If you own a high-performance car or are performing upgrades to your vehicle, you may want to look at getting some ultra high performance tires.
Ultra high performance tires are appropriate for summer use only and place a priority on grip above all else. They are sometimes also referred to as max performance tires or extreme performance tires. An ultra high performance tire is denoted by a max speed rating of 149 mph or more.
Tires that fall into these categories have very high levels of grip on dry tarmac. You can drive a car with ultra high performance tires in the rain, however, they are best suited to dry surfaces.
You may want ultra high-performance tires if you enjoy going to the track, doing autocross events or doing some (safe and legal) canyon driving. These tires will, of course, be more expensive than all-season or regular performance tires.
In this post, we’re going to show you some of the best ultra high performance tires on sale today. We’ll tell what’s good about them, what’s bad about them and the applications and vehicle types they are best suited to. Afterward, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions in regard to buying ultra high performance tires, hopefully leaving you with enough knowledge to confidently buy the right set for yourself.
Editor's Pick: Michelin Pilot Super Sport
If you’re looking for a high-performance tire and don’t mind dropping a bit of cash, you don’t have to look any further than the Michelin Pilot Super Sport.
This has long been the segment leader among ultra high performance tires. Not only does the Michelin Pilot Super Sport provide some of the highest levels of grip among all ultra high performance tires, they are well balanced. They perform well both in the dry and the wet, offer good road noise and comfort and are very durable.
If you’re still not convinced of the Michelin Pilot Super Sports’ superiority, they are the factory tire on a myriad of performance cars, such as the BMW M3. So not only do enthusiasts trust the Michelin PSS, manufacturers do too.
Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position
The Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position is another tire that offers very high levels of grip and performs very well in both dry and wet conditions. They are much heavier than the Michelin PSS, but offer similar levels of performance.
The Potenza S-04 Pole Position tires also provide relatively good ride comfort for an ultra high performance tire. One user on TireRack.com’s website expected to get roughly three summers out of the tires driving a 2014 MINI Roadster, which represents only decent tread life.
Like all ultra high-performance tires, we don’t recommend using these when the temperatures begin to cool. Heat is paramount to performance tires working well, so if there’s not enough of it your grip levels will fall sharply.
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2
Porsche doesn’t mess around when it comes to performance, so you know can trust the Sport Cup 2 to deliver on track. These tires deliver frankly absurd levels of grip in the dry, but the manufacturer doesn’t suggest driving with them in wet conditions. They will perform fine in regular wet conditions, but should not be used in standing water.
What they lack in wet weather performance they make up for just about everywhere else, though. As we said, the dry grip with these tires is very high, while durability is also good for such a performance-focused tire. Comfort and road levels are also adequate. If you have a high performance car that you use on track, it’s hard to go wrong with Pilot Sport Cup 2s.
Yokohama Advan AD08 R
The aggressive tread on these tires can produce some loud road noise, but they provide extremely high levels of grip thanks to their soft, sticky compound. Track tests show that these are a consistent tire that doesn’t experience a large dip in performance once they become hot. If you want to turn in fast lap after fast lap over multiple sessions during a track day, the AD08 Rs are well suited to the task.
With a very soft, sticky compound and aggressive tread, these tires don’t have the balance of something like a Michelin Pilot Super Sport. For this reason they are great performance tires, but aren’t quite as well suited to road use. We’d say the AD08 R makes a perfect dedicated track day tire. They are also quite expensive, so using them on the track only could extend the life of the tread and save you money.
Hankook Ventus R-S3
These tires aren’t the best for wet weather performance, they perform well in the dry both under braking and lateral load. They make a good track day tire, although we’d look elsewhere if you think you’ll be doing any performance driving in the wet.
The main benefit of the Ventus R-S3 is their approachable price. If you’re operating on a budget, these are a good way to get performance similar to the Yokohama Advan AD08 above without the eye-popping price.
Pirelli Trofeo R
The Pirelli Trofeo R is a road-going semi-slick tire that is best suited to track usage only. They will wear extremely quickly on the street, so if you go for these soft and sticky tires, you may want to get a second set of wheels as your “track only” wheel and tire set.
These tires will provide extremely good dry traction, but may rob your car of some steering feel due to their extremely high levels of grip. They are also extremely loud on the road.
So while the Pirelli Trofeo R is one of the best high-performance tires on the market today (they are even on the Nurburgring record holding Lamborghini Aventador SV J) they won’t perform well on the road as they wear quickly, are noisy and have low wet weather grip.
Toyo Proxes R888 R
The Toyo Proxes R888 Rs are viewed as an alternative to the Pirelli Trofeo R, carrying a similarly soft compound and aggressive tread.
For that reason, they are best suited for use on a dry track. They have low wet weather grip and high road noise, making them a good tire to put on your car when you get to the track and take off before you leave. They are safe to drive on the road with, but not ideal.
These tires can be durable for an ultra high-performance tire and are competitively priced. If you want tons of grip and are willing to sacrifice a bit of road noise, comfort and durability to get it, R888 Rs may be the tire you’re searching for.
When Should You Switch to Ultra High or Extreme Performance Tires?
If you take your vehicle to the track or participate in autocross events, you should get ultra high performance tires.
These tires are not only better suited to track use due to their high levels of grip, but are safer, as they rated for extremely high speeds ranging from 149 mph to 186 mph and higher. Ultra high performance tires offer very, very low levels in grip in cold weather, though, so make sure you take them off as soon as the temperatures approach the 45 degrees Fahrenheit mark. Some ultra high performance perform poorly in rain and standing water too, which is something to consider before you purchase.
If you taking your daily driver to the track, you may also want to get a second set of wheels for your ultra high-performance tires. This will allow you to swap the tire and wheel set out at the track and take them off before you head home – prolonging the life of your expensive performance tires and allowing you to retain the comfort provided by regular all-season tires.
How do Ultra High Performance Tires Work?
Ultra high performance tires have a soft, sticky compound that becomes even grippier when it’s heated up.
In addition to the unique, grippy compound, ultra high-performance tires have a performance-focused tread that provides more contact with the road.
Some performance tires are asymmetrical as well, which means you can’t rotate them. This ensures that they’ll be the most responsive tires you can get, as the design is solely focused on performance instead of longevity.
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