Today was the last day on Continental ContiSportContact 5P's and I've got to say overall I've been happy with them, I can see why they are the OEM fitment for the RS3. The 5P is undoubtedly one of the better performance road tyres on the market.
I've listed the positives, few negatives and the improvements I'm hoping for in the replacements, but more about them tomorrow.
+ Superb grip and traction in the wet and dry. No loss of traction on hard launch in the dry, no scrabbling for grip on corner exit.
+ Progressive when dry. You can tell exactly when you've reached the limit of drip with this tyre and it's easy to recover with a slight lift, or wait for the apex, get on the gas and get the rear to push you out of the corner. The rear is utterly planted when it's dry, you would have to be really aggressive to unstick the rear tyres.
+ Predictable when wet. In the wet the tyres do a little dance as they skim across the surface at the limit of grip. You can feel when it happens and you have a full range of options to deal with it. Grip can be restored easily and without any drama. This allows for a confidence inspiring drive in even the worst wet conditions. Contrary to some reports in the wet the tail will allow a degree or 2 of slip to help you get around the bend.
+ Quiet, for a performance tyre we think they are quiet, little road noise to speak of and we think quieter than Potenza 050A's.
+ Ride quality is good when the family are on board, despite the 35 profile, and yet happy to play the hooligan when the conditions allow.
+ Braking, strong and consistent performance under braking, especially in the wet, which allows you to exploit the RS3's full potential in testing conditions.
+ Excellent winter performance. I decided against winter tyres, they have their merits but I've managed every other year without them on a range of AWD cars. The Conti's were great on snow, you wouldn't know it was snowing, and for the odd icy morning.
- Shoulder wear. Undoubtedly the downfall of the RS3 and 5P combination is the shoulder wear. While the centre of the tyres still had plenty of life the shoulders looked like they were on the way out. Toward the end of the life of the front tyres there was a touch of hesitation on turn in grip in the wet, probably due to this wear.
- Uneven wear. Adjusting the tyre pressures to help the shoulder wear meant uneven wear across the centre of the tyre. It was difficult to find a good all round compromise.
- Extreme wet braking, just occasionally in extreme wet conditions the tyres would lose grip and the ABS kick in a little too early. This is balanced by the incredible level of grip on turn in which meant it was often possible to carry more speed than anticipated through wet corners.
- Braking performance towards end of life. Braking performance drops off dramatically at around the 3mm depth point wet or dry. The RS3 brakes are so good they overwhelm the worn tyres.
- It's a grip tyre. (This is also a massive positive if all you want is grip, which personally I do with a quattro car but in the interests of balance I will mention this point). This is not a tyre designed to be unstuck and playful and that can also be fun at the right times Yokohama A048's allow some crazy slip angles on an Evo in the wet but can still grip like glue too.
What I'm hoping for from the replacements:
- Improved shoulder wear and with that a more consistent feel on turn in.
- Greater confidence and braking in extreme wet conditions. I think the wet is the RS3's forte so I've gone for a tyre that plays to that strength.
- More resistant to understeer but with the same easy to recover progressive nature.
- More even wear across the tyre so the feel is more consistent for the life of the tyre.
The new tyres?
I'll upload a couple of pictures when they are fitted tomorrow and let you know the results over the next few weeks. I've got a few tests (for me, the RS3 and these tyres) including some car control, limit handling and possible a track outing lined up so more about that with video through the year.