The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S has long been regarded as the standard for high-performance summer tyres. They offer very good performance on the track and work well on the street. Not to be outdone, Continental recently developed the ExtremeContact Sport 02 series and set the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S in its sights. So which one is better? That's what Tyre Reviews decided to find out.
The two biggest knocks on the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S are its price and age. Michelin introduced the Pilot Sport 4S more than eight years ago, which is an eternity for tyre technology. It's also one of the most expensive performance tyres, costing more than $952 for a set of four. Knowing this, Michelin also introduced the Pilot Sport S 5 this year, which is not a direct replacement but an evolution designed for today's high-performance hybrid and electric vehicles. But before you dismiss the Pilot Sport 4S as old and overpriced, know that it still wins every comparison test, and if it doesn't, it's in the top three.
Right off the bat, the Continental ExtremeContact Sport 02 is cheaper by about $52 a set. However, while that price difference is small, the performance difference between the old ExtremeContact Sport and the Pilot Sport 4S was always minimal. In fact, the only real advantage the Pilot Sport 4S had in its favour was a better feel and steering response, two things Continental says it improved with the new ExtremeContact Sport 02.
Tyre Reviews used a new Honda Civic SI to compare the two brands on both the road and track. Fitment Industry provided twelve sets of wheels for back-to-back testing. The goal was to evaluate both sets of tyres in identical conditions both objectively and subjectively.
According to Tyre Reviews, it was a draw on the road. The Continental ExtremeContact Sport 02 and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S each had distinct advantages but offset each other. In terms of overall performance, Tyre Reviews found it impossible to pick an overall winner.
Likewise, it was a close contest on the track. Tyre Reviews was impressed with the Continental tyres, which felt more responsive with initial turn-in and handled high temperatures and wear extremely well. Unfortunately, they did not get as much time with the Michelin tyres but found the Pilot Sport 4S to be more responsive in mid-corner and exit transitions, working especially well with the Honda Civic SI's locking differential.
So which tyre is the best? Perhaps the best answer is what is most important to the driver. The Continental ExtremeContact Sport 02 tyres take an easy win if it comes down to price. Otherwise, it comes down to brand preference and which tyres feel better for your environment and style of driving.