Michelin Performance Tires Buyer’s Guide

Informed by almost a century of participation in top racing series around the world, plus a relentless commitment to performance tire development (over $500 million is allocated to the Michelin Technology Center annually), Michelin’s current lineup is absolutely one of the best.

Michelin tires have been “go to” products for generations of performance cars. Especially within the last decade, their performance tires have achieved near-optimization, striking a remarkable balance between traction/performance, wear, comfort, and even rolling resistance. Debates rage as to whether the modern performance cars are as good and as characterful as they once were, but there’s no doubt that ultra-high performance tires have hit a true high point in recent years.

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Whether you have a sports car, performance coupe, sedan, or crossover/SUV, Michelin performance products have to be considered.

Which tire is right for your situation? With many street and track miles under our belts with Michelin tires, here are some insights into current options.

Ultra-high performance summer

“Born from endurance racing, Michelin Pilot Super Sport gives you the exhilaration of driving the best performing street tire in the world.” – MichelinMan.com

The successor to the Pilot Sport PS2, the Pilot Super Sport has been a definite success since its introduction in 2011. Perhaps no other performance tire in history has achieved more original equipment assignments and been more entrusted with ensuring the success and safety of the world’s leading performance vehicles. The Pilot Super Sport has been selected as an OE tire – often many times over – by BMW M Division, Mercedes-AMG, Ferrari, Ford, Chevy, and others. (The OE assignments continue some eight years post-introduction – an indication of its achievement and continued relevance.)

Pilot Super Sport

The Pilot Super Sport is also a very popular aftermarket fitment among enthusiasts for a wide range of performance vehicles.

“The Michelin Pilot Super Sport was designed to accomplish one purpose: deliver the ultimate driving experience while ensuring maximum safety even in extreme conditions of use.” – MichelinMedia.com

The Pilot Super Sport excels on any performance vehicles, from city streets to highways to twisty mountain roads, and is capable of delivering in “light duty” high performance driving events, too. Its performance is still current and top tier by any standard, but it’s no longer the latest and greatest ultra-high performance product coming out of the Michelin camp.

“Genuine passion. Exceptional drives. Derived from the legendary Michelin Pilot Super Sport, there is a new #1 in max performance summer tires.” – MichelinMan.com

The Pilot Sport 4S offers measurable improvements over the Pilot Super Sport, including 9% longer life, more traction in both dry and wet conditions, and greater feel and precision from behind the wheel.

Like the Pilot Super Sport, the Pilot Sport 4S is capable of light duty track use. (Sustained hard laps/track use can overheat and damage both.) In high performance driving contexts, both the Pilot Super Sport and Pilot Sport 4S are forgiving, communicative, and progressive near the limit. For those who spend most of their time on-road, but are considering occasional track days/HPDE participation at a novice to intermediate level, the Pilot Sport 4S is an ideal option.

Pilot Sport 4S

In our time with the Pilot Sport 4S we’ve found it to be virtually flawless. It has all the street performance one could reasonably want, plus it’s comfortable and very livable day to day.

The safety factor of ultra-high performance tires like the Pilot Sport 4S is often overlooked. Its high performance ceiling translates to exceptional control on wet roads, and in an emergency braking or evasive maneuver circumstance, the Pilot Sport 4S holds a measurable advantage over most other street tires. And it’s warrantied to 30,000 miles.

Like the Pilot Super Sport, the Pilot Sport 4S is both an original equipment performance tire and an ideal replacement/aftermarket option for just about any sports car, performance coupe, sedan, or crossover.

The Pilot Sport 4 is similar to the 4S but with a few minor differences. While the 4S is track-ready, the 4 is street savvy. It’s classified as an ultra-high performance summer tire, but the 4 delivers better wet road performance than the 4S. It also offers low rolling resistance for better fuel efficiency and improved gas mileage. Both tires offer excellent control and steering reactivity. Many high-performance European sports cars come with the 4 as OE fitment, specifically Mercedes, Ferrari and Porsche.

Motorsport/ultra-high performance sport

Pilot Sport Cup 2

“Track day after track day, make the most of your sports car. Developed in partnership with AMG SLS Coupe Black Series, Porsche 918 Spyder and 911 GT3, and Ferrari 458 Speciale.” – MichelinMan.com

For drivers who plan to do more than just consider track day and HPDE participation, the Pilot Sport Cup 2 is the right Michelin option. The “Cup” name links to Cup racing series around the world and is an indicator of this tire’s design and purpose.

The Pilot Sport Cup 2 is engineered for dual purpose, street and track use. In high performance driving contexts, the Cup 2 offers superior all-around grip, faster lap times, and greater intra- and inter-session durability than the more street-oriented Michelin ultra-high performance options. 

However, with routine street use the Cup 2 will wear at a faster rate than tires like the Pilot Super Sport and Pilot Sport 4S. It’s also less capable in wet conditions, more audible, and less compliant and comfortable.

That on-road impracticality pays dividends on track though, which is why you’ll see the Cup 2 often fitted to the most track-oriented, extreme variants of high performance vehicles.

Ultra-high performance all season

"The Pilot Sport A/S 3+ is Michelin’s ultimate ultra-high performance all-season tire combining summer levels of wet and dry grip with cold weather and snow mobility.” – MichelinMan.com

Michelin has infused ultra-high performance summer performance into an all season tire with the Pilot Sport A/S 3+. Historically there’s been a pretty sharp performance contrast between summer and all season performance tires, with the latter never quite measuring up. So Michelin’s development approach actually involved with the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ involved benchmark testing against leading ultra-high performance summer tires.

Northern enthusiasts who drive year-round have almost always had to compromise on the performance characteristics of their tires – that’s no longer the case with the Pilot Sport A/S 3+. It might not have quite the sharpness or traction at the limit of the Pilot Sport 4S, but at any reasonable on-road speed the Pilot Sport A/S 3+ is very satisfying. As is the fact that you won’t have to garage your performance vehicle when it’s sub-40°.

Ultra-high performance SUV/crossover

“Ultra-high performance SUV and crossover tire with sport performance capabilities via outstanding dry grip coupled with excellent wet grip.” – MichelinMan.com

An OE tire for premium sport SUVs and Crossovers from Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, and more, the Latitude Sport 3 checks all of the boxes for a performance SUV/CUV tire.

The Latitude Sport 3 achieves measurably better traction in wet conditions than its predecessor, as well as improved fuel economy (meets Michelin’s “Green X” eco standard).

It doesn’t have quite the performance credentials of the ultra-high performance summer options like the Pilot Super Sport and Pilot Sport 4S, but if you require SUV- and CUV-specific tire specs like a higher load range, the Latitude Sport 3 is the best of both worlds.

Want some additional help tracking down the right Michelin performance tire for your ride? Give us a call at 866-961-8668.

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