Max Performance Summer Tires: Road Ride

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 by Logan Woodworth
This week I had the opportunity to take four highly rated Max Performance Summer tires for a test spin on our 6.6-mile road course.

My test included the Continental ExtremeContact DW, Bridgestone's new Potenza S-04 Pole Position, Pirelli PZero and Michelin's new Pilot Super Sport. All tires were tested in identical sizes on identical vehicles for consistency.

Tires in the Max Performance Summer category are designed to provide the best dry and wet traction, steering response and handling for street use tires. Although ride comfort and low road noise are not key qualities of these tires, these are qualities many drivers are sensitive to.

Continental ExtremeContact DW
Continental ExtremeContact DW
Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position
Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position

Here were the results:

Continental ExtremeContact DW: Continental has built a very nice tire that provides good dry and wet traction. Road noise was relatively low over pavement and asphalt. The DW handled bumps well and road imperfections transferred very little to the driver. I would like to see an improvement in handling as steering felt a bit squirmy.

Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position: The replacement to the RE050A Pole Position, the S-04 was slightly louder than the Michelin and Continental and expansion joints in the road were felt more in the steering wheel than those tires. Steering felt nice and tight and I felt very confident pushing the S-04 into ramps.

Pirelli PZero: The Pirelli PZero produced a bit more tread noise than the others. It was a bit stiff and produced slight cabin noise over bumps. Overall the handling and traction were good with the PZero, but the ride quality could be improved.

Michelin Pilot Super Sport: The newest tire in this group was the quietest when taking entrance and exit ramps. Handling was crisp and and responsive and overall ride comfort shows a noticeable improvement over its predecessor, the Pilot Sport PS2. This was the most impressive tire of the group with the best steering feel, lowest road noise and most comfortable ride.

Pirelli PZero
Pirelli PZero
Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Michelin Pilot Super Sport

Bottom Line:

As expected, all the tires in the group had very good traction and except for the Continental, handling was exceptional. That said, the clear winner in all performance characteristics was the Michelin Pilot Super Sport. The Pilot Super Sport had the best combination of traction, handling, ride and noise comfort.

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