Update: Find our review of the new Pilot Sport 4 S vs Pilot Super Sport on youtube here
Michelin have officially launched the replacement to the "internet's favourite tyre". The new Michelin Pilot Sport 4S betters the Michelin Pilot Super Sport in every measurable category, and looks to extend its dominance over its rivals in the maximum performance tyre sector.
As with the Pilot Super Sport, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S is only available in larger sizes and aimed at high performance vehicles. At launch it is offered in 19" and above, with the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 covering the 16" to 18" fitment.
Launched at the Thermal Club in Palm Springs, Michelin gave Tyre Reviews an early opportunity to drive on the new tyre, covering road and track driving on various vehicles.
The obvious question is why have Michelin chosen to replace the Pilot Super Sport when it's still widely regarded as class leading in the segment? Michelin have always been a company to push the boundaries of tyre technology, and the lessons Michelin have learnt in motorsport such as Le Man and Formula E where longevity, wet and dry grip are key, can be transferred to the new tyre without any compromising other aspects of the tyre.
During the development of the Pilot Sport 4 S Michelin looked to improve every area of the Pilot Super Sport, but specifically targeted dry laptime and dry and wet braking as the key areas to improve.
In order to improve the dry lap time Michelin used an updated hybrid nylon and aramid belt. This helps prevent the tyre deforming at high speed or load, meaning Michelin have more control over the contact patch on the road, and the driver's steering inputs are transmitted quickly through the tyre to the road without excessive tyre deformation.
To improve wet and dry braking, Michelin have updated their manufacturing process in order to lay two types of compound across the surface of the tyre to target both wet and dry grip, called "bi compound" technology. This technology is directly taken from competition tyres, and uses a new type of compound for the inner part of the tyre to improve wet grip.
Wear has never been a problem for Michelin, with the Pilot Super Sport being one of the best wearing tyres in the class, but Michelin have again improved the tread life by using a custom computer model to carefully control the high pressure part of the tyre surface in order to keep temperatures even, and wear low.
Other additions include a deep rim protector, and Michelin's patented velvet sidewall technology, to give the tyre a unique premium look
During the time in Palm Springs, Tyre Reviews had the opportunity to test the new Pilot Sport 4 S during road driving on an Audi R8 V10+, Ferrari California T and a Mercedes C63 AMG S, and on the track using a BMW M4.
During each drive, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S proved to be an incredible tyre, providing endless grip whatever the surface, and each vehicle felt stable and balanced when pushed to, and past the limit.
In the next few weeks the Tyre Reviews BMW M3 will be fitted with a set of the new Pilot Sport 4S, allowing a direct comparison to the Continental Sport Contact 6 and the Pilot Super Sport on the road.
Last year our video test of the Pilot Super Sport VS Sport Contact 6 concluded that despite slightly lower wet grip levels, the Pilot Super Sport was still the tyre to have due to the balance and feedback it provided on the M3.
If all the data and experience from the launch event is correct, the Pilot Sport 4 S will be the new benchmark tyre for sports cars.