Continental ContiSportContact 5 P Review – Contents
I have always known that tyres play a big part in how a car drives and feels. A good set can make a mediocre vehicle feel sharp, while a budget set of tyres can make even an exciting car feel like a total dud. Our 2007 Audi R8 didn’t inspire as much confidence when driving as it should and that was mostly down to its ageing tyres. I decided that they should be the next upgrade to the R8 and that is how I came across the Continental ContiSportContact 5 P.
What Are The Continental ContiSportContact 5 P (R01) Tyres All About?
What makes for a good set of tyres? Is it outright grip or is it excellent feedback? What about some excellent wet-weather performance?
The ideal tyres for a performance car like the Audi R8 should possess all these properties and then some. They should work well on the road, while being decent on the track. The tyres should be reliable when the weather takes a turn for the worse or when you decide to push the car to its limits. Finally, they should also be great everyday tyres that you can use for a reasonable amount of time.
The ContiSportContact 5 P is best described as a high-performance tyre that is very versatile and practical at the same time. They were particularly well-suited for my needs, as we shall soon find out.
In short, these tyres are meant to provide thrills without burning a hole in your pocket or requiring any compromises from day to day.
Our Test Tyre Specs
Continental ContiSportContact 5 P R01 – Produced and fitted 2020.
Front – 235/35/19
Rear – 295/30/19
Tested in the United Kingdom.
Why Are They Well-Suited For Our Audi R8?
As I hinted earlier, I found these tyres especially appealing as they had been specifically made for the Audi R8 when the car was new. It is like a bespoke suit. Audi and Continental worked together to develop this tyre specifically for the R8.
The Continental ContiSportContact 5 P R01 tyres are perfectly suited to our project car, allowing you to wring out every last drop of performance, without needing you to be a professional race car driver. If you have ever bought a perfectly fitted suit, you can relate to how I felt when driving the R8 after these tyres where fitted. The car felt much more sure-footed than before.
The first major difference I experienced was the way in which the car behaved around corners. These tyres were better able to hold their line. They also offered excellent feedback and gave me a precise idea of where the limit was. The previous old and worn tyres were a lot less adept at holding their line as well as offering lower levels of feedback.
I also did some wet weather driving and the car stayed planted. The grip was excellent and the overall dynamics of the vehicle have improved by leaps and bounds. I instantly had a lot more confidence in the car.
The Innovations That Make These Tyres So Good
Tyre compounds have to find the perfect balance between flexibility and rigidity. It can’t be too flexible as the feedback and cornering performance will be poor and it can’t be too rigid either as the tyres will degrade quickly, offer poor grip, and possibly break your back when going over a bump.
These tyres have a combination of special carbon blacks and resins that offer the perfect middle ground between rigidity and flexibility. This is the secret behind the excellent traction they offer.
Another area where these tyres perform really well is in wet conditions. This is achieved through cleverly designed treads. Good wet weather tyres clear a lot of water. This is usually achieved through wider grooves but this design reduces dry weather grip as the total contact surface area is reduced.
What Continental has done with these tyres is quite ingenious. The tread comprises a lot of small blocks that can clear lots of water while having little effect on the total contact surface area. This makes the tyres quite versatile and can be especially handy in variable weather conditions when it isn’t completely wet or completely dry.
The final big innovation is in the form of a new hybrid reinforcing material that was specifically developed for these tyres. Usually, tyres use nylon in the carcass but these tyres feature a blend of aramid and nylon. This improves the structural properties even further. This was apparent when cornering really hard. The tyres were able to maintain their shape and offered a consistent level of performance, while allowing me to drive with greater precision and confidence. Another area that saw a marked improvement was braking stability. Even under hard braking, these tyres don’t deform and all your steering inputs are transferred to the road in a manner that is direct and predictable.
What Have We Changed From?
The Audi R8 we bought for our project came with a mixed set of Michelin Pilot Sport 2’s on the front and Pirrelli P Zero’s on the rear. They all were between five to ten years old, which meant that they were well past their prime. This somewhat dampened the driving experience and I always had the feeling that the car had more to offer.
I am not saying that the Michelins and Pirrellis it came with were bad, but mixing different types of tyres on the car is never a good idea and coupled with their age, this meant that they were the weak link in an otherwise strong package.
Continental ContiSportContact 5 P Testing
Here is a closer look at all the individual properties of the ContiSportContact 5 P that make them perfect for the Audi R8:
One of the defining characteristics of any tyre is the dry grip. Thankfully, these tyres did not let me down. I was able to make a clean getaway and the tyres instantly improved the way the R8 behaved on a dry road.
With the old tyres, there would be a lot of noise while getting off the line but the Conti tyres minimised that. Once the car started moving, things felt a lot better.
Braking from high speeds was particularly good and a marked improvement on my previous experience. They are among the best tyres I have ever driven in this aspect.
The lateral stability was another area where performance visibly improved. Before, I could almost feel the tyres squishing when going round a corner, which made the steering less precise while also affecting my confidence. With these Contact 5 P tyres, the car held its line precisely when cornering.
Another great thing about these tyres is their practicality. They do not have a narrow operating range like many performance tyres, which means that you can use them without trying hard to actively warm them up.
As a whole, the dry grip has improved noticeably without affecting the practicality and it has made what was already an exciting car, even more fun.
Handling Feel Impressions
The best cars aren’t the most expensive or the most powerful but the ones that offer excellent handling feel. Racing drivers describe this by likening the vehicle to an extension of their bodies. All they have to do is react and the car does exactly what they want it to.
While I couldn’t achieve the same feeling, these tyres definitely brought the Audi R8 close. After a couple of hours of driving, I was in tune with the car. I could predict how it would behave after each minute steering input, which made driving effortless. Even when pushing it really hard, I had a new found confidence that did not exist with the previous tyres.
The feedback offered by these tyres is just enough to keep you connected with the road without adversely affecting the ride quality. The Audi R8 still managed to stay comfortable, especially for a sports car.
This is just as useful whether you are on a racetrack or a normal road, ensuring that the vehicle is suited to everyday use as well as retaining the R8’s moniker of a practical sports car.
All the highlights so far were expected. After all, the ContiSportContact 5 P are meant to be high-performance tyres. Generally, when tyres are this good in the dry, they tend to be next to useless in the wet. So, it was with some trepidation that I set off on a rainy day to test the wet-weather capabilities of the ContiSportContact 5 P tyres and they managed to surprise me yet again.
The clever tread design does work as they can clear enough water to keep the tyres stuck to the tarmac. Wet weather braking was way better than I expected as the car was still able to stop from reasonably high-speeds in a controlled manner, without fish-tailing or simply aquaplaning. I would not recommend these for a spirited drive on the track in pouring rain but you can easily drive at normal speeds even when there is standing water on the road.
This has little to do with the performance of the tyres and more to do with their practicality and I only started paying attention to it when I was done with all the other tests and just cruising along.
Granted, you won’t notice the road noise when trying to drive really fast around a corner but it will be noticeable when you are just driving along normally.
Tyre roar, especially on dry roads is more prominent now but thankfully, it isn’t too noisy. The R8’s engine drowns most of the noise out, making the rest bearable. This is a small compromise that is worth making considering all the other benefits that these tyres bring to the table.
Value For Money
Apart from the road noise, the ContiSportContact 5 P R01s are as good as they come when looking for replacement tyres for the R8. As they were specifically designed for the car. You would expect them to come in at a premium price and that is where these tyres will surprise you one last time.
They certainly aren’t very expensive, relative to the performance they deliver. They are quite reasonably priced for a set of tyres specifically meant for a performance car like the Audi R8. It is an investment but worth it and this is one of the best bang-for-your-buck upgrades I was able to do on the Audi R8, as the tyres are the only part that meets the road.
Verdict – Do We Recommend These For The Audi R8?
Generally, upgrades to a used sportscar are mainly meant to restore the car to its former glory. But sometimes, they can actually make it better than it was during its heyday and these latest tyres are the closest I have ever come to accomplishing that feat.
The upgrade makes the R8 better equipped while retaining enough of its practicality to make it an easy car to live with on a daily basis. These tyres are ideal because they were purpose-built for the Audi R8 and just as any suit aficionado will be able to attest to, if given the choice, you should always go for the tailor-made option rather than something generic.
Over the last year or so, I’ve been driving our Audi R8 around with the Continental ContiSportContact 5 P tyres fitted to it. Due to Covid-19, I spent most of my time driving around for pleasure rather than commuting. The various lockdowns we’ve been through in the UK have also restricted the amount of time I could legally be away from home.
During the rest of the year, I managed to cover over 2,500 miles to really put the tyres through their paces. Here’s what I learnt from that time.
6 Months In – 1,000 Miles Complete
The first six months of life with the Continental ContiSportContact 5 P tyres were somewhat hindered by a little thing called lockdown – the first one, during spring 2020. As a result, I only managed to get about 1,000 miles in during this period. However, what driving I managed gave me absolute confidence in the claimed specifications of the tyres.
While living with these, I realised why they’re the OEM tyres for the Audi R8. Everything truly feels more precise, and you can feel the car sitting and riding comfortably. I felt, and continue to feel, much more confident in the car’s handling, especially in the dry.
When linked up with the Audi R8’s four-wheel-drive system, I can honestly describe the Continental ContiSportContact 5 P tyres as virtually faultless. The performance and drive are absolutely exceptional, and I haven’t even been anywhere near pushing the limits of grip. The same goes for braking and acceleration.
It must be said that during this time, I did notice you can spin up the back wheels if you’re not careful. If that happens, though, the four-wheel-drive system on the R8 catches it almost instantly. It certainly made me jump a little the first time it happened, but I’ve since learned to trust the car, and it hasn’t let me down.
Over time, I stopped listening out for road noise from the tyres. You can definitely still hear it, but Continental’s development team has done a fantastic job of minimising the sound as much as possible. It’s certainly no louder than any other notable tyre, and I’ve had no problem with road noise while I’ve been driving around.
The Audi R8 is fitted with a primitive R8 Gen 1 Quattro system. These are commonly known to judder (“Quattro judder”) under tight cornering at slow speeds – for example when you’re parking. It happens due to the nature of the type of differentials used on the car. I noted that when the tyres are cold, and you’re turning at full lock, they jump in line with this judder. There’s no problem at all with the tyres here – it’s just something to watch out for with the Audi R8’s drive system.
All in all, I knew at this point I would be completely happy to recommend these tyres for this car to anyone.
12 Months In – 2,500 Miles Complete
In the next six months of driving this car, winter arrived, giving me the perfect opportunity to test how the Continental ContiSportContact 5 P tyres behaved in the cold and wet.
Although the tyres worked very well in the rain and the cold, I found it was crucial to make sure that the tyres themselves were warm before you try to test any limits. Of course, the same applies to many tyres, but it’s much more important to be aware of when you’re driving something as powerful as the R8. I have spun the rear wheels up in third gear when they’re cold, so it is well-worth being careful.
I tested the grip in temperatures of just about freezing; my comments aren’t a criticism, by any means. These are ultra-high-performance summer tyres, and so I wouldn’t have expected them to make the car behave like an off-roader. Just like any powerful car, you have to be cautious in tricky environments.
To get the most out of the Audi R8 in winter, I would recommend switching your tyres over to a full set of winters (even though, in the UK, we’re often quite lazy with that!). However, the ContiSportContacts’ performance is more than agreeable in winter, and they are safe to run as long as you don’t push the car too much.
The four-wheel-drive Quattro system found on the R8 is biased towards the back, and so I was initially worried that the tyres across the rear axle would wear out quickly. Since I have been using the car for a bit of fun rather than necessarily everyday driving, I was concerned that this would also lead to strange wear patterns or excessive tread loss.
After twelve months, I’ve completed nearly 3,000 miles, and the wear on the tyres is very impressive. Both of the fronts are now on 6.5 mm, and the rears both now read 6 mm. Since the four-wheel-drive system of the R8 is biased towards the rears, these are precisely the sorts of figures I would expect to see. I do not doubt that the advanced four-wheel-drive, ABS, ESP and traction control systems have played a significant part in keeping these tyres healthy.
Visually, the tyres appear to be in excellent condition. The extra-wide rear tyres (295 mm) have allowed me to have a little fun with the car, and, despite all that, the wear isn’t excessive by any means.
So far, I’m delighted with how these tyres are ageing with use.
Track Testing – Dry
I was very excited to have the opportunity to do a little track testing at the Curborough Sprint Course near Lichfield. Although it’s a relatively small sprint circuit, it allowed me to really put the car through its paces. The fact that it’s reasonably short worked in my favour, as I got to see how the R8 behaved in “twisty road”-type scenarios.
To summarise, I can see these tyres working well as both road and track tyres. You wouldn’t necessarily have to swap them every time you switch between everyday driving and flooring it around a sprint course – provided they’re all still in a safe working condition, of course.
Below are my findings.
I can honestly describe my experience at Curborough as an eye-opener. The benefits that the Continental ContiSportContact 5 P tyres provide while on the road is evident, but when you’re on track, the performance increase is so glaringly apparent that it’s like the car is yelling at you for more.
I pushed the car as much as I dared around the track. Without question, it was much more grippy than I ever expected. Of course, part of the responsibility lies with the car, the rest with the tyres, but it was a fantastic insight into what a high-quality set of tyres can do for a car. I was amazed to see how much more speed I could carry through the corners and, subsequently, how quickly it boosted my confidence.
It was also fantastic to feel the car and tyres working in tandem beneath me to literally pull the car’s weight around the bends.
Around the track, braking was noticeably better. Once I had warmed up to what I realised the car was capable of, I felt more and more able to push the braking limits of the R8.
Again, a large amount of this stopping power comes down to the engineers at Audi, but being coupled with the Continental tyres put the cherry on top. The car slowed down quickly when I needed it to, and everything felt intuitive and responsive.
Track Driving Confidence
When the handling and the braking are correctly executed, it boosts my confidence as a driver. The Audi R8 is a powerful beast, and sometimes it can set your adrenaline and nerves skyrocketing. However, with the Continental ContiSportContact 5 P tyres fitted, I felt in control at all times.
At the (relatively) high speeds I was reaching on the track, this was very important. Rather than worrying about how I would be able to react to what might go wrong, the combination of tyres and car inspired me to push it further and further, safe in the knowledge that the vehicle and its systems had my back.
With the Continental ContiSportContact 5 P tyres, the R8 goes from a wild dog – restless and rabid – to a tamed guard dog. It’s docile and tame enough to play with you, but when you let it off its leash? Oh, it’s powerful. It’s precisely the type of thing I love living with.
Track High Speed Control
Even in the corners, I was able to keep up some high speeds, as mentioned earlier. Around the track, I reached speeds well in excess of 70 mph, topping out at approximately 110-120 mph. I haven’t pushed the car any further than this, although the Audi R8 with the Continental ContiSportContact 5 P tyres can comfortably cruise well over 150 mph.
I feel that I pushed it reasonably hard around the circuit, and to think that I barely reached half of what the tyres can safely handle is astonishing.
Coping With Heat And Wear
Even during the on-track testing, I didn’t notice any problems relating to heat or wear. I gave them plenty of abuse through the corners, especially, but there’s no indication of any structural issues, flat spotting or strange wear patterns.
That these tyres can handle being put through such a harrowing experience is a testament to how well they have been designed and produced. Even if you were to go to a track every other weekend, I suspect they would last for a long time.
For more information on ContiSportContact 5 P tyres see Continental’s website.