When you buy a high performance sports sedan you should expect it to not just have impressive power delivery, it should also handle well and corner quickly (you didn’t buy a muscle car). The number one component that affects your car’s handling capabilities is your tires. Forget lowering springs or coilovers for a minute (we’ll get to those), your tires are the only component that can directly affect your car’s road holding capabilities because they are the only thing that connects you to the road. The B9 S4 comes standard with Pirelli P Zero (PZ4) tires which admittedly are very good tires, but if you want the absolute best out of your S4 there are better options available. If you own an A4 that came with factory all season tires then upgrading your tires is even more beneficial and you will see a notable difference in handling. We do highly recommend a spring/coilover upgrade with performance tires to reduce body roll and make hard cornering feel more planted.
Michelin Pilot Sport 4S – (Treadwear: 300 / Traction: AA / Temperature: A)
If you want the absolute best Max Performance Summer Tire then look no further than the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S (PS4S). The PS4S is Michelin’s successor to the Pilot Super Sport (PSS). The PSS was already a legend in the automotive industry and the benchmark by which all other Max Performance Summer Tires have been judged. With the PS4S they wanted to improve upon as many aspects of the PSS as possible, and they succeeded. The PS4S achieved notable improvements in wet braking, wet handling, dry handling, tread life, and even road noise. For more info on the PS4S you can check out our recent blog article where we break down what makes it such a great tire. If you’re more in the mood to sit back and watch a video you can check out our episode of Know Your Mods all about the PS4S.
Nitto – NT555G2 – (Treadwear: 320 / Traction: AA / Temperature: A)
Like the PS4S to the PSS, the NT555G2 is the evolution of Nitto’s NT555 Ultra High Performance Summer Tire. They improved traction, grip, and stability with this new iteration and reestablished themselves as the dominant power in the Ultra High Performance Summer category. If you’re looking for great dry performance but occasionally need to drive in rainy conditions the NT555G2 is an excellent choice.
Hankook – Ventus V12 Evo2 – (Treadwear: 320 / Traction: AA / Temperature: A)
The Ventus V12 Evo2 from Hankook is a great pick if you want a Max Performance Summer tire but you don’t want to break the bank on the PS4S. The V12 Evo2 has excellent grip and responsive handling with its downside being a lack of wet traction and much more noticeable road noise. However, if you plan to drive your S4 in the wet/snow during winter then these tires are a great option because it leaves you a lot more money to spend on winter tires. For instance if you are using the stock wheels with a 245/35-19 tire then getting a set of the Hankooks would save you over $450 vs buying the PS4S.
Continental – DWS 06 – (Treadwear: 560 / Traction: AA / Temperature: A)
For those of you who live where it rains quite a bit and summer performance tires are a bit of a silly purchase, the Continental DWS 06 is a perfect choice. These tires are All-Season Ultra High Performance so you get impressive dry traction while still being able to handle rain and light snow. As an added bonus these tires will last significantly longer than summer tires because they are made from a harder compound.
Understanding UTQG Treadwear, Traction, and Temperature Ratings: (credit Mark D.)
Treadwear – A standardized test of how quickly a tire wears down over 7200 miles (with tire rotations, alignment checks, and pressure checks every 400 miles). The tire is tested against a standardized “Course Monitoring Tire” and its grade is assigned based on the relative wear. 100 would indicate it would last as long as the test tire, while 200 would indicate that it would last twice as long as the Course Monitoring Tire. This still only tells us so much because we don’t know exactly how long the “Course Monitoring Tire” lasts. Also, treadwear is subject to some interpretation as the wear experienced on the tire being tested is open to interpretation by the manufacturer. In general though, the higher the number, the longer it will last.
Traction – UTQG traction tests do not evaluate traction in relation to dry braking, dry cornering, wet cornering, or high speed hydroplaning resistance. The test is simply a representation of the tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement as the tire skids. So this test really only applies to those without ABS in wet conditions.
Temperature – The temperature grades are a scale that indicates a tire’s ability to resist the heat buildup produced by speed. A is good enough for speeds over 115 mph, B is between 100-115 mph, and C is between 85-100 mph.
No matter what tire you decide to buy, we recommend not letting the UTQG Rating have much influence on your purchase (consider that all tires mentioned here have “AA” traction and “A” temp ratings, but have completely different performance).