Continental WinterContact SI vs SI Plus

Continental WinterContact SI and the SI Plus, both leading options in the winter tire segment, each showcase individual expertise in traction, tire life, and ride comfort. So its best you consider all of the below.


Quick Takeaway

Continental WinterContact SI Plus excels in:

  • Wet Traction: The SI Plus’s multi-angled sipes and a combination of rectilinear, and interlocking patterns provide superior wet grip.
  • Tread Life: The SI Plus’s lighter weight puts less pressure on the tread blocks, slowing degradation of the rubber and prolonging tread life.
  • Ice Performance: The SI Plus’s aggressive siping and malleable tread allow for superior ice gripping, leading to shorter average braking distances.
  • Comfort Levels: The SI Plus’s superior rubber compound and pitch sequencing technology result in less road noise, while its more pliable tread provides better vibration damping.
  • Fuel Economy: The SI Plus’s lighter weight and more streamlined central rib contribute to lower rolling resistance and better fuel economy.

Continental WinterContact SI excels in:

  • Hydroplaning Resistance: The SI’s wider groove channels allow for quicker water evacuation, offering superior resistance to hydroplaning.
  • Snow Performance: The SI’s more open lug design and interlocking grooves allow for superior snow pickup and traction on fluffy snowy roads.

Areas for Improvement:

  • The Continental WinterContact SI could improve in terms of wet grip, tread life, ice performance, comfort, and fuel economy, given its laterally-oriented siping, heavier weight, lack of aggressive siping, and higher rolling resistance.
  • The Continental WinterContact SI Plus could perform better in terms of snow performance and hydroplaning resistance, given its enclosed tread pattern and narrower groove channels.

Wet Traction

When it comes to wet traction, there are two key factors to consider: grip and resistance to aquaplaning. And let me tell you, that the results for these factors are somewhat mixed between the two Continental tires here.

In terms of grip, the Continental WinterContact SI Plus takes the lead, as it features multi-angled sipes, and a combination of rectilinear, and interlocking patterns.

These sipes point in multiple directions, effectively channeling water away and allowing the tread rubber to maintain better contact with the road.

On the other hand, the Continental WinterContact SI is equipped with laterally-oriented siping and lacks the rectilinear pattern found in the SI Plus. As a result, it doesn’t offer as much grip. However, it performs slightly better in terms of aquaplaning resistance, which refers to the tire’s ability to prevent floating on water.

During testing, the Continental WinterContact SI demonstrated marginally higher speeds in both curved and straight aquaplaning tests. This is because it has wider groove channels that quickly evacuate water compared to its counterpart.

Verdict: Overall, the SI Plus excels in wet grip, while the SI performs better in resisting hydroplaning.

Snow Performance

Both tires demonstrate competitive performance in varying snowy conditions, showcasing their ability to handle wintry challenges. However, the Continental WinterContact SI carves out a slight advantage, especially when navigating fluffy snowy roads.

Despite having a directional tread pattern, the SI’s lugs have a more open design, which allows for enhanced contact between the tire and the snow.

The tire’s interlocking grooves and snow-trapping recesses effortlessly scoop up loosely packed snow, creating a snowy interface between the tire and the ground.

This snowy interface offers superior traction because snow adheres more effectively to other snowflakes than to rubber.

In contrast, the Continental WinterContact SI Plus has a more enclosed tread pattern, featuring a continuous running rib at its core and lacking the interlocking groove configuration.

Consequently, it doesn’t pick up as much snow as the SI, falling slightly short in performance.

Verdict: Overall, the SI Plus performs better on icy surfaces compared to its counterpart.

Tread Life

The lifespan of a tire’s tread is greatly influenced by its rolling resistance, and structure make-up.

And in both aspects, the Continental WinterContact SI Plus surpasses its rival, as the tire’s relatively lighter weight puts less pressure on its blocks, as they rub against the road, resulting in decreased friction and slower degradation of the rubber.

On the other hand, the Continental WinterContact SI is not only heavier but also distributes this extra weight over a smaller rubber surface due to its wider tread voids. As a result, each lug bears a greater amount of weight, leading to quicker tread wear and a shorter overall lifespan.

However, it’s important to note that the performance difference between the two tires is not significant enough to warrant warranties from both brands.

Verdict: Overall, the tread life is better on the Continental WinterContact SI Plus.

Ice Performance

When it comes to icy conditions, the Continental WinterContact SI Plus stands out, showcasing a more favorable average braking distance compared to the SI.

This is due to its more aggressive siping, and relatively pliable tread composition.

While the siping is the obvious one, with malleable tread, all biters get to have greater biting efficacy. So they allow for superior ice gripping.

Verdict: Overall, the Continental WinterContact SI Plus outperforms the Continental WinterContact SI in terms of ice performance.

Comfort Levels

The comfort provided by a tire depends on factors such as road noise and vibration absorption, which are influenced by the tire’s design, incorporated materials, tread pattern, and sidewall structure.

Regarding road noise, it primarily stems from air particles colliding with the tread walls. In this aspect, the Continental WinterContact SI Plus, offers slightly superior performance in reducing noise.

Even though both tires offers similar voided up designs, the Plus variant still renders smaller in-groove resonance, due to it’s superior rubber compound, and pitch sequencing technology.

Moreover, its more pliable tread, also excels in terms of vibration damping, providing better cushioning over road irregularities.

Verdict: The Plus variant takes the lead overall.

Fuel Economy

Fuel consumption is affected by the tire’s adherence to the road and its overall weight. In this regard, the Continental WinterContact SI Plus, with its lighter weight, performs better.

The reduced weight of the tire reduces the pressure exerted on the road, resulting in lower rolling resistance.

Furthermore, the tire’s more streamlined central rib compared to its counterpart allows for smoother rolling. Conversely, the Continental WinterContact SI, with its considerable weight, experiences higher rolling resistance, where lugs are pushed more, as they face greater lug-bending, generating heat and wasting energy that could have been used for rolling the tire efficiently.

Verdict: Overall, the Continental WinterContact SI Plus provides better fuel economy.

Summing Up

In summary, the Continental WinterContact SI and SI Plus each have their unique strengths.

The WinterContact SI Plus excels in wet grip, tread life, ice performance, comfort levels, and fuel economy, attributed to its design, lighter weight, and reduced friction.

The WinterContact SI, however, has an edge in aquaplaning resistance and performance on fluffy snowy roads, thanks to its wider groove channels and open lug design.

The choice between the two should be dictated by the specific driving conditions and needs of the user. And both are commendable options for their respective specialties.