Product Review: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 tire reviews auto product reviews
Product Review: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3. Click image to enlarge

Review by Paul Williams, photos by Paul Williams and courtesy Michelin

New Orleans, Louisiana – The first thing you notice about the new Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 tire is the simplicity of its tread design. Unlike the complicated pattern of the original Pilot A/S released back in 2000, this version seems almost plain in comparison.

But tires aren’t only about tread patterns; they’re also about compound and contour. Although it’s not obvious to the eye, the Pilot A/S is packed with sophisticated features that Michelin claims will enable it to equal or outperform dedicated performance tires. The tread design, simple as it might appear, apparently follows the Mies van der Rohe design dictum of “less is more.”

The Pilot Sport A/S 3 tire is billed as an “all weather, all season” tire, and in the US, you’ll see advertisements featuring vehicles equipped with this tire in spring, summer, fall and, yes, winter. In most parts of Canada, we know better when it comes to winter tire requirements, and so does Michelin. The company’s Canadian Public Relations Manager, Sachin Deshpande, freely admits that this is not a winter tire, and doesn’t qualify for use in provinces that require dedicated winter tires. That said, the Pilot Sport A/S 3 is accurately described as an “ultra-high performance all-season” tire in that it extends the time you can safely drive your car and expect maximum grip.

Product Review: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 tire reviews auto product reviews
Product Review: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3. Click image to enlarge

As such, this tire may suit performance car owners who are looking for the holy grail of superb street handling and a compliant, comfortable ride.

But let’s get back to the “minimalist” tread pattern. First of all, it’s not directional, which is something of a departure for tires of this type. It is, however, asymmetrical; designed to exhibit less noise as the tire wears, high levels of lateral grip due to rigid blocks on the outside shoulder, and sharper handling. Because the Pilot Sport A/S 3 is not directional, it enables drivers to conventionally rotate them, front to rear, side to side.

Look closely at the treads and you’ll see “Variable Thickness Sipe” technology (VTS), which allows the use of more sipes and a self-supporting construction technology that both provides biting edges when traction is needed and the ability to lock together forming rigid blocks under stress. This is the first application of VTS in an all-season Michelin ultra-high performance tire.

Product Review: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 tire reviews auto product reviews
Product Review: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3. Click image to enlarge

The compound in this tire features a special silica technology as used in competition. According to Michelin, “The same compound technologies used during wet sessions at the 24 Hours of Le Mans qualifying have been enhanced to provide all-season performance in the Pilot Sport A/S 3.” The actual formula, of course, is a trade secret, and Michelin points out that this technology is much more sophisticated than simply adding silica to the mix. Michelin describes this tire’s compound formula as providing breakthrough levels of wet performance.

The Pilot Sport A/S 3 also features Michelin’s “Helio Compound” technology, which allows it to withstand colder temperatures and “Variable Contact Patch 2.0″ which evenly spreads contact patch pressures and temperatures regardless of driving conditions. This, too, is a technology derived from Michelin’s competition experience; in this case, endurance racing.




About Paul Williams

Paul Williams is an Ottawa-based freelance automotive writer and senior writer for Autos. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).