How we tested Continental’s new tyres

Tyres are the only contact point our cars have with the road, and people often underrate their impact on driving performance and safety when buying a new set of rubber.

Choosing the right tyres matters, and it could even save your life.

While car manufacturers wage war for the hard earned dollars of Australian new car buyers, tyre companies are also engaged in their own battle for supremacy.

The performance tyre market is particularly competitive, and we took the opportunity to test a new addition to the category – the Continental MaxContact MC7.

Located roughly an hour west of Sydney, the tight and technical Luddenham Raceway played host to the track portion of our MaxContact MC7 test, while a combination of country road and highway driving rounded out the experience.

Challenging weather conditions set the scene. Here’s what we did on the day.

We drove on them in the wet

Two seperate tests were devised by Continental to pit the MaxContact MC7 against a rival tyre on track at Luddenham, putting wet braking and wet handling under the microscope.

Interestingly, Continental elected to tape over the branding on the competitor tyres, but further investigation revealed they were a Bridgestone product.

An 80-0km/h braking test was set up on the main straight, while a blind, downhill hairpin corner was the setting for the handling session.

Both areas were exposed to a constant stream of water to ensure slippery conditions, and we drove identical BMW 3 Series variants on both sets of tyres back-to-back.

Under heavy braking, you could immediately feel the Continental tyres dig into the tarmac despite the moisture, which was impressive.

We’ve excluded the total distance, as the conditions didn’t correlate with our own testing at Lang Lang and the data was tough to verify, but the Continental equipped car stopped 1.66m shorter than the competitor tyre.

The wet handling test was more of a subjective exercise, set up for the purpose of experiencing both tyres at their limit when cornering at speed.

We had a total of four attempts with each tyre, and the results were consistent throughout.

The MaxContact MC7 gripped up on initial hard turn in and tended towards progressive understeer that was predictable and easily managed.

On the other hand, the rival tyre was similar through corner entry but lost grip faster, resulting in more wrestling with the steering wheel.

In the afternoon we hit the public roads, and no hoses were needed as the heavens opened in typical east coast style.

Our route back towards Sydney was mostly made up of twisty country roads, which can be a nightmare in wet conditions, but our BMW 330i felt planted at all times.

Continental says it puts a focus on wet weather performance; clearly the PR team has friends in high places organising that rain.

We tried to see how noisy they are… or aren’t

Despite the mix of heavy rain and inconsistent road surfaces, a lack of tyre noise was also noticeable while driving on the MaxContact MC7.

We left the stereo on mute for most of the journey and the cabin remained quiet, allowing the occupants of the car to chat undistracted.

Crucially, it was consistent across different road surfaces, from suburban streets to rural roads and highways. Often, high-performance European tyres struggle to keep noise down on Australia’s rough-and-ready rural highways – Continental says these roads were a focus for the MC7.

Unfortunately, none of the cars used for this part of the launch were equipped with alternative tyres, so it was difficult to truly gauge where the MC7 sits amongst its competition.

We also didn’t have access to any current generation MaxContact MC6 tyres.

We read up on its competitors

Continental claims that the MC7 was purpose built for Asia-Pacific, with a focus on wet weather performance.

It certainly arranged the right weather to show that off, although it’s hard to know how the MC7 stacks up until we put it through its paces alongside some of its big rivals.

Continental is positioning the MaxContact MC7 as a rival to the Michelin Pilot Sport 5, Goodyear Eagle F1 Sport, and Bridgestone Potenza RE003, all of which are pitched as high-performance options for road-going cars with a surplus of performance.

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