Five blogs of Dave
New tires for my Saab: the Continental ExtremeContact DW
by, Mon 14 May 2012 at 13:00 (4739 Views)
A few months ago, my tires were approaching four years old and the tread was getting worn. Time to get new tires. Since I had good experiences with the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric, getting the Asymmetric 2 was almost a possibility. It was released in many countries, but not the U.S., so it would have been extremely expensive to specially import. This time, it would be Continental ExtremeContact DW tires.
The Continental ExtremeContact DW is billed by Continental as an "ultra high performance summer tire tuned for drivers seeking extreme grip in dry and wet conditions.". It's available in the U.S. market but not in Britain. The tread pattern is not the same as the Continental ContiSportContact 5P, which is available in the U.K. The DW is also not the same as the DWS, which is an all-season tire. The DW is made by Continental's factory in Camašari, Bahia, located in the northeast coast of Brazil. Lately, Continental seems to be marketing itself as a premium tire brand that's a little less expensive than Michelin, possibly because it makes quite a few tires in the United States and Brazil, which presumably have lower labor costs than Continental Tire's plants in Germany and France.
Continental ExtremeContact DW has an asymmetric tread. The wide blocks are on the outside.
The ExtremeContact DW has a UTQG treadwear rating of 340, which is high for a performance tire. Traction rating is AA, which is the highest possible. Temperature, or resistance to heat, is A, which is also the highest available. The speed rating is W. I got the size 235/45R17 94W. This contrasts with my old Goodyears, which had a load rating of 97 and speed rating of Y. My Saab 9-3 specifies a load rating of 93 so 94 means that the tire can support more than needed. The tire is an asymmetrical tread design meaning that, if desired, it can be rotated to either side of the car. It is not a directional tread design. The outer part of the tread always stays on the outside.
Salivating while looking at the uninstalled tires
A closer look at the tire label
A tire that has good performance but also rides comfortably
From a comfort standpoint, the ExtremeContact DW maintains stability on uneven pavement. They have at least an average or better rolling resistance, based on putting the car in neutral and seeing how far the car keeps driving down the street. I keep careful records on fuel consumption and ExtremeContacts do not show worse fuel economy. In fact, they show a possible miniscule improvement over the old Goodyears but I cannot say if this improvement is statistically significant.
The tires are fairly quiet riding. This is typical of a new tire. However, they don't seem to be as quiet as the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric, which is the quietest performance tire that I have ever used. That tire was extremely quiet when new. Don't think that I find the Continentals noisy, however. Besides a subjective impression, the best way I gauge tire noise is when I change from my lightly driven winter tires to summer tires (and presumably the winter tires have a noise level that doesn't change much from year to year due to low mileage). When I did so with the Goodyears, the difference was dramatic. With these Continentals, the difference is there, but not as much.
Wet performance can be often gauged as it rains often in Seattle. On the other hand, when it rains, I take no chances and do not drive like I'm fleeing a nuclear disaster. The car is very steady on wet highways. Braking distances cannot be accurately compared between tires because the difference of a few feet is too small unless careful testing conditions are used. I have not driven on Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 but I would be concerned that they may be a bit slippery on wet pavement. I have heard of an anecdotal report from a Saab 9-3 driver that the Potenza RE-001 Adrenalin (previously made in Japan and Australia, not sold in the U.S.) can be a bit slippery in wet conditions.
Dry performance is very good
Dry performance is generally very good for the DW. There is a particular 270 degree entrance ramp that has a nice safety margin in that there's a rarely used HOV (car pool lane) to next to the entrance ramp. One can safety drive at 60 mph (98 km/h) with room to skid, if the tires lose grip. With the ExtremeContact DW, the car says nicely on track, controllable, without squeal, without activating the traction control. Very nice.
The car also handles nicely when dodging potholes in another section of road that I sometimes drive on. It doesn't give a harsh ride. Although I can best compare the tire to old Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetrics and Bridgestone Blizzak WS-60 winter tires because I used those tires immediately before or after putting on the Continentals, I suspect that the tire is tuned to give a little bit of comfort, but still act as a very performance oriented tire, without sacrificing too much performance. A touring tire, it certainly is not.
The tire is a summer performance tire so I would expect that it should not be used in the winter. My experience with other summer performance tires was that they lost grip when it was near freezing and raining.
As far as appearance, the tread looks aggressive and business like. Looks are definitely secondary compared to performance but a nice looking tire is fun. The sidewall has large lettering showing the word "Continental". It's a bit larger than I'd like but still acceptable. Continental, in the traditional font and the horse logo is also on the tire as well as the tire model name. The "made in Brazil" notation is not visible when the tire is mounted because it is faces the inside, towards the tie rod ends. I suspect this is intentional because a few people might not want the country name shown. I find Brazil to be a fine country and don't insist on tires to be made in Germany.
I would consider competing tire models to be the Michelin Pilot Super Sport and Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2. The Continental ExtremeContact DW is a cheaper and, even not considering the price, is an excellent tire. It's a great choice for a performance tire with practical applications so that it can be used as a daily driver. I am reasonably satisfied with it. I got it because I was curious about Continentals and the price was too good to pass up. (I've never spent less on tires before but don't ask me how low!) Perhaps, it could be a tad bit quieter but it's a great tire.
Side view with the Continental name in large font on the sidewall