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The Continental DWS 06: Higher Performance from an All-Season Tire

An all-season with the grip of a summer tire.

When it comes to high-performance tires, no self-respecting car enthusiast would trust an all-season tire to provide the grip and on-road performance in the dry that even the worst dedicated dry/wet summer tire could provide. Most high-performance all-season tires promise sure-footedness in inclement weather, all year long, while still returning stellar traction and handling during high-performance driving. In reality, all-seasons rarely deliver on this promise, with grip and handling compromised by their all-weather tread and multi-purpose rubber compound.

Not so, says Continental Tire. As the 144-year-old manufacturer will tell you, its DWS all-season has amassed quite a cult following with the sports car crowd, and fans should have more to cheer about with the new DWS 06 that was introduced this year. Continental claims an 8-to-10-percent increase in performance in dry, wet, and snow traction, along with an increase in tread longevity and fuel efficiency over the outgoing model.

From a distance, a BMW M235i equipped with all-season tires is a sad, disappointing thing, with its performance potential cut short by the low traction threshold suffered by many all-season tires. This ran hot through our mind as we gingerly approached turn one of Continental's Uvalde handling course behind the wheel of an M235i equipped with Conti's new DWS 06. We were hard pressed to find issue with the roadholding capability of the new DWS 06. The DWS handles weight transfer well, with mid-corner adjustments made without much fuss, and has plenty of overall grip. The new DWS tires put on a superb impression of a good dry/wet summer tire.

After two dry laps in an M235i shod with the competitive Bridgestone Potenza RE970 AS, and a stint on the wet-handling track with Audi A4s equipped with the DWS 06 and the Bridgestones, things became a little clearer. The Potenza had a split personality, with moderate dry performance, but relatively weak wet grip. The white-knuckle grasp of our passenger, clinging to the Audi's door handle confirmed the confused nature of the Bridgestone as we understeered through the waterlogged track. On the dry track, the Bridgestone broke traction much sooner than the new DWS, meaning we couldn't get as much performance out of the car on those tires.

The Bridgestone Potenza is exactly what you think of when you think of high-performance all-season tires, filled with empty promises that disappear in a cloud of tire smoke when pushed a little too hard. The DWS 06 is different. While labeled as a tire for the dry, wet, and snow, it feels like a competent dedicated performance tire, that happens to have all-weather capability.

Back in the wet, 2015 Ford Mustangs wearing Yokohama ADVAN Sport AS squirmed and slid around, sending a long row of cones flying in the process. A Mustang wearing a set of the Continental DWS 06 tires, however, left a sizeable wake in its path as it cut through the quarter-inch of standing water without knocking down a single cone.

The Continental DWS 06 is a good dry tire, stellar wet tire, and provides increased safety in the snow (or so says Conti). You won't get as much performance as you would with a dedicated summer tire, but buyers who are willing to compromise performance for the added safety of the DWS' wet and snow performance just might become part of Continental's DWS cult.