Michelin officially launches Pilot Sport 4
Race on Sunday, sell on Monday
Michelin has worked with Formula E to develop the tread pattern on Pilot Sport 4 and this is not just sales talk. When looking at the actual tread pattern and the “land and sea” or ratio between rubber and no rubber on the tire face, it’s clear that this is a road going version of the Formula E tire. The tire also features technology that allows the tires contact patch to not lose size under load, despite hard cornering.
Wet weather performance
We sampled the tire on the skid pan and if patience is practiced, the front of the C180 Mercedes Benz loaded predictably even on the ultra-low grip skid pan. Wet weather grip is above average and this is thanks to the water dispersing technology. Even the angles of the tire at its side are taken into consideration making the Pilot Sport 4 a good all round performer.
High Performance driving
With only 2 laps around the unknown short track at Kyalami I wasn’t going to get anywhere near the handling limits of the Mercedes C180 or the Pilot Sports contact patches. And contact was the last thing I wanted to make with the looming armco barrier around the tight twisty Kyalami Dynamic Handling Circuit.
What I will say is that the grip is substantial and I had fun pushing the car to about 60% of its capabilities. My instructor, Jannie had at this stage gotten to grips with the car and the tires and did two very quick and competent laps, allowing me, at least from the suicide seat, to feel what the car/tire combination could do. The grip felt predictable and when the car did understeer or run wide the grip returned exactly as communicated through the seat of the pants. The car also tucked in nicely when off throttle and all in all the car felt in control and balanced. This could obviously be attributed to the car not the tire so a more sensical test would be to do a back to back comparison with competitors or the outgoing and aging Michelin Pilot Sport 3.
High speed stability and low noise.
Michelin PS4 comes with a special belt around the middle circumference of the tire that allows for less deformation at high speed and hard braking. If you’ve ever seen a drag radial warp and flex, well, not that! This allows the tire to stay flat and true during high speed manoeuvres. Michelin PS4 has good noise ratings based on independent tests but Porsche has taken it one step further by partnering with Michelin to develop a special version of the Pilot Sport 4 with extra noise dampening. Currently this option is only available on the Panamera.
My Personal choice.
Late last year I went tire shopping for a performance tire for my Honda S2000 and although the Pilot Sport wasn’t the most cost effective tire out there, most S2000 owners agreed it offered the best all round package for wet and dry conditions, especially considering the S2000’s propensity for hedge hunting backwards on rainy days. The results were remarkable, if a little too remarkable. My old tires were so worn and slick that I had gotten used to the slip the car generated during hard cornering. This was completely gone with the Michelin PS4 and disappointingly the fun nature of the S2000 on older tires had morphed into grip like old gum stuck on the bottom of my shoe. Even in the wet oversteer was a differential torturing exercise and I soon realized that the Michelin PS4 is tire with massive amounts of lateral and horizontal grip in wet and dry conditions. When high grip is needed and the odd track day a reality, Pilot Sport 4 is a superb choice.
Pilot Sport is available in various sizes found on performance cars available at all Michelin Dealers countrywide.