The Next Generation of the ExtremeContact DW
With extensive input from five (5) top International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) drivers, Continental's ExtremeContact DW successor, dubbed "ExtremeContact Sport", appears to have answered what enthusiasts have been calling for.
“We took our knowledge from the track to the street in a whole new way with the ExtremeContact Sport,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for Continental Tire. “We chose five of the best sports car drivers in the world to help deliver the performance driving enthusiasts demand in a tire. These drivers pushed our tires to the limits to help develop a tire that includes superb dry handling while not sacrificing any of Continental’s award-winning performance in the wet. This summer tire is ideal for sports cars and sport and luxury vehicles.”
The performance summary of the ExtremeContact DW is described as a tire that delivers solid dry and wet grip with good road manners for a tire in the Ultra High Performance (UHP) category. I think any driving enthusiast that has experience on this tire would agree; however, steering response and overall handling was left to be desired. "Sluggish" is a term we often see associated with this tire, but Continental has their ear to the pavement and addressed this issue by implementing new technologies such as high strength 2-ply sidewall construction in addition to sport sidewall inserts. These new technologies deliver precise handling and up to 86% increase in sidewall stiffness when compared to the ExtremeContact DW.
I recently attended the ExtremeContact Sport launch event which took place in the valley of the stunning Santa Rosa Mountains, also known as the Colorado Desert, where I was able to see if Continentals claims of improved performance and handling held true. Granted, every driver has a different driving style with preferences towards certain tire characteristics, but as the saying goes, the the proof is in the pudding.
At the Thermal Club I pushed the ExtremeContact Sport to the limits through a variety of driving exercises to evaluate the redesign. It was abundantly clear that the newly incorporated technologies were paying dividends. The on-center feel of the ExtremeContact Sport was noticeably better and the relaxed feel found in the DW was significantly reduced; the ExtremeContact Sport feels satisfyingly "snappy".
I also noticed when pushed to the limit under heavy cornering that the ExtremeContact Sport not only reacted and gripped quickly, but it didn't fall flat on its face. The decrease in grip towards the limit was gradual and progressive which was bona fide confidence inspiring. Turn-in was predictable and provided nice feedback through the steering wheel.
In summary, the Continental ExtremeContact Sport, which we feel is appropriately labeled for its sporty handling, feels vastly better over the previous DW and is sure to be a hit with enthusiasts looking for superior performance.
Now if you're asking yourself about how else this tire fared to the earlier version, I.E. wet grip, comfort, ETC. I'll tell you this; Continental claims up to 9% improvement on wet roads and up to 20% improvement in tread life. In the one (1) day of testing I was unable to judge tread wear, but wet traction was similar when compared to the DW, with noticeable improvements in wet handling. As for comfort, one would expect some deviation with up to 86% improvement in sidewall stiffness, and I agree that's true as tires are a product of compromise. Luckily, there is only a 6% increase in ride stiffness which was somewhat noticeable during the driving dynamics exercise, but certainly acceptable and comparable to other competitor tires in this segment.