In every motorist?s survey I have seen, rain was the number-one worry for drivers. When tires slip, that?s when driver confidence drops off the charts.
To help boost that confidence level, Canadian Tire has taken steps in the past few years to test and rank its tires at an independent facility in Germany.
That testing led them to seek out a new wet performer for their exclusive tire collection, which ranges from their own Motomaster line to name-brand tires sold exclusively at Canadian Tire.
Enter the new Continental TrueContact, which Canadian Tire recently pitted against a Bridgestone Ecopia 422 for head-to-head testing in wet braking, ride comfort and a dry high-speed slalom course.
My concern with the Bridgestone Ecopia as a test rival is that it is an apple to orange comparison. Both the TrueContact and the Ecopia are classed as Grand Touring all-season tires, but the Ecopia is not Bridgestone?s best performer in that category. That would be the Serenity Plus.
The Ecopia is a reduced environmental impact tire, designed for folks who care more about the environment than traction. In fact, Bridgestone is upgrading the Ecopia 422 to improve handling and phasing out the old model.
However, in this test, using identical Audi A4 sedans, the Conti TrueContact was the clear winner over the Ecopia.
In emergency stops on a very wet parking lot at 70 km/h, the Conti stopped an average of 3 metres sooner than the Ecopia ? a significant distance at such a slow speed. At highway speeds, that would translate into several car lengths.
The comfort test was subjective, as we drove over a line of heavy rubber construction mats with large circles cut out of them.
With someone else doing the driving, I placed both feet flat on the floor and both hands flat on the dash to feel what vibrations came through.
The TrueContact tires thumped with each bump but were able to absorb much of the shock. The harder Ecopia tires, which favour fuel conservation over comfort, were noticeably harsher and produced more noise.
The slalom course measured not just the tire?s grip but also how well the sidewalls can physically support a rapid change in load. The sidewall has to go from full compression to full extension without changing the tire?s footprint size.
There was no question the TrueContact had quicker reaction to steering. And it felt better balanced in the quick transitions between right and left. In this test, the many years of Continental?s experience with ultra-high-performance tires came to bear.
So the TrueContact is a worthy addition to the exclusive Canadian Tire club.
The new tire also features the markings S W D in the tread rubber. When the S is worn away, the tire is no longer suitable for snow use. When the W disappears, it has lost most of its wet grip. And when the D is gone, it?s time for new tires.
At Canadian Tire, a P225/50R17 tire for the Audi A4 would cost $188 for the Conti TrueContact. It doesn?t sell Bridgestone tires, but the Ecopia 422 would cost $222 at 1010tire.com (the comparable Serenity Plus costs $209.)
One of the best rain tires available at Canadian Tire is the Pirelli P7 All Season Plus, at $207. Other excellent rain tires include the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3, at $206, and the Continental ProContact, at $266.
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The Toronto Star for Wheels.ca