Michelin Pilot Super Sport and BMWs – A Performance Driving Review

Featured Posts, Interesting | September 5th, 2012 by 16
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Michelin’s new Pilot Super Sports have some very, very big shoes to fill. Michelin has developed them as the replacement of the much beloved Michelin …

Michelin’s new Pilot Super Sports have some very, very big shoes to fill. Michelin has developed them as the replacement of the much beloved Michelin Pilot Sport 2 (PS2). Not only are they supposed to perform better than the PS2 but they are supposed to last longer too.

Introduced to the motoring world in 2011, the Pilot Super Sports come factory installed on some wold class performance cars such as BMW’s new M6 and Ferrari’s 599 GTO. As BMWBLOG recently drove the Pilot Super Sports at Laguna Seca Race track during the press launch of the new M6, autocrossed them on an E90 M3 and has driven them on the F10 M5 launch in Spain, we figured it’d be a good time to scribe our review of them.

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Michelin claims the Pilot Super Sport is the world’s fastest series-produced tire on the race track. That’s a big claim and they provide a third party reference where the Pilot Super Sport recorded the fastest lap time in a dry-circuit test which was conducted against its five leading competitors in 2010 by TÜV SÜD Automotive, an independent organization, using 245/40 ZR 18 Y and 235/35 ZR 19 Y tires.

Michelin and BMW M

  • 100% of BMW M5’s are equipped with Michelin Pilot Super Sports
  • 100% of BMW M6’s are equipped with Michelin Pilot Super Sports
  • All BMW M3’s with 18” wheels
    are equipped with Michelin tires and 30% of the 19”

In the process of developing the Pilot Super Sport, Michelin manufactured and tested 2,200 tires for BMW M. And where would you guess Michelin would test performance tires for BMWs?

The Nordschleife of course and being a French company they also tested at Ladoux Testing center in France.


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The Pilot Super Sport is a unique combination of three technologies. A bi-compound approach taken directly from Michelin’s racing tires where the outside portion of the contact patch has a special elastomer which ensures endurance during cornering and the inside of the contact patch has a special tread design prevent hydroplaning in the wet. Michelin uses their “Twaron” reinforced belt which is lighter than steel but five times stronger in theses tires for strength.

The third innovative technology in the Pilot Super Sport is the “Variable Patch 2.0” – where do they come up with the names for this stuff? – it helps the contact patch change shape depending on driving conditions keeping more of the tire on the road to provide cornering grip.

Driving Impressions

Michelin set up an event where participants were able to compare Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires by autocross E90 M3 sedans. Autocross one then get out of it and drive an M3 outfitted with a competitor tires. Literally back to back. They even came with a pro racing driver sitting in the passenger seat to answer questions and make sure you didn’t kill yourself in the process. The tire I compared was Continental Sport Contact 3. Running the course back to back in the DCT equipped M3s, I noted the Michelins provided greater sense of control of the car and more predictable at the limit as well as greater grip. Now I will throw a disclaimer out there that I am not a pro driver, have no idea what the tire pressures were or even if both sets of tires had the same amount of wear on them. I did not have a reason though to think that the Michelin guys had sabotaged the Continentals. And yes that tool in the flip flops is me. I know, I know, should have have had my Pilotis on but hey it was a DCT and flip flops weren’t specifically excluded on their waiver forms.

Our Shawn Molnar has also shared his experience with the Michelin Pilot Supersorts:

The new F12 M6 was an amazing car on track. I have very little negative to say; it really is blazing fast. The tires on the new M6 are Pilot Super Sports and they are excellent. In a photo from Spain I managed to get the inside wheel up off the ground by an inch or so in the M5 while accelerating through a corner in Spain. That kind of grip is unheard of in a street tire. I did have them nice and hot though. These tires will get so sticky after putting heat in them that when you pit you’ll pick up gravel and sand off the track surface and spray it into the wheel well – again, that’s something normally only R comps do.

They also seem to last a very long time despite my sliding around. I’ve gotten similar performance out of Yokohamas and I’ve never driven these on track in the wet, I’m guessing they can’t quite match the Yokos for wet grip, but great all round tire for sure. They’re also quite civil when not pushing hard.

“Here is a video showing the partnership between Michelin and BMW for tire design on M cars,” said Shawn in email conversation. “I didn’t know this, but apparently this alliance dates back to tire development on the E28 M5 – I had no idea. The Michelin PSS are the only OEM recommended tire for the M5 and M6.”


I mentioned earlier that these are supposed to last longer than Michelin PS2s. How’s fifty percent more guaranteed sound? Interestingly they also come with Flat Tire Changing Assistance for 3 years where you call a toll-free number and Michelin will send presumably a tow truck out to change your tire, or tow you up to 150 miles if you have no spare.

Their warranty folding pamphlet is over 22 pages so I wont bore you with details, but they do say that the Pilot Super Sports are warrantied for 6 years or 30,000 miles, if same size exists front and rear, but only 15,000 if you have a staggered set up. All new M’s come with staggered setups, since I believe the 1995 M3’s 17×7.5s 235/40/17s square set up. 15,000 miles for a set of 295/30/20’s rear tires on a new M5 isn’t bad at all especially if you have a lead foot. PS2s which are still available with a 20,000 mile same front/rear warranty and 10,000 if staggered. If you want more details on size availability and prices check out TireRack.com, my favorite source for tires.

It’s interesting to see how much BMW and Michelin worked together to develop a tire that met M division’s specifications, and it gives hope to those of us that like to visit the track in a BMW that the LSD and non-runflats performance tires will soldier on M models.

Aside from lap times on a track with the same atmospheric conditions and the same driver on the same day, describing handling of a tire in writing is pretty tough, and of course subjective. But know this, when my current PS2s are worn, I am going to replace them with a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sports.

16 responses to “Michelin Pilot Super Sport and BMWs – A Performance Driving Review”

  1. Awesome article, Chuck! These are great tires. Interesting video on the partnership between Michelin and BMW M.

  2. Guest says:

    I can recommend these tires from personal experience. I replaced the Dunlop run-flats on my 2010 535 xDrive staggered setup with PSS. It’s like a new and much better car. Amazing.

  3. StraightSix says:

    Hopefully he didn’t drive with those flip flops, did he? :D

  4. Jonathan D. says:

    Awesome article!! Very informative and now I know what wheels my next M car will have

  5. Michael M says:

    I’ve had Pilot Super Sports on my E90 M3 for 16k miles and over a year now and they still have plenty of tread left. Can’t say the same for the PS2s that came on the car, which were showing cord at 14k miles.

    I have a set for my MINI Cooper S coming today!

  6. Peter says:

    These tyres are good except they do have 3 flaws. I have these on my own car now. I had the Yokohama Advan sport before these and I will compare the two.

    1) They have much slower turn in and with harder corners a lot more steering input is required to keep the car on track. This decreases driver confidence. The ultimate grip in the dry and wet is great though. 2)the sidewall is too soft and flexes too much so for heavier cars. When turning hard you can really feel the sidewall flexing. I had the Yokohama advan sports before these and while they are not as good as the Michelins in outright grip or comfort or noise. They turned in far better and initial turn in was more precise. Road feedback was also superior. You could feel everything the front tyres were doing. It was a lot more confidence inspiring. Much less sidewall flex too.3) Larger bumps are quite harsh.
    Overall I am happy with this tyre in some ways but the steering response and turn in really disappoint me. It really decreases your driver confidence. If you read the BMW M5 reviews you will see that the majority of them say that the steering on centre feels numb. All because of the soft sideweall tyre being on a 2 ton car. Also notice how much steering input is required in cornering during one of the reviews.I am going for the advan neova AD08.This tyre will peform much better in the dry and have far better steering response and turn in but will have increased NVH, and wont perform as well in the wet.I guess there are tradeoffs..If you are used to a stiff sidewall tyre with great steering response and turn in there is a good chance you may not like the feel of the Michelins.If anyone has any opinions or thoughts to share please email me at evroulli@bigpond.com

  7. N Piper says:

    and the 335i gets f’ing bridgestone rft, changing these to michelin as soon as

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