Review: Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire


Continental will introduce the UltimateContact Winter this fall as a Canadian Tire (CT) exclusive ready for the 2024-25 winter season. The retailer sells around one-fifth of Continental’s tires in Canada and carries two exclusive Conti-branded lines. In March 2024, the UltimateContact all-season succeeded the TrueContact Tour on the racks at CT. Later this year, the UltimateContact Winter will replace the outgoing WinterContact SI Plus.

Related – Review: Continental IceContact XTRM Winter Tire

Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire studio shotContinental UltimateContact Winter Tire studio shot
Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire

Developed in consultation with Canadian Tire over five years, the UltimateContact Winter was designed and tested at Continental’s R&D base in Hannover, Germany, and on the snow and ice of its proving ground in Arvidsjaur, Sweden. Conti says it monitors its products’ performance in the Canadian market and uses that feedback to adapt its test methods.

The German-made newcomer is a non-studded winter tire that is said to perform similarly to the Viking Contact 7, which is available through all of Conti’s sales channels. It’s billed as a step up from the WinterContact SI Plus regarding its grip on ice and in the wet and dry – a nod to Canada’s changing winters – while snow, noise, and wear performance are similar to before. However, the new tire has lower rolling resistance than the SI Plus and carries Conti’s new EV-ready checkmark on the sidewall.

Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire tread and sidewall up closeContinental UltimateContact Winter Tire tread and sidewall up close
Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire. Photo: Graham Heeps
Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire tread up closeContinental UltimateContact Winter Tire tread up close
Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire. Photo: Graham Heeps

Sustainable plant oil in the tread compound (“PolarPlus” technology) helps keep the rubber elastic in very cold conditions. Simulation tools were used to help develop the directional tread pattern, which has trapezoid-shaped shoulder block edges to collect snow and provide traction using snow/snow friction. Ice grip is enhanced when cornering by varying the sipe angles on the centre and intermediate tread blocks, while the shoulder sipes are of varied thicknesses.

Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire on silver car in the snowContinental UltimateContact Winter Tire on silver car in the snow
Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire. Photo: Graham Heeps

Continental is confident in the performance of its new tire, and at the launch event in Quebec, it made back-to-back comparisons available against some key rivals. The first was the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90, which, like the Michelin X-Ice Snow, has been used by engineers for benchmark testing.

Related – Review: Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 Winter Tire

We drove Toyota Corolla LE Hybrid AWDs with the UltimateContact Winter and Blizzak WS90s in size 205/55 R16 on a simulated winding road. We found that the Conti bit well on rough ice, but the Bridgestone needed less ABS intervention to stop on dry pavement. We also felt the Blizzak didn’t wash out as much in turns and changed direction better. However, the pro drivers at the event were quicker around the track using the Conti, so there may be a difference here between ultimate performance and our preferred feel.

Meanwhile, on a FWD Corolla (where no comparison to the Bridgestone was available), the UltimateContact Winter inspired confidence: it stopped well, dug in nicely on curves, and when it did start to wash out, responded quickly to throttle lift-off.

Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire on black Mustang Mach-E on winter snow trackContinental UltimateContact Winter Tire on black Mustang Mach-E on winter snow track
Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire. Photo: Graham Heeps

Our second comparison test involved AWD Ford Mustang Mach-Es fitted with the UltimateContact Winter and Goodyear WinterCommand Ultras in size 225/60 R18. Here, there was a clear difference in performance between the two tires on groomed ice. The Conti had better lateral grip and was less likely to lose rear grip in the slalom, while the Mach-E recovered stability faster when changing direction. Understeer was also reduced in longer turns when driving on the UltimateContact Winter.

The final comparison was on groomed but melting ice against the Michelin X-Ice Snow. The test cars here were Volvo S60 T6R AWDs fitted with tires of size 235/45 R18. In this case it was hard to tell the difference between the two, with very similar performance in the slalom and under braking. We just about preferred the feel of the Conti but both put up a good showing.

Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire close up sidewallContinental UltimateContact Winter Tire close up sidewall
Continental UltimateContact Winter Tire. Photo: Graham Heeps

It’s hard to draw definitive conclusions from a subjective test,, but it’s clear that Continental has taken aim at some of the very best winter tires around, the Blizzak WS90 and X-Ice Snow, and has created a credible rival to both. The UltimateContact Winter will be launched in 26 sizes from 15-inch to 20-inch, all in the XL load range (as per the current tire).

Related – Review: Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Winter Tires

Price is always a factor in any tire-buying decision, and we expect the UltimateContact Winter to be priced competitively against its rivals at a level comparable to the outgoing WinterContact SI Plus. It is also due to be the subject of a CT flyer promotion in October, which could make for a great deal. Here’s our Best Winter Tire Buying Guide if you’re looking for new winter tires.



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