Continental ExtremeContact DW Review

Continental ExtremeContact DW Review

  • Dry 90%
  • Wet 90%
  • Comfort 85%
  • Noise 90%
  • Treadwear 80%
  • Overall 87%
This 2018 Continental ExtremeContact DW review came by accident. My friend spent two weeks searching for a used luxury car after selling his old truck. It runs out his cousin from across the border was keen on selling his 2016 BMW 5-series. But there’s a catch: it’s a diesel.
To be specific, it was a 2016 BMW 535d with the magnificent 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six diesel mill connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The car was fitted with stock 18-inch wheels and Continental all-season tires that badly needs replacement. My friend asked me about the BMW diesel and I told him not to worry about the paltry 255 horsepower output of the diesel. What he should focus on is the 413 pound-feet of torque at only 1,500 rpm. I told him this is enough to rival the torque output of a petrol V8.

After negotiating the price, we drove over across the border to give the car a visit. True to form, it was pristine and well-maintained except for the balding Continental tires. We took the car for a short test drive and proceeded to buy a set of summer tires. The tire shop recommended the Continental ExtremeContact DW tires. After about an hour or so, we drove back home.

After inspecting every crucial aspect of the car, we changed the oil and planned a long test drive. Like I said, it was also an opportunity to put the Continental ExtremeContact DW tires through its paces.

Continental ExtremeContact DW Review: Features

Unlike other summer tires, the Continental ExtremeContact DW was developed to provide brilliant summer performance without penalizing wear and ride comfort. The tire features an asymmetric tread design with a continuous and outboard notched intermediate rib and chamfered tread blocks. This design is optimized to enhance handling, stability, responsiveness, and steering feel. It also comes with continuous center ribs to maintain consistent contact with the road. It even comes with a high void-to-tread ratio and open lateral grooves to prevent hydroplaning on wet roads.

The Continental ExtremeContact DW also comes with unique Tuned Performance Indicators. You will notice the letters D and W molded into the second rib from the outboard shoulder. This will show you the performance level of the tire. If you see the D and W markings it seems the tire has enough tread depth to perform well on dry and wet roads. If the W marking fades away, the tire should only be used on dry conditions.

Continental ExtremeContact DW Review: Test Drive

If you have never driven a diesel-powered sedan, you are missing a lot. The rush of torque is simply mind-boggling as our test vehicle accelerated like a tuned sports car. The increasingly warm weather and the relentless rush of torque from our diesel Bimmer was the perfect match to our brand new set of Continental ExtremeContact DW rubber.

Dry Traction

The truth of the matter is the BMW 5-Series is not exactly the car to buy if you desire pinpoint handling, especially with a large and heavy diesel lump in the front. But performance in the dry is admirable since the car can be tossed all day with nary a complaint from the ExtremeContact DW tires. Braking was strong and consistent as the tires never skipped a beat even when pushed hard.

Wet Traction

Driving over wet roads was not a major concern for the Continental ExtremeContact DW tires. Traction and grip remained consistent over wet highways and braking was pretty decent given the dreary road conditions. You’ll have to be a fool to coax the tires to lose traction in the wet unless you apply abrupt steering and throttle inputs. But driven normally, the tires felt stable and reassuring in the wet. This is high praise for a summer tire.

Snow Traction

The Continental ExtremeContact DW tires are not designed to be used over snowy or icy roads. We will not include this criteria in our scoring system.

Comfort

The BMW 5-Series excels in terms of highway comfort. It doesn’t float or wallow like a Cadillac but the taut ride filters out any form of harshness to create a luxurious driving atmosphere. The Continental ExtremeContact DW tires were presumably better than the stock run-flats as it allowed the suspension to settle down on smooth highways. The tires also remained comfortable even when assaulted by jarring potholes.

Noise

Perhaps more impressive for a summer tire is the low levels of tire roar. Traditional summer tires were extremely sticky when properly warmed up, but road noise and comfort takes a back seat over handling and responsiveness. However, the Continental ExtremeContact DW is different. It sticks like glue over dry roads but it remained hushed even when pushed to higher speeds. You will only hear a slight intrusion of tire roar as the speedometer approaches triple digits.

Treadwear

The Continental ExtremeContact DW tires fitted to our test vehicle were as fresh as a daisy. We were not expecting longer wear compared to proper set of touring tires but the guys at the tire center informed us of the Continental Total Confidence Plan which includes flat tire road assistance, 12-months limited warranty, and 90,000-mile tread wearout coverage. Not a bad deal considering each tire only costs around $170 each.

Conclusion

It is safe to say the Continental ExtremeContact DW tires were the perfect set of summer tires for my friend’s BMW 535d. It offered tons of traction and grip on both dry and wet roads but remained comfortable and quiet enough on the drive home. These are not the cheapest summer tires you can buy, but you get what you pay for in terms of brilliant wet and dry performance.

This tire is available in:

Sports cars/coupes/sporting sedans, 16” to 19”, Ultra-high performance, Summer

Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 Review

Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 Review

The Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 is a high-performance summer tire that is applicable to drivers of sporting coupes and fast sedans. This tire is also a popular upgrade over the usual touring or all-season tire.

If you have a nice compact and you want to upgrade to larger wheels and tires for sportier handling, the Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 is also a good choice, mainly due to the low price.

The Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 belongs to the fast-rising popular brands of cheap and affordable tires. How cheap? An 18-inch Nankang NS-20 starts at under $75, where other brands can command prices upwards of $120 each for a comparable high-performance summer tire. This means you can buy a complete set of 18-inch Nankang NS-20 tires for less than $350 to $400. You can expect to pay more if your vehicle is equipped with smaller 16” or 15” wheels.

In my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong in buying a cheaper set of tires for your car, unless your car is modified for racing or track applications. But if you are looking for the best possible wet and dry performance along with durability and longer wear, you are barking at the wrong tree.

This doesn’t mean that cheap tires like Nankang are flimsy, unreliable, or offer mediocre wear characteristics. But the primary reason why Bridgestone, Michelin, Continental, and Goodyear tires are so expensive is the fact that their tires offer a better overall balance of traction and grip with low noise and longer wear characteristics, not to mention better driving comfort.

In this Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 review, we will put this high-performance tire to the test to see if it offers better value for money than other cheap tires in the market.

Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 Review: Features

According to Nankang, the Noble Sport NS-20 is engineered for performance enthusiasts who want a set of tires that can improve highway stability and handling without compromising traction and ride comfort. The tire is equipped with a solid continuous center rib that improves handling and high-speed stability. It is also equipped with four large circumferential grooves to further improve handling and steering response on slippery wet roads.

The Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 is also equipped with a sporty directional tread pattern to further enhance traction and grip on wet pavement. The wide-sectioned and notched shoulder blocks are designed to enhance cornering stability and grip for a sportier and more responsive driving experience.

Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 Review: Test Drive

My test vehicle for this review of the Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 was supposed to be a Scion FR-S equipped with larger and wider 18-inch wheels. However, the car suffered a blown rear tire and the gorgeous rims were lightly damaged in the process.

The incident was caused by the wider wheels that stretched the NS-20 tires a bit further than expected. The owner of the FR-S also owns a 2013 Scion xB wagon fitted with aftermarket 17-inch wheels and the same Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 tires. He gave me the keys to his daily driver so I can begin my test drive.

Dry Traction

My test vehicle was riding on lowering springs and wider wheels to achieve a gorgeous stance. This also tells me the car is not exactly suited for the sporty of aggressive type of driver.

My test vehicle, however, was the perfect epitome of cool. The tires felt competitive on dry roads as the tires provided excellent feedback to the steering wheel.

Braking, acceleration, and cornering is also good despite the presence of loose sand and dirt on an empty stretch of road.

However, the car felt a bit nervous at higher speeds. You can feel the tires hunting for more grip as you push the car faster.

Wet Traction

I spent half of an entire day driving on wet roads. I wasn’t expecting the tires to perform admirably on extremely wet roads, and I was right.

The tires felt a bit unsettled if you try to push your vehicle at higher speeds on a wet highway. Braking and cornering were also a bit compromised in the wet.

But if you drive at low or average speeds, the tires are more than adequate for the task. I was expecting better performance in the wet since the NS-20 is an ultra-high performance tire, but who am I to complain for a set of tires that starts at around $70 each?

Snow Traction

I didn’t get the chance to drive in the snow, but the owner of my test vehicle prohibited me for doing so. He told me the tires are not designed to handle light snow or winter driving as proven by his experience during the winter holidays.

It was noting drastic, but the tires had a difficult time searching for some much need traction on a mild snowy road.

Comfort

The comfort levels of the Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 is higher than average, and that’s a good thing. Even though my vehicle is fitted with stiffer lowering springs, I can fell the tires were doing their best in soaking up road imperfections without upsetting the composure and steering feel of the vehicle.

Noise

Cheap tires have a common complaint: excessive road noise. It’s the same with the Nankang Noble Sport NS-20.

The tires will emit a louder roar as you push the throttle and gain higher speeds, but the tires were able to silence themselves at low to average speeds.

Treadwear

The Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 tires fitted to my test vehicle were bought more than 5 months ago but the treads were aging gracefully. There were noticeable signs of wear on the face of the tread but I didn’t find any cuts, damage, cupping, or uneven treadwear.

Conclusion

If you want to upgrade from a conservative set of touring tires to a sportier set of high-performance tires, why not give the Nankang Noble Sport NS-20 a try? The tires are good for everyday driving and that’s that matters in the real world, right?

Hankook Ventus RS4 Review

Hankook Ventus RS4 Review

  • Dry 80%
  • Wet 85%
  • Comfort 70%
  • Noise 70%
  • Treadwear 70%
  • Overall 75%
You only need to take one look at the Hankook Ventus RS4 to discern the tire means serious business. The Ventus RS4 is the successor to the defunct Ventus RS3, but it improves on the strengths of its predecessor while adding more of that aggressive style.

In this review of the Hankook Ventus RS4, I was lucky enough to obtain a 2013 Ford Focus ST as my test vehicle. The car was fitted with aftermarket 18-inch wheels wrapped in a relatively new set of Hankook Ventus RS4 tires.

But it was not your run-of-the-mill Focus ST. The engine was fitted with a larger turbo and intercooler to produce around 300 horsepower. The suspension was upgraded to street-spec coilover suspension for a better and more comfortable ride compared to full-spec racing coilovers. The car is mostly driven in the street, but the owner partakes in weekend track sessions with his buddies as well as long cross-border trips.

I asked him why he considered the Hankook Ventus RS4 tires over other brands, and he was quick to point out two factors: the style and the price. The Ventus RS4 is certainly far from being cheap, but it delivers incredible value considering the looks and performance of the tire. Starting at around $130 each, it is way less than what you would pay for a Bridgestone or Michelin summer tire.

Hankook Ventus RS4 Review: Features

The most prominent feature of the Hankook Ventus RS4 is the wider center block. This helps the tire to maintain a steady grip on the road while also improving the steering response of the vehicle. The main groove is equipped with a pair of wider channels to quickly dissipate water and prevent hydroplaning on soaking wet pavement.

The directional treads are designed using variable groove angle technology to optimize the block stiffness of the tire. The Ventus RS4 also benefits from stiffer shoulder blocks to further enhance the steering response while improving cornering grip as well.

The Hankook Ventus RS4 is constructed using a new carbon black and silica racing compound to increase the overall stiffness of the carcass while improving traction and grip on wet pavement. The tire is equipped with a pair of wider steel belts and a dual layer joint-less nylon full cover to optimize durability and vehicle handling.

Hankook Ventus RS4 Review: Test Drive

My test car came fitted with a six-speed manual. It’s been a while since I drove a manual-equipped car, much less a Ford Focus ST. I was excited to get on the road because I was curious to find out the effects of the engine mods to the overall performance and drivability of my test car.

Dry Traction

As I found out, the effects were immensely intoxicating. The larger turbo spooled faster as the car accelerated hard from a standing stop. It is hard to compare the Hankook Ventus RS4 with an ordinary set of all-season tires in terms of dry traction. It was simply superior!

The added horsepower of the motor was a perfect match to the traction and grip of the tires.

The steering also felt more stable and more precise as I was able to position the nose of the car perfectly as I attacked a winding corner.

Braking was also a fuss-free affair since the tires were able to stop the car confidently without much fuss or drama. The car felt composed, and the tires seem they were asking for more. It felt that the tires can stand up to bigger and better engine mods. They were that good in the dry.

Wet Traction

I got the chance to drive on wet patches of smooth concrete on my way to the test track. I didn’t get the chance to push it, but the Hankook Ventus RS4 had acceptable levels of traction and grip on wet roads. I slowed down whenever the tires encountered deep water puddles since I felt the tires were not up to the task of dealing with such nuances.

Snow Traction

Um, no. I didn’t get the chance to drive the car in the snow, but I wasn’t looking forward to doing it either. The Hankook Ventus RS4 is a summer tire designed for extreme driving, but that’s about it. This tire was not designed to be driven on snow. Frankly, so was my test car.

Comfort

The street-spec coilovers gave my test car a more civilized ride, but it was still a bit too firm for the daily drive. In fact, if you’re the type of person who has never experienced driving a car fitted with stiff coilovers, you will probably be annoyed by the stiff and bumpy ride. The tires didn’t help in this regard either.

Noise

The road noise of the Hankook Ventus RS4 is not that bad to be quite honest, but it’s not the most refined either. Credit goes to the European levels of refinement of the Ford Focus ST, but the tires are not what you call silent by any means. You will hear the tires roar on the highway, and you will feel them whispering at slow speeds as well. These are not the set of tires to consider if you are looking for ride silence and refinement.

Treadwear

The Hankook Ventus RS4 tires fitted to my test car were approximately 3 months old with a mileage of around 3,000 or so miles. The tires already had signs of wear on the treads. But considering the extreme nature and power of my test vehicle, I guess this is not bad.

Conclusion

The Hankook Ventus RS4 is a good choice for an extreme performance summer tire. It offers the highest levels of dry grip at the lowest possible price. If you are searching for an affordable set of summer tires, the Ventus RS4 should be on top of your list.

Falken Ziex ZE329 Review

Falken Ziex ZE329 Review

  • Dry 80%
  • Wet 70%
  • Snow 60%
  • Comfort 70%
  • Noise 60%
  • Treadwear 70%
  • Overall 75%

For those of you who wish to be updated on the latest lineup of Falken all-season tires, it is only fitting to say that the Falken Ziex ZE329 was replaced by the new and much better Ziex ZE950. The new tire was updated by Falken to deliver better wet and dry performance and to address major complaint against the embattled Falken Ziex ZE329: mediocre tread wear.

You can read more about the new Falken Ziex ZE950 in this review.

However, if you want to find out more about the Falken Ziex ZE329, this review is right for you.

I was lucky to obtain a 2008 Mazda 3 sedan fitted with stock wheels and 15-inch Falken Ziex ZE329 tires. The owner of the Mazda 3 is thinking about upgrading to a bigger set of wheels and better tires. He told me that the Falken’s had average performance when new, but good quality of the tires soon began to fade quickly as the tires got older and more on that later.

In this Falken Ziex ZE329 review, I was able to discern while Falken saw it proper to replace this tire with the Ziex ZE950, which is many times better in all aspects while remaining in the same price range.

The Falken Ziex ZE329 is an all-season high-performance tire designed for compacts, midsize sedans, and sporty crossovers. It is available in 15” to 18” diameters and comes with a 60,000-mile limited warranty.

Falken Ziex ZE329 review: Features

The Falken Ziex ZE329 is manufactured utilizing a softer tread compound to deliver maximum traction on both wet and dry road conditions. The tire is equipped with five circumferential grooves with a non-directional symmetric design.

The tire is engineered with multiple lateral grooves that help improve traction and grip on wet and snowy roads. The Falken Ziex ZE329 is also equipped with a rim protector to shield the lips of your precious wheels from scratches and curb damage.

Since this tire has a symmetric non-directional tread, you can rotate the tires in multiple ways to improve the tread life and prevent uneven wear.

Falken Ziex ZE329 review: Test Drive

I prefer the zippy handling of the Mazda 3 to the pretentious feel of other compacts like the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic. In fact, I used to own a similar Mazda 3 sedan before I sold it less than two years ago. Let’s see how the Falken Ziex ZE329 performs in my test car.

Dry Traction

The Falken Ziex ZE329 tires on my Mazda test car were approximately 6 months old. The owner told me that the handling was a bit better when the tires were new, but everything changed as the tires began to wear rapidly.

Traction and grip was average in my book, although I felt the tires could do better. I felt the rear of the car slide a bit when I attacked a sweeping corner at speed, and the tires seemed to hunt for traction as I accelerated hard when I exited the corner. The steering also felt funny which is uncharacteristic for a Mazda 3. You still feel in control, but it seems that the tires had a mind of their own as it grasped for dear life every time I pushed hard on the accelerator.

Wet Traction

Traction in the wet was also acceptable, and that’s saying it a bit kindly. I didn’t want to speed up on wet roads since the car felt it was losing its composure upon reaching 70 mph or upwards.

I am perfectly aware that it is irresponsible to speed up on a damp public highway, but I really wanted to know if the Falken Ziex ZE329 can handle wet roads with minimal fuss or drama. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

For an all-season high-performance tire, the Falken Ziex ZE329 should perform better on wet pavement. Braking on wet roads also meant you have to say a short prayer since the tires struggled to bring the Mazda 3 to a full stop from average speed.

Snow Traction

The snow performance of the Falken Ziex ZE329 can only be described as negligible. As long as you drive straight ahead at slow speeds, you can maintain an acceptable degree of control even if the roads are covered in snow or ice. Applying a bit more throttle will cause the tires to hunt for traction and grip, which only gets worst if you are abrupt with the steering inputs.

Comfort

I know that the Mazda 3 is a comfortable car. Yes, the suspension is a bit stiff to be quite honest, but it manages to deliver a comfortable ride on the freeway.

However, it seems the Falken Ziex ZE329 managed to turn the stiff ride into something that is a bit ponderous than the norm. There was a lot of body movement at speed. City driving was also a bit raucous since the tires would hump and thump at the slightest provocation on bad roads.

Noise

The Falken Ziex ZE329 performed poorly in terms of road noise. There were perceivable amounts of tire roar at any speed, save for the occasional crawl in heavy traffic. Highway driving proved to be a bit irritating as the tires literally screamed on harsh concrete.

Treadwear

I talked to the owner of the Mazda 3 about the wear characteristics of the Falken Ziex ZE329. He told me the tires were wearing out faster than he expected, but he was actually looking forward to replacing the tires with a better set of all-season rubber.

The tread wear is one of the biggest complaints about the Falken Ziex ZE329. After having tested the Falken Ziex ZE950 (which happens to be the unofficial replacement for the Ziex ZE329), I was thankful Falken addressed the issue of accelerated wear and tear on the Ziex ZE329.

Conclusion

I wasn’t surprised that the Falken Ziex ZE329 got a very low score in this review.The tires made my test car felt like an older and less-refined vehicle from the early 1990s.

However, I am thankful that Falken managed to address all bad things about this tire by releasing the Falken Ziex ZE950.

Falken Azenis RT615K+ Review

Falken Azenis RT615K+ Review

  • Dry 90%
  • Wet 80%
  • Comfort 75%
  • Noise 70%
  • Treadwear 70%
  • Overall 79%

What is the better way to test and review the Falken Azenis RT615k+ than doing that in a proper V8 muscle car! In my case, I was given the privilege to test drive a 2013 Ford Mustang GT with the Coyote 5.0-liter V8 motor. My test car was fitted with 18-inch racing wheels and the Falken Azenis RT615k tires.

Not all tires can boast of extreme performance and still remain affordable for the average buyer. Depending on the specs, the Falken Azenis RT615K+ is a bit more reasonable compared to similar offerings like the Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R or the Michelin Pilot Super Sport. It’s now what you call cheap, but it’s good to know it still undercuts the competition in terms of price.

Another thing about the Falken Azenis RT615K+ is the gorgeous and aggressive asymmetric tread design. This tire definitely has the looks, and it did make my test car look a bit more muscular on the track. This tire can boast of racing-bred performance since it is based on the winning formula of the RT615K competition tire.

The ‘+’ is important since the Falken Azenis RT615K+ utilizes a digitally-engineered nanotech tread compound to deliver extreme levels of grip on both the street and the race track. In other words, it is an extreme performance summer tire that manages to retain a certain level of refinement on normal roads.

Falken Azenis RT615K+ Review: Features

The nanotech tread compound utilized in the Falken Azenis RT615K+ is engineered to improve tread flexibility while reducing heat to deliver relentless performance on dry pavement. The asymmetric design features massive side shoulder blocks that provide high levels of grip and adhesion to drastically improve the cornering prowess of your ride.

This tire is also equipped with a solid center rib that purportedly reduces wheel spin under hard acceleration. This feature is designed to minimize the contact-patch void ratio of the tire under extreme duress. This results in faster acceleration and better lap times.

The Falken Azenis RT615K+ is constructed using a high-tension carcass to improve durability, handling, and high-speed stability on all types of roads.

Falken Azenis RT615K+ Review: Test Drive

I drove the Mustang for a couple of hot laps. I also got the chance to drive on normal roads. Let’s see how the Falken Azenis RT615K+ performs under a variety of road surfaces.

Dry Traction

Similar to other extreme performance tires, the Falken Azen is RT615K+ will need to be warmed up properly before expecting the promise of competition-levels of grip. Once the tires are warm, traction and grip are at the highest level. The tires felt like they were glued to the road, and you can tell it by how the steering feels as I navigated around the track.

It literally took a heavy stab at the gas pedal and a bit of Scandinavian flick to provoke the Mustang to perform a smoky donut. The tires were that sticky. The steering even felt heftier at low speeds. In my opinion, the Falken Azenis RT615K+ is a real track weapon for extreme cars.

Wet Traction

The rain started to drizzle by the early afternoon. I took the Mustang for a spin to determine the wet performance of the Falken Azenis RT615K+. The advanced levels of traction and grip were still there, but the car felt a bit looser this time. I guess it would take the nerves of steel of a racing driver to fully exploit the capabilities of the Azenis RT615K+ on a wet track. I wasn’t brave enough to unleash all the450-plus horsepower of my test car on a greasy surface so I took it out for a drive on normal roads.

Even as the highway was soaked in rain, the tires remained calm and composed with no hints of hydroplaning. I did feel the rear tires break traction as I stabbed the gas pedal to overtake a slow vehicle ahead, but it was nothing too worrying to make me feel that I was losing control.

Snow Traction

The Falken Azenis RT615K+ is not designed to be used on the snow or in cold weather. If you want a Falken tire that can handle a bit of snow, you should be looking at the Azenis FK450 A/S. I will not include the snow performance in the final score of this review.

Comfort

My test car was fitted with aftermarket coilover suspension that is designed for the track. With that in mind, I didn’t expect the car to be as comfortable as it was riding on the stock suspension. It’s the same story when I took the car out on normal roads. The ride was stiff but it wasn’t too bad for me to puke my guts out. Regardless of the case, comfort is not one of the strong points of the Falken Azenis RT615K+.

Noise

Since the Falken Azenis RT615K+ were designed for maximum adhesion to the road, you can expect a higher level of tire roar compared to a comparable high-performance or a touring tire, and I’m being kind here. It suffices to say that if you want your tires to be silent as you drive, the Falken Azenis RT615K+ is not for you.

Treadwear

Since the level of adhesion is top notch, it is also foolish to expect the Falken Azenis RT615K+ tires to have admirable wear characteristics. The Azenis RT615K+ tires on my Mustang were purchased a week ago for a special track event. Unfortunately, the fun run was canceled due to bad weather. The car was used for as a daily driver for a week before my test drive, which was scheduled on the same day as the actual event. During that time, the tires already had visible signs of wear.

Conclusion

I’m not surprised at the low score of the Falken Azenis RT615K+ in terms of noise, comfort, and tread wear. The tires will unveil their true talents on the track or on a deserted piece of dry tarmac. During that time, you will find yourself grinning from ear to ear since the dry traction was simply top notch.