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- Outstanding handling on snow-covered roads
- Acceleration on snow is exceptional – you certainly won’t get stuck
- Very short braking distances on snow
- Wet traction and handling are among the best in its category
- Traction on ice is outstanding, especially for a non-studded tire
- Maintains the good performance on dry surfaces
- Long treadlife for a winter tire
- The tire feels firm over large bumps and transforms vibrations into the cabin
- There is a noticeable tread growl on rough pavement
- Curiously, the wet braking distances were longer than anticipated
- Continental doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty
Winter tires are crucial for keeping you safe in harsh wintry conditions. Sure, your all-season tires might work fine on light snow, but they get completely lost in deep snow and over ice. In these circumstances, your vehicle will be completely uncontrollable with all-season tires.
But what are the best winter tires on the market today? That’s a tough question to answer since each model has its qualities. However, there are a few that stand out, such as the Continental VikingContact 7. This tire might be expensive for some, but German engineering always costs extra.
The VikingContact 7 is a winter tire designed for compact cars, mid-size sedans, coupes, minivans, and even crossovers. Let’s see how it fares in every winter condition you might imagine, including dry and wet surfaces, snow, and ice. I’ll also talk about how comfortable the tire is, so be sure to check that part out as well.
Before we do that, though, let’s see the features and advanced technologies Continental implemented into the tire.
What are the features of the Continental VikingContact 7?
According to Continental, the Viking Contact 7 is a German-engineered tire with safety to master the Nordic winter. Moreover, the company claims that it provides a superb grip on all wintry surfaces and controls winter conditions with perfect tracking stability.
To make all those things possible, Continental utilized a specialized Nordic compound with canola oil. This material stays flexible and pliable at freezing conditions, which enhances traction on snow and ice. Meanwhile, the active grip silica enhances wet performance and braking.
The engineers molded the compound into an “intelligent” pattern, with a groove network that creates a direct path for water evacuation. The design helps in slush and very wet conditions. Meanwhile, the optimized void ration ensures there is an excellent tire-to-road contact, which ensures high-speed stability.
The tire tread also features solid linkages and interlocked blocks bridges to stabilize the tread pattern, while also keeping the grooves open for better water evacuation. The VikingContact 7 also features multiple sipes, including wider ones, which trap snow and improve snow-to-snow traction.
Ultimately, the Grip Edges on the outside tread blocks ensure that the tread blocks grab into the snow, which further increases traction on snow, but also ice.
What are the maintenance indicators?
Continental utilized the regular TWI’s (tread wear indicators) on the Viking Contact 7. The German tiremaker has some better solutions for monitoring tread depth, but right now, they are only available in its all-season tires.
As for the TWI’s, they are narrow rubber bars positioned inside the grooves of the tire. When the tire is new, these bars are recessed but become more visible as it wears down.
When the tread depth reaches 5/32-inch, the bars will be completely flush with the surface. At that point, you should replace your winter tires immediately. First of all, that’s the minimum legal tread depth for winter tires.
More importantly, though, your tire won’t be usable for driving on snow and ice at that point, which defeats the purpose of a winter tire.
Fortunately, VikingContact 7 has excellent treadlife. Owners of these tires are very satisfied with how long they last, just like with most Continental’s.
However, the German company doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty. Currently, only Michelin provides a warranty on its winter tires, and I hope that Continental follows suit soon.
How does it behave on a dry tarmac?
Unlike many cheap winter tires, the VikingContact 7 is actually likable on dry roads. Not on the level of a performance tire, sure, but excellent for a winter tire.
That’s primarily due to the solid linkages and interlocking block bridges, which enhance the steering feel. The tire feels responsive behind the wheel and communicates with the driver surprisingly well. In some sense, the VikingContact 7 might be too responsive and sensitive. Not that I complain, sure.
Furthermore, VikingContact 7 provides the driver with an excellent overall grip and traction on dry pavement. Thus, the handling feels secure and surefooted, even when you push harder. Overall, a great result for the Continental here.
How is it over wet and slippery roads?
Currently, Continental makes some of the best tires for rainy conditions. Its products consistently put a show when it rains, and I mean it in a good sense. The VikingContact 7, of course, follows the same path.
In terms of handling, this is probably the best winter tire for wet conditions. It doesn’t lose any of the responsiveness, yet it possesses enough traction to feel surefooted. You’d be hard-pressed to feel any understeer or oversteer, even during hard cornering.
I can say the same positive things about acceleration traction and stability. You will definitely experience less wheel spin during hard acceleration. Moreover, thanks to the outstanding hydroplaning resistance, your vehicle will feel stable in heavy rain, even at higher speeds.
Nonetheless, there is one area where the VikingContact 7 suffers, and that’s braking. This came as a surprise since, in other areas, the tire fares so well. The braking distances are far from the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90, which is the new king in the winter category. They are still good for the category, but I expected more, given the excellent performance elsewhere.
With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?
If you mostly encounter snowy and icy roads, the VikingContact 7 is arguably the best tire out there. Immediately, the tire feels surefooted on snow – you’ll feel almost like driving on wet, not snow-covered pavement.
It all starts with the acceleration. The tire puts the power to the ground as few can. This means that even in some deep snow, your vehicle will easily get out of trouble. With this tire, you won’t get stuck in the winter any more, even in some very harsh conditions.
Then, I really liked how this tire steers into the corners. The steering is responsive, and the front tires bite into the snow outstandingly well. The back tires follow suit to create a very balanced and surefooted ride. The traction is so good that you’ll ask yourself if you’re really driving on snow sometimes.
Furthermore, the braking distances are among the shortest in the category. That’s perhaps the most important thing for a safe driving experience in the winter.
But what about ice? Well, the VikingContact 7 doesn’t disappoint there, either. There is ample traction for acceleration. Actually, the Continental posts the best results in the category when it comes to acceleration on ice. On top of that, the tire handles on ice very well and has very short braking distances.
As far as not-studded winter tires go, this is perhaps the best one for driving on icy surfaces.
Is it suitable for off-road driving?
The aggressive tread design of the VikingContact 7 is there to help with traction on snow and ice. Obviously, it can also help in mud and over gravel, especially when compared to all-season or summer tires.
Nevertheless, the rubber compound on this tire is very soft, and sharp objects can easily damage it. Therefore, I don’t recommend driving on very demanding off-road terrains. Besides, there are special tires for those conditions.
Is it comfortable and refined?
On a perfectly smooth road, the VikingContact 7 is arguably the most comfortable winter tire out there. In these circumstances, the firm ride actually helps with keeping the car from wandering around. Moreover, the tire is surprisingly quiet on smooth pavement, perhaps the most relaxed in its category.
Nevertheless, things change when you hit a rough or textured road. The VikingContact 7 immediately starts to sound harsh, and the noise easily penetrates the cabin. On top of that, the firm sidewalls transmit too many vibrations in the cabin. The ride is particularly bad on an uneven pavement with a lot of broken patches.
Overall, I’ve never tried a tire that performs so differently in terms of comfort. On smooth roads, it’s one of the best in the category, but on rough pavement, it’s one of the worst. You should definitely ask for a test drive to see if this bothers you. I certainly know people that will be bothered!
You can see more Continental Viking Contact 7 review here: Video created by Tirecraft
Should I buy the Continental VikingContact 7?
The Continental VikingContact 7 is an excellent winter tire, that’s for sure. It does all the basics right, especially in harsh wintry conditions. On snow and ice, it performs outstandingly well, better than almost any other competitor. It also lasts for a long time and works well on dry and wet surfaces.
However, I think that currently, the Blizzak WS90 beats the VikingContact 7 for overall performance, especially in terms of comfort. The differences are narrow, though, so any tire that you can get your hands on will provide you with an outstanding winter experience.
Which, of course, means that I highly recommend this tire for any driver that wants a safe and reliable drive in the winter. The Continental VikingContact 7 is an exceptional tire, no doubt about it.