In 2016, Continental Tyres released two new tyres, the ComfortContact CC6 and the UltraContact UC6, both part of the company’s latest Generation 6 tyre family. These tyres, which are now available in Malaysia, feature various improvements including noise reduction, grip enhancement and comfort improvement, among other things.
In terms of placement, the ComfortContact is an entry-level offering emphasising comfort while the UltraContact UC6 – which introduces a new product line – is aimed at offering enhanced grip and braking performance. It sits in between the CC6 and the mid-range MaxContact rubber.
We sampled both models in China, where Continental engineers and instructors set up specific exercise stations to showcase the abilities of the new tyres.
The stations were based on those found at Continental’s Contidrom test facility in Germany, which features a high-speed 2.8 km oval with specific test sections including a wet braking surface area, an aquaplaning pool, comfort tracks, acoustics tracks and a rim roll-off circle.
The first evaluation station for the ComfortContact CC6 highlighted the tyre’s comfort aspects. The CC6 is said to feature a Whisper Compound technology incorporating polymers with special softeners. These help the tyre adapt better to the roughness of the road surface, reducing the amount of vibration, which also means less tyre noise. The compound also helps make for a higher tread life.
We tried the CC6 on a track with various harsh surfaces. The CC6 was compared to a non-production test tyre which featured a harder compound and a more utilitarian design. Comfort levels were drastic, and easily noticeable. Vibration, especially through the steering, was a lot less with the CC6, and the car felt less bouncy as well.
Tyres normally produce a lot of noise due to the layout of its tread pattern, which is needed to reduce aquaplaning. Continental improved the noise absorption quality on the CC6 with the help of two technologies, called the Harmonic Comfort Chamber and the dB-Eater.
The Harmonic Comfort Chambers are essentially patterns placed on the tyre surface to help cancel out noise by channeling air waves to specific chambers. This is based on the Helmholtz resonance concept. You can also apply the concept of modern exhaust silencer boxes to understand this better.
The dB-Eaters, on the other hand, are specially-designed unique pattern elements that break up the noise waves into smaller waves, much like how wave breakers are used at shorelines to smoothen rough waves in coastal areas.
Just like with the comfort test, we drove a car shod with CC6 along lanes fitted with noise walls (made of wood and tarpaulin) and compared to it to a car fitted with non-production test tyres. The car fitted with CC6 drove along with significantly much less noise bouncing off the walls compared to the baseline example.
With the UltraContact UC6, tests included wet performance and braking. To improve its performance in the wet, the UC6 has features known as Aqua Channels and Aqua Drainage to help improve grip.
The basics of wet grip are simple. When you drive on a wet surface, water tends to sit between the tyre and the road surface, reducing contact, which then reduces grip and increases the chance of aquaplaning. The idea here is to reduce the collection of water to improve performance.
The Aqua Channels help accelerate the water evacuation into the main grooves, while Aqua Drainage elements are placed around the centre of the tyre thread where the risk of aquaplaning is higher. These elements help channel water through a block design that pushes the water into the main grooves, where it can be evacuated efficiently.
Another technology which aims to improve wet performance is the Diamond Edge Pattern. This features a symmetrical sloping edge (chamfered) in the pattern which helps wipe water film away while braking. It works something like a windscreen wiper and it helps improve stopping performance in the wet.
Additionally, this pattern prevents the “rolling-in” effect of the pattern blocks while braking, which improves overall braking performance (wet and dry). During the wet braking test, we were asked to drive along on a wet surface before slamming hard on the brakes, with the UC6 being compared to Mirage MR 199 tyres. The UC6 stopped within 24 metres, while the Mirage came to a halt after 26 metres.
The UC6 also features a self-adapting compound called Diamond Blend, which contains two types of polymers. The first are short-grip polymers, which absorb more energy when the car is going through a corner or under braking. Continental claims that the energy is then transformed into heat, which improves overall grip. The longer-mileage polymers, meanwhile, help ensure better tread life.
We tested the UC6 around a wet circle and felt less understeer compared to the competitor tyre, offering more grip before breaking traction. The UC6 also features Noise Breakers 2.0, technology to help make the tyre quieter.
The Continental ComfortContact CC6 and UltraContact UC6 are currently available in Malaysia, in 13- to 16-inch and 15- to 18-inch size options respectively.