Dedicated Summer Tires or Ultra High Performance All-Seasons: Positives and Negatives

Perhaps the single most prevalent question I get on a daily basis involves tire performance groups and which one is correct for a particular customer. Although many drivers mandate performance as a needed trait, they also desire longer treadwear and softer road manners. As with all things, there's seldom a free lunch and trade-offs exist within tire groupings.

Summer Tires

For drivers looking for handling and maximum dry grip, a summer tire will deliver these traits the best. Featuring firm sidewalls and soft tread compounds, these tires flex less and give up grip after an all-season has already lost its poise. For track use, autocross or extremely aggressive street driving, a summer tire is the most suitable option. Depending on the grip level desired, we have arranged our summer tires into several categories including: Extreme Performance, Max Performance and Ultra High Performance. Of these categories, Extreme Performance Summer tires will be the softest and for the most hardcore of street tire applications. These tires feature very soft tread compounds that are more designed for extreme grip levels than treadlife. Following Extreme Performance Summer, both Max Performance Summer and Ultra High Performance Summer tires offer longer life and are a bit more street friendly. 

To summarize, here are a few positive and negative traits of summer tires:

Pro:

  • High grip level while cornering
  • Harder bite during rapid acceleration
  • Excellent turn-in response
  • Very stable at high speeds
  • Suitable for autocross and track use

Con:

  • Not intended to be used in temperatures below 40ºF
  • Sacrifices treadlife in exchange for grip

Several tires that express these traits are:

Ultra High Performance All-Season Tires

In contrast, Ultra High Performance All-Season tires are scaled down versions of the summer tire line. While featuring reasonably strong and stable sidewalls, these tires are topped with a harder all-season compound that makes the tire suitable for varying temperature ranges. Due to this harder compound, ultimate dry grip will not be as high as a dedicated summer tire. It's not until these tires are pushed to their limits that most drivers will notice a difference.

To summarize, here are a few positive and negative traits of Ultra High Performance All-Season tires:

Pro:

  • Suitable for year-round use in northern climates
  • Includes biting edges for snow traction
  • Good turn in-response that mirrors that of a summer tire
  • High speed ratings
  • Longer treadlife

Con:

  • Lower ultimate grip level than summer tires
  • Not suitable for autocross or track use

Several tires that express these traits are:

Comments

Monday, March 3, 2014 by Aaron

Is there a difference in ride quality between Summer Tires AND Ultra High Performance All-Season Tires?
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 by marshall@tireack.com

Aaron,
Typically summer tires have higher speed ratings and stiffer sidewall construction. This will sacrifice road comfort to a degree compared to an all season.
Friday, July 21, 2017 by Hugo

If I want to maximize wet braking performance on a BMW 135i and be able to use the car in a larger temperature range should I be looking at UHP AS. The car will not be used for track days or autocrossing, but I want it to be agile, comfortable, and quick. Thanks!!
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 by Tire Rack Team

Hugo,

The best wet braking is from a max performance summer tire. But they need warmer temps to work and wear out faster. If you are looking for the best performance in an all season tire look at the Michelin Pilot Sport AS3+ depending on the size you are using: https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=Michelin&tireModel=Pilot+Sport+A%2FS+3%2B+%28W-+or+Y-Speed+Rated%29&frontTire=14YR8PSAS3PL&rearTire=435YR8PSAS3PLXL&vehicleSearch=true&fromCompare1=yes&autoMake=BMW&autoYear=2013&autoModel=135i%20Coupe&autoModClar=M%20Sport%20Package&affiliate=GU9

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