Do Tyres Maketh The Sports Car? We Wheeled Over To Continental To Find Out

We explore the intricacies of high-performance tyre development inside Continental’s top-tier test facility in Germany and put its new MaxContact MC7 tyres to the test.
by Jamie Nonis

Photo: Continental

Lance David Arnold awaits me in the Brabus 750 Bodo Buschmann Edition 1 of 25. I hop into the passenger seat, and he whips the 4.0-litre V8 convertible on a hot lap around the track like a measured madman, as German racing drivers do.

And, as it happens, confronting one’s mortality in a foreign country in such a manner is an oddly soothing encounter for adrenaline junkies the likes of yours truly.

Now, with great power (559kw and 900Nm torque) comes great responsibility, and that important job falls upon Continental’s new MaxContact MC7 tyres this March morning.

German racing driver Lance David Arnold on a hot lap in the Brabus 750 Bodo Buschmann Edition 1 of 25 fitted with MaxContact MC7 tyres. (Photo: Continental)

We are at Contidrom, the company’s world-renowned private test facility established in 1967 and located about 40km north of Hanover, Germany. Today, we’re set to put its latest high-performance tyre to the test ahead of its global launch in Sydney, Australia, in April.

The exclusive tour takes us behind the scenes of this impressive all-weather test facility as we observe how Continental tyres are rigorously tested at each stage of the developmental process.

There are various outdoor test tracks, including a 3.8km dry handling track, a 2.8km high-speed oval (what a rush!), a 1.8km wet-handling course where we tested the MaxContact MC7’s braking capabilities, a rail-guided braking test track, noise-testing tracks, and more for both subjective and objective measurements.

Testing the MaxContact MC7 tyres on the wet-handling course. (Photo: Continental)

There’s also an indoor ice track that allows testing to continue in the summer season. Additionally, there’s the Automatic Indoor Braking Analyser lab to test the tyres in controlled weather conditions and a new driving simulator that crunches large volumes of data — effectively shortening the testing cycle from three months previously to just 90 minutes today.

Tailored for Asia Pacific drivers

“This product was developed exclusively for the Asia Pacific market,” says Ana Rischbieter, Group Leader for Tire Line Development for Continental Asia Pacific (APAC). “The MC7 gives you maximum control — you feel one with the car — and you have dynamic steering stability, precision, and immediate response from the road. Countries in APAC experience monsoon seasons and rainy weather, so having a shorter braking distance is very important. This is very important for safety,” she adds.

Ana Rischbieter, Group Leader for Tire Line Development for Continental Asia Pacific (APAC). (Photo: Continental)

Building on Continental’s MC6 tyre introduced in 2017, it took a team of 25 engineers and material experts more than 8,000 hours in research & development to develop the new MaxContact MC7 over three years. This involved about 650 tests conducted under various conditions, with the total distance of indoor and outdoor test kms circling the earth 11 times.

The result is an ultra-high-performance tyre enhanced with “Sport+ Technology”, which allows drivers to translate some of the exhilarating thrills and spills that Arnold delivered into everyday driving.

Maximum grip and control

It begins with a unique “Cornering Macro-blocks” and “ReFlex Compound” design and construction that enhances how the tyre grips the road surface, giving the driver maximum control at all times. The former works to maximise the contact area with the road to create a wider footprint and optimise pressure distribution within the tyre for more refined handling and exceptional stability — particularly when negotiating sharp turns at high speed.

The latter, meanwhile, bolsters resistance to tyre deformation for improved steering response and accuracy.

The ultra-high-performance MaxContact MC7 features “Sport+ Technology”, delivering enhanced grip for maximum control and stability. (Photo: Continental)

“Cornering stiffness is very important for the dynamic stability of the tyre,” Rischbieter explains. Just as important is that the MaxContact MC7 also delivers a shorter braking distance for added safety. Then, there are those 3D Laser-cut Sipes embedded in the tyre tread.

It’s a measure of fine detailing you can scarcely discern, but we are told it works wonders to further improve grip and braking in wet and rainy conditions, thus reducing the risk of aquaplaning by quickly expelling water that flows through the tyre grooves.

And then, there’s the sound — or lack thereof. “The APAC market is the most demanding market regarding noise requirements worldwide, and to make a sporty silent tyre is even more demanding,” says Rischbieter.

To this end, the MaxContact MC7, which comes in sizes ranging from 16-inch to 21-inch, features upgraded “Two-in-1 Noise Breaker 3.0” technology that helps break down and disperse sound waves, preventing noise from building up and travelling into the car cabin for a quieter ride.

Shorter braking distances and a quieter ride are also hallmarks of the MaxContact MC7. (Photo: Continental)

Unless you’re a veritable petrolhead, tyres may seem like an afterthought, but as Rischbieter points out, you certainly can’t have one without the other. They’re quintessential to a high-performance car’s performance, and the MaxContact MC7 is precisely for those seeking to push the limits of automotive performance.

This story originally published on The Peak Singapore.

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