I’ve had three months to get acquainted with the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S ultra-high performance summer max tires. Quite frankly, I haven’t logged an overwhelming number of miles, but have covered a lot of territory in wet conditions and dedicated a day finding the limits on a closed course.
To backtrack a few months, I was totally enamored with the PS4S tires during the break-in period the first couple hundred miles. Right away, the grip was fearsome, and their ability to soak up the small imperfections in the road shames the competition. Not only was the ride plushier than the Contis they replaced, but they were also a wee bit quieter according to my sound meter tests.
Pushing the limits
Next up was some track time at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The historic track was dry, and temps were in the mid-sixties. There was enough tread life left on the set of ExtremeContactSport tires from the previous long-term test to run several 20-minute sessions. That reminded us what incredible traction the Continentals can reach on a 2.24 mile, 11-turn racecourse. After the lunch break, I switched tires and used the Michelins for the remaining time.
I loved how the PS4S felt planted at all speeds in the corners. Impressive were steering response and their tenacious grip. However, the Conti ExtremeContact Sport tires had great feedback and turn-in response a smidge better than the Michelins—especially when pushing the limits of the tires. My theory is that Michelin traded some steering response for better ride comfort.
Granted, we’re talking about differences perceptible only when compared in back-to-back driving tests or maybe on an autocross course where fractions of a second can move you from first to third place in a heartbeat. On my daily driver, I would personally give up a tiny less steering response for a smoother ride.
When California’s rainy season finally kicked in, I discovered traction on wet roads was absolutely fantastic. I borrowed a BMW X3 with huge Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tires for a 1,200-mile trip to and from southern California. The entire time, the rain soaked the roads every day of my journey and capped my speed on the long ribbons of highway beneath me.
Hydroplaning. What’s that? Without a doubt, my confidence driving in the heavy rain never faltered with the Michelins.
Three-month tire verdict
I learned a hard lesson at the beginning of this long-term test—pay extra for a road hazard warranty if offered by your tire shop. The Michelins are pricier than their competitors, but the impact on your pocketbook is less if you happen to damage one of them beyond repair. Sadly, within the first week of the test, I picked up a sheet metal screw in a spot where a tire plug wouldn’t work. There was no other option except to replace the tire. Now my checking account has a hole in it, too.
Extra up-front cost aside, the Pilot Sport 4 S tires are great for people who enjoy spirited driving, who might do an occasional track day, and appreciate the ride comfort built for which Michelin is known. Now, I can’t wait to put more miles on them and report on the results.