The Michelin Pilot Sport 3 (PS3) tyre has garnered tremendous fanfare over the years, both by driving enthusiasts and casual drivers alike. Due to its superb grip and handling capabilities in both wet and dry conditions, the PS3 has become the tyre of choice for those who value safety and lap times.
The new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 is said to be inspired from Formula E tyres, which makes it difficult to imagine just how much better road tyres can be. Michelin invited us to push their latest flagship tyres to the limits at the Setia Alam Convention Centre carpark.
Michelin prepared two courses, a slalom-to-wet braking and a gymkhana course where we pitted the PS4 against its closest rival, the Bridgestone Potenza Adrenaline RE003. For the purposes of a controlled experiment, Michelin has prepared two identical C 200 Coupe and two BMW F30 320d for each of the courses. Naturally, a C 200 will be fitted with the PS4, and the other, the RE003. Once I got into the car, four beautiful words came through the radio: “Gentlemen, start your engines”.
First up is the slalom to wet braking course with Michelin PS4s equipped. The road conditions were perfect. Not in a freshly paved, smooth tarmac way, but with plenty of unevenness and undulations – just about as good as Malaysian roads can get. The course was also deliberately soaked with running water and was full of potholes and loose gravel.
Through the slalom course, immediately the PS4 inspired great confidence. Yanking the steering through dry, wet and even loose patches of the course, the PS4 provided high and most importantly consistent grip. I believe that the tyres will fare extremely well in our ever changing road conditions. In comparison, the RE003 requires me to pay more attention to control the car as the tyre starts to unsettle in the wet.
The PS4’s wet performance came to the spotlight during the wet braking course. A full braking from 80km/h across a pile of water may seem like a scary ordeal at first, but the PS4 sliced through the water and clipped onto the road like a leech, stopping the Merc in no time. The same can’t be said for the RE003 as the coupe dives straight past for 2 additional meters. How’s that for a comparison? Next up is the gymkhana course in a 400 Nm BMW 3-Series. I can’t wait.
Off the line, the PS4 and RE003 feel identical. Come first corner however, it’s a whole different story. The PS4 sticks onto the tarmac as if I was cornering on rails, while the RE003 nips around like a playful cat. As I approach the wet section, I had difficulty putting the power down on the Bridgestones, prompting me to modulate the throttle to keep the car in check. Whereas with the Michelins, all I had to do was to slam the throttle as if I was on dry tarmac and the car was perfectly stable with tons of grip. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement. The PS4 is truly as responsive as you are.
IS THIS TYRE FOR YOU?
If safety is your utmost priority, the PS4 would serve you well by offering consistent grip rain or shine. For enthusiasts, if you require a high performance tyre without having to venture into semi-slicks territory, the PS4 is arguably one of the best high performance road tyres there is.
However, if you are one of those few (like yours truly) that value driving engagement and fun a little bit more than bettering lap times, the tyre that would get your Adrenaline pumping is the RE003.
If I were to summarise the two tyres in one sentence – PS4 for ultimate lap times on track; RE003 for ultimate smiles on twisty tarmac.
Disclaimer: Both tyres, the Michelin PS4 and Bridgestone Potenza Adrenaline RE003 are brand new, unused tyres.