Pirelli P Zero vs Michelin Pilot Sport 4s


Performance tire enthusiasts often find themselves choosing between the Pirelli P Zero and Michelin Pilot Sport 4s. So I decided to make a comprehensive comparison between these two performance-oriented options, highlighting their unique strengths and areas of improvement. Let’s see which tire is a better fit for you!

Michelin Pilot Sport 4s
Michelin Pilot Sport 4s about to be loaded.

Quick Takeaway

The Pirelli P Zero performs better in:

  • Dry braking and acceleration performance due to its full-depth sipes and angled notches.
  • Marginally better fuel consumption due to its more streamlined structure, shallower tread depth, and overall lighter structure.
  • Lower noise production, thanks to smaller tread voids at the shoulders and better pitch sequencing technology.
  • Better handling of road vibrations, providing a smoother ride due to its softer tread and internal constructions.

The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S outperforms in:

  • Dry handling and steering response, especially during turns, thanks to its superior steering response and an optimal combination of rigidity and flexibility in its shoulder lugs.
  • Superior hydroplaning resistance, performing exceptionally on both straight and curved pavements.
  • Greater tread life due to its rigid rubber composition and slightly deeper tread depth.
  • It also comes with a 30,000 miles warranty, unlike the Pirelli P Zero.

Both tires performed equally in:

  • Wet performance, with Pirelli P Zero demonstrating better wet handling, and the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S having shorter braking distances.

Tread Life

The longevity of tire tread primarily hinges on three critical factors: rolling resistance, tread depth, and composition.

That’s why typically, tires with greater tread depth experience a slower rate of wear, while those made from stiffer materials can effectively resist rapid tread degradation better.

Looking at both these factors, it can be explained why the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S emerges as the superior choice here.

The tire’s rigid rubber composition is less prone to rapid wear, and its slightly deeper tread depth means it takes longer to wear down to the legal tread depth limit of 2/32″.

For Your Info: Michelin offers a 30k miles warranty, unlike the P Zero.

So its a win for Pilot Sport 4s.

Dry Traction

We need to closely examine aspects like traction, steering, and cornering abilities to fully comprehend these tires’ dry performance. Let’s dissect these crucial attributes.

Longitudinal Traction

The tire industry refers to a tire’s ability to adhere to dry, straight roads as dry grip. Because of its directional property, it is often called longitudinal traction.

Primarily on highways, when the tire moves straight, the central tread areas bear the maximum weight pressure, resulting in the greatest friction. Therefore, the size of the contact patch formed here is significant.

So having said that, the Pirelli P Zero performs well in this regard, excelling in dry braking and earning a reputation as one of the best in high-performance tires. This tire is equipped with full-depth sipes and angled notches, contributing to its excellent gripping capabilities.

On the other hand, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S somewhat lags due to its larger tread voids. But keep in mind the difference is marginal, in both the performance, and how much rubber meets the road.

But still overall, overall braking and acceleration performance is superior on Pirelli P Zero.

Dry Handling

The handling and lateral traction of a tire (during cornering) depend on the extremities of the tread (i.e., shoulders).

But why?

Well because this area bears the most weight pressure during turns.

And so it makes sense why the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S stands out in this aspect thanks to its superior steering response.

This tire demonstrates an enhanced balance in understeering and oversteering. Its shoulder lugs offer a more optimal combination of rigidity and flexibility, ensuring the tire neither oversteers nor understeers.

On the other side, the Pirelli P Zero wasn’t able to show similar cornering dynamics.

Tread Noise

Airflow significantly contributes to tire noise. This is because these air particles (with the majority flowing through the shoulder grooves), come in, and hit the walls around, where the impact of the collision of those particles is what’s creating the noise.

Now the Pirelli P Zero excels in this regard, as its design incorporates smaller tread voids at the shoulders, thus reducing noise at the source, and it features a better pitch sequencing technology.

This tech basically allows for air particles hitting the walls, to generate different tones, at different parts of the lugs, resulting in an array of frequencies to be produced.

And those tones/frequencies, then cancel out each other, to further dampen down the noise.

In contrast, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S is the louder tire here, and it makes sense, as its shoulder lugs feature relatively large lateral voids, and that leads to greater in-groove resonance.

So the winner: Pirelli P Zero.

Performance on Wet Surfaces

A tire demonstrating superior wet performance should possess a tread that provides robust wet grip combined with the resistance to hydroplaning. Both of these characteristics are fundamentally achieved through efficient water displacement.

And both the Pirelli P Zero and the Pilot Sport 4S impress in this regard.

I mean they both were given the same score, at the end of the day. While the P Zero outperforms in terms of wet handling, the Pilot Sport 4S asserts its superiority with shorter braking distances.

However, there is still room for improvement for the P Zero when it comes to hydroplaning, especially on corners. Due to the tire’s closed shoulder voids, and relatively stiffer compound, so water evacuation is not as efficient on this tire compared to its peer.

Conversely, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S distinguishes itself as one of the best in hydroplaning resistance, delivering exceptional float speeds on both straight and curved pavements.

So you can say, overall both tires performed equally here.

Fuel Consumption

The dimensions of rolling resistance and fuel efficiency are directly proportional.

So higher rolling resistance which is primarily caused by greater weight and (softer) tread composition, would result in greater fuel expenditure.

Considering these factors, it explains why the Pirelli P Zero exhibits marginally better performance here.

This tire presents a more streamlined structure, featuring an average shallower tread depth.

With this, the tire is able to restrict the movement of its lugs as it maneuvers (compared to the Pilot Sport 4S).

Furthermore, its overall lighter structure naturally requires less energy to roll, as it does not push lugs as much with the road, thereby reducing the amount of tread molding.

This distorting of the lugs, use up the energy, that could have used in to the rolling of the tire.

In contrast, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, with its greater tread voids, especially towards the shoulders, leads to more lug bending, thereby increasing overall energy expenditure.

So the P Zero is slightly more fuel efficient.

Road Vibrations

The smoothness of a tire’s ride is closely tied to its capacity to manage road imperfections, that’s why, with softer (tread and internal) constructions, tires typically provide a more comfortable driving experience.

And out of both tires, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S faces challenges in this area due to its less flexible internal cap plies and relatively harder overall tread compound.

These although help the tire in having a slightly better tread life, it also gives you a more jittery on bumpy ride comparatively.

In contrast, Pirelli’s tire features a much softer tread rubber, which effectively absorbs road vibrations, leading to a smoother, more comfortable ride.

So, What’s The Verdict?

While it’s essential to consider all the above aspects, let me still summarize for those in a hurry.

Both tires perform admirably in terms of dry performance, but the P Zero comes out ahead in dry braking due to its full-depth sipes on the middle ribs. However, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S offers superior dry handling due to its enhanced understeering and oversteering balance, along with a quicker steering response.

On wet roads, the roles are reversed: the Michelin Pilot 4S delivers shorter braking distances while the P Zero boasts superior handling. However, the Pilot Sport 4S also outperforms in hydroplaning resistance.

In terms of rolling resistance and fuel efficiency, the P Zero leads due to its lighter structure and shallower tread depth. However, these features also result in quicker wear. Therefore, the Pilot Sport 4S offers a longer tread life.

Lastly, when evaluating road comfort, the P Zero is superior in noise reduction due to its smaller tread voids on the shoulders and better absorption of road irregularities. Conversely, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S could use some improvements in this area.

6 thoughts on “Pirelli P Zero vs Michelin Pilot Sport 4s”

  1. I have run both of these tires on my 2019 Audi TTS. The P zeros last at most 15k. The first 7-8k they are great. The noise increases to unbearable by 11-12k. The PS4+ at 15k now and still behaving excellent. I expect them to go 25k easy.

  2. Both great tires. I usually decide based on price at the time. Right now I have 2 Audi’s, one with PS 4 and the other with P 0 Scorpions.

  3. Hi, what do you recommend in an Porsche 911 Carrera S (991)?
    I have the originals, the P-Zero and i have to replace them…
    A friend recommended me to go for the PS4S and other to go for the P Zero in the front and the PS4S in the back…
    Any thoughts?

    • If you prioritize longevity and wet performance, the PS4S might be the better choice. If you’re looking for the OE feel and are okay with potentially faster wear, stick with the P Zero. Though I’d recommend using same tires on all 4 wheels.
      Additionally, for a comprehensive view of options, you might want to explore the ultra-high performance all-season tire category. You’d find it on the main page of “all season tires”.


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