Continental launched its SportContact 7 high-performance tyre and its more than just a piece of rubber

Most motorists know that fitting a proper quality tyre can make all the difference on the surface it is driven on. Because most people’s budgets are tight, the cheapest one will do, naturally. That being said, not all tyres are the same and don’t provide the same performance in varying conditions. For instance, conventional sports tyres react differently to different vehicle models, determined by the car’s weight, size, and engine.

The biggest misconception with the purchase of tyres is that people think paying more for them doesn’t affect how a vehicle behaves in real-time driving. According to Martin Buday, MD of Continental Tyre South Africa, cars have become around 10% heavier, while engine performance has increased by almost 30%.

The SportContact 7 is the latest generation of Continental’s high-performance tyre range, following the launch of the SportContact six years ago. It is available in 47 sizes, ranging from 18 to 23-inch in diameter, and has become the Original Manufacture supplier of Mercedes-Benz South Africa and a choice of international tuners such as AC Schnitzer, Abt, Brabus, Klasen, Lorinser, Techart, and 9ff, while also being planned to grace the alloys of top echelon cars like the Brabus S 65 Rocket 900 Coupé.

The Zwartkops Raceway in Johannesburg served as the location for the day where media from all over the country got the opportunity to get to grips (no pun intended) with the high-performance tyre in various track and skid-pan applications. The premise of the day was for everyone to experience safe handling on both wet and dry roads and feel first-hand the adaptive tread design featuring the innovative BlackChili rubber compound.

Getting to grips

Driving either of the AMG models with the budget tyres fitted, you feel a bit uneasy because you know the rear can break traction at any moment and surface grip is minimal at best. Many remarked that they were confident (even approaching a chicane at almost 200km/h) that the car would do the job. After a while, the runs with the SportContact’s became boring – but a boring that was 20 times safer than losing control at high speeds, especially with precious cargo inside.

In case you’re wondering, BlackChili is not the Black Eyed Peas’ new name but instead is specialised rubber compound for low-profile tyres. The compound technology balances the characteristics of excellent handling and increased mileage. In addition, and what you can immediately feel from behind the wheel is the ‘locking elements’ in the tyre’s outer shoulder that enable limited tread movement for stability at high speeds and in the corner.

Everyone got the opportunity to test two different high-performance Mercedes-AMG models (C 63 S and CLA 45), one wrapped in a budget tyre and the other in the SportContact 7’s. In addition, techniques like car control and defensive driving were also explored with the assistance of professional drivers who ride along with you.

I began to feel more confident the longer I drove in a car with the SportContact 7’s fitted because you know that you’d come out of the situation in a straight line and not somewhere sideways in the kitty litter. I’d rather be bored, and know-how a (performance) car handles than put my thumb in the wind to see how a different set will react with the throttle pushed down.

Gumtree put the high-performance tyre through its paces on the track and in slippery conditions. Take a look at what we got up:

For those interested, here’s a breakdown of the various AMG Driving Academy packages available:

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