In some of our reviews of Michelin touring tires — like the Primacy MXM4 and the Primacy A/S 3+ — we’ve praised their performance in almost all conditions. However, those praises are relative to their segment; touring tires aren’t known for even decent traction or precision handling, especially when compared to something like the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S.
No grand-touring tires (including the MXM4 and the A/S 3+) can come close to the handling, traction, and responsiveness of the best max-performance offerings from the same brands. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S proves that.
No matter how many positive critiques those grand-touring tires get in terms of performance, they’ll still be humbled by the Pilot Sport 4S on a race track.
That’s because while tourers primarily focus on achieving a longer tread life, a comfortable ride quality, and minimum road noise — the sporty segment doesn’t care about any of those things. It mainly aims to provide the best possible driving experience in the sharpest corners and the wettest conditions.
In this review, we’ll look into the performance of the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S — the max-performance successor to the classic Pilot Super Sport. Let’s get started!
Overview — Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
Like its predecessor, Michelin claims that the 4S is meant for endurance racing with the ultimate wet performance and industry-leading dry traction.
The company tags it as the “new #1 in max-performance summer tires” — along with other huge claims. According to Michelin, the Pilot Sport 4S offers the best-wet track lap time, shortest dry stopping distance, and ‘benchmark dry traction.’ That self-belief deserves some respect, but what makes them so confident?
Well, a lot of thought and R & D has gone into making this tire’s ‘industry-leading’ performance possible. The engineers utilized valuable findings of the 24 Hours of Le Mans team to ensure peak performance and durability.
The tread compound stays true to Michelin’s claims about the tire’s origin being endurance racing. It’s based on a tread rubber that focuses on achieving optimal dry-track performance. It significantly enhances the tire’s braking and handling as compared to its predecessor.
Some other implemented technologies include Variable Contact Patch 3.0 for improved durability, Acoustic Technology for a somewhat quieter ride, and the Premium Touch sidewall for better aesthetics.
Just like its previous model — the Pilot Super Sport — Michelin has stuck to the Tread Wear Indicators (TWI’s). If you don’t know how they work, they’re built into the tire’s grooves and become more visible as the grooves wear out.
Once they’re flush with the tread surface, that’s when the driver knows it’s time for a replacement. Worn tires are not safely usable in wet conditions due to compromised traction and hydroplaning resistance.
You shouldn’t even wait for the TWIs to sit completely flush with the surface for optimal on-track performance.
Aside from its predecessor, the Pilot Sport 4S is the only max-performance tire in the market that offers a 30,000—mile treadwear warranty.
Words can’t do justice to how well the Pilot Sport 4S performance on dry tarmac. It’s one of those things you simply need to feel firsthand. It genuinely represents the best of the modern industry within the max-performance market segment.
Michelin has raised the max-performance bar with the Pilot Sport 4s, making it a worthy successor to the decade-long classic — the Pilot Super Sport.
The tire feels slightly softer than what you’d expect from a sporty tire, but that’s bearable as it helps improve the ride quality for passengers.
These tires reveal their true capabilities when you push them at higher speeds. The impeccable steering response makes the vehicle super easy to control even as you come out of tight corners.
The ride is exceptionally stable, with precise handling at all speeds. The road grip is unparalleled, allowing drivers to push sports cars to the limit without losing traction.
The traction levels are just as astounding as you accelerate and swerve at higher speeds. Coming to a sudden stop is not a problem either because the braking seems to hold up to Michelin’s claims of some of the shortest stopping distances in the segment.
What makes these tires even sweeter is that they don’t require a warm-up to offer excellent performance. They make their presence known right off the bat, and that’s a treat for drivers.
The tire serves drifters well, too — thanks to great control at higher speeds.
We’d say it certainly sets an all-new benchmark for all other max-performance summer tires in the market.
The super-sticky tread compound is one of the qualities that the Michelin has carried over from the Pilot Super Sport to the Pilot Sport 4S. Except, it seems to be even stickier on the 4S — making wet traction a walk in the park.
The tire performs exceptionally well in wet conditions — so much so that almost everything said in the dry on-road section above also holds here.
The tire corners well, maintains outstanding traction even at higher speeds and stops in impressively short distances.
Hydroplaning resistance does leave you asking for a bit more, though. That’s probably due to narrow grooves on the inside that can’t carry out as much water in heavier wet conditions. However, it’s certainly good enough in most cases.
Off-Roading and Snow Performance
Just like its predecessor (and all other max-performance summer tires) — off-road tracks and snowy roads are the unfriendliest conditions for the Pilot Sport 4S.
The design isn’t meant for rough hardpacked surfaces or freezing conditions. It’ll lack traction and get damaged very quickly under any of those circumstances.
While most sporty tires don’t have much in store for ride comfort, the Pilot Sport 4S does have a slight edge in this area with its softer sidewalls.
With these tires, you get one of the most comfortable rides that the max-performance category has to offer. No petrolheads would care about this, though — but hey, we’re not complaining.
If you’ve got a sports car and don’t want absolutely any compromises on performance with your next tire upgrade, you can blindly go with the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. However, if you’ve got tight budget constraints, this one might be slightly over your range.