The term "all-season" sounds weak. Tires described this way are perceived to be of poor quality and lack true performance. We don't blame the haters, either; the reason all-season tires were created in the first place was for the North American market, where drivers don't always change rubber when winter or summer rolls around. Maybe we're on a budget and can't afford the extra set, maybe we wouldn't have space to store the second set for six months, or perhaps we're just too damn lazy or don't care. In many parts of Europe, it's actually the law for people to switch to winter tires during the cold months or you'll be fined. Imagine that here! But you have to ask yourself this: what is the single most important thing on your car that will benefit your safety on the road? You guessed it - those four black rings that connect your vehicle to the pavement. While in Southern California we can get away with our stickier summer compounds year-round, the rest of the country needs 12 months of performance, whether it's in the dry, wet or even snow. Enter the Continental Tire ExtremeContact DWS06.
DWS simply stands for "dry, wet, snow." The original model launched in 2009 and we have to admit, it was already a solid performing tire when we first evaluated them at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The new DWS06 (06 is just a number to show the newer model) is basically the same great all-season, but better in all categories - dry, wet and snow traction, plus tread life and noise.
With three years of development, the W and Y rated rubbers feature a few upgrades to give it a better scorecard. Integrated X-sipes in the tread allow for better winter performance while traction grooves prevent snow from building up. A sport sidewall insert has been added to improve steering response in all conditions. The two-ply sidewall is also 35 percent stiffer than the previous model, which allows it to be stronger against impact - you don't have to stress quite as much when you ram into a bump or pothole. The DWS06 is also a little dummy proof in case you don't know how to see if the life of the tire is gone or not. There are indicators showing if it's still 100 percent effective in the snow, wet and dry, plus there are new indicators to show if the car is aligned properly to allow for proper tread life.
With all that said, we had to test whether what Conti was telling us was a bunch of BS or not, so we made a trip to their test facility in Uvalde, Texas. First, we have to say that we were quite impressed already with the enormous facility. It's just not just a simple test track but a playground of courses to assess everything from top speed, off road, wet handling, bumps and potholes, and much more. The only thing they're unable to emulate is snow, but I'm sure they'll figure out a way soon.
We arrived with our helmets in hand and heavy right feet. We're not one to really test the comfort, noise level and tread wear but more wanted to see how far we could push the tires without crashing and never being invited back again. What we did to these tires was unspeakable, though. You would be amazed how far the dry and wet traction performs for an affordable all-season as we piloted a handful of BMW M235is, Mustangs, Mini Coopers and Audi A4s.
In the dry, we wouldn't necessarily take these tires to set our new lap record, but it was surprising to see how aggressive we could drive them while still giving us back confidence and keeping our car well planted on the ground. In the wet is where the tire really starts to shine though. With a layer of standing water, we were driving at levels similar to how we'd be driving in the dry! It's a bit scary to think, but yes, you could push the DWS06 that far while still remaining in control.
99.9 percent of everyday drivers wouldn't abuse an all-season like we did. But we're here to inform you how well these babies are engineered. Grip is important whether you're racing or simply driving home from work one day. It's not the best tire if you head to the track every weekend (no all-season will be), but if you live in an area that experiences a lot of rain, maybe some snow and a good share of sunny days, the DWS06 will give you a better chance of keeping you safe 12 months out of the year while also giving you the opportunities to have some fun as well.
The Continental ExtremeContact DWS06 will come in 87 sizes, from 16 to 22-inch diameters.