Development, however, never stops and Michelin came out with an even better tyre, the Pilot Sport 4 S, which would take over gradually from the Pilot Super Sport in the OE segment.
This is the higher performance version of the Pilot Sport 4, which is designed as a 100% road tyre, while the Pilot Sport 4 S is meant for 80% road use and 20% track use.
The best part is that despite the general trend in the global tyre industry to raise tyre prices due mainly to rising cost of raw materials and a smaller reason in currency fluctuation, Michelin has bucked the trend by going in the other direction.
For all its improved status, the Pilot Sport 4 S is available in Malaysia from RM1,100 making it a very attractive product when compared to the Pilot Super Sport that is priced from RM1,600.
The Pilot Sport 4 S, which is only suitable for rims from 19-inch onwards, is ranked second to the top Pilot Sport Cup 2, an outright performance tyre often used in motor sport events; it is designed for 90% track use.
As Michelin is involved in several motor sport disciplines worldwide, it uses this competitive environment as a laboratory for the development of future tyre technologies that are subsequently applied in the development of its production tyres.
The French tyre maker says the confidential testing data that is collected during races on tyre technologies and new rubber compound formulas enables its engineers to continue to push the ‘envelope of tyre performance’.
Given this scenario, it is expected that the Pilot Sport 4 S is developed to present maximum, racer-like driving performance for sports car and premium car drivers, or in Michelin’s words ‘those who prioritise performance and safety’.
This latest product from the French tyre maker is said to be crafted through a high precision process and advances simultaneously several criteria on the same tyre.
It starts with the ‘high level of reactivity’ that is possible with the ultra-reactive tread pattern, which is designed to adapt continuously to the road for optimised traction.
This is supported by ‘excellent steering control’ with Michelin’s dynamic response technology that ensures optimum transmission of steering instructions on the road through a hybrid belt of aramid and nylon.
The Pilot Sport 4 S also provides ‘exceptional’ dry grip and improved wet braking with the bi-compound technology using a novel hybrid elastomer on the outer side for dry grip.
In addition, there is a new mix of compounds with specific ‘functional elastomers’ and silica on the inner side of the tyre to provide high wet grip and braking.
For looks, Michelin has given its latest tyre a premium touch finish with a velvet effect to create a variety of black contrasts on the exterior sidewall and a deep rim protector to provide protection for all kinds of wheels.
Compared to Pilot Super Sport, the Pilot Sport 4 S is said to brake shorter on dry and wet road surfaces as well as lasts longer with on-road use.
To give the media an idea of what to expect of this new ultra-high performance tyre, the regional press were assembled at the Sentul International Circuit in Bogor, some 70km south of Jakarta, Indonesia.
There were two drive routines involving four Mercedes-Benz E2 50 cars, the first one in the dry around the circuit and the other on an artificially wet section within the complex.
The comparison in performance was made against a rival tyre; in short two of the Mercs were fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S and the other two ran on the rival tyre.
We were to drive in each of the car in succession to discern the difference between them while executing quick lane changes, braking to a stop and cruising through a corner at a certain speed.
We found the turn-in into a corner quicker and sharper, and the Merc was in good control for the lane change manoeuvre while the rival tyre appeared to make the car a little tail happy and less in dynamic control.
The biggest visible difference was in the 80kph braking performance; we stopped about a car’s length shorter with the Pilot Sport 4 S.
This impression was consistent during the wet drive sessions and the average braking results for the dry session indicated a difference of almost two metres in favour of the Michelin tyre.
The rival tyre appeared to feel more comfortable in ride and that might have been its downfall as an ultra-high performance tyre.
What gives the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S the bigger edge is its very attractive price and that should give the rival brands something to chew on.