As the big brother to the near flawless Continental WinterContact TS860, the new Continental WinterContact TS860 S builds on the success of arguably the best current performance winter tyre on the market, the Continental WinterContact TS850P.
While the WinterContact 850P is still proving to be highly successful in testing, Continental believe they have found a better blend of winter tyre performances for sporty powerful cars. By adjusting the balance between dry, wet and snow performance, Continental believe the new TS860 S is the optimum tyre for high performance vehicles like BMW M, Mercedes AMG and Porsche.
One key area they’ve improved on, which is critical for any tyre intended for sports cars, is the dry handling. Thanks largely to sipes, the hundreds of thin cuts on a winter tyres tread pattern which make the tyre effective in snow and ice, winter tyres can feel slow to steer and imprecise on sports cars, especially in the dry. This can lead to many drivers feeling disappointed with how their car feels on winter tyres.
To combat this, Continental have created larger outer shoulder blocks, as found on sporty summer tyres. This large block pattern really help stiffen the tyres shoulder and improve steering precision at speed.
Other new technologies include a new tread pattern to help with snow performance, and a central braking rib with self-closing sipes to ensure the best dry and wet braking performance possible, all exceptionally important for the UKs winters.
So what’s the new tyre like to drive on? Sadly my own experience is currently limited, but I did have the chance to put the tyre through some snow testing at Continentals test centre in Arvidsjaur, Northern Finland.
On a mix of snow types, the new tyre performed incredibly. Testing using a FWD Mini Countryman, RWD BMW 440i and a 4WD Audi S4 Estate, each car performed predictably and impressively on the deep snow.
Unlike the WinterContact TS850P which covered 16" and above wheel sizes, the new WinterContact 860 S starts at 18", with the smaller TS860 being made up to 17". The new tyre is also available in SSR (runflat), ContiSeal and ContiSilent variants.
The 2018 UHP winter tyre tests due out in October will be interesting to read, and I fully expect the new Continental WinterContact TS860 S to be back at the top. If I feel the need to fit a set of performance winter tyres this season to the Tyre Reviews BMW M3, it will most likely be these.