Project E90 M3: Head to Head with 2016 Mustang GT
M3 Continental ExtremContact DW Rear2016 Mustang GT Continental DW Tire Rear

The Continental ExtremeContact DW is one of my all-time favorite tires for a daily driver sports car or sports sedan. I’ve been using DWs on my personal daily drivers for over 5 years and they are absolutely excellent in the wet and hold up to occasional track time.  I feel the DW is one of the best tires on the market for that purpose.  The M3 (left) and Mustang (right) are almost identical in size.

The DW stands for “Dry – Wet”, which is Continental’s Max Performance Summer Tire developed for sports cars and performance sedans, which is soon to be replaced by their brand new ExtremeContact Sport tire.  The DW features an asymmetric design with chamfered tread blocks and a continuous, outboard notched intermediate rib to enhance responsiveness and cornering stability.  The DW also has a continuous center ribs to reduce noise and provide constant rubber-to-road contact to control longitudinal forces during braking.  A high void-to-tread ratio with open outboard lateral grooves, wide circumferential tread grooves, and notched shoulder blocks on the inboard intermediate rib and shoulder help disperse water to enhance hydroplaning resistance.

M3 Front Continental DW TireMustang Front Tire Continental DW

The M3 is equipped with 245/35-19 front tires (left) while the Mustang GT rolls on slightly wider 255/40-19 front tires with a thicker sidewall and larger overall diameter.

All of this makes the DW one of the best performing tires in the wet with class leading hydroplaning resistance.  It’s also one of the quietest and best riding tires in its segment, as well as having a long life and a 340 treadwear rating.  Yes I said it despite UTQG treadwear ratings being useless – click here to understand why they are useless.  The only downsides of the DW is its soft sidewall that lacks steering response of some of its competitors and due to all of the small tread blocks and high void-to-tread ratio (which means less rubber touching the road), the heat management and durability for extended periods of time on a hot track isn’t the best.  These areas are addressed and improved on in their new ExtremeContact SPORT tire.  From purely a dry grip standpoint, the DW is near the top of its class, even if though it’s not as durable as some of its more track focused competitors.  For a daily driven performance tire that may be tracked occasionally, the Continental ExtremeContact DW is hard to beat.

M3 Continental DW tire Rear2016 Mustang GT Continental DW rear

To put the power down, the M3 relies on 265/35-19 rear tires while the Mustang GT has marginally larger 275/40-19 rear tires.

Before hitting the track, we decided to weigh these two competitors, so we topped up the gas tanks with fuel and stopped by to visit our friends at Top Flight Speed Shop / Xtreme Supercars in West Palm Beach, FL.

We know our optioned up M3 is going to be heavy.  The 4-door’s chassis is said to be 22lbs heavier than the coupe and both the DCT transmission and sunroof are said to each weigh 45lbs heavier than a manual or carbon roof.  In addition, the electronics and cold weather package add weight in the form of a LCD navigation display, and heated and powered leather seats. That should make our car at least 112lbs heavier than the manual transmission E92 M3 which Ford benchmarked for the Mustang.

E90 M3 on scales corner weight
We were blown away that our M3 weighed in at 3,722lbs with a full tank of fuel. We were expecting north of 3,800lbs.  The 50.5/49.5% weight distribution is excellent for a front-engine sedan and no doubt is a contributing factor to the M3’s neutral balance.  Given the 16.6 gallon tank, our M3 would weigh 3,619lbs empty.

Next up was the Mustang GT.  Equipped with Performance Package wheels which are wider in the rear, the Mustang also has a heavier electronics package with the awesome Sync 3 infotainment system, Shaker speakers, heated and cooled seats, and is otherwise stock.

2016 Mustang GT CS scales corner weight
The Mustang GT weighed even more than the M3, actually over 100lbs more at 3,835lbs.  A dimensionally larger car means more mass and weight, especially when not using as much aluminum suspension components.  It’s 52.8/47.2% weight distribution is not as good as the M3’s but still quite respectable when you consider the Mustang still has a heavy battery in the engine bay.  Moving the battery to the trunk will likely yield over a 1% distribution shift to the rear.
2016 Mustang GT Trunk Junk weight scales
With the “Trunk Junk” (spare tire and jack) removed, the car’s weight drops to 3,791lbs and a slightly worse 53.4/46.6% weight distribution.  That’s a 0.6% weight distribution shift in the wrong direction.  The battery nearly weighs that much and shifting it from the front to the back will more than make up that difference, and improve handling.  Due to its 16 gallon tank, it would tip the scales at 3,692lbs empty.

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