With spring now in full effect across southern Ontario, I decided to take my 2010 Volkswagen GTI to the tire shop and replace the factory all-season Pirelli rubber with a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport max performance summer tires.
If you’re not familiar with the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, they come as original equipment on several sports cars and high performance vehicles such as the BMW M3 and Tesla Model S P85D.
According to Michelin, the Pilot Super Sport (PSS) features an asymmetric design with a Le Mans-inspired dry compound side-by-side with their latest generation of wet compound for superior performance at very high speeds and in wet conditions.
My expectations were therefore very high as I left the tire shop with four new tires and a thousand dollars less in my wallet.
Immediately, the first thing you notice with the PSS is razor-sharp steering response. Simply point the wheel where you want to go, and the PSS deliver a sense of confidence any driver would appreciate.
From a stop, the factory all-season tires would send the front tires spinning in search of grip under full throttle. With the Pilot Super Sport tires installed, the car bites down on a hard launch and just never seems to let go.
But in the corners is where these tires really shine. The PSS feel like suction cups pulling your car down; tempting that race car driver inside of you to go faster and faster during a turn. Highway on-ramps quickly become the highlight of your commute, with the added grip allowing you to drive through winding roads at higher speeds without relying on the brake pedal to keep you safe.
The bumpy Toronto roads and endless potholes also make for a great initial test of the tires comfort level. While performance summer tires are generally designed with stiffer side walls which often result in increased noise and ride harshness, the PSS absorb large bumps and potholes relatively well without delivering a noisy or uncomfortable ride. Road imperfections and expansion joints are felt slightly more through the steering wheel – a small price to pay for the feedback and precision these tires deliver.
Overall, if you love your car, love driving and want to have a more engaging driving experience with little compromise, a summer tire like the Michelin Pilot Super Sport is one the best changes you can make to your vehicle.