Tyre companies live and die on the quality of their product offering. Every single tyre needs to perform to the highest possible standard, and in any conditions, in order to provide drivers and riders with the traction they need
Tyre companies invest years into the development of each new set of tyres. Continental tyres, a German manufacturer, are no exception in this respect and the brand has become one of the world’s leading tyre manufacturers selling road, off-road and racing tyres across the globe.
You may have heard the name, you may even have Continental tyres on your car right now, but do you know about the brand and how they got to the top of the global tyre market? Let’s take a look.
A brief history of Continental tyres
Founded way back in 1871 in Hanover in Germany, Continental started out life as a rubber manufacturer, becoming the first in the world to develop and release a set of grooved tyres back in 1904.
Since then Continental have become a world leader in tyre production, investing decades worth of research and development into each and every set of tyres they make. This development expands far beyond the world of everyday motoring, covering industries ranging from family cars, agricultural machinery, to bicycles, motorcycles, and racing cars, all the way to the soles of trainers, boots, and other footwear.
Now the world’s fourth leading tyre manufacturer, Continental is a household name known for their high-performance tyres in all four corners of the globe, with more than 244,000 people employed by the company across 61 countries and a whopping 554 locations.
Advancements in Continental tyre technology
Across each of these locations, the different departments are using the latest technology to deliver the next generation of on- and off-road tyres to customers. Not content with a range of tyres that offer the best braking performance to help reduce accidents on the roads, Continental have set out what they call their “Vision Zero” strategy to bring about zero fatalities, followed by zero injuries and, finally, zero accidents.
To do this they are calling on technologies already found in modern cars and tyre advancements – such as ABS (anti-lock braking) and ESC (Electronic Stability Control) – to continue developing until each goal is met.
The use of technology in today’s – and tomorrow’s – range of Continental tyres doesn’t stop there. Continental have spent years developing their quietest range of tyres to date, the ContiSilent, developed with noise-reducing technology to minimise road-noise. As we all know, there’s nothing worse than driving on a poor-quality road surface where road noise transmitted into the cabin forces you to crank up the stereo, ContiSilent is designed to ensure that this is a thing of the past.
In addition to ContiSilent, Continental have been working on ways to counter the effects of punctures that leave you stranded on the roadside waiting for someone to help you change the tyre or, doing it yourself in potentially dangerous locations (or vile weather conditions). The Continental SSR (Self-Supporting Runflat) tyre range allows you to drive for up to 50 miles, at a maximum speed of 50mph, on a punctured tyre until you can reach a safe place or garage to change your tyre.
Another approach to solving the problem of punctures is ContiSeal. A self-sealing tyre technology that repairs damage and punctures of up to 5mm in diameter in the tread (the kind of damage caused by nails and glass). ContiSeal is a gum-like sealant that repairs up to 80% of the tyre from the inside so you can continue your journey without changing the tyre. That being said, as with any puncture or damage to the tyre, it’s highly recommended that you have the tyre checked at the earliest opportunity.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017 Continental unveiled two new future tyre technologies aimed at making driving safer and more comfortable: ContiSense and ContiAdapt. While these are just high-tech prototypes for now, technologies like these represent the future of tyres.
ContiSense will call upon electronic signals from a sensor in the tyre which are then delivered to a receiver in the car, alerting the driver to any changes in the tyre conditions including their temperature and tread depth giving a more complete picture than current TPMS systems.
ContiAdapt, meanwhile, adjusts the tyre pressure and rim width so that you always have the optimum amount of contact with the road in any conditions. This means that the same wheel and tyre can always offer the ideal level of grip, contact patch, and pressure for exactly how you are driving from moment to moment.
Why choose Continental tyres?
Continental have always been looking forward, taking the tyre as one of the most important parts of the car – the point of contact between it and the road – and ensuring that every tyre offers outstanding levels of grip and safety whatever the conditions, terrain or environment.
Just like the drivers who use them, Continental never stay still. With more than 145 years of experience in the sector, manufacturing high performance tyres that – in many cases – are years ahead of their time, not to mention the competition. Continental are constantly looking for new ways to provide additional traction and braking performance, while also attempting to build upon the industry’s first ever eco-friendly tyre, the Continental ContiEcoContact, released back in 2003.
They are now the choice of many major manufacturers around the world including the likes of Audi, Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes Benz who all opt to fit Continental tyres as OE equipment on the new cars that roll off their production lines. In fact, such is the reputation of the German brand, Continental tyres are believed to be fitted on one in three new cars.
The reputation of their winter tyres is another reason to choose Continental tyres. For several years now Continental have been offering young drivers attending the Mercedes Benz World event the chance to see and learn how the 2019 Auto Express award-winning Continental WinterContact tyre performs in poor weather conditions.
According to Continental studies, UK drivers are six times more likely to be involved in an accident in the winter, with this rising when snow and ice are on the ground. After driving a set of winter tyres and then a set of summer tyres – in the same conditions – 98% of participants said that the winter tyres “exceeded their expectations” with 90% saying they would consider changing their tyres with the seasons as a result.
This doesn’t mean that they’ve shifted their focus from overall tyre safety, however. The brand are still advocates for checking your tyres regularly to ensure they are properly inflated and have safe levels of tread.
The current Continental tyre range
One of the most popular Continental tyres right now is the Continental SportContact6 tyre, a best-in-class performance road tyre, offering shorter braking distances in wet or dry conditions and exceptional road-hugging qualities. The new tread pattern helps to keep the tyre fixed to the road in the corners. Designed for sports cars like the BMW 5 Series, Audi R8 and Porsche 911; the SportContact 6 was developed and tested on professional circuits like the Nurburgring. Reviewers tend to note it’s exceptionally sharp cornering feel in the dry.
A recent addition to the Continental range is the CrossContact RX, a modern crossover tyre suitable for SUVs and capable of performing to an exceptional standard in any conditions. Great for use in the summer and winter, the Continental CrossContact RX tyre is proven to work in the snow and in the wet, with excellent braking performance and significant noise reduction for a quiet ride.
Another recent addition to the collection is the Continental EcoContact 6, a high performance road tyre that offers significantly improved fuel consumption, excellent handling, and good resistance to the risks of aquaplaning in the wet. The product of years and years of development, the EcoContact 6 uses the latest technologies to increase lifespan, and reduce stopping distances, while also being kind to the environment with an estimated 15% improvement in fuel economy. There are already more than a dozen European vehicle manufacturers who have signed up to have the EcoContact 6 fitted as standard with the tyre in production for less than a year.
Part of the Auto Express 2019 award-winning collection, the Continental PremiumContact 6 tyre remains a firm favourite for its exceptional performance in all conditions. Offering increased mileage, better grip in the corners, and new tread design to maintain the sporty feel but improve safety; the PremiumContact 6 tyre gives the driver more feedback than ever making this a true driver’s tyre.
Another award-winner is the Continental AllSeasonContact tyre, part of the expanding and increasingly popular range of all-season tyres filling the market today. Offering excellent fuel efficiency and performance on snow-covered, wet and dry roads; the AllSeasonContact tyre represents exceptional value for money given its performance whatever the conditions throw at you.
Unlike many tyres designed to perform in the cold conditions, the AllSeasonContact offers performance not to dissimilar to those of a summer tyre with precise steering, great braking and resistance to aquaplaning should the British summer storms hit unexpectedly.
For more advice on all-season tyres, check out our recent blog post where we focussed on the differences between all-season and summer tyres.