Michelin North America expands its Pilot performance tire lineup with the introduction of the all-season Pilot Sport A/S 3, which will launch to the public this summer in sizes ranging from 175/65R15 to 285/35ZR20. A full list of sizes will be available in May 2013.
To launch this groundbreaking tire, Michelin invited automotive journalists from around the world to NOLA Motorsports Park near New Orleans to put the A/S 3's through a battery of driving tests. NOLA Motorsports Park opened only a few months prior to our arrival and was conveniently located 30 minutes from Bourbon Street, home of the infamous Mardi Gras.
Upon arrival, we took a nighttime tour of the French Quarter, followed by an all-out feast at famous K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen before some of us called it a night while others hit the local bars to drink until the wee hours of the morning. We reached the track bright and early the next morning to be greeted by Michelin Pro race drivers Patrick Long (Porsche), Tommy Milner (Corvette), Colin Braun (LMPC), Kuno Wittmer (Viper), and Johannes Van Overbeek (Ferrari). Right off the bat, we were given choices among a Ferrari 458 Spider, a Corvette Z06, a Porsche Turbo S, or a Lamborghini Gallardo for a ride-along. I rode with Patrick Long; he hauled ass through the course with recorded speeds of close to 180 mph on the straight.
Once the hair-raising ride was complete, journalists were divided into four groups for the day's activities, which included testing the Michelins against comparable tires from Continental, Goodyear, Bridgestone, Yokohama, and Pirelli. The tires were put through a gambit of tests that included wet skidpad, wet/dry braking, autocross, and road course to rate the tires' overall grip, performance consistency, and progressivity (controllability beyond the limit, predictable, breakaway performance).
How confident was Michelin in their newest tire, you ask? Enough to put this all-season radial against their competitor's dry tires. That's right, the most controversial event of the day using the road course was also the most dangerous move on their part that could have easily backfired. Upon driving the course, to the surprise of the journalists, the majority claimed that the Pilot Sport A/S 3 had exhibited a sturdier sidewall that resisted flexing while taking turns and improved braking performance versus the competition. A few of us even climbed under the car as well as popping the hood to ensure no funny business was taking place to give the Michelins an advantage. In the end it was proven that all the A/S 3-equipped cars were unanimously given the top score in every test category.
Michelin's newest tire uses a unique asymmetric tread design inspired by their popular Pilot Super Sport, special silica compound in the tread combined with 3-D Variable Thickness Sipes Technology (VTS) and large circumferential tread grooves to deliver all-season performance and exceptional wet and dry braking to handle all year driving conditions.
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 Highlights
The tread pattern in the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 does not resemble any other all-season tire. Rather than a directional tread design, the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 has an asymmetric tread design. This provides for:
- Less noise as it wears
- Greater flexibility for tire rotations
- More rubber and rigid blocks on the outside shoulder to provide high levels of lateral grip
- Better handling and control for drivers
By applying a special silica compound technology proven in endurance racing, Michelin engineers are able to achieve maximum wet traction from a single tread compound. The same Michelin compound technologies used during wet sessions at the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans qualifying have been enhanced to provide all-season performance in the Pilot Sport A/S 3.
Michelin's Helio Compound technology engineered into the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 tire allows it to withstand colder temperatures, meaning consumers benefit from extra grip at low temperatures while extending their vehicles' driving season. By also adding biting edges in the tread grooves, the tire gains traction in snow.
Other technologies incorporated in the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 tire include the Variable Contact Patch 2.0 (VCP 2.0), which focuses on evenly spreading contact patch pressures and temperatures regardless of the driving situation. Variable Contact Patch 2.0 is one of the key technologies derived from Michelin's experience in endurance racing.