Tyre Reviews: SP Sport Maxx TT, ContiSportContact 3 & Pilot Sport 3

18 comments

Continental CSC3 vs. Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT vs. Michelin Pilot Sport 3 (PS3)

Choosing tyres in Singapore can be a taxing issue. Car owners have different tyre preferences and various tyre retailers will tell a completely different story about the same tyre.

To give you an example, recently there has been a rumour going around that Thailand-made Michelin PS3’s are better than those higher-priced PS3’s made in Europe. This is with the logic that they are supposedly made for the tropical climate of Singapore.

My reply to that is……. Seriously?

Without being explicit on how I feel about all the proverbial ‘smoke’ that has been going around, I will be as objective as I can when comparing these 3 tyres. As such, I will be focusing mainly on objective comparisons such as ratings, tread design, build quality, rubber softness, side wall stiffness, and calling upon other credible sources such as international reviews.

Summary:

Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT

Pros:

– Very solid side walls that cater to driving enthusiasts who desire fast response and a solid braking feel
– Uses a soft rubber compound to give a high level of grip especially when warm
– MFS technology enables it to be driven a distance even on a flat tyre
– Great value for performance

Cons:

– Due to the softer compound used, the wear rate is less than that of its competitors
– Less comfortable and louder than the rest due to harder side walls

Recommended for: The driving enthusiast who loves to drive and values response

Michelin Pilot Sport 3

Pros:

– Performs well despite soft side wall, very comfortable
– Wet weather performance is above the rest
– Surprisingly good steering feel when using slightly higher tyre pressures due to hard compound rubber
– High wear rating (320) allowing it to run for longer distances than its competitors due to harder rubber compound
– Lighter than the rest, thus paying dividends in fuel consumption, car handling, braking and acceleration

Cons:

– Soft side walls do not make it ideal for track work also when experiencing a puncture they get damaged quickly when driving on.
– Relatively costly

Recommended for: Drivers who prefers a comfortable ride with sporting overtones and drivers that prioritize safe handling on wet roads

Continental CSC3

Pros:

– Balanced tyre and quiet tyre, soft on the move (if you like softness)
– Very Comfortable

Cons:

– Can be vague in terms of steering and under hard braking, this is probably due to the medium side wall hardness and medium soft compound.
– The worst tyre for track work and enthusiastic driving (unless you’re only going in a straight line)
– Relatively expensive

Recommended for: Drivers who want a bit of this and that with no specific affinity towards a particular direction (my mum likes it on her Mercedes kind of explains everything…-.-)

Let me commence on the comparison of the individual components.

View references for Links to international reviews the end of the article.

Tyre size compared: 225/45/17

Tyre Ratings:

Continental CSC3: 91Y, wear rating: 280 Traction: AA Temperature A

Michelin PS3: 91Y wear rating: 320 Traction: AA Temperature A

Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT: 91W wear rating: 240 Traction: AA Temperature A

Break down of rating comparison: Load rating of 91 means that each tyre can carry 615kg. More than sufficient for a car using 225/45/17.

Speed rating of W means the tyre is rated for 270 kmph

Speed rating of Y means the tyre is rated for 300 kmph

For these ratings, we can see that all 3 tyres are suitable for all cars in Singapore on 225/45/17’s.-> If you use 225/45/17 on an unmodified car that can exceeds 270kmph, do let me know and I’ll treat you to a can of beer. Do take a picture of your ride and send it to me as well 😉

Although we can see that the wear rating of the Dunlop is less than that of the other 2 tyres, wear ratings are relatively subjective. For those who know about Bridgestone, they would know that the RE 050A has a wear rating of only 140 (they are used predominantly on BMWs in SG).

How fast the tyre wears depends on the weight of the car. A tyre with a tread wear rate of 280 can last 4 years on a 1 ton Toyota Vios but probably only 1.5 to 2 years on a 1.8 ton Estima (again also depending on driving style).

Tread design:

Tread design is a very crucial factor when it comes to tyres. Tyres corner on the outer surface of the tyre due to the car leaning outwards when turning into the corner from centrifugal forces dictated by the physics of our universe.

Thus for tyres to corner well they rely on the contact patch on the outside. Tyres that corner well thus have larger outer patches. This aids in cornering on 2 fronts.

1. The larger the patch, the greater the contact area.

2. The larger the patch, the more stable the “block” as the block squirms less when pressure is applied on it. *

* I do know that rubber compound is a factor but let’s get to that later.

Thus one would think “Why don’t they make tyres with huge solid outside blocks?” Well, to answer that, that is why drag cars or go karts tyres have no tread. HOWEVER, these tyres are extremely ineffective on wet roads therefore accidents are bound to occur.

Hence tyres require a good balance between large blocks and sufficient drainage channels for water.

For these 3 tyres they have sufficiently large drainage areas.

Here are the pictures for the tread design of the tyres:

Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT

– Note the large cornering blocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelin Pilot Sport 3

– Narrow but long cornering blocks

– Note the huge water drainage channels compared to the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 Continental CSC3

– Traditional performance design as compared to the other tyres

Conclusion on Tread Design: The 3 tread designs are unique. Michelin has the most unique tread design not seen in any other tyre brand. Its large narrow side walls seem unorthodox in design; strangely they defy expectations and allow the tyre to corner rather well. For the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT, its tread design is similar to the new Continental 5P and Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2. The Continental’s tread design is very conventional and conservative in fact (more on this conservativeness later). All 3 tyres have sufficiently large channels to evacuate water, Michelin leading the pack; this is why in international reviews, Michelin PS3 is a strong wet weather performer. On initial impression the large tread block design of the Dunlop seem to mean that the Dunlops were designed for cornering in mind.

 

Side wall stiffness:

Side wall stiffness is the key to cornering, handling and comfort. For comfort, one would require a tyre with very soft side walls. For handling and cornering, a very stiff side wall provides direct feedback and allows the tyre to hold its shape during hard cornering.

Manufacturers balance using hard rubber with soft sidewalls (Michelin) or soft rubber with hard side walls (Dunlop) to achieve good cornering balance with comfort and grip.

As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words and in this case a video is worth much more =). Hence here is the youtube link showing the side wall stiffness of the 3 tyres:

Rubber compound:

Now for those who are paying attention, one would ask, “wait a sec… doesn’t a tyre with hard rubber compound have less grip?”

To answer that question, the answer is YES.

Hence does this mean that the Michelin PS3 has a lower level of grip than the rest?

Well, there are exceptions to this rule. New age rubber compounds may be hard but have a high coefficient of friction. With respect to these 3 tyres, Michelin’s PS3 tyres have a hard but high friction rubber compound. While the CSC3 and SP Sport Maxx TT use traditional soft rubber to achieve its grip.

In terms of rubber softness Dunlop tyres have the softest rubber, followed by Continental and the hardest would be Michelin.

On the road this can be experienced by the sure footed feel of the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT especially on hard cornering on less than smooth surfaces.

Special features:

Some Tyres come with special features. In the spirit of fairness, it is to be noted that the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT comes with MFS technology. This makes the side wall hard, while the MFS technology is predominantly present to protect the rim. The harder rubber allows the Dunlops to run further than the other 2 tyres when a puncture develops, without risking tyre separation. <- Not a pretty sight to see and very damaging to the car.

Build quality:

Well this is a more subjective section, but as the three tyres come from Europe and Japan, it is thus impossible to find any disparity in their build quality, as compared to China or Taiwan made tyres.

Conclusion:

After trying 3 tyres on 3 different cars, Mercedes C200 Kompressor (yes…. Mercedes spell it with a “K”), BMW 325i and a Honda civic Type R. The findings according to my subjective opinion are as such:

The Michelin PS3 tyres are very good all round tyres and their softer side wall allows for the variation in the tyre pressures to adjust their “feel”. They provide good feedback.

The Continental CSC3’s do not perform well on the Honda Civic type R and feel soft and imprecise. However they fit the “relaxed” nature of the Mercedes.

The Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT suits the character of the BMW and Honda Civic type R best due to its hard side wall and sporty feel. However they are slightly less comfortable than the other 2 tyres, road imperfections can be felt more in the Honda Civic type R. That said, they do give the best steering feel and inspire the most confidence.

Steering feel:

  1. Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT- Michelin PS3
  2. Continental CSC3

Grip:

  1. Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT- Michelin PS3
  2. Continental CSC3 (subjective feel)

Comfort:

  1. Continental CSC3
  2. Michelin PS3 (Close Second)
  3. Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT

Noise:

  1. Michelin PS3 – Continental CSC3
  2. Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT

Value for money:

  1. Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT
  2. Michelin PS3
  3. Continental CSC3

Personal conclusion:

As I’m still young (I like to believe that) I would go for the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT or the Michelin PS3 should I have more money. It’s hard to separate between the two. The initial cost savings of the Dunlop tyres are offset by the better wear rate of the Michelin tyres.

The Continentals fall last on my list as they neither suit my driving style nor satisfy my “sporty side”, are the Continental CSC3 a bad tyre? Far from it they are still one of the best tyres in the world, hands down they are better than anything Falkens, Yokohama (except the AD series in my opinion) or any “economical” tyres (Firenza, Thunderer, cough cough…) *

*In my personal opinion. I do not make official representation in the express purpose of indemnifying myself from any legal action.

Reference:

Here are some links relating to the international comparisons of the 3 tyres….. I’m being impartial after all. So see for yourself and make your choice. I hope you have gained better understanding of tyres and their dynamics in the mean while. As usual all tyre test are very subjective but I hope that by adding a little science and logic into the equation you are able to make an informed choice in the future.

http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2010-European-Summer-Tyre-Test.htm

http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2010-Autocar-Tyre-Test-RWD.htm

http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2011-Auto-Zeitung-Max-Performance-Tyre-Test.htm

Cheers,

Bryan Wong

AutoKinetics – The way it should be. 

18 Responses to “Tyre Reviews: SP Sport Maxx TT, ContiSportContact 3 & Pilot Sport 3”

  1. Keith Lim

    Reading your post/comments, I usually give it a pinch of salt . . .notwithstanding the fact are nice to behold, it’s also depends on one style of driving and dynamics.

    Personally, I like performance car, fast on over-taking and speed when necessary but not reckless, the term ‘ performance ‘ means noisy generated, hence causing disturbances, comfort & driving pleasure to the senses.

    Yes, I juz changed to Dunlop Sport Maxx TT, 225/45/17 front, 245/45/17 Rear from BS, I need to be convinced otherwise

    Reply
  2. matulos

    Hi Bryan, great review. Very interesting to see the difference in sidewall hardness on video. Of course, as you said with the Michelins you can change the steering response with higher or lower inflation pressures, whereas with the Dunlops and Contis, well… what you get is what you get.

    Yes, I’m running Michelins – PP2s, still not past the wear indicators after 40,000 km but the next change could be PS3s. A bit of comfort helps the maintenance of family harmony and less mushiness helps things along when the mood strikes to use some of that towering grip.

    One thing: the pattern on the tyre contact surface is called tread, not thread: as used by TireRack (US), Tyre Reviews (UK), Tyrepower (Australia), and… er… the treadwear rating on the sidewall of most tyres.

    Cheers

    matulos

    Reply
    • Autokinetics

      Thank you for your feedback, Matulos. All spelling mistakes have been corrected! I was too excited to finish the article and post it online for all to see haha!

      PP2s are excellent tyres in their own right, they seem to last forever! However, the rubber compound would already have degraded enough to affect the performance and comfort of the tyres, e.g. noisier, less wet grip (especially important in the monsoon).

      To be honest, I have been using PS3s on my ride now. Whilst offering superb dry and wet grip, they do seem to emit a tad more low rumbling noise, similar to the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT, typical of sporty tyres.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  3. Keith Lim

    Yes, so far so good for my Dunlop TT, after nearly 2 mths ride, kinda liking it , no bad experience/s to date, raining heavily of late and heavy pool of water on highway will caused tyre to para-slide, ( if that’s the correct phrase ), other than that, I have yet to experience hard driving up north.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Autokinetics

      Hi Keith,

      We had our first wheel balance for a 15,000 km old Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT and frankly we are appalled at the (lack of) wear on these tyres. They still retained most of their tread, such that I had to double confirm with the customer that he actually travelled 15,000 km, not 5,000 km! Fantastic tyres.

      Then again, he travels 100 km everyday on expressways, so the constant rotation of the wheels may actually assist in the prolonging of tyre life.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  4. Keith Lim

    Hi, it’s me again,

    Been on Dunlop TT for few mths down the road, only experiences i had was the tyre going over the hump, quite loud noise generated, ( confirm not the tyre pressure ) , maybe the shock abs, maybe the spring coil . . . need to double confirm later, shuld I go for tyre-rotation?

    Other than the noise, I’m happy on Dunlop TT Maxx, but my friend car front typre ‘ bold faster then the rear , can explain why? She changed 4 at the same time. . .

    Reply
    • Autokinetics

      Hi Keith,

      Thank you for your feedback. The loud noise may be due to the tyres having a stronger side wall thus they flex less than other brands of sport tyres with softer side walls. It could also be very well due to wear and tear of your shocks.

      Regarding the wear rate, it is normal that the front tyres would wear faster than the rear due to the front tyres handling greater engine load and steering concurrently. It would be very recommended to do your scheduled 10000k tyre rotation to ensure longevity of your tyres.

      Best Regards, Wee

      Reply
  5. Fuad Jamel

    I’m new to Dunlop Sportmaxx TT. Still have not breached the first 500km. Instantly noted the stiffer sidewall compared to my old Goodyear Revspec RS02 especially on bumpy road. Will wait awhile before giving it a stress test both on dry and wet conditions. Initial feel, it’s going to be a sweet experience. Anybody have used Goodyear Revspec RS02 before? I’ve about 90,000km of experience to share in case anybody is interested to listen.

    Best regards
    Fuad

    Reply
  6. SHKY

    I am impressed with your write ups. What about Conti Sport Contact 5? How will it stack up in comparison with the Pilot Sport 3? I am still deciding on my choice between the 2?

    Reply
    • Autokinetics

      Hi SHKY,

      That is a good question as the CSC5 has been released to replace the CSC3. The CSC5 is a later design than the PS3 and is also a quieter tyre. In terms of grip, based on our experience and feedback, there is not much discernible difference between the two models. However, if you are looking at the CSC5P, then that is a range above the PS3.

      Reply
  7. Amit Jain

    Hi Bryan,
    Really useful review. I went out & bought the Michelin PS3 and it turned out to be exactly as you wrote. Thanks & hopefully you can keep this up
    Cheers
    Amit Jain

    Reply
  8. luís

    Great review!!! Michelin has made a great tyre that is also confortable and last longer. Pity its very expensive. Will the Dunlop TT be a lot better than the regular sport maxx? regular and TT are about the same price, but ill probably buy the regular becuase of noise and confort or should I go to the TT as they are resonable in this point?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Autokinetics

      Thanks luis! Yes the Dunlop Sport Maxx TT is much better than the Sport Maxx in terms of both performance and comfort. If both prices are around the same, the Sport Maxx TT is definitely a better buy as it is a newer design and is Dunlop’s premium flagship tyre.

      Reply
  9. Ivan

    Hi Bryan,
    Care to give a comparison btw PSS n PS3? Currently running on PS2.
    Cant decide which new rubber to wear. thanks.

    Reply
    • Autokinetics

      Hi Ivan, I have dropped you an email on your enquiry! Feel free to drop by our shop to let us help in your decision! 😀

      Reply

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