From timed autocross laps to drifting on a skid pad and mastering knee-jerk braking and turns on a raceway, dealers, influencers and members of the media were treated to a crash course in performance racing while testing out Continental’s newest UHP summer tire, the ExtremeContact Sport 02.
“We want to show you what the 02 is all about,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for Continental Tire the Americas, as he greeted guests at the BMW Performance Driving School just 30 miles southwest of Palm Springs, California. For 10 years, Continental has partnered with the BMW school, located in the famous Thermal Club, a members-only country club where “instead of a golf course, you have a race track,” said Rob Stout, lea d driving instructor at the school’s Palm Springs location.
Dozens of BMW M3 and M2 models, as well as BMW’s M240xi and Mini Coopers, lined the parking lot for participants to jump in and test drive the ExtremeContact Sport 02 in various conditions. The tire’s grip and responsiveness were showcased in a winding autocross course with timed laps. Participants were able to feel the difference in traction and handling between the 02 and Continental’s UHP all-season tire, the ExtremeContact DWS06 Plus, in a wet and dry handling course. And, drivers were able to test the tire out against a top competitor during a wet/dry lap course, which showcased the tire’s wet and dry braking and grip.
“This tire is bigger, faster and bolder,” said Bjoern Glaeser, product manager for performance tires, when comparing the tire to its predecessor, the ExtremeContact Sport, launched in 2016.
Glaeser said the 02 sits between the DWS06 Plus and the ExtremeContact Force, Continental’s summer track tire for competition use. The 02 is a “trackable” tire for enthusiasts who enjoy the occasional track day or fun weekend ride in their sports car. Taking three years to develop, the tire was tested at the BMW Performance Driving School, Continental’s Uvalde tracks, and others in Europe. During tests, Glaeser said his team’s main objective was to improve the tire’s responsiveness for performance drivers.
That was evident on the day at the track. After pushing the tires to the limits on various courses, professional drivers from the BMW Performance Driving School pushed them even harder, whipping them around the curves of the autocross track, creating a spectacle and blowing up smoke and dust in their paths. Crumbs of rubber sprinkled the track after the hot laps.
“Our main focus was to get this tire nimbler and faster on a dry handling track because that’s ultimately the No. 1 criteria that enthusiasts care about,” he said. “That enhanced grip really helps you get faster. One second doesn’t seem like a whole lot…but it’s actually quite a bit… With one second faster, you’re going to be 100 feet ahead of that person behind you.”
The ExtremeContact Sport 02 carries similar tread design elements- such as an asymmetrical tread design, star-shaped siping, and large shoulder blocks– as its predecessor yet features increased wet and dry handling and braking, Glaeser said. It has a stiffer outer shoulder that can better carry the weight of a vehicle while cornering, leading to more responsiveness. Larger 3D siping on the tire’s shoulder and ribs provide better water evacuation and biting edges for grip. Ideal for both the street and track, the 02 is also built with Continental’s SportPlus compounding technology, which helps extend the tire’s tread life while providing grip on wet roads and more precise steering.
In addition, the tire features Tuned Performance Indicators on its first rib with markings of “D,” which stands for dry, and “W,” which stands for wet. At around 4/32nds of tread depth, the “W” on the tread wears off, indicating that the tire won’t perform its best in wet conditions. The “D” wears off at 2/32nds of tread, telling the driver that they need their tires replaced. Glaeser said the performance indicator can be used as a selling point for the dealers, as it’s an easy way for customers to know when they need new tires.
In comparing the tire with Tier 1 competitors on the market, Glaeser pointed out that while the ExtremeContact Sport 02 is on par in performance, it stands out in the package it offers. The tire not only comes with a 30,000-mile warranty but is also covered by Continental’s Total Confidence Plan, which includes road hazard coverage, flat tire roadside assistance, a 60-day customer satisfaction trial and emergency trip interruption coverage that covers mechanical breakdowns during a road trip.
“For those of you that sell tires, there might be a lot of good tires in this segment, but what we try to offer is outstanding value for the package we deliver,” Glaeser said. “For customers, they essentially get the same performance and a better package with a warranty for the amount they pay. This is how we believe we deliver value to you.”
Glaeser said that compared to its predecessor, the ExtremeContact Sport 02 has eight new sizes, for a total size lineup of 77 sizes ranging from 15-21-in. rim diameters. About 90% of sizes are available now with additional sizes coming in February 2023.
Ideal fitments for the tire are enthusiast vehicles, such as the BMW M3, new Porsches, Audis and other performance vehicles. Glaeser said Continental enhanced the lineup for the 02 to cover car clubs in North America, notably covering 98% of BMW Club fitments, 97% of Audi Club fitments and 91% of Porsche Club fitments.
“If you look at an enthusiast base for what the 77 sizes cover, that’s really what we wanted to cater to. If any of you want to chase car clubs with this product, you can confidently know that you’re basically going to fit almost everything…It has been chosen by a bunch of you guys– people in the country that are top tuners and top driving schools– that really take their cars to the limits.”