Getting a Grip: How Much Life is Left In This Golf R’s Continental ExtremeContact Sport Tires? [Long-Term Update]

2012 VW Golf R Continental ExtremeContact Sport long-term review
Photo credit: Norman Woo

When you build a project car, one of the most important upgrades you can make are your tires. Good rubber is essential to a proper handling project car. Continental has manufactured tires for nearly 150 years, and we’ve fitted a set of one of their latest creations to our project Golf R. The Continental ExtremeContact Sport ultra-high performance summer tire competes with the all-new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S, the re-engineered Pirelli P Zero, and the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2.

Early last year, Continental provided a set of their new flagship tires for a  long-term test. After more than a year on our project Golf R, how are Continental’s latest ultra-high-performance tires holding up to daily use on Northern California’s roads and highways?

Dynamic Road Control

Ultra-high performance summer tires are one of the best ways to step up your car’s handling prowess. Those four black contact patches are vitally important in keeping the driver connected with the road and communicating where the car’s at on the road, in wet and dry conditions.

From the start, we discovered that the Continental ExtremeContact Sport (ECS) tires are a significant improvement over the ExtremeContact DW tires, which Volkswagen originally fit to the Golf R. Without question, the ECS tires have us seeking out the long road home. Preferably something with some heavy lateral G turns to put a huge smile on our face.

So far we’ve managed to wear off almost half the tread depth after 7,500 miles. In those miles, we spent lots time attacking the tight, curvy roads of NorCal, and a full track day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The ExtremeContact Sport’s road-holding qualities are especially strong under braking. As a result, my confidence levels continue to be outstanding because the tires provide excellent feedback.

This tire responds quickly to steering input and makes the car eager to change directions. It’s easy to feel and hear when the tire is approaching the limits. All of this carries over when the roads get slick with rain, too.

On the down side, the ride is firmer than your standard all-seasons. That’s something you expect from a performance tire, it doesn’t feel harsh. Road noise from the tires is relatively low. The road noise was tested using a sound meter at three-month intervals with no measurable increase of noise over the duration of the test period.

Strong Street Performer

To be clear, the ExtremeContact Sport is not a track-focused tire, but an ultra-high performance street tire that has tenacious grip on dry and wet pavement. As a high-performance street tire, it delivers a proper level of ride quality, comfort, longevity, and low road noise. Characteristics necessary for a tire that you live with every day.

Do Continental ECS tires match the performance of the new Michelin Pilot 4 S? Hard to say, since we haven’t (yet) done a side-by-side comparison. We do know a set of ExtremeContact Sport tires are more affordable than a set of Pilot 4 S tires. A set of Michelins comes in at more than $800 (minus fitting), while ECS tires are closer to $600 for a set.

What’s Inside

The ExtremeContact Sport utilizes Continental’s latest +Silane technology, which is a completely new compound from the outgoing DW. Silica improves wet grip and used by almost every tire manufacturer. The drawback, however, is that increasing the silica content greatly increases tire wear, especially during track use. With high silica content, bonds between the molecules comprising the tire compound are easily broken.

Continental’s patented +Silane technology improves the bond between silica molecules and allows for a higher silica content in the compound to increase both wet and dry performance, without increased wear. Through our testing, we noted this new compound is, subjectively, better in both wet and dry conditions than the DW’s compound.

The internal construction of the ExtremeContact Sport consists of a polyester or rayon cord body casing and two-ply sidewall construction. That adds sidewall stiffness without compromising ride comfort. The casing ply supports two high-tensile steel belts, and two spirally wound polyamide cap plies reinforce the structure for high-speed capability.

Continental ExtremeContact Sport tire test

Words from Continental Tire

“The ExtremeContact Sport has been a huge leap ahead of its predecessor, the ExtremeContact DW. It has been tested by championship-winning race car drivers and driven to the extreme at the AMG Driving Academy and BMW Performance Driving School, and the feedback has been phenomenal. We continue to get consistent feedback on the exceptional dry and wet grip which coupled with the excellent tread life makes it one of the best summer ultra-high performance (UHP) tires in the industry.”

“Over the last year, the ExtremeContact Sport was tested and chosen by Roush Performance as the sole fitment for the special edition, ROUSH P-51 Mustang and has been featured on builds from Petty’s Garage and Lingenfelter Performance Engineering. It’s also the official tire used at the AMG Driving Academy and BMW Performance Driving School. Overall the response from enthusiasts has been great!” – Björn-B. Gläser, Product Manager Performance Tires PLT Americas

The ExtremeContact Sport is backed by Continental’s new “Total Confidence Plan”. This is one of the strongest warranty programs and service contracts in the industry.  Under the plan, this UHP tire has a 60-day customer satisfaction trial (or 2/32” of treadwear) and 12-month road hazard coverage. There’s also a 72-month manufacturer’s limited warranty program. Also included are a 30,000-mile limited mileage warranty and three-year flat tire roadside assistance (or towing up to 150 miles). Continental’s ExtremeContact Sport comes in 71 sizes, ranging from 15  – 20-inch wheel diameters with a W (up to 168 MPH) and Y (up to 186 MPH) speed rating.

Features:

  • SportPlus Technology for enhanced wet grip, precise handling, and improved tread life
  • +Silane tread compound provides strong wet traction
  • Circumferential grooves channel water away from the tire, helping to prevent hydroplaning
  • Wide outside tread blocks enhance grip and handling at high speeds
  • Optimized tire footprint promotes even wear and helps extend tire life
  • Quick view performance indicators alert the driver to the tire’s performance in wet and dry conditions

Ultra-high performance summer tire UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grading) – comparative ratings that measure treadwear, traction, and temperature:

Treadwear Traction Temperature
Continental ExtremeContact Sport 340 AA A
Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S 300 AA A
Pirelli P Zero 220 AA A
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 300 AA A
Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position 280 AA A
Kumho ECSTA PS91 260 AA A
Toyo Proxes T1 Sport 240 AA A

 

Tread Depth at 3,000 miles

Inner Groove Middle Groove Outer Groove
Driver front tire 8/32 8/32 7/32
Passenger front tire 8/32 8/32 7/32
Driver rear tire 10/32 10/32 9/32
Passenger rear tire 9/32 9/32 9/32

Tread Depth at 7,500 miles

Inner Groove Middle Groove Outer Groove
Driver front tire 5/32 5/32 5/32
Passenger front tire 5/32 6/32 6/32
Driver rear tire 6/32 6/32 6/32
Passenger rear tire 5/32 5/32 5/32

VW Golf R Mk6 setup with new Continental tires and Neuspeed wheels Missed our initial report?
Click the link or image to catch up:

CONTINENTAL EXTREMECONTACT SPORT LONG-TERM TIRE TEST: A WORTHY UPGRADE FOR ANY CAR?

CONTINENTAL EXTREMECONTACT SPORT LONG-TERM TIRE TEST 3-MONTH UPDATE

Derek Mau
Before becoming an automotive journalist, Derek was diving into engine bays and wiring car audio systems for competitions since high school. Granted, there were a few extra bits and pieces after reassembling everything but nothing ever fell apart on the road. Today Derek applies his enthusiasm and gearhead knowledge into the latest cars, unraveling today's complex automotive technology, and learning the rich history of classic cars.