Tyres are the most important yet the most under-rated part of a car. The fact that something the size of a human palm can keep a person safe in all types of conditions is something to be respected.
Yet, many still do not understand the importance of having a good set of tyres. It is quite common to see tyres that are well past their “use by” dates and in terrible condition. But manufacturers are not to blame here, tyre technology is now at its best we have seen since the advent of the tyre.
The Michelin Pilot Sport 5 is one of those tyres. Those in the know will appreciate the fact that the Pilot Sport comes from a long line of great tyres. That is no surprise though as Michelin, the second largest tyre manufacturer in the world after Bridgestone, has nearly a hundred years of experience developing tyres.
But what makes the new Pilot Sport 5 so special? The Pilot Sport has always been the go to tyre for those seeking a tyre that offers longevity, grip and quietness over all surfaces without breaking the bank. Known simply as PS5, the new tyre builds on those qualities, as we found out during a recent event at the Sepang International Circuit.
Michelin says the new PS5 offers better wet weather grip, is quieter and longer lasting than its predecessor, the PS4, which curiously will still be available in the market together with the PS5.
It is impossible to test the claim that the new PS5 lasts longer, but for every other claim, there was a specially laid out course.
Michelin also has another product but designed for SUV’s, known as the Primacy SUV+ which also promises all of the qualities of the PS5 but purpose built for SUVs. And so we began our test with SUV’s that were shod with Primacy and competitor tyres. The first aim was to test the quietness of the tyre.
To do this, Michelin provided a decibel meter that captured the interior noise for us to compare against the competition. The results were quite remarkable. The first group recorded 56.3 decibels on the Primacy while the competitor tyre recorded 61.3 decibels over the same surface and at equal speed.
The second group then confirmed the Primacy noise suppression superiority when they recorded 60.53 decibels over the competitors 64.2 decibels. The only thing that was different here were the cars, the first group did their test in Toyota Fortuners while the second group did it with Honda CRVs.
The second test was the wet braking test. To do this, we were told to accelerate to about 80km/h and slam on the brakes as hard as we could. The surface was of course inundated with flowing water.
To do this we were provided with Mercedes-Benz cars, which were Michelin’s partners for the duration of the event.
We did the test in four stints – twice in an A-Class sedan that was fitted with PS5’s and competitor tyres, and once again in an SUV, a GLA, that was fitted with Primacy SUV tyres and competitor tyres.
Slamming on the brakes just as the tyres hit the wet patch, it must be said that all tyres held their grip and the cars did not squirm under hard braking with ABS engaged. But the point here was to see which tyre provided the least braking distance. The last thing you want is a tyre that takes too long to stop.
And just to mix things up, Michelin also added worn down PS5’s and competitor tyre just to show how much grip levels deteriorate as the tyre goes through its life cycle.
For starters we compared new vs used PS5, and the new tyre brought the car to a stop in just 25.12 meters while the competitor tyre did it in 30.39 meters. That’s about 15 feet in difference and hugely significant in heavy traffic conditions.
The used PS5 on the other hand brought the car to a stop in 27.59 meters while the competitor tyre did it in 36.8 meters. That’s 9.21 meters in difference, or over 30 feet difference in stopping distance.
Assuming new cars are between 10-14 feet in length, that is about three and a half car lengths for the used competitor tyre to bring a Mercedes-Benz to a halt from 80km/h. In an emergency, that would surely result in a collision.
But just for reference sake, the Primacy SUV tyres brought the Mercedes GLA to a stop in just 27.4 meters while the competitor tyres needed 29.85 meters. The worn tyres on the other hand brought the GLA to a complete stop from 80km/h in 36.92 meters and the worn competitor tyres did it in 39.07 meters. The difference is not as dramatic as the PS5’s but significant no less.
The final course involved a high-speed turn that finished off with a dry condition emergency brake test. This time we were provided with a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Though there are no numbers to prove the claim, but the Michelin’s did turn towards where we wanted the car to go while the competitor tyres ended up understeering wide.
The results were clear and there is little doubt that the Michelin PS5 and Primacy were the superior tyre in all conditions. But how did Michelin create such a superior tyre? Reserch and development coupled with advanced technology of course.
Michelin says that it uses multiple technologies in a single tyre. Such as Dynamic Response Technology that reduces tyre flex for more accurate and direct handling. Then there is the MaxTouch Construction that evenly distributes forces of acceleration, braking and cornering which results in longer tread life. And for wet weather, the tyres offer Dual Sport Tread Design with an internal, side and large longitudinal grooves that flush water away for wet weather traction.
It is also worth noting that all Michelin passenger and light truck tyres come with a six year warranty from the date of purchase, provided that the tyres were sold within three years of the manufacturing date.
The Michelin Pilot Sport 5 and Primacy SUV+ tyres are now available in Malaysia.