Michelin Pilot Super Sport Review: Starts to Show its Age

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  • Outstanding cornering grip on dry roads
  • Exceptional traction for quick acceleration
  • Super-short braking distances on dry surfaces
  • A very responsive and direct steering
  • The tire provides excellent feedback from the road, even when pushed to the limit
  • Easily controllable at the limit
  • The 30,000-mile treadwear warranty is pretty amazing for a performance summer tire
  • Wet grip is worse than more modern competitors
  • Harsh ride quality and a lot of vibrations when driving over uneven roads
  • Noisy on most roads

Few things are better than being behind the wheel of a performance car and driving on your favorite twisty road or track. That connection that you have with a vehicle that can achieve mind-blowing performance is hard to explain, yet so charming and appealing.

The only thing that you need to enjoy driving, apart from a good sports car, is a set of nice performance tires. This is something that most drivers forget about, which is why I always try to remind them – tires are the single most important thing for a better driving experience. Forget about tuning your engine for more power – it’s the tires that make the largest difference.

And, for over a decade, one of the most popular performance tire options for owners of premium sports cars was the Michelin Pilot Super Sport. This tire already has a successor in the Pilot Sport 4S, sure, but Michelin still offers the tire in many popular sizes.

The reason? Well, many sports cars in the last decade were developed with the Pilot Super Sport tires. So, in theory, if you want to get the most out of your car, you will need to continue to use these tires.

Moreover, the Pilot Super Sport is also slightly cheaper than before, which might lure some buyers that want to save money. Compared to the successor, the Pilot Sport 4S, this model costs around 10-20% less on sizes larger than 19-inch wheel diameter.

Now, that is expected from a product that was launched over a decade ago. However, let me remind you that Michelin primarily developed the Pilot Super Sport for the Ferrari 599 GTO, which at the time was one of the highest-performing supercars on the market.

Also, many performance-car manufacturers opted to use the Pilot Super Sport in their highest-performing models, including Porsche, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz, to name a few.

On top of that, the tire utilizes a motorsport-derived construction process. More accurately, the tire is born from endurance racing, and especially the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Thanks to that race, Michelin was able to learn how to make the tire perform at the highest level, while also providing long treadlife.

The Michelin Pilot Super Sport is still offered in many popular tire sizes, starting from 17-inch wheel diameter and up to 22-inch wheel diameter. These dimensions cover most popular sports cars, including hot hatches, sports coupes, supercars, and even some performance SUVs.

With that said, how does the Pilot Super Sport compare to the more modern competitors? Well, I won’t be able to answer that question right away – you will still need to read the complete Michelin Pilot Super Sport review. Down below, I’ll tell you how the tire feels on street and track, and also how it compares to other max-performance tires.

Before we do that, though, let’s see what features Michelin utilized in the Pilot Super Sport to make it a viable option for owners of some of the best cars on the planet.

Michelin Pilot Super Sport Review

On its website, Michelin states that the Pilot Super Sport is a tire born from endurance racing. The marketing speech continues with statements such as “ultimate precision handling” and “long street & track treadlife.”

Moreover, thanks to the 13 consecutive victories for Michelin at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the French manufacturer states that the Pilot Super Sport offers 12% better handling than the competitors. However, those claims are connected to tires from a decade before, not the more modern competitors.

Furthermore, Michelin also states that the Pilot Super Sport has double the treadlife of the competition and better braking than most max-performance tires.

To achieve all these things, Michelin utilized the Bi-Compound tread rubber, which features a Le Mans inspired dry compound on the outer shoulders, and a wet compound on the inboard shoulders.

More accurately, the low-void outboard shoulders utilize a track-ready compound, which provides the driver with outstanding cornering grip. In contrast, the notched center ribs and inboard shoulders utilize a compound that improves traction and hydroplaning resistance on wet roads.

The internal construction of the Pilot Super Sport is also very advanced for the time. The twin steel belts are usual for a max-performance tire, but it’s the spirally-wound Twaron cord that differentiates the tire from the competition.

Twaron is a material that offers superior strength reinforcement, without adding too much weight to the tire. The cord is then wounded around the circumference of the tire using the FAZ Technology (Filament At Zero degrees).

According to Michelin, the use of this material contributed to a 10% lower overall weight of the tires, which dramatically lowers the unsprung weight for better handling and performance.

Finally, some sizes of the Pilot Super Sport come with the Michelin Acoustic Technology, which is a sound-absorbing foam attached to the inner liner of the tire. This material lowers the road noise that enters the cabin.

What are the maintenance indicators?

Michelin utilizes the ubiquitous tread wear indicators (TWI’s) on the Pilot Super Sport. These indicators show the driver when it’s time to replace the tires, which is very important for retaining safe traction on wet surfaces.

The TWI’s are narrow rubber bars that you can find sitting recessed inside the grooves of the tire. As the tread wears down, these bars will become more visible.

When the tread falls to 2/32-inch, which is the legal limit, the tread wear indicators will sit completely flush with the surface of the tread.

Once the rubber bars are apparent, you will need to replace the tires immediately. Otherwise, you risk losing reliable wet traction and hydroplaning resistance. The tires might still be useful for driving on the track, but they still won’t be legal for street driving.

Fortunately, Michelin provides a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty on the Pilot Super Sport. And, while this may not sound like much to drivers that are accustomed to touring tires, the warranty is simply exceptional for a max-performance summer tire.

Right now, no other premium tire manufacturer provides treadwear warranties on their max-performance tires, which puts the Pilot Super Sport, and its successor, the Pilot Sport 4S, in a unique position on the market.

How does it behave on a dry tarmac?

Although the Pilot Super Sport is over a decade old by now, it can still provide the driver with a lot of thrills behind the steering wheel.

From the get-go, the tire feels very responsive and direct, and it only gets better as it reaches its working temperature. The grip levels are astounding as well, almost on-par with the more modern competitors. Meanwhile, high-speed stability is simply exceptional, and the braking distances are super short.

The thing that I like the most about the Pilot Super Sport is that it is easily controllable at the limit – you can play with these tires all day long. Also, the tire provides granular feedback from the road, even when pushed to the limit.

How is it over wet and slippery roads?

Michelin Pilot Super Sport Review

The Pilot Super Sport was competitive on wet surfaces when it was new. However, today, you can find many max-performance summer tires that perform better in these conditions.

It’s not that the tire is not safe – you’re still getting reliable traction and good braking. However, you can’t push your vehicle to the limit like you could on the successor, the Pilot Sport 4S, or the Continental Sport Contact 6.

With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?

The Pilot Super Sport isn’t designed for freezing conditions, and especially not for driving over snow and ice. Moreover, the tread compound can warp in very cold temperatures, even when stored during the winter.

Is it suitable for off-road driving?

Hell no! The Pilot Super Sport doesn’t have enough tread depth for slippery off-road surfaces. Moreover, the sticky rubber picks up debris very easily, which will destroy the tread in no time.

Is it comfortable and refined?

This is another area where the Pilot Super Sport falls behind the newer competitors. The ride quality is decidedly harsh, especially over rough and uneven surfaces. Also, road noise is much more pronounced, specifically over rough pavement.

Should I buy the Michelin Pilot Super Sport?

Well, if you want the best possible max-performance tire on the market right now, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S is a better option, and so is the Continental Sport Contact 6. These tires offer only slightly better dry performance, but also much better wet performance.

Still, if you can get a good deal on the Pilot Super Sport, go and get it. The tire is still one of the best in terms of involvement and performance on the track and street. Moreover, the treadlife and treadwear warranty is superb, especially when compared to some low-cost alternatives.

You can see more Michelin Pilot Super Sport Review here: Video created by everythingdiy

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