We had a chance to swap the all-season tires on our 2012 VW Touareg for some max performance summer tires... Why? Well, we weren't off-roading on and, with octane flowing in our veins, we can't help driving fast, no matter what the car.

Sunny California has the perfect climate for sticky tire tests, so we could take advantage of Continental's offer to try its new ultra-high performance tire, the ContiSportContact 5. This might seems an odd choice, especially since the tire was developed to match the sporty driving characteristics of cars like the Mercedes SLK350 roadster, but the Touareg's big brother, Porsche Cayenne, is equipped with the ContiSportContact 3, sharing many similarities to the newer CSSC5.

Using Continental's Black Chilli compound, molded into an asymmetric tread pattern that features a macro-block outer shoulder that will adapt to the road surfaces to improve grip and cornering stability, the ContiSportContact 5 is confidence inspiring. While their superiority in dry weather is obvious, they also shine in the wet thanks to four circumferential grooves that channel water outward to resist hydroplaning and increase traction.

Lucky for us, our drive into the rolling Malibu canyons gave us the chance to explore the CSC5's dry weather prowess. Yet when the clouds suddenly opened, we were met with slick, wet roads. The Touareg took everything in its stride. The steering response, for example, which is good for an SUV, was transformed by swapping to real summer tires. Continental's short-chain polymers react to braking forces by building heat to shorten stopping distances, which was easily noticed on the brakes when entering tighter turns.

Sure, the Touareg didn't become a Golf R. It wasn't intended for canyon carving and we weren't trying to set lap records, but the tires inspired so much trust that the twisties seemed like a grand idea.

As long as we don't hit the snowbelt any time soon, the ContiSportContact 5 tires are here to stay. It's a match made in heaven.

http://www.conti-online.com

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