Inside look at Pirelli Performance tires

Inside look at Pirelli Performance tires

Finding a new set of performance tires for your ride should be fun and easy, but if you’re not fully in touch with the latest developments in the category, the abundance of options might be overwhelming.

Pirelli’s current collection of high performance tires is illustrative of the wide variety of choices. So with the Pirelli lineup in view, let’s decode the available options and get you rolling in the right direction.

Pirelli PZero Summer Performance tire (road use)

Until recent times, “Performance Tires” and “Summer Performance” tires were basically synonymous. Summer Performance tires have been the go-to choice as original equipment on performance vehicles for generations. And while many new types of performance tires have arrived on the scene, street-oriented Summer Performance tires like Pirelli’s PZero remain the conventional choice for vehicle manufacturers and driving enthusiasts alike.

The Pirelli PZero is engineered for street driving purposes in warm weather, and has been honed over decades and generations. If you’re inclined toward the tried and true, no other category of performance tire has been subject to more development or has more history. The PZero, for example, was launched as a street tire in 1986.

The result of all of that mileage, data, and history? Just flat out excellent tires that are a fit for OE applications on performance cars and supercars, as well as aftermarket fitments that can enhance the enjoyment factor of any vehicle with performance DNA.

Top tier Performance Summer tires like the PZero deliver:

  • Excellent grip for the street in both wet and dry conditions
  • Water evacuation and anti-hydroplane tread technologies
  • Traction characteristics that suit modern performance cars and supercars
  • Great road feedback
  • Good comfort and low road noise
  • Reasonable treadlife and mileage. (Some options come with a treadlife warranty.)

Limitations? The PZero is not fit for cold temperatures (below about 40° F), and it’s not engineered for dedicated performance driving purposes – for example, sustained hard use during track days or performance driving events.

If you’re looking for temperature flexibility or recreational performance driving potential, you’ll probably want to consider alternative options.

Pirelli PZero Corsa Summer Performance tire (road & track use)

In response to the growing number of enthusiasts who use their vehicle both on-road and for occasional performance driving events, Pirelli and other manufacturers have developed a more aggressive, “hybrid” type of Summer Performance tire that’s capable of performing in both environments.

The PZero Corsa steps up from the standard PZero in terms of maximum grip level and performance driving durability. Perhaps the primary advantage of the PZero Corsa as compared to the PZero is flexibility, and no-hassle participation in performance driving events (the ability to drive to and from the track on the same set of tires).

In exchange for the grippier compound and durability on track, the PZero Corsa sacrifices overall treadlife and street mileage potential when compared to the purely street-oriented PZero.

And while the latest PZero Corsa includes a noise cancelling technology, this category of more aggressive Summer Performance tire is typically associated with less ideal comfort characteristics. The stiffened, reinforced sidewalls and track-oriented compounds provide less compliance, and produce more road noise.

The New PZero Corsa is a tire that brings the best of motorsport technology both on the road and on tracks… The racing type compounds allow to achieve an extreme handling and best levels of braking and traction. - Pirelli.com

Pirelli PZero Trofeo R Summer Performance tire (track-focused, street legal)

The PZero Trofeo R speaks to drivers who consider public road driving idle time between track events.

Classified by Pirelli as a “Motorsport tire,” the PZero Trofeo R is a notable step up from the PZero Corsa in terms of dry race track performance, durability, and traction characteristics. In exchange, however, suitability for on-road driving purposes is severely diminished. While street legal, the PZero Trofeo R is not particularly at home or capable when accumulating mileage on public roads.

Pirelli’s description of the extreme PZero Trofeo R, including cautionary guidance with regard to its use in wet conditions, says it all.

Designed for racetrack driving on dry asphalt. Developed to provide even greater performance - on the occasion of Track Days… With PZero Trofeo R you can fully appreciate the performance of extreme vehicles in complete safety, especially on the track… PZero™ Trofeo R is not recommended for use in very wet track conditions. Specific for racetrack driving, it is approved for road use, enabling travel to the track. In the event of very wet asphalt, with the risk of aquaplaning, prudent driving at reduced speed is recommended. - Pirelli.com

Pirelli Trofeo R for the track

At the opposite end of the spectrum from the much focused PZero Trofeo R is the PZero All Season Plus.

The PZero All Season Plus delivers year-round versatility, and allows drivers to enjoy most of the performance characteristics and dynamics of the PZero (Summer Performance) without the temperature and road condition limitations. The PZero All Season Plus permits northern enthusiasts the flexibility to use their performance vehicles as intended on a year-round basis.

Pirelli All Season Plus offers year round versatility

The PZero All Season Plus delivers excellent grip on dry and wet roads in both warm and cold conditions. Comfort characteristics and mileage are also strong points. (The PZero All Season Plus is eligible for up to a 50,000 mile treadlife warranty.)

The PZero All Season Plus is functional in light wintry conditions as well, although much the same as other All Season tires, its performance potential in harsher winter conditions shouldn’t be overestimated. (See All-Season vs. All-Weather tires for more information.)

Pirelli PZero Rosso Summer Performance tire (road use, comfort orientation)

At first glance, the PZero Rosso might seem like a case of the pie being sliced too thin. However, it’s a great example of how individual specification and preference within a given performance tire category can be achieved.

As compared to the standard PZero Summer Performance Tire, the PZero Rosso gives up just a bit of maximum performance and grip in exchange for superior comfort attributes. If you’re not the canyon carving type, and don’t “lean” on your tires with regularity, the superior comfort of the PZero Rosso might be the most enjoyable fit.

“In addition to the sports performance, PZero ROSSO promotes the concept of comfort through the special construction of the carcass, which combines performance with the comfort features typical of high-performance flagship cars.” - Pirelli.com

These days, enthusiasts have a suite of performance tire types to choose from, and tire characteristic variability within each of those categories as well. It’s never been more possible to find the perfect performance tire fit for your vehicle and purposes.

If we can help guide you through the wide variety of modern performance tire options, give us a call at 866-961-8668.

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