To show the capabilities of the Continental MaxContact MC6 under sportier driving conditions, Continental Tyres booked the South Paddock at Sepang International Circuit for the day and invited the media to experience the MC6 and its predecessor the MC5 over a series of exercises culminating in a few rounds of a section of the former F1 circuit. This is a first impression of the MC6 from the day at the track.
For the lane change exercise, we were in the Mercedes-Benz C200. The instructions were, bring the car up to 70 kilometres per hour over a distance of 300m. At a pre-marked point, without braking, veer sharply to the right as though avoiding an obstacle, before decelerating then turning the car around to repeat. We did the lane change manoeuvre twice in a C200 fitted with MC5, followed by twice in another C200 fitted with MC6.
Next was the slalom: zig-zag between a line of cones laid out over a stretch of 100m before U-turning to come straight back to stop in a demarcated box. We would be timed and 5 seconds would be added for every cone toppled. This exercise was done in the Mercedes GLA200 SUV. There was a practice drive through followed by a second timed run. The purpose of these manoeuvres was to show the difference the new asymmetric rib geometry and stabiliser bars in one of the outer gutters make to maintaining steering precision, and the increased amount of grip exerted when cornering. In a vehicle with a higher centre of gravity like an SUV, any traction loss would be more noticeable.
Finally, we did braking exercises on wet tarmac lined with traffic cones over a distance of 100m which was to demonstrate the improved stopping distance of the MC6 over the MC5. First two rounds in a BMW 330e fitted with the MC5 then into another 330e to repeat the run, again twice, with MC6 tyres. We had to get up to 70 kilometres per hour as we approached the wet road then slam on the brakes as our shoulder drew level with the first cone, to bring the car to a dead stop.
The exercises showed significant handling differences between the two generations of MaxContact tyres. In the lane change manoeuvres and slalom, with the MC6 tyres, the new stiffer tyre compound and X-treme force ply material resulted in less weight shift from the abrupt directional change. This made retaining steering control easier. With the MC5s there had also been a feeling that the rear tyres were losing their grip just before the car straightened out. The MC6 felt more stable with perceptibly less sway at the aft
The BMW fitted with the MC6 came to a dead halt in 71.09 metres the first round and just over 73 metres the second. With the MC5 it had taken just over 90 metres both times. The 20 metre improvement speak for themselves.
Finally, laps of the south circuit, covering turns eight to fourteen and the straight then back around around again, three times in total, in the GLA200. The front-wheel drive SUV is probably not anyone’s idea of ideal for high speed(-ish) driving on a former F1 track but its unlikeliness for track driving was a good way to showcase the adaptability of the tyres to exceptional situations – responsiveness to quick changes in direction, road holding when sharp cornering at turn nine, relatively low noise above 140 kilometres per hour and when going over the track-aggregate roughened kerbs.
As demonstrated on the GLA200, MaxContact MC6 can be used on SUVs. They can also be used on 4WDs as long as you’re not going off-road with them. Most of the sizes in the range are stamped with XL making them suitable for heavier weight vehicles and able to manage the higher tyre pressures these cars run on because they have reinforced sidewalls. If you’re considering fitting MC6 tyres on your 4WD, the higher silica content which gives the tyres their superior adhesion on the road and quietness, would also mean they wear down faster from the increased weight, compared to regular tyres.