Equipped with ContiFlex rubber-coated studs, the Continental IceContact 3 model, becoming one of the hottest tire products of the winter season 2019/2020, in addition to an extensive marketing campaign, won the first and second places in six independent tire tests of the season, as well as the title «Best studded tire 2019».
Currently, however, the production of Ice Contact 3 has been suspended because a number of company’s clients reported poor stud retention, and Vi Bilägare publication annulled its victory in the 225/50 R17 comparative tire test.
Sharing about the benefits of using the ContiFlexStud technology, Continental AG made a focus on IceContact 3 improved grip on ice, reduction of road wear, increase in acoustic comfort, and prevention of stud loss. However, already in the first winter season, complaints started filing in from the consumers — the tires were rapidly losing studs.
Unable to find a quick solution to this problem, Continental AG stopped the production of ContiFlexStud rubber-coated studs, as a consequence of which, the IceContact 3 model will only be available with the standard aluminum studs in the future.
The Continental Nordic Product Business Development Manager, Mattias Palmgren, emphasized that not all of the Swedish consumers were faced with the loss of rubber-coated studs, and there were quite a lot of drivers who did not run into this problem. Nevertheless, the production of tires equipped with ContiFlex has been stopped, and the company will continue troubleshooting and performing in-company tests in order to correct the deficiencies.
Revocation of victory in the Vi Bilägare test
The rubber-coated studs were installed on the Continental IceContact 3 model starting from the 17-inch rim diameter and higher. It was specifically in size 225/50 R17 that the experts of the Swedish magazine Vi Bilägare were testing studded winter tires in 2019. Totaling the results scored in each of the test disciplines, IceContact 3 came out the winner, and, as the test experts noted, to a large extent this victory was due to the ContiFlexStud technology.
Considering the fact that the tires with rubber-coated studs will no longer be available to consumers, the Vi Bilägare test group revoked the first place in the winter tire test 2019 from the Continental IceContact 3. The publication stressed once again that during the test no stud loss was detected from IceContact 3, unlike the unusually fast general tread wear, which indeed was detected. The first prize by default went to the Michelin X–Ice North 4, which, having been through all of the test disciplines, showed almost no signs of wear.
Vi Bilägare noted that the publication did not lose interest in IceContact 3, and this year it will conduct a test of studded winter tires in size 205/60 R16 to evaluate the performance of Continental tires equipped with regular aluminum studs. The test results will be announced in the fall of 2020.
Info!This is not the first time the test results were revoked. For example, 2016 witnessed a scandal with the Nokian Tyres after intentional substitution of tires by the manufacturer was detected.
Continental vs. Michelin
The fact that the rubber-coated studs were giving the Continental an obvious competitive edge is evidenced by the results of six test of the winter season 2019/2020, in which IceContact 3 was involved. Its chief rival was the Michelin X–Ice North 4.
The Continental model in the rubber-coated stud version and in size 225/50 R17 scored three first places in tire tests 2020 (Vi Bilägare, Teknikens Värld, and Auto Review).
In the standard aluminum stud version, however, the model in size 205/55 R16 was able to score only second places in tests conducted by Moottori, Za Rulem, and Test World, each time succumbing to the Michelin X–Ice North 4.
Considering the information on recalling the results of Continental IceContact 3, the choice of buyers in the 2020/2021 season will most likely be in favor of the French tire maker.