265/35R20

Evo: Continental SportContact 7 vs Competition

The evo experts compared the new Continental model with its main challengers from Bridgestone and Michelin.

List of models tested:

Last summer, Continental conducted a presentation of its new Continental SportContact 7 tire, which, as the evo experts noted, demonstrated quite an impressive performance when tested against previous generation models. But how will it look against the background of its main rivals? To answer this question, the British magazine conducted a mini test, which, besides the new Continental model, also involved the Bridgestone Potenza Sport (third-placed in last year’s evo test), and the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S (the winner 2020).

Continental test facility in Uvalde (Texas, USA)
Continental test facility in Uvalde (Texas, USA)

The tests were conducted at the Continental test facility in Uvalde (Texas, USA), where one could be sure of favorable weather conditions; instead of a powerful front-drive hatchback, which is usually used in the evo tests, the tires were fitted on a large rear-drive car — a 460-horsepower Ford Mustang GT. The tires were tested in size 265/35 R20.

The Uvalde proving ground in Texas is a vast, 5000-acre facility that offers hot-weather testing for much of the year. An outer oval of 8.5 miles surrounds the paved tracks the testers used, as well as a few of the many off-road courses available at the facility. The complex was built by the General Tire company, and in 1987 was acquired by Continental, which built a near-replica of the wet handling track from its Hannover proving ground. More recently it has built a new 1.8-mile dry handling circuit featuring elevation changes and sections inspired by the Nürburgring.

The wet handling track in Texas is not quite a copy of the one in Hannover, missing out a couple of turns on the return leg. The torque-rich Mustang easily managed the whole 1.535 km in what would have been third gear on manual transmission, even the tightest corners. The testers used Sport mode with stability control off, trying to maximize speed but keep understeer or oversteer from escalating. First place, with a significant lead over its rivals, was scored by Continental, whose lap time was almost two seconds better than that of the second-placed Bridgestone, and the experts noted that its grip was «on another level; you can nail the apex of every corner. The Bridgestone feels generally less grippy. It’s a little less keen to turn in and if you try to trail brake to help the nose in, the rear can get loose." In addition, the pilot seemed to spend time waiting for the grip to reassert itself. In the faster turns, the tire’s behavior was not entirely predictable, making it trickier to fully exploit its potential. As for the Michelin, its being prone to understeer was a plus during slower turns, but in the faster turns the car’s tail was loose, due to which the tire came third both by lap time and subjectively.

Test discipline: wet handling.
Test discipline: wet handling. Source: evo.co.uk

Wet handling

Continental
68.7
Bridgestone
70.5
Michelin
71.1

Info! Lap time, sec.

Wet handling (subjectively)

Continental
55.0
Bridgestone
47.5
Michelin
46.5

Info! Subjective, points.


On the circular track (inside diameter 58m), the lateral stability was evaluated, and, as expected, the finishing order was the same as on the wet handling circuit, although the results for this test were much closer. «The Mustang felt like a big, hefty thing but was surprisingly neutral and generated strong grip on all three test tires» — the evo experts noted. The Continental set the standard, topping the table with an average of 11.5sec, just a tenth ahead of the Bridgestone, which was itself a mere tenth ahead of the Michelin.

Lateral stability

Continental
11.5
Bridgestone
11.6
Michelin
11.7

Info! Lap time, sec.


On the wet handling circuit, the Michelin was less able to maintain grip in the faster corners, and it came as no surprise that it finished third in the lateral hydroplaning test. What did come as a surprise, though, was that the Continental was only fractionally better than the Michelin. The Bridgestone, in turn, outperformed its rivals in both straight and lateral hydroplaning resistance.

Lateral hydroplaning resistance

Bridgestone
3.09
Continental
2.72
Michelin
2.48

Info! Lateral acceleration, m/s2.

Straight hydroplaning resistance

Bridgestone
90.8
Continental
89.1
Michelin
87.1

Info! Float speed, km/h.


All three tires were rated «A» for wet grip — the best — and, although the Bridgestone and Michelin did perform well, the Continental was «in a different league», averaging just 31.9 m and bettering the Bridgestone Potenza Sport by a full three meters, which is an astonishing amount. The Continental set the standard in the dry braking test, too, though not as emphatically, the second place being scored by Michelin.

Test discipline: dry handling.
Test discipline: dry handling. Source: evo.co.uk

Wet braking

Continental
31.9
Bridgestone
34.9
Michelin
35.7

Info! Braking distance (80-0 km/h), m.

Dry braking

Continental
33.8
Michelin
34.3
Bridgestone
35.8

Info! Braking distance (100-0 km/h), m.


On the dry handling circuit, all three tires returned very similar lap times, the best still being Continental that felt strong and accurate, gripping well, changing direction confidently and, given just a moment to settle, hooking into every apex. In the subjective ranking, Michelin was slightly better than Bridgestone because, even though its grip in tight corners was a bit unstable, the tire behaved in a very predictable way. Bridgestone dropped to the third line this time due to being strongly prone to understeer.

Dry handling

Continental
78.6
Bridgestone
78.8
Michelin
79.0

Info! Lap time, sec.

Dry handling (subjectively)

Continental
60.5
Michelin
55.0
Bridgestone
53.5

Info! Subjective, points.


In the road test, the maximum number of points was scored by the Michelin model that provided good feedback through the wheel, including at slow speeds, had a good steering response, and demonstrated an ability to soak up bumps and tricky surfaces quietly. The Continental model also demonstrated good shock-absorbing performance, offering direct, slack-free steering response from around 80 km/h, too. The Bridgestone model also performed well, scoring fractionally less overall only because it came with higher general noise on some coarse surfaces and felt busier over shallow potholes and raised manhole covers. For rolling resistance, all three tires are declared in band «C», the mid-point in the EU labeling; the best fuel saver was pronounced to be Michelin, followed by Bridgestone and Continental.

The road test (subjective)

Michelin
25.0
Continental
24.0
Bridgestone
20.5

Info! Subjective, points.


Verdict

The Continental SportContact 7 did show impressive results, winning in almost all of the disciplines and coming first in the two main tests — handling and braking — both on wet and dry surfaces, and the experts noted that this tire will indeed maximize the car’s performance. The Michelin model also performed quite well in all the tests, and had good steering feedback, but fell short of its rivals on the wet circuit, while the Bridgestone tire had a very good hydroplaning resistance, and virtually no prominent issues, save for the increased noise level.

In the tournament bracket, the leader’s result is assumed as 100%, and the results achieved by others are calculated based on the difference with this figure.

1st place: Continental / SportContact 7

Quick Take
N/A 34

Continental SportContact 7

  • This tire replaced Continental / SportContact 6
  • Available Sizes in Line: 3
  • Original Equipment (OE) tires for:
    • • Maserati Levante M161 [2016 .. 2023]
    • • Maserati Quattroporte VI (M156) Facelift [2016 .. 2023]
  • Year Released: 2022
  • Regions for sale: Europe, Russia+, Southeast Asia
Continental SportContact 7

  • Excellent handling response and short stopping distance on wet and dry pavement alike
  • Good riding comfort

2nd place: Michelin / Pilot Sport 4S

Quick Take
88 76

Michelin Pilot Sport 4S

Price/Quality Wet Performance Dry Performance Handling Comfort Treadwear Snow/Ice Performance
  • This tire replaced Michelin / Pilot Super Sport
  • Available Sizes in Line: 215
  • Original Equipment (OE) tires for:
    • • Ferrari GTC4Lusso [2016 .. 2020]
    • • Porsche 911
    • • Porsche Boxster
    • • BMW X3 M F97 [2019 .. 2021]
    • • BMW X4 M F98 [2019 .. 2021]
    • • Cadillac CT4-V GM Alpha [2020 .. 2023]
    • • Cadillac CT5-V GM Alpha [2020 .. 2023]
  • Recommended Tire by Tests
  • Year Released: 2017
  • Regions for sale: North America, Central & South America, Europe, Russia+, Japan, South Korea, Middle East, Africa, Oceania
Michelin Pilot Sport 4S

  • Good feedback
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Wet grip weaker than that of the leaders
  • Relatively low hydroplaning resistance

3rd place: Bridgestone / Potenza Sport

Quick Take
82 69

Bridgestone Potenza Sport

Dry Performance Handling Wet Performance Comfort Treadwear
  • This tire replaced Bridgestone / Potenza S001
  • Available Sizes in Line: 87
  • Original Equipment (OE) tires for:
    • • Lamborghini Huracan Facelift [2019 .. 2023]
    • • Fisker
    • • Ferrari Roma [2020 .. 2023]
    • • Maserati
  • Recommended Tire by Tests
  • Year Released: 2021
  • Regions for sale: USA+, Canada, Europe, Russia+, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Oceania
Bridgestone Potenza Sport

  • No prominent issues found capable of critically compromising the safety level
  • Very high hydroplaning resistance
  • Increased noise emission

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