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
Tuesday, April 3, 2018 by Dave

I have a 2017 camaro ss. The stock tires hydroplane and I do not trust them with anything more than a light rain. I do not track or autocross. I have dedicated studded winter tires that work very well so I need something that works below 40'f, good in rain yet can still provide decent summertime performance when playing a bit. The continental dws looks interesting. This morning the roads are clear but the temp was 0'f. A week from now it could be 80'f.
Any recommendations would be appreciated.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018 by Tire Rack Team

Dave, with around 3/32nds of tread depth remaining, you may notice hydroplaning at highway speeds in a moderate rain. Also, if you are driving the tires under 45 degrees then you would need to use an all-season tire. The Continental Extreme Contact DWS06 is a very good all season performance tire. Follow the link for current pricing if you have the staggered 20-inch wheels:

https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=Continental&tireModel=ExtremeContact+DWS+06&frontTire=44YR0DWS06XL&rearTire=735YR0DWS06XL&vehicleSearch=true&fromCompare1=yes&autoMake=Chevrolet&autoYear=2017&autoModel=Camaro%20SS%20Coupe&autoModClar=1SS&affiliate=GU9
Monday, April 30, 2018 by Tien Mann

I have a 2011 BMW 328i, a car that needs to be revved to get power. Not too much torque. Car comes with Contipro Contact SSR, the most I like about this tire is that I can quickly accelerate the car maybe low rolling resistant tire? But I want a tire that has good grip to the ground on curves, a tire that is very immediate in response to the turn of the wheel, meaning just a small amount of turn of wheel the car follows in direction. I need a tire with stiff sidewallls so when the car turns I will not feel any sidewall flexing. But I also want a more compliant ride and not too noisy. Would going to a MAX summer tire non run flat be better or non run flat Ultra High Performance AS be better? And which tires do you recommend bases on my above preferences. I had the chance to drive ContiProContactSSR - not enough dry and wet traction - Bridgestone RE960AS like the tighter cornering feel without sidewall flexing felt but tire becomes very loud after 10k miles. I like the Michilin MXM4 ZP like everything about the tire except response to turning the wheel the car changes direction kind of slow and when I accelerate pedal to the floor takes longer to get up to speed make the car feel slow. Would I benefit from getting a non run flat tire because of less weight but a tire with stiffer sidewall construction with softer compound for more wet and dry traction. Can you please recommend me a non run flat tire for size 225 45 17 based on my preferences. I spend most of my driving in Boston and NYC where the roads are not that good, potholes and broken pavement. Want not a jarring ride and not a noisy tire with very response turn in with stiff side wall so I can't feel sidewall flexing. I have spent a lot of time on Tire Rack having a hard time finding the tire that fits my preferences can you please recommend me a tire. Thanks

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