When faced with the prospect of testing vehicles, we always try to put the vehicle in situations that it is likely to encounter in real life with its owners.
If we have a truck, we tow something. If we have a minivan, we shuttle our family in it. If we have a hybrid, we drive as efficiently as possible. If we have a sports car, we take it to the track. When testing these Continental ControlContact Sport All-Season Tires, we tried to do the same thing: find a route that realistically captures what owners are likely to experience.
The ControlContact Sport is an all-season ultra-high-performance tire available exclusively at Discount Tire (which provided the tires and a set of Drag Wheels for this test – model DR-67, if you’re curious), and it is meant to straddle the world of sport and touring tires for a wide variety of cars, and for drivers who want a little more bite and performance than a typical touring tire. These are not dedicated summer performance tires, so we thought a typical setting for them would be our favorite country road, a stretch of over 20 miles of continuous turns and corners with very little traffic. But to get there, we had to escape the city and spend a couple hours on major and regional highways, so we got a feel for both its everyday commuting comfort and its handling prowess in one gorgeous day.
Of course, every road trip needs a mission, and ours was lunch in cottage country, to pick up some pastries for the folks stuck in the office, and a wilderness adventure of ziplines and hiking through the forests, but for me, as a driver, it was the road itself that I most looked forward to.
Setting out on the urban highways, I immediately noticed that these tires provide a very quiet ride. Our test vehicle is a 2007 Audi A4 Avant with 17-inch wheels, so the tire size was a fairly moderate 235/45 R17, by no means low profile, but sporty nonetheless. With a decent amount of sidewall, the tires can absorb that first impact of bumps on the road, helping maintain a car’s composure and passenger compartment isolation. Want more lateral stability at the expense of comfort? Move up a wheel size with a lower profile and wider section for less give in the sidewall and greater handling limits.
Also aiding the the comfort of the ControlContact Sport is the asymmetrical tread, which contributes to a quieter ride by reducing overall road noise. Indeed, the ControlContact Sport was impressively quiet over a wide variety of surfaces, from asphalt and grooved pavement to some gravel and concrete. The hum of tire noise quickly fades to the background, allowing moderate volume levels for the stereo and conversation in the cabin.
The asymmetrical tread was also designed to yield other benefits. Specifically, the different tread profiles target dry traction on the outer edge, and wet traction on the inner tread, with the goal being formidable grip in all conditions. Unfortunately, we were blessed with perfect conditions and nothing but sun and the occasional clouds, so we mostly put the tires’ performance handling chops to the test.
Out on our favorite driver’s road, we threw everything at the tire that it could reasonably be expected to face (any more and your issues would be with law enforcement, not your tire’s grip). To contribute to excellent cornering grip and lateral stability, the ControlContact Sport features wide, linked tread blocks on the outer edge of the tire, which improves lateral stability when cornering.
While we mentioned before that our tire size has a moderate profile, another aspect we were pleased with was road feel, indicating a good, strong sidewall and sturdy edge blocks to help keep the car balanced, but also to provide good road feedback through the steering system. Even when carefully pushing the car beyond the limits of traction (which was far past where I expected to find them), the car felt controllable and predictable, so pulling the car back from a skid is done with confidence and a wide grin. Maybe even a brief giggle.
For less aggressive drivers more interested in fuel economy and durability than handling and traction, the ControlContact Tour is rated for slightly better traction in snow, greater fuel efficiency, and significantly longer tread life, with a 90,000-mile Total Confidence Plan warranty and Flat Tire Roadside Assistance. The Sport, with its softer, grippier compounds, caps the treadwear warranty at 50K miles, but offers the same benefits of the Total Confidence warranty, and that superior traction in both dry and wet conditions.
The ControlContact Sport is designated an all-season tire, and while we always recommend a dedicated winter tire for the cold season in the snowbelt and Northeast, the tread features biting edges in the circumferential grooves and a sipe (those little tiny slits in the rubber of the tread) design that provides extra biting edges at multiple angles for enhanced traction in wet and winter conditions should you get caught in some inclement weather.
The Continental ControlContact Sport comes in 16-inch to 20-inch sizes and 35- to 55-series profile to fit a broad range of performance and passenger cars. The Control Contact Tour is available in 14-inch to 17-inch wheel sizes, 55-65 series and TR speed rating are suitable for a wide range of popular vehicles.
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