High-tech for sports drivers: the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S aims to impress in dynamic everyday life and on the racetrack. We have already experienced it.
Many ambitious drivers can recite at least the most important technical data of their car in their sleep, high-tech features from the adaptive chassis to the all-wheel steering to the TwinScroll turbocharger or manifolds across the cylinder banks are popular topics of conversation. However, only very few realize that even the best chassis is in the rain and cannot even begin to show its potential if the wrong tire provides the connection to the asphalt.
To get a closer look and to find out how complex it is to develop a modern performance tire, we went to the Thermal Club race track in Palm Springs together with Michelin at the end of January. The trip to California had a simple background: the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S sports tire was presented, which simply couldn’t show its strengths in the European winter with lots of snow and temperatures below zero degrees. The fact that he got to see a few snowflakes on our drive through Joshua Tree National Park was not foreseeable – but also not a problem, because the few flakes of white splendor did not remain and made the switch to winter tires barely unnecessary.
For us, the short snow interlude was a double reason to be happy, because when do you experience snowflakes in the desert – and when can you still convince yourself of the capabilities of the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S on a dry road at the wheel of a sports car? The sports tire showed the first foretaste of its capabilities even before we drove through Joshua Tree National Park on a BMW M3, which was a grateful partner with its proven handling qualities. During guided laps on the Thermal Club racetrack, the focus was on the tire’s transverse dynamics; on the short straights, the instructor at the wheel of his M2 was never fully committed.
But the new high-tech sports tire from France was allowed to demonstrate its skills in winding passages: high cornering speeds are only part of the exercise, and for most drivers the possibility of safely exploring the limit area is even more important. And this is exactly where the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S has its strengths, because it announces the crossing of the high limit range long in advance and makes it particularly easy for experienced drivers to get the maximum out of the tire in every curve.
What can be experienced here is the result of years of experience and the consistent use of the most modern options. The new ultra-high-performance tire from Michelin shines with technical features that were reserved for racing drivers and real motorsport tires just a few years ago. The tread of the tire is reinforced with both nylon and aramid fibers, which ensures the necessary stability even under extreme loads.
But the hybrid cord technology is only one of several keys to the performance of the PS4S: The rubber compound is not uniform either, but consists of two different elastomers. Different areas of the contact area can thus be optimized for different properties. Specifically, this means: Although a large part of the tire has been trimmed for maximum dry grip, the Pilot Sport 4 S can also convince in the wet and with this combination of difficult-to-combine properties set itself apart from its competition: When commissioned by Michelin and by Tests carried out by TuV Sud, the Frenchman was not only able to achieve the best lap times on dry asphalt, but also scored points with the shortest braking distances in wet conditions.
In this area too, Michelin uses know-how that the French have gained in motorsport. In long-distance sport in particular, a tire must not only function in a narrow window of possible framework conditions, but also offer convincing performance in the broadest possible working area. Whether in Le Mans or on the Nurburgring Nordschleife, every pit stop saved can mean the difference between victory and defeat in the leading group.
And racing drivers and ambitious sports car drivers have one more thing in common in public road traffic: The durability of tires plays a central role both in everyday life and on the racetrack, albeit in completely different dimensions. While most customers of the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S want to drive their tires with as constant a performance as possible for several years, endurance in motorsport is often “only” about one or two additional laps.
After our first laps on the grippy asphalt of the racetrack and some explanations about the theoretical background of the tire, we were able to gain a very practical impression of the potential of the sports tire on the rarely traveled roads of Joshua Tree National Park. Here both tight and long curves are waiting to be taken under the wheels. When you are in a group of exclusive sports cars and all drivers are looking for cornering speed and driving fun, you feel closer to the driver’s heaven than ever – not only the Cavallino Rampante smiles happily from the steering wheel rim, you can also as a driver Don’t hold back a grin in these moments.
Because the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S is as good-natured as it is easy to grip, even when changing between technically completely different cars within a few corners, you gain the confidence you need to keep getting closer to the limit. This shows how well the developers succeeded in the final vote: Unexpected tears in liability are completely alien to the PS4S, instead it gives an exact impression of the available leeway in every curve and makes exhausting the possibilities an exercise that has undreamt-of addictive potential.
When looking for the right footwear for the new season, sporty and ambitious drivers should definitely have the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S on their watch: Its combination of everyday practicality and performance promises driving fun without worrying about it when it rains unexpectedly or even a few snowflakes fall . The PS4S is available in a total of 42 variants from 225 to 345 millimeters wide and with diameters from 19 to 21 inches. How serious the developers are with their high-performance requirements becomes clear when you look at the approved speeds at the latest: The most extreme variants of the new UHP tire can be driven at up to 400 km / h – and you don’t have to be an expert to get an idea of how high the demands of drivers of the fastest super sports cars of our time are.
(Photos: Michelin | Meg McCarthy | Jordan Pay | Rick Dole)