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 The new tyre from Continental of Germany stands out because of performance standards dedicated to the more demanding small and mid-size vehicles. A sector with forecasts of strong growth throughout Europe.

Alberto Righi

EVOLUTION never stops so now there is a new version of the ContiPremiumContact family with the “Five Family” numbering (in addition to ContiEcoContact 5, ContiSportContact 5 and SportContact 5P). Available since the spring, it comes in a vast range of sizes ready to meet the summer tyre requests of the feistiest vehicles in the small and mid-size segment. 

It made its debut during the meeting held by the German company’s top management on a sunny day in the capital of Catalonia, when various models wound their way along the narrow streets of Barcelona to try the new tyre “on the road” in a more than fitting pre-summer climate. 

Since its first appearance 12 years ago, Continental’s PremiumContact range has undergone over 300 original equipment homologations by car manufacturers in the compact and mid-size segment, which has had the most significant percentage growth in western markets.


An increase in small and mid-size cars 

Marketing projections have clearly identified the tyre sizes on which the sector’s commercial expansion is focused, with an increase in 16 inch diameters in homologation segments with H and V speed ratings – up to 210 km/h and over 240 km/h –  in other words, those mounted on a multitude of compact saloons with sporty characteristics. This is due not only to a recovery in demand but also to the growing numbers of vehicles with ever-increasing levels of performance in the compact and mid-size classes. An analysis of the different geographical areas shows that by 2013 growth should be over 47% in western Europe, but with a downturn in sales of smaller tyres for the increasingly meagre presence of the smallest city cars and economy cars in a lower segment. 

Although differentiated in proportion to the various local markets in the west (more aligned in most of northern and southern Europe, with the exception of France where expansion is expected to peak at up to 59%), the trend in Baltic countries is still restricted to growth in 15” diameters, a segment that is falling off in more developed geographical areas.

According to the company, the most requested size on the continent, Italy included, is still the 205/55 R16 V and the numbers are expected to increase in 2013 by about 2 million tyres/year to a total of 13 million. In second position is the 175/65 R14 T at about 9 million, followed closely by the 195/65 R15 H at 8 million and the 185/60 R14 H, the European demand for which should be 3.8 million by 2013. With the presentation of the new model, the tyre division of the Continental group – 22 production plants and revenues of over 8.8 billion euros in 2011 – intends to consolidate its presence with a continually updated range and top-level performance and reliability. 


From two to five

This was the environment that the ContiPremiumContact 5 entered in the spring with its summer tyre for 14 to 17 inch rims dedicated to vehicles ranging from compacts all the way through to the upper classes. 

The benefits offered by the new series are primarily those of performance on wet and dry roads, good handling, comfort and safety, factors that have been considerably improved compared with the previous series that in any case already had high performance levels. The structure copied from the Hannover-based company’s more sporty models, gives good grip, especially during steering, when the efficiency of the tyre’s particularly wide contact area is maximized in the load-bearing areas of the tyre shoulder. It is here that the generous peripheral blocks give maximum support to the advantage of handling and a feeling of safety, especially in an emergency situation of swerving to avoid an unexpected obstacle. The 3D edges accompanied by transverse grooves in the tread blocks prevent the curling in phenomenon that reduces the contact area. In addition, the numerous additional sipes incorporated into the tread blocks act like windscreen wipers by removing excess water to give rapid drainage and assured braking when the heavy showers that are typical of the summer take us unawares, perhaps when travelling at high speeds. 

Compared with the previous model, braking distances on the wet have been reduced by 15%, without changing tread stiffness, to maintain good conditions for precise driving also on dry roads at different speeds. Flexible shoulders but a reinforced bead is the structural mix that contributes to reducing resistance, which is below 8% with the ContiPremiumContact. Comfort has also been increased by 5% and special “whisper bars” have been incorporated into the tyre shoulders between the individual blocks to absorb the noise generated on the asphalt.

The new ContiPremiumContact 5 series will gradually replace the previous model, ContiPremiumContact 2, and is already being homologated by Audi. It will be available in 26 sizes from 165/65 R14 to 205/55 R 17, with speed ratings from T to W.

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