Michelin Pilot Sport Passenger/Performance Tire

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The Best Extreme Performance Tire in the World

Nov 15, 2000 (Updated Sep 21, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Exceptional grip, Strong sidewalls, excellent reputation, radical but functional tread design

Cons:Price.....but it IS worth it!

The Bottom Line: Simply the best tires in the world, period.


I have been slowly upgrading my car, bit by bit, ever since the warranty ran out this past June. The first thing to go was the suspension which I replaced with an Eibach ProKit and KYB dampners. It was a great looking drop and improved the handling of the car. Once I got a camber kit to fix the camber that was wildly out of spec as a result of the drop and ruining the 14" tires I had on the stock wheels, the next key thing was new, larger wheels and tires. I decided on 17" rims. The next question was which tires to mount on these beautiful wheels (Team Dynamics Motorsport). I had a lot of choices before me, almost, if not more than, double, what was available even 18 MONTHS ago! Not just in s. cali, but all over the US, the custom market has grown by leaps and bounds. As a result, everyone and their brother has a new "performance" tire. The most common trend visible in the market today has been the move to hyper radical tread designs, some functional, some non-functional and nothing short of silly. There is also a broad range of prices, from as little as $87 to well over $200 per tire in the 17" size.

I had long considered Yokohama to be one of the premier performance tires out there, though their compounds are rather hard across the board. Some of the other brands I had considered besides Yoko (A520 or Parada) were, Toyo (Proxes T1-S), Nitto (450), and Dunlop (SP Sport 9000). In these we have a good representation of the variance in cost. The A520 can be had for as little as $101, where as the Toyo runs +/- $150, and then you have the Pilot Sport at anywhere from $206-$238, depending on where you buy. I got mine for $211, so I figure I got a good deal, but if you need it NOW, expect to pay a premium, this is not a tire that will ALWAYS be in stock like the average Michelin touring or passenger tire. It is specialized to an extreme and therefore often has to be ordered or found through a series of phone calls. I am not saying its rare, just unique.

The tread compound of this tire is a 220. This is soft, don't be fooled, you're NOT going to get 60,000 good miles out of these. It will probably be more like 30,000 sticky miles then grip going down from there. I say that in reference to rain, they will still perform just fine on the dry, though they will talk a bit at that mileage. They are equivalent (not better or worse, equal to) to the Bridgestone SO-2 Pole Position, but that tire has a compound hardness of only 140, reducing usable life dramatically, though the prices are comparable. Let's face facts though, neither of these is intended for longevity, they are made and used for the most spirited driving possible. The compound on this Pilot is actually harder than most Pilots they make, many are around 180 or so. By means of comparison, the Michelin Energy MXV4 is a 340 to 400 (depending on size). This is why they last so much longer, though if you drive like Michael Schumacher everywhere you go, it won't matter how hard they are, you're simply going to go through them faster.

Moving from a 195/65/14 to a 215/45/17 (and from an 'H' to a 'Z' rating) is more than just a night and day change, it has literally CHANGED my car! I was at a point, even when my camber was set properly, where I would squeal around large radius turns too; my suspension was so much better than my tires, they were being pushed further than their intend use. Not only have I got HALF the sidewall I once had, I am dealing with a compound that is half as hard. What this translates to is tremendously reduced sway of the body as a result of sidewal flex, but I can throw my car into tight turns now so hard and fast I almost scare myself. I don't hear a word from the tires; I have yet to make them talk and believe me, I've tried.

The dry traction of these tires will amaze you, this is especially true for those of you who have never driven this kind of rubber before. As I mentioned, they still haven't made a peep, no matter how ridiculously hard I dive into turns. I have gone from oversteer to understeer. I am no longer afraid of rogue gravel or asphalt of questionable integrity, I just point and my car dives there. I hate to use the expression, because so many people apply it innappropriately (IMO), but this car drives like it was on rails. It is faster in the turns, owing that primarily to the fact that there has been such a reduction in sidewall height. All that inertia that was once lost in sidewall flex and the tire not staying on track now remaines with me, enough even to pin me to my door in right handers.

The wet traction is unmatched. I have driven several different cars with "high performance" tires and without a doubt, these tires blow everything out of the water (see, its a joke, were talking about wet traction....), though the SP Sport 9000 comes admirably (for its price) close. With the Energy MXV4s on my car, I had doubts as to whether I would actually be able to panic stop or perform emergency maneuvers without hydroplaning (in standing or running water), not the case with the Pilot Sports. I feel just as confident (within reason) in the rain as i do in the dry. One of the rather unique results of this radical tread design is that you throw, virtually, rooster tails of the tires. I have had some dirty looks because of this, but hey, I don't mind, I stick, they won't. Simply put, a standing inch of water doesn't scare me, I'll drive right through unfazed (now, my cold air induction in an inch of water DOES scare me). Anyway, they are nearly as reliably sticky wet as they are dry, I was/am VERY impressed, and God knows for the price it BETTER be!

They do tend to have a little higher than normal road noise, but it isn't something I noticed till well after I had the tires for a while, I have a custom exhaust. Its not a roar like the Yoko A520, more of a pronounced whirring, and certainly nothing like the ZzZzZzZzZzZzZz sound you get from nobbyish tires, truck OR passenger. In a well insulated vehicle it is almost imperceptable, hence my only hearing it and identifying it recently. I can't really think of any other down side to these tires short of the price. However, with the performance that these tires offer, in spades, it is hard to think of purchasing a set from another manufacturer. I just don't believe this kind of performance could be matched in another tire product.

I guess the long and short of this is that if you are looking for a replacement to your stock tires that match an available size or you have upgraded to a larger tire and wheel combo, as I have, i strongly doubt you will feel any differently than I. These tires offer everything the enthusiast could possibly want in a premium performance offering from a company that has been around in excess of 100 years. Also, Michelin has never had a tread separation issue that has occured in death or injury, this is nice and reassuring. I have never had a problem with a Michelin, ever, and I also want to make clear the above reference isn't intended to imply that Bridgestone's may be faulty... same parent, different tires, different plants, and many of them are very good tires. Ironically, Michelin is also a major name in road bike tire too, hmmm, says something to me. Hope this helped in your decision making process. I will have pictures posted soon, go to my profile page and copy & paste. Happy driving!


*****UPDATE AS OF MAY 10, 2001*****

Thought I would give an update as to my satisfaction and the overall performance of the tire. Needless to say i have been nothing short of thrilled! The tyres have performed admirably considering its TX and VERY hot all the time (ie, the don't throw marbles as some tires this soft do when abused as I have these). I will be VERY lucky if I get a full 15,000 out of them, I am already looking into tires again. About 2/3 to maybe 3/4 of the tread is now gone and they are starting to talk in fast corners.....they never did this, so it fair to say they are coming close to their end. Although my camber is still slightly off (will these Eibachs EVER stop settling???) they have been very good tires. Just thought I'd share kids. So far the cheapest i have found them is $236, I am also thinking about Bridgestone SO-3s, they should be out by the time I need new tires and may be about $40 less per tyre. We'll see, I am really in love with this set of rubber!



*****UPDATE AS OF JULY 13, 2001*****

I have bought a set of Jumho Ecsta Supra 712 tires to replace these. They aren't Michelins, but for the price, they aren't bad. See my review for more.



*****UPDATE AS OF SEPTEMBER 21, 2001*****

These tires are now available in this size (215/45/17) for $185 (as opposed to $226) from the www.Tirerack.com, check their site for other sizes.



Drive safe and use your turnsignals!


Recommend this product? Yes

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