When one of the biggest names in the tire industry releases a new product, it’s not just news — it’s an event. And that’s precisely what the release of Michelin’s latest ultra high performance summer tire, the Pilot Sport 4S, was.
The tiremaker held an official launch in Southern California to demonstrate its claims of the new rubber being first in dry braking, first in wet braking and first in dry lap times, determined through third party evaluation done in Germany.
A quick briefer on the PS4S — the model replaces the outgoing Pilot Super Sport, made with big horsepower sedans and sports cars in mind and boasts a Y speed rating with a top speed capability of 300 km/h.
Funny enough upon arrival in SoCal, the normally sunny region experienced an uncharacteristic torrential downpour that made it difficult to see just how the model performed in dry conditions. Nevertheless, spirits remained undampened, and we set off on the journey’s first leg driving various fast cars, like an Audi R8, equipped with PS4S’ through a rain-slicked Joshua Tree National Park.
A new proprietary construction containing high levels of silica concentrated on the inboard side of the tread allowed the vehicle to stay composed even while cornering through and braking in the water pooled up on the pavement.
Fortunately, by the time we got to local raceway Thermal Club in the afternoon, the sky was slowly clearing up. There, a part of the track was sectioned off into a decently sized slalom and BMW 340is were ready and waiting, wearing not only PS4S but also comparable competitor rubber like Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position. Around the slightly damp course, the Michelins definitely provided more grip when taking turns at speed. The biggest surprise, however, was the markedly shorter stopping distance at the end of the run after slamming on the brakes.
The rest of the day was spent following an instructor, in small groups, around a proper section of the track, piloting a selection of BMW M2, M3 and M4 sedans to see how the tires truly behaved when pushed. We were reminded that while ultra high performance in nature, the PS4S is not intended for dedicated race applications.
The Michelin PS4S is on sale now, available in 35 different sizes for wheels 18 to 20 inches in diameter.