Continental SportContact 7 now in Mzansi

The Continental SportContact 6 has been in the leading ranks of the Ultra-Ultra High Performance tyre category for the past six years, alongside venerable peers such as the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S and Pirelli PZero. The engineers and chemists have not spent the last half-dozen years resting on their laurels however. They now present the updated SportContact 7 to meet the demands of the latest performance vehicles, which in addition to being faster and heavier than ever, also need to reduce their environmental impact to a minimum.

The SportContact 7 meets the conflicting demands above with three new core features. An Adaptive Asymmetrical Tread Design allows the SportContact 7 to achieve the best water displacement properties on wet surfaces, while the broad outer shoulder – which resembles a slick tyre with its large contact area – enables the tyre to facilitate high cornering forces. The novel interlocking elements between the treads aid in stabilising the tyre during cornering.

To take full advantage of the improved construction of the tyre, Continental have formulated what they call the “Black Chilli” compound. Now the exact constituents of tyre compound are a very closely guarded trade secret only known to manufactures, but Continental can tell us that this new formulation has resulted in an 8% improvement in wet grip, 6% improvement in dry grip and a 17% increase in mileage compared to its predecessor. Track day warriors will be pleased to learn that the mileage improvement is carried onto the circuit, albeit with a slightly lower improvement of 10%.

The SportContact 7 is also Continental’s first tyre to be tailored to different vehicle classes and weights.

Those are the numbers. But what happens when the rubber meets the road? I first sampled the SportContact 7 against a budget tyre around a wet slalom course at the Zwartkops Raceway in Tshwane. These were fitted to the hi-performance Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. The SC7 came in with a time of 17.8 seconds, 2 seconds quicker than the budget tyre’s 19.8 seconds. The SC7’s superior grip meant far better steering authority on turn-in while maintaining the car’s natural understeer balance throughout a turn, rather than switching between oversteer and understeer unpredictably.

As the SportContact 7 is aimed at occasional track day enthusiasts, it was only natural to put it through its paces around the circuit. A reference tyre against which to test its absolute performance was not available. However, driving through the first high-speed off-camber sweeper at Zwartkops it was immediately apparent that the tyre’s limits were very high. The 375kW of the C 63 S were not enough to overwhelm the rear tyres and traction control was never called upon even when accelerating out of the turn 2 hairpin.

Perhaps the demonstration most relevant to an everyday driver was the dry-wet-dry test. Here the budget tyre was summoned once again, and while it was eager to throw the smaller CLA 45’s rear out – despite its 4Matic AWD system, the SportContact 7 seemed to be unaware of the presence of water on the surface, retaining its grip and predictability through the puddle.

The Continental SportContact 7 is available at tyre outlets in diameters ranging from 18-inch to 23-inch, widths of 225 to 335 and aspect ratios of 25 to 45.

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