Continental SportContact 7 vs Michelin Pilot Sport 4S

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Both the Continental SportContact 7 and the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S are tire giants, known for delivering top-notch performance on the road. But which one will reign supreme and be the right fit for your vehicle? Let’s find out!

Michelin Pilot Sport 4s

Both tires have their pros and cons. The SportContact 7 offers impressive handling and braking capabilities, both in wet and dry conditions, promising a solid performance and control throughout your drive. Conversely, the Pilot Sport 4S takes the lead in aspects related to comfort and efficiency, delivering better noise dampening and superior fuel economy, alongside a noteworthy resistance to aquaplaning, enhancing safety during wet drives. Your choice would essentially depend on whether you prioritize handling and braking prowess with the SportContact 7 or opt for a quieter, more comfortable and fuel-efficient ride with the Pilot Sport 4S.

Tread Design

Both tires here offer very minimalist design. But let’s start with the Continental SportContact 7.

Continental SportContact 7
Continental SportContact 7

So this tire with the asymmetric tread design offers 5 ribs in total.

Where the central 3 ribs make 4 longitudinal channels of various widths. I mean if you consider the image, you’d note that, out of these grooves, the left most is the narrowest.

Anyways, these ribs are all continuous running, meaning there is a secondary rubber layer underneath them. This allows for enhanced directional grip on dry roads.

Moreover, they are equipped with cuts/sipes of various designs and angles, which offers wet traction with that too.

Moving towards the shoulders, they are very aggressive, and again are placed on continuous running ribs.

These cuts are actually in groove notches which brings out epic lateral g forces.

Michelin Pilot Sport 4S on the other side is slightly less aggressive.

Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
Michelin Pilot Sport 4S

I mean sure, it has a few common features compared to its counterpart, like its having an asymmetric tread design and it’s 3 central ribs make similar circumferential grooves, but consider the shoulders.

See how the cuts on them aren’t that biting?

That’s why it makes sense why the tire isn’t able to outperform SportContact 7 when it comes to dry handling.

Though the tire offers epic braking efficacy no doubt and that is thanks to its more simplistic structure of the central ribs.

Mostly the central most rib, where there are hardly any tread features.

The surrounding ribs though have lateral and slanted cuts on them, needed for wet traction.

Fuel Consumption

Fuel efficiency, tire’s rolling ease (rolling resistance), and grip on the road are all connected. When one of these factors increases, the other two usually do as well.

Because of this, even though the Continental has better grip on dry surfaces, it doesn’t do as well in terms of fuel efficiency.

The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, on the other hand, has a smoother or should I say, more streamlined lug design which lets it roll more easily compared to its counterpart.

Moreover, the tire is also a bit lighter and has a smaller tread depth on average across all sizes.

This lighter weight means the tire doesn’t press down as hard on the road, and the smaller tread depth means the lugs don’t get to move around as much, which usually uses up more energy, making it less efficient in terms of fuel consumption.

Performance on Wet Surfaces

On wet roads, you need to clear off water ASAP, so the rubber could grip the surface properly, otherwise, the tire would start to float over watery surface, which is by definition, hydroplaning.

Basically most of the water is let out with grooves, and these help prevent hydroplaning by removing water on a larger scale, and sipes, which are tiny slits in the tire, take care of the remaining water, allowing the tire to keep a grip on the drier parts of the road.

Now both tires do great in these areas.

Though if we dig a little deeper, the Continental SportContact 7 performs slightly better overall, particularly when it comes to gripping the road in wet conditions and handling.

This is because it has more sipes that pull in water particles, making the road surface a bit drier for the other parts of the tire to grip onto.

The Michelin Pilot 4S, however, performs better in hydroplaning tests, showing higher speeds in both straight and curved water tests.

Road Noise Levels

Noise is one of the main part of overall ride comfort.

And the primary offender here are the air particles that find their way into the tire mainly through the shoulder voids. And these air particles then hit the walls around, and the impact of that is what creates noise.

Now, according to my comprehensive testing, it seems both boys exhibit similar noise levels, (measured in decibels). But you should know that both have different noise dampening mechanisms.

In case of the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, the design is more geared towards preventing noise generation at its source. Meaning the tire features more compact tread voids on the shoulders, which restricts the number of air particles that can enter in the initial phase.

So you can say, this tire offers a preventative measure comparatively.

While the Continental SportContact 7 deals with noise by employing an advanced variable pitch technology, which alters the tread geometry in a way, that air particles hitting it could generate varying tones.

This basically doesn’t allow the sound waves to sync and amplify, keeping noise levels at bay.

Dry Traction

To fully grasp the dry performance characteristics of these tires, 2 things should be judged, directional grip and lateral traction.

Directional Grip

In the tire industry, the term “dry grip” refers to a tire’s adherence to of course dry, and straight roads, also known as directional grip.

This property is most pronounced on highways where the tire predominantly moves straight, exerting the most pressure on the central part of the tread.

So this means how well the contact is made form there is more significant.

Having said that, it makes sense why the Continental SportContact 7 gets to be better, showing up with shorter braking distances (on average, on tests), where it offers greater rubber to road contact form its middle.

Comparatively, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S trails slightly due to its slightly larger tread voids (in the middle), yet it’s important to emphasize that this difference is relatively minimal.

Dry Handling

Analyzing the dry handling of these tires necessitates a focus on the lateral or sideways traction, particularly during cornering. This aspect hinges heavily on the shoulders, which get to have the most weight pressure (on turns, due to inertia).

Now out of both tires, the Continental SportContact 7 has a slight edge.

Not only it features a better rubber to road contact form its lugs (there), but the connection is also more stable, as its overall rubber compound is stiffer, relatively.

So you get to have a better balance between under and oversteering, and with it superior steering feedback and faster handling times (as seen on tested laps).

Tread Life

To gauge the potential lifespan of a tire’s tread, one must consider factors like rolling resistance, the composition of the tread, and its depth.

Now with stiffer rubber, it would be harder to burn the rubber down, and if there’s more tread depth, it would take longer to wear down to the minimum allowable depth of 2/32″ (the legal limit in the USA).

In this aspect, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S takes a commendable lead, offering a sturdier contact with the road, and showcasing a rubber composition less susceptible to rapid wear.

Conversely, the Continental shows a higher propensity for lug bending, primarily due to the lateral notches in its ribs making the tread more flexible and thus prone to bending as detailed in the fuel consumption section.

This flexibility generates heat, consequently accelerating tread wear, and potentially reducing the overall lifespan of the tire.

To Conclude

In conclusion, when comparing both, it becomes apparent that both tires have their unique strengths and slight drawbacks across various categories.

The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S shines in the area of fuel efficiency due to its streamlined lug design and lighter weight.

Additionally, it has a notable edge in hydroplaning resistance during wet surface tests and showcases a longer tread lifespan owing to its sturdier rubber composition.

On the other hand, the Continental SportContact 7 outperforms in wet surface gripping and handling due to an increased number of sipes that effectively disperse water particles, and in dry conditions, offering superior grip and handling, especially evident in its directional grip and handling tests.

Moreover, the tire also employs an innovative approach to noise reduction, utilizing advanced variable pitch technology to minimize sound levels effectively.

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