our procedures require the test vehicles in each convoy to run under the same prevailing conditions, the week-to-week differences in ambient temperatures, barometric pressures and wind speeds that we experience over a season of testing can influence vehicle fuel consumption and prevent the absolute mpg values of this test from being compared directly against those of others.
Larger differences in consumption between tires may indicate a difference that might be experienced on the road, while smaller differences should be considered equivalent. As they say, your mileage may vary.
Top-end UHPAS tires like the ones in this test deliver on their promise of ultra-high levels of handling and performance, at least in dry and wet weather. All four tires are all-season rated, adding the promise of mobility in the lighter side of winter's foul weather. Our preliminary drive on the ExtremeContact DWS in winter conditions was very promising, and we're looking forward to seeing how it stacks up against the other tires in our full battery of tests in the coming winter season.
The Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 earns top rating with help from its very high level of dry and wet traction combined with nimble handling. Not far behind is the Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 with good overall road manners plus impressive wet and good dry handling. The Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus strikes a well-rounded balance that would satisfy most drivers. The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season offers quick steering response and solid dry weather performance, but falls short of the other tires in wet conditions.
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. Designed to satisfy year-round driving needs, ExtremeContact DWS 06 tires blend dry and wet road performance with wintertime slush and snow traction. Read more.
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season is Goodyear's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire developed for the drivers of sports cars, sporty coupes and powerful performance sedans who want to enjoy driving their cars any time of the year. It is designed to meet challenging road conditions with confidence-inspiring all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Pilot Sport A/S 3 includes a W- and Y-speed rated Ultra High Performance All-Season tire member of Michelin's Pilot family of low profile, high-speed tires developed for the drivers of high-end sports cars, sporty coupes and sedans looking for total performance. The Pilot Sport A/S 3 tire is designed to provide Michelin's highest level of ultra-high, all-season performance, emphasizing dry road handling and wet road grip while retaining all-season traction for occasional light snow. Read more.
Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The P Zero All Season Plus is the Ultra High Performance All-Season member of Pirelli's P Zero tire family. Developed for driving enthusiasts behind the wheels of powerful sports cars, coupes and sedans looking for Pirelli prestige and year-round performance, the P Zero All Season Plus is designed to be driven in all seasons, even in light snow. Read more.
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