The Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 basically set the gold standard for tiresthe high-performance tire to which almost all others are compared. Not only do they grace the wheels of the finest performance automobiles around the world, they represent a pinnacle of automotive tire performance. So, how could Michelin possibly outdo the PS2, break through the glass ceiling the company built for itself? While the feat might seem monumental, Michelin engineers were more than up to the task, equipped with the latest technology, a global test circuit, and a cavalcade of support engineers from Porsche, BMW M and Ferrari just to name a few. The result: Michelin came up with a tire worthy enough to add the word Super to the Pilot Sport legacy. Upon arriving at the Dubai Autodrome, the first order of business was product presentation, followed by a schedule of events with a simple message: Sit back and enjoy the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The events of the day were standard as far as tire testing goeswet and dry handling courses and braking and acceleration demonstrations. Everything you need to get a good indication on how the tire performs. What was not standard was the type of cars used to demonstrate the tire’s abilities. Set before us was a buffet of premium automobiles, the likes of which are usually only seen in your wildest dreams. Cars like the Gumpert Apollo, Koenigsegg Agera, Ferrari 458 Italia, Mercedes SLS AMG, Porsche 911, BMW M3, Audi R8, Lamborghini Gallardo; the list went on and on. Time constraints limited the number of vehicles we were able to pilot, so I picked a few of my favoritesthe 911, M3, R8 V10 and Gallardofor a few hot laps. Lap after lap, no matter how hard I pushed the Michelin Pilot Super Sports (PSS) they were smooth, quiet and stuck every corner, and for the first time in a car on street tires I was more worried about my limits than the tire’s.
Bi-Compound Tread—Originally developed for motorsport, the tread uses two different rubber compounds, one for the outside and one for the inside. The outside section features a motorsport technology-based carbon black reinforced elastomer compound designed to provide maximum grip and longevity. The inside section is formulated with a high-grip elastomer compound to navigate wet surfaces with ease.
Ceinture Twaron—A variable tension belt made of high-density Aramid fiber located below the tread, designed to help the tire maintain an optimal shape during the most extreme conditions. Think of it like a tire girdle, keeping everything in its proper place and preventing the tire from expanding beyond the desired dimensions. Since more force is exerted on the tire’s midsection, the Ceinture Twaron belt is tighter around the midsection than on the shoulders.
Variable Contact Patch 2.0—Refers to the advanced digital simulation software used to design the tire’s contact patch. This advanced technology allowed Michelin engineers to develop a stable contact patch that maintains constant contact pressure and temperature, even as the patch shape changes. This gives consistent handling, even tread wear and reduces the risk of temperature-related failure.
So was Michelin able to one-up the PS2? In short, yes. Which leaves us with one nagging question: What can they possibly do to top the PSS?