Given the parameter shifts in the performance of modern car tyres in recent years, you could be forgiven for assuming that there is little room for further improvement. And yet, the WinterContact TS 870 and WinterContact TS 870 P from Continental, prove the very opposite: There is still scope for quantum leaps in tyre technology.
The successor to the WinterContact TS 860, much acclaimed by the trade press, follows in its tracks by combining outstanding winter performance with excellent wet-weather properties, while also presenting compelling environmental credentials – such as a further reduction in rolling resistance and an increase in mileage. That said, the WinterContact TS 870 is an all-new product, newly developed from the ground up in terms of its construction, tread pattern design and compound. The outcome is a tyre that, in a direct comparison, delivers three percent shorter braking distances on ice and five percent better handling on snow.
The new WinterContact TS 870 also offers improvements in grip on snow, wet-weather properties and handling on dry roads. Given the conflicting objectives with which the development engineers are regularly confronted, in terms of safety-relevant properties versus environmental performance, the progress made in both areas is impressive: A ten percent increase in mileage is accompanied by a two percent reduction in rolling resistance.
As a result, this new arrival again presents an exceptionally balanced performance across all disciplines that drivers have long since come to expect of winter tyres from Continental. Added grip on snow is ensured by newly developed 3D interlocking sipes, set at the best possible angle to engage with the snow. As the tread blocks dig deeper into the snow, they can interlock with it more effectively to deliver extra grip. Additional safety is provided by deep sipes, arranged parallel to the diagonal grooves. These sipes present a large number of edges, enabling the dynamic forces to be transferred more effectively and delivering good straight-line and cornering grip on snow-covered roads.
For the developers, one of the benefits of this design was that it creates larger snow pockets in the tread. These fill up with snow and ensure even better grip. In simple terms, the best grip on snow is delivered not by adhesion between the contact patch and the snow-covered road, but by adhesion between snow and snow. The snow gets into the tread grooves where it is compacted. This compacted snow in the tyres then interlocks with the snow on the road. The better the tread grooves retain the compacted snow, the better the grip. This is where Continental employs SnowCurve+ technology. Tyres with this technology feature a special groove wall structure that interlocks with the compacted snow at more than 1,000 points in the tread. This delivers greater grip and makes for better transmission of braking forces – particularly when cornering.
To further reduce braking distances on slippery winter roads, Continental has increased the number of tread blocks in the contact patch of the WinterContact TS 870 by as much as ten percent. The edges and sipes in these blocks act like windshield wipers, dispersing snowmelt fast and ensuring good grip on icy surfaces.
The WinterContact TS 870 features the V-shaped tread pattern, adopted by many tyre manufacturers. One striking innovation here, however, is that the main V-shaped grooves run towards a wavy centre groove running around the tyre, giving Continental’s new winter specialist a very different look from most of its competitors. But that’s not all. Through a combination of Hydro Grooves and the centre groove, the developers have achieved even faster water displacement when driving in the rain. This provides more effective protection against aquaplaning and delivers a further improvement in braking performance on wet roads. Another factor that helps achieve short braking distances is the newly developed tread compound which, as in the previous model, goes by the name of Cool Chili. With its blend of special resins, this ensures better grip and shorter braking distances in the wet.
The secret behind the tyre’s enhanced environmental properties lies, above all, in the polymer compound. The optimised crosslink density makes for greater flexibility, improving the quality of the contact between the tyre and the road. This reduces abrasion and increases the tyre’s mileage. At the same time, the Cool Chili compound reduces its rolling resistance, cutting fuel consumption and thus also CO2 emissions.
The WinterContact TS 870 was developed for models like the VW up!, the VW Golf and the Citroën C4. Higher-priced models too, including the BMW 1 Series and 3 Series, will drive safely through the cold season on this new winter tyre from Continental. The product range initially comprises of 21 sizes for 14 to 17-inch rims with aspect ratios from 45 to 65 and in widths from 175 to 225 millimetres – some with a rim protection rib and/or XL marking indicating higher load-carrying capacity. Next year, Continental will be adding further sizes to the range. These tyres are approved for speeds of up to 149mph.
Continental will be gradually introducing the WinterContact TS 870 P as the successor to the TS 850 P. As with its “little brother”, for the WinterContact TS 870 P Continental employs an enhanced Cool Chili compound and uses Hydro Grooves. To deliver added safety for drivers who fit wider tyres, the developers have chosen to move away from the conventional V-shaped tread. Instead, in the WinterContact TS 870 P, Continental has settled on a stiffer construction with four large circumferential grooves running between the rows of tread blocks. This innovative tread structure, which is very different from its predecessor, offers major advantages – particularly in the wet. It displaces the water from the contact patch very quickly, resulting in better handling, shorter braking distances and effective protection against aquaplaning.
Compared to the tyre’s proven predecessor, the developers have delivered a four percent improvement in wet braking and an eight percent improvement in aquaplaning properties − without compromising its performance in other respects. Improvements of five percent in braking on ice, six percent in dry handling, and six percent in handling on snow deserves a special mention. This new Continental winter tyre also presents compelling environmental credentials: A two percent reduction in rolling resistance goes hand-in-hand with a 16 percent increase in mileage.
The product range initially comprises of 53 passenger car and SUV sizes for 16 to 21 inch rims with aspect ratios from 35 to 65 and in widths from 205 to 255 millimetres – many with a rim protection rib and/or XL marking indicating higher load-carrying capacity – and with approvals for speeds of up to 168mph. That makes the WinterContact TS 870 P the ideal solution when fitting new tyres to sedans, SUVs and sports cars like the Audi TT. The tyre’s stiff construction also makes it an excellent choice for heavier models with electric drive.