They’re round, made of rubber and are one of the most important and overlooked parts of your automobile. I’m speaking of course about your cars tires and I must say there’s a helluva’ lot more to them than meets the eye. Since tires are a consumable item people tend to spend more time choosing what they’re going to wear in the morning, than on a piece of equipment that could end up saving their lives. Thankfully though, you have us. The motoring press, the journalists and the die-hard car enthusiasts who try and do our best to educate you on what’s good, bad and downright junk.
This past week I had the opportunity to head down to New Orleans and test out Michelin’s newest all-season tire, the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3. However before I share my thoughts with you I want everyone to be aware of something. First off, I’m not getting paid to write this review. Second, I go through A LOT of tires, both high-performance and all-season. And third, I was extremely curious to see if this was going to be some kind of bullshit media event or an all out real life test in real world conditions.
After checking into the hotel I headed down to the bar where I was greeted by the Michelin staff elite. Designers, engineers, test drivers and public relations people were all on hand to answer our questions. Understand that for the most part, tire testing is done in such a way where the manufacturer will let you test their tires at an event, but will generally not run side by side comparisons. The reason; they never want to look bad if their product loses. The Michelin folks assured me that I wouldn’t be disappointed and to simply wait until the next days event.
I awoke tired, but feeling good, headed down to the lobby and fetched a strong cup of coffee and a few beignets (I love New Orleans). We then jumped on the shuttle bus and headed to NOLA Motorsports Park which lay about 30 minutes from the cities French Quarter. Once at the facility I realized all the talk I heard the night before was coming true, and that this was not in fact some bullshit test, but a full-on smash session whereby yours truly (and everyone else) was going to get the opportunity to pound Michelins’ newest all-season tire into the ground against comparable tires from Continental, Goodyear, Bridgestone, Yokohama and Pirelli.
Keep in mind that each car, regardless of the test performed, was set-up to exact manufacturer specifications to help ensure accurate results. We rated the tires under the following categories:
• Overall Grip: Peak lateral grip in steady state cornering, acceleration out of corners without wheel spin, braking into corners without ABS initiation.
• Performance Consistency: Consistency of pace and grip from first to last lap.
• Progessivity: Controllablity beyond the limit: Easy to drive slow, predictable, breakaway.
• Test 1
The wet skid pad / Car: Audi A4 / Competitors tires (Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position, Continental ExtremeContact DWS, Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-season).
– Winner: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3: Simply amazed at how much grip these tires had under very slick conditions. Great under hard cornering and emergency maneuvers with little or no slide under heavy water breaking.
– Second: Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-season: Decent grip, with a bit less turn in response. Not as confidence inspiring under wet cornering.
– Third: Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position: Felt like a mid-range tire. Cornering and breaking was okay, but very little feedback to the driver.
– Fourth: Continental ExtremeContact DWS: A major disappointment, especially since I ran these on my old Dodge Magnum SRT8. Very slow turn-in, a lot of slide under hard cornering and numb feel. Tire Track rates these number 1, but don’t believe it.
• Test 2
Wet and Dry straight line braking from 65 mph / Car: Infiniti G37 / Competitors tires (Yokohama Avid Envigor, Bridgestone Potenza G 019 Grid, Goodyear Eagle GT).
This was a very interesting test as under very hard braking each tire felt VERY similar. However having each distance verified by GPS meant the numbers didn’t lie. So, here’s how they stacked up.
– Winner: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3
– Second: Goodyear Eagle GT
– Third: Yokohama Avid Envigor
– Fourth: Bridgestone Potenza G 019 Grid
– Winner: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3
– Second: Yokohama Avid Envigor
– Third: Bridgestone Potenza G 019 Grid
– Fourth: Goodyear Eagle GT
• Test 3
Summer VS All Season / Car: Subaru STi / Competitors tires (Continental ExtremeContact DW, Pirelli P Zero, Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position).
This was a ballsy one by Michelin, as they took the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3, again, an all season tire, and pitted it against other brands Max Performance Summer Tires. The results were simply amazing as once again the Michelin won out against the competition. Now hear me out here – I know you probably think, how could this be? It’s an all-season tire, but the fact of the matter was this. The Pilot Sport A/S 3 had a quicker turn-in, less side-wall flex, and vastly superior braking manners, almost to the point where you could swear that the car went from a touring setting (with the competitions tires, to a sport setting with the Michelin). Believe me, I was routing for the Continental and Pirelli’s as that’s what I have on two of my personal cars, however both got beat hands down which is something I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t done a side-by-side comparo.
• Test 4
Road Course / Car: Cadillac CTS / Competitors tires (Continental ExtremeContact DWS, Pirelli P Zero Nero All-season, Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-season).
This was the last and final test of the day. Wanna’ guess the outcome? If you said the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 you’d be right. Here’s the deal, I would love to say that this entire experience was loaded. That Michelin stacked the deck and tried to pull a fast one on the competition. The truth is though – they didn’t. I went over every car and double checked the conditions. All the tires were brand new from each party, and every car driven was driven hard.
This was not only a great, confidence inspiring, performance all-season tire, but it comes from a company that threw their newest product to the wolves and it came out on top. Needless to say I not only recommend these tires to all those looking for the BEST all-season tire, but I also applaud Michelin for doing the right thing in providing us with the perfect stage to conduct some very fair and accurate testing.
Availability will begin early 2013. Pricing has yet to be announced but we were assured it will be priced aggressively.