Tire Review: Michelin Pilot Super Sport on a BMW M4

Car Tips, Interesting | October 12th, 2015 by 6
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There is no question that the Michelin Pilot Super Sport is the performance tire of the moment. Found on a wide (and increasing) variety of performance cars, …

There is no question that the Michelin Pilot Super Sport is the performance tire of the moment. Found on a wide (and increasing) variety of performance cars, the Michelin Pilot Super Sport has become the go-to tire for this generation of performance coupes and sedans.

​It seems that nearly every manufacturer is intent on fitting the Michelin Pilot Super Sport to their performance car lineup for fear of the disadvantage that would come with any other tire. BMW M4, Ferrari 488 GTB Fiorano, Cadillac ATS-V, Mercedes-AMG C63S, BMW X6M… the list goes on. Whether coupe, sedan, or performance SUV, the Pilot Super Sport has proven brilliant in all applications to date.

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After some time on road and track with the Pilot Super Sport (and BMW M4) we can confirm its all-around excellence.

On the Road 

Despite its very performance oriented foundation, the Pilot Super Sport is fundamentally a road tire. It’s engineered to handle everything from the daily grind in dry or wet conditions, to spirited canyon road drives. And being that it is a road tire, comfort characteristics are also key.

In all areas the Pilot Super Sport excels.

​ Driven back to back with the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2, the Pilot Super Sport is immediately superior to its predecessor when it comes to road noise. We perceived a notable decrease in road noise, especially at certain speeds and with particular road surfaces that make the PS2 prone to some “hum” and “slap.” No such issues with the Pilot Super Sport.

Don’t expect surprising bump and rough road compliance, but being that the Pilot Super Sport is fitted only to performance vehicles with firm suspension, this should come as no surprise. Certainly the Pilot Super Sport doesn’t work against ride comfort with any performance vehicle.

On the road you’re of course just scratching the surface of what the Pilot Super Sport is capable of, but well short of the limit it’s communicative and immediately responsive.

We’d go so far as to say that the Pilot Super Sport works as an antidote for the numbness and lack of tactility associated with modern electric steering systems.

In the Wet 

If you’re no stranger to our site content, then you might have heard us drone on (and on) about the Continental ExtremeContact DW in the wet. We’re pretty sure that Continental brokered a deal with the rain Gods when they made that tire…

But anyways, the Michelin Pilot Super Sport is nearly that good, and that confidence-inspiring. Hydroplaning? Perhaps at Autobahn speeds with standing water, but not in any realistic scenario. Wet road cornering grip? Excellent. Braking performance? Same.

The Pilot Super Sport provides unimpeachable wet road performance.

Track Performance

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When it comes to max performance summer tires and track performance, the Pilot Super Sport has redefined what’s possible. Whereas before there was a distinct performance delta between max performance summer tires and the more “extreme” performance, track-focused options like the Hankook Ventus R-S3, the Pilot Super Sport has blurred that line.

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In fact, over one hot lap we’re not sure that the Pilot Super Sport lacks any pace as compared to the aforementioned Hankook, or other proven extreme performance summer options like the Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 and Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec. And should you be dealing with a wet or damp track, the Pilot Super Sport gaps the majority of extreme performance tire options by some margin.

Where the distinction remains is over the duration of an entire session where the Pilot Super Sport is just not as capable of delivering absolute consistent lap after lap performance. Advanced track drivers can and will no doubt exceed its heat threshold after some laps. The Pilot Super Sport is a 2-3 laps “on” 1-2 laps “off” kind of track tire, and after too many hot laps the Pilot Super Sport will go “greasy.”

But that’s a relatively hollow criticism considering its road orientation, everyday usability, and overall street friendliness. To say that the Pilot Super Sport is a capable enough tire for beginner and intermediate track drivers is an understatement. And even advanced drivers who can hold back for a few laps here and there will find plenty to like about the Pilot Super Sport on track.

In the Motor Trend Best Driver’s Car contest, the Mercedes AMG C63S, Cadillac ATS-V, and BMW M4 all lapped within one second of each other at Laguna Seca. Across the vehicle platforms there are numerous and significant mechanical differences, but they share a common tire — the Michelin Pilot Super Sport.

We don’t think that the lap time consistency and common tire is a coincidence. The Pilot Super Sport is just that influential on overall vehicle performance and dynamics. Assign different performance tires to each of the three vehicles and the lap time parity would be no more.

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Treadlife

The Pilot Super Sport pictured above is a rear tire with 8,000 miles, 3 track days, and, let’s say, more than ten but fewer than fifty M4 “smokey burnouts” to its credit.

The rears are getting toward the end of their life cycle now, but are still comfortably north of the 2/32″ tread bars. They might see 10,000-12,000 miles total if driven exclusively on road from here on out.

The fronts, which were not quite so abused, have about double the tread of the rears.

If driven with some semblance of sympathy, the Pilot Super Sport will just about match any other max performance summer tire option for treadlife while delivering superior performance. (In terms of strictly street use treadlife, the Continental ExtremeContact DW is a close match.) Every indication is that the Pilot Super Sport lives up to its strong 300 treadwear rating.

Conclusion

The Michelin Pilot Super Sport has moved the game forward, and changed the performance tire landscape for good.

Road manners, versatility, optimum dynamics, communication and responsiveness, road and track performance, treadlife, the Pilot Super Sport has it all.

The Pilot Super Sport is simply the best max performance street tire ever made, and the clear benchmark moving forward. If the other manufacturers will step up to the challenge, things in the performance tire arena are about to get very, very good.

Visit MinimumTread.com for more tire reviews, as well as tire deals from some of the top online tire retailers. 

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