When it comes to purchasing a new set of tires, some people don’t pay too much attention to what they’re getting. This mainly happens in the touring department, where car owners go for “it’s a tire, and it rolls” and get the first set they lay their eyes on. Even though I’m not here to talk about touring tires, this approach is wrong.
Each tire has a unique set of features that determine how it behaves on the road, something that is more pronounced in performance-oriented tires. Grip, traction, and handling are only a handful of the aspects you should look for in a tire that you want to get the most out of.
Today’s comparison will cover two ultra-high performance all-season tires from two of the best tire manufacturers on the market. We’ll be looking and testing the Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 and the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+. You’re probably wondering why I chose these older models, right?
Both tires are still widely available at retailers, and they are roughly the same age. Continental released the DWS 06 in 2015, and the A/S 3+ came out a year later. It’s a fair comparison, and it’s worth seeing how they perform.
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With the UHP badge aside, the ExtremeContact DWS 06 is an all-season tire, so to achieve that, Continental utilized a special rubber compound. The main feature surrounding the rubber is the addition of +Silane and silica that should help the tire with traction over colder surfaces. In addition to that, the mixture is also designed to help the tire with longevity as much as possible.
The DWS 06 is the successor to the original DWS, but Continental already had a good tread design, so you won’t see massive changes. As part of the design, there are plenty of sipes aimed at improving traction over wet surfaces.
For the harsher conditions, the ExtremeContact DWS 06 features 3 circumferential and plenty of angled grooves. The goal of this design is to enable the tire to evacuate water as efficiently as possible. As a result, you should be getting a tire with excellent aquaplaning resistance and stability at higher speeds when driving over water.
The wet performance is backed by the Traction Grooves combined with the X-Sipes. They are designed to improve traction on damp roads but should also help with traction in snowy conditions.
Continental’s previous model, the original DWS, is a decent tire, but the biggest drawback was that it was too soft for a UHP tire. The main problem was the sidewall which had plenty of flex in the corners, something you don’t want in a tire designed to be pushed hard. To remedy that, the DWS 06 is designed with a sturdier sidewall which should result in a 35% stiffer sidewall.
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+
The Pilot Sport A/S 3+ is a UHP all-season tire, like the previous one, meaning that the set of features should generally be similar.
On the rubber compound side of things, Michelin went with its Helio+ Technology to give the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ the performance it needs. The main part of it is the use of the Extreme Silica Technology that features sunflower oil to ” soften” up the compound. This approach should lead to a tire that will remain pliable in wet and winter conditions and remains capable of delivering performance.
The tread pattern always plays a vital role in the performance a tire can deliver, and this one is no exception. Michelin went with an asymmetric pattern for the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ that should help up the promises in terms of performance. As part of the pattern are the stiffer outer shoulders aimed at improving handling and grip in the corners.
While the rubber compound backs wet performance, the sipes along the tread pattern are also there to help. Their goal is to improve the traction on damp surfaces and keep the tire performing optimally. The traditional 4 circumferential grooves design, along with the lateral ones, is there to help the tire in situations where there’s plenty of water on the road, improving aquaplaning resistance.
Longevity and handling are backed by the tire’s internal construction. Michelin built the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ with double tensile steel cords wrapped with polyamide. The result of this construction should be a lighter but sturdy tire that shouldn’t disappoint in terms of handling without sacrificing comfort.
To be honest, I was a bit excited when I got the memo that I’d need to test these two tires. Both are advertised as the best that the manufacturers have to offer, and I have to say, they are closer than I thought. Keep in mind that these aren’t the latest additions to both manufacturers’ lineups, so it was interesting to see how the “older” tires compared.
How do they perform in dry conditions?
When you look at the performance both tires have to offer, you should keep in mind that they aren’t the latest and greatest. Being the last generation’s tires, I have to say that they are pretty good performers.
As for the performance comparison, I’m not sure if Michelin resorted to witchcraft, but it designed an excellent tire for dry performance. In all honesty, this isn’t something you’ll experience on the road, so let’s start with that.
If you go to the supermarket for groceries or do a normal drive around town, both tires will be more than enough for the task. In these conditions, the ExtremeContact DWS 06 and the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ can offer more than enough grip and traction levels, so most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
When you push both tires hard on a twisty road or on a track, you’ll begin to notice some differences. When you start to reach the limits, you’ll notice that the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ holds on to the road a bit better. There is more grip in the corners, and on a well-warm tire, it produces slightly less slip in an aggressive acceleration scenario.
I wouldn’t categorize the ExtremeContact DWS 06 as a bad tire just because it’s a bit behind the Pilot Sport A/S 3+. The grip and traction levels are very good for a UHP all-season tire, and they can satisfy the enthusiast. For the hard-core ones, the Michelin option may be better, but on the other hand, there are much better summer performers out there.
On the absolute limit, something you’ll experience on a track, the Michelin is noticeably the better tire. Once it gets up to temperature, which it doesn’t take much, it can offer more than the ExtremeContact DWS 06. When I say a noticeable difference, I mean more than just a few tenths of second faster lap times, which is a significant difference.
How do they perform on wet roads?
Continental is a manufacturer known for making excellent wet performers, and as a result, the difference isn’t as massive. While there may be some situations where the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ may be ahead of the ExtremeContact DWS 06, we’re talking about marginal differences.
Let’s start off with normal driving around town or on the highway, something that both tires are more than up for the challenge. The Pilot Sport A/S 3+ and the ExtremeContact DWS 06 have no issues putting the power down and delivering more than enough grip and traction for your daily grocery pickup trips.
The differences are so small that the tires perform very similarly even when pusher harder on a twisty road. Near the limit, they are very balanced and have no issues getting thrown into a corner at higher speeds, and this is where it gets interesting. The Pilot Sport A/S 3+ has just a hair better grip in the corners, but the ExtremeContact DWS 06 is more confidence-inspiring, pushing you to take a corner at a slightly higher speed.
Wet braking distances is an area where the difference is more noticeable. The ExtremeContact DWS 06 stops at a shorter distance than the Pilot Sport A/S 3+. This doesn’t make the Michelin tire a poor performer, but it makes the Continental one a bit better.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have the aquaplaning resistance, an area where Continental needs to improve a bit. Michelin’s Pilot Sport A/S 3+ has excellent stability when driving over water patches, whether in a straight line or a corner. The ExtremeContact DWS 06 has average aquaplaning resistance, so it’s not like you’ll lose control whenever you drive over a puddle. Still, for this class, the performance is a little above average.
Can they be used on snow?
Both tires are all-season ones, meaning that there should be some snow performance available, but not one that can be compared with a proper winter tire. With that in mind, both tires deliver as much as you can guess, enough for lighter conditions, and that’s about it.
Putting both tires side by side reveals a bit of mixed results. On the traction side of things, the ExtremeContact DWS 06 can deliver a bit more, meaning less slip when accelerating. This advantage continues in the braking distances, where the Continental tire stops at slightly shorter distances when compared to the Pilot Sport A/S 3+.
When you’re near the limit, which isn’t particularly high for these tires, even though the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ is slightly behind in raw performance, the tire feels a bit more controllable. It’s not like with the ExtremeContact DWS 06, you’ll struggle too much, but the Michelin one needs less to get it going where you want to.
Ice is not something that either of them is good at, so you can expect poor results. For these conditions, a studded tire would be the best option.
Are they good in the handling department?
One of the main attributes of a UHP tire is the handling, and in this category, the ExtremeContact DWS 06 and the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ perform very well.
Both tires have a very responsive nature and a positive steering feel. Continental has come a long way from the previous DWS model, which wasn’t the best in this regard and the ExtremeContact DWS 06 finally caught up with the Michelin models. Despite that, the responsiveness is still a bit behind the French tire.
On top of the responsive nature, there is plenty of feedback through the steering wheel, and the more you turn it, the more information you get. In dry conditions, the Michelin is a bit better and feels more race-like than the Continental one. Wet is where the ExtremeContact DWS 06 improves and evens out with the Pilot Sport A/S 3+.
How well-refined are the tires for everyday driving?
You wouldn’t get performance tires for comfort and low noise levels, but you’d still need to drive them on the road occasionally, and even though they are acceptable, touring tires are a much better option.
In terms of comfort, I’d have to say that the Continental offers a slightly softer ride. The previous model was a bit harsher, and there is a noticeable improvement. There isn’t such a harsh jolt when you hit a pothole, and some of the vibrations are eliminated. On the other hand, the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ is noticeably harsher, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering its handling characteristics.
Noise levels are closer, and you will hear both tires. They aren’t particularly quiet tires, and even at lower speeds, you will hear a hum from them. On the highway, the ExtremeContact DWS 06 is a bit noisier than the Pilot Sport A/S 3+.
Do any of them offer a warranty?
There is a pattern of these tires being close, and the same goes for the warranty. Even though the Continental tire is slightly ahead, the Michelin isn’t terrible in this regard.
The ExtremeContact DWS 06 comes with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty which is pretty good considering it’s a performance tire. For the Pilot Sport A/S 3+, you get 5,000 miles less, which comes very close to what some touring tires have.
How do they compare in terms of price?
In the premium segment, Continental is a brand known for offering slightly more affordable tires, and the same “rule” applies to this one.
For the smaller 17-inch sizes, the difference between the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ and the ExtremeContact DWS 06 is around $20-30, while for the larger ones, it can reach almost $50.
Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 Pros and Cons
– Slightly more affordable
– Deals with bumps a bit better
– Very stable when driving on damp roads
– Dry performance is slightly behind the Michelin
– Aquaplaning resistance isn’t the best in class
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ Pros and Cons
– Better handling characteristics
– Higher levels of grip and traction in dry conditions
– Easier to control at the limit in snowy conditions
– A bit more expensive
– The ride quality is harsher
Which of the two is a better option?
Considering how close in performance these tires are, it’s a bit difficult to declare a winner. There are situations where the ExtremeContact DWS 06 is better, but there are also conditions where the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ is the one to get.
For cases where you need a daily driver that can deliver excellent performance, I’d recommend the ExtremeContact DWS 06. It is a bit softer, so the ride quality won’t be extremely harsh, and you also get a slightly longer warranty at a lower price. The performance is there, and even though it’s a bit behind the Michelin, you aren’t losing too much.
On the other hand, for better performance, you should look at the Pilot Sport A/S 3+. The tire is more expensive and has a slightly less warranty, but you get more traction and grip, especially in dry conditions, from a tire that handles marvelously. With that said, you will have to accept the harsher ride.