Six fantastic cars and two days of thrilling driving with amazing Andalucia, Spain, acting as the backdrop. Yes, this can only mean Continental Tyres’ Black Chili Driving Experience.
The event allows the tyre giant to showcase its ultra high performance tyres, all made using a special “Black Chili” compound.
The “Black Chili” tyres were fitted to an exciting blend of fast cars – a Jaguar F-Type, a 100% electric Tesla Model S and the iconic Corvette C7 Stingray.
Three very different German cars made up the pack – a Porsche Macan S, Mercedes CLA 45 AMG and a BMW M4 cabriolet.
Follow our journey below…
Our chariots await. It’s Day 1 and time to leave our base at the La Cala Golf Resort, Mijas (about 30 minutes from Malaga airport) for our first foray deep into Andalucia. In two days, we drove for some nine hours over more than 300 miles. It wasn’t a race – it was staged on public roads and all the usual rules applied.
We all paired up and shared the driving. Scenic doesn’t do Andalucia justice. The drop-dead gorgeous Jaguar F-TYPE convertible perfectly complemented the landscape. Fitted with ContiForceContact tyres, it had more than enough grip to cope with the challenging roads. And if you’ve ever driven an F-TYPE on track, you’ll know that it’s no pussycat with the driver aids turned back – just good old rear-wheel-drive sports car fun.
Parked up behind the BMW M4 cabriolet because it’s time for a quick driver change. The BMW can cruise quite happily or it can be a bit of a beast – raw power, and plenty of popping and crackling from the exhaust!
Lunchtime and what a line-up. White cars in Continental Tyres livery look just the part. Tyres are rarely given the credit they deserve, which is odd when you think about it, because they are the four corners of your car that are in contact with the road. One in three new vehicles produced in Europe leaves the factory fitted with Continental Tyres and the company produces 250,000 tyres daily worldwide. Fitting the wrong tyres to a car can make a surprising difference, affecting handling, grip, smoothness and road noise.
Apparently the “Black Chili” tread compound ensures optimum adhesion when pushed to the limits. The rubber compound is designed to mesh with the roughness of the road. At the same time, temporary atomic connections between the tyre compound and the road surface ensure high adhesion, acting like small suction pads at a microscopic level.
You may think the Tesla is a odd choice for the fleet, but the simple fact is that it may be electric, but it can more than hold its own. Big, beautiful, very refined and capable of 0.62mph in 5.4 seconds… it has prodigious torque.
And Contintental has played its part in the Tesla success story. As standard, the car is fitted with ContiSilent tyres where the inside of the tyre is covered with a special foam material, reducing interior noise by up to nine decibels.
I got my first drive in a Mercedes AMG CLA 45. It looks like a sporty saloon, but it’s also got one hell of a growl and has phenomenal grip, thanks to AWD and its SportContact 6 tyres
It’s hard to believe that the all-wheel-drive Porsche Macan S is fitted with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel because it’s both refined a very fast – an SUV that drives like a fast car. Our Macan was fitted with ContiSportContact tyres, offering maximum safety and driving pleasure.
The El Torcal Park Nature Reserve (el Paraje Natural de El Torcal) – the most geologically stunning of all Andalucia’s natural parks.
Another break and just time to admire the rear end of the mighty Corvette Stingray…
The Black Chili Driving Experience allowed me to test a few cars I’d never driven before, most notably the Corvette Stingray. With its enormous 6.2-litre V8, the Stingray was a surprisingly relaxed car to drive and at the speeds we reached, it was barely possible to get the manual gearbox into seventh.
A rare selfie, but it’s not everyday that you get to drive a Corvette Stingray!
The Stingray is capable of brutal performance – 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds and a top speed approaching 200mph. And with 460bhp going through the rear wheels, it needs all the grip its ContiSportContact 5 P tyres can offer.
Parked outside the bullring in the spectacular town of Ronda – the highlight of the trip.
Ronda is famed for its jaw-dropping views and the deep El Tajo gorge that carries the rio Guadalevín through its centre.
I can recommend trying the A7 motorway tunnel near Marbella – a great place to enjoy the glorious engine rumble and exhaust note of the Stingray and its Black Chili stablemates (except the silent Tesla, of course!).
The Black Chili Driving Experience was more than just a chance to drive fast cars. It’s reminder that tyres are the unsung heroes of the motoring world. Often just a “distress purchase” after a puncture or MoT failure, manufacturers such as Continental can spend as much as four years working on the development of a new car from concept to showroom. Safety is paramount, but economy, handling, refinement and grip also come into the equation.