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.
For more information on ContiSportContact 5 P tyres see Continental’s website.