Thursday, April 21, 2022

Continental MaxContact6 MC6 Review

Tire prices has increased again. This time pretty significantly and it fall right into my plan to change the existing Bridgestone Potenza RE050A that came with my wife's Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT-S. The tire has entered into the 7th year and it is high time to change it. Significant harder compound due to aging, and it is really not safe anymore to continue to drive on it for anything further than 50km/trip.

Before I go on further, the intend was really to change it in 2020 when the tire enters into the fifth year of service. Then as we know, Covid19 striked and life has never been the same. With only an accumulation of 3000km driven in those two years - mostly for groceries, we decided to pull the duration a bit longer to stretch money and also lifespan of the tire. 

Conti MaxContact MC6 from Continental Tires Malaysia
How deteriorated the Bridgestone were? Upon releasing the air from all four tires, crack lines appeared on the tire wall. If that is not telling enough on safety, I am not sure what or how else I can convince you to change your tires if they are more than 5 years old, even if the tread has more than 50% balance. The next few photos showed the condition of the tires.
Peels right off when i apply a bit of pressure using the end of a screwdriver


more cracks


The Potenza has done only 33k km over the past 7 years, and the tread was still more than 50%. Infact, it looked as deep as it was new.
almost a 5mm deep tread left but look at the pittings
First, the performance of this Potenza when we first got the car. I truly believe this tire gave the ride the ultimate grip. With the Subaru Symmetrical All Wheel Drive and the Boxer engine low centre of gravity, plus the wagon being a tourer, the car handles like on a rail. Point the steering to the direction you want and it goes there, convincingly. No drama. The Potenza RE050A is a soft compound tire with treadwear of just 140. So we know that this tire is meant to grip - and despite that, lasted 30k km. Not bad at all.

Made in Japan. Week 49, 2015.
The old tire has to go. Can't be used anymore for sake of safety. 

Why Continental MC6 and not Michelin PS4/s?
I had wanted to get the car shod with Michelin PS4s or PS4. The stocks for this tire however is scarce for the size I was looking for. The 225/45/R18 was available for both Conti MC6 and Michelin PS4/s - and the pricing was almost RM100 differences between each. My decision was narrowed down to these few factors:
  • How we drive the car
  • Which tire suit the purpose of the car
  • availability
  • price
While the Levorg on paper is capable of 168hp and 250Nm torque, it is a modest peformance car geared towards family usage. Being a wagon meant it can haul up pretty good amount of cargo (oh yes, the trunk is huge), we do not drive the car beyond the legal speed. We do not take it to the B-roads (winding back country roads) or take it to the track. So, anything the same specs as the original OEM Bridgestone Potenza RE050A will be more than sufficient. Based on that, the PS4/s (as they are two different tires ya, the PS4 and PS4s) doesn't really suit our purpose - or at least it is an overkill. It sounded like a good idea when I first thought about it, only to wake up and realised my "faster" days were over. I enjoy a stock ride, something more comfortable while being able to listen to Lite FM without much intrusion of the road noise.

With that, and motivated by the easier availability of the MC6, it was decided that I will shod these in to the Levorg. To start with, the MC6 is new tire from Continental. For this size, it is Made in Thailand. As the MC6 is touted as a performance tire by Continental, the specification itself was an upgrade from the Potenza. Priced at RM650 each, it was the least of the criteria I was looking at. 

The Continental MaxContact MC6
So I asked my good friend that runs a tire shop in Jalan Ipoh to help me order them, and I will head over to get it fixed once it arrived.
Search for Perkhidmatan Tayar Sing Yu Huat on Google Map
My friend managed to get me 4 of the MC6 which was manufactured on Week 12 of 2022. This meant, the tire is less than 2 weeks old. Talk about the tire being super fresh.
1222 - Week 12 of 2022. If you were offered cheap tire, always check the manufacturing date.
What does all these numbers meant?
The MC6 has a better treadwear and traction rating compared to the Potenza RE050A. To me, that is already an upgrade in terms of treadwear and traction. As expected for tire marketed as "performance", the temperature rating is A, anything less would be suspicious.
140 to 340, A to AA. It's a win.
Also, the load rating and speed rating of the MC6 (Y) is much better compared to the Potenza RE050A (W).
Speed Rating "Y"; up to 300km/h

Speed rating "W"; up to 270km/h
The load rating between the two tires is 91 and 95. This is the load or how much weight each tire can hold. 91 is at 1,356lb or 616kg, and the MC6 is rated at 95, at 1,531lb or 690kg. The weight support is pretty signficant as that meant, an additional theoretical weight of 280kg can be put on without risking failure - that is if your car can manage to move with that additional weight ;-)

There is an additional XL on the rating - simply meant "Xtra Load" capability
So, there we have it, the MC6 is a performance tire with 225mm width, at a 45% aspect ratio (of 225mm = 101mm height), 18 inch, with a decent treadwear of 340, with temperature dissipation A, and traction of AA. It can carry up to 690kg load each, and allow you to drive up to 300km/h safely. The additional XL on the tire simply meant the tire has a reinforced tire sidewall that allow for extra loads, super useful for a low profile 45 series tire. The XL rating also protect against mechanical damages.

Tread Pattern
Here is a photo comparison of the Potenza and the MC6.
MC6 on left. The left side of both tires is the "inside" of the tire (directional)
What is very obvious on the MC6 is the large channel which are asymetrical which maintain the tread shape under sharp changes of direction. It also has Stabliser Bar that you can see on the "outer" rib. Comparing against the Potenza RE050A, there isn't really not much differences but tire technology, material science makes the differences you can feel.
Installation is side specific. So make sure you check for installation before the mechanic fit them into your car. The MC6 "inside" has a clear indicator saying it is such. Make sure your mechanic "balance" your tires too, as this ensure the tire doesn't vibrate due to rotational and centrifugal force above 70km/h. Vibration is not good for mechanical parts, and more so not for safety reasons. 
Inside is clearly marked

The color line is actually manufacturer's way for QA/QC, Tire type or just their "bar code"
Coincidently, the color lines were marked on the "outside", so there are great way to visually quickly check for correct installation of inside and outside.
Your mechanic should also ensure correct lock nut locking torque which is 120Nm as overtightening would result in failure to be able to remove the tire should you have a puncture by the roadside. Your mechanic should also check against manufacturer's recommendation for inflation as that is essential particularly modern cars comes with TPMS or Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Ensure you set the TPMS once the installation and pressure has been set.
TPMS system
Once that is done, alignment takes place, the correct toe, chamfer and all setting should be specific to the manufacturer's specs as well. A good mechanic should know better to ensure all these with data - not just by "feel" when they do your alignment.
alignment in progress

Keep everything within the "green" zone will be ideal
Once all is done, go for a test drive to ensure the car steering vs direction of travel is to your expectations, and if not, ask the mechanic for adjustment. Sometimes, due to other factors like worn bushing or mechanical issues prior to tire change, there could be variation and that is completely expected.
First Drive and 300km later...
Fresh out of the workshop, the sky opened up and it was a wet drive home. The new MC6 offered way more comfort than the worn Potenza (expected), and the rattling in the tires went off almost magically. Fresh rubber does makes all the differences. Braking on the wet, despite the tire to be new/fresh was very assuring. Water ponding was not felt (the sudden nose dive as you drive into a pond of water) and steering response reminds me of how the car behaved 4 years ago when we go it - like riding on a rail.

Sporty stance came standard. 2-fingers gap on the fender
On dry road, the noise were minimal. It was quiet. What used to need volume 16 on the radio is now audible even at volume 12. That is significant. Rolling resistance was low as well as I felt the car went off zippier with same throttle responses. And dry-braking was simply awesome. Cornering on the Jalan Damansara Interchange at speed of 60km/h and 80km/h were of no drama and no need for any speed control (braking). No tire squealing under the fast turns, a good sign that it is not at the edge of the traction limits (yes, those squealing of tires is because the tire is really really fighting to regain grips).

Not driven this on the highway, yet, nor has the tire went above the 80km/h limits even on the Jalan Hartamas-Pencala straight (it's cheaper to drive at legal speed than to risk a police tickets y'all).

Overall, very satisfied with the money spent on the MC6. Total damage came to RM2,600 inclusive of balancing and alignment. Money well spent for the way we are utilising the car for the family. Oh, Continental tires has a promo currently. I got a RM120 TnG rebate for replacing 4 tires of 17 inches (or larger). So, that is some savings for fuels as well thrown in.

Submission via QR code, rebate comes in after 1-working day. I got mine!
Technical Specs from Continental Website

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