What Tires Should I Choose for My Performance Car?

You’ll notice right away that tread life isn’t exactly a performance tire strong suit. Most of these tires are rated in the 450 range, and some can be as low as 200. That means that some of them are going to wear out in half as much time as a conventional passenger car or touring tire.

The advantage, though, is their road-holding capability. These tires constructed with a much stickier rubber compound, and in some cases, a much more track-oriented tread pattern, often with diagonal tread on just the outer portion of the contact patch, while the inner section is grooved almost like an F1 rain tire.

These tires are also unidirectional, meaning that when it’s time to rotate them, they can only be relocated to the front from the rear, not in a cross pattern.

Performance tires on modern cars are usually in the 19- or 20-inch range, but you can buy a high-performance tire in 17-inch sizes for your passenger car, too.

All of these tires have received greater than a 3.5 out of 5 star rating by consumers:

  • Budget: Kumho Ecsta PS91 – You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune for a decent performance tire. Kumho makes an excellent tire for half the price of the brands you usually associate with performance tires. The Ecsta offers excellent wet performance and is generally highly regarded among shoppers who’ve owned them.
  • Moderately Priced: Continental Extremecontact Sport – Continental Extremecontact Sports are highly rated by consumers who’ve owned them. They not only offer outstanding wet traction, but their tread life rating is significantly higher than the competition.
  • Cost-No-Object: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S – A superior performance tire that’s original equipment on some of the world’s highest performance vehicles, Pilot Sport 4S is at the top of its class in performance.

Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S

Car Talk’s Golden Wrench winner for Best Performance tire is the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. “Just pay for the Michelins” became a saying for a reason. The company knows how to build tires that live up to the hype. The Pilot Sport 4 S is a great example of Michelin’s know-how. The tire took top marks in our ratings, in part due to its flexibility and ability to maintain grip in a huge variety of conditions. In cooler weather, the Michelins deliver surprising performance, with excellent wet and dry stopping distances and good feedback. In warm temperatures, the Pilot Sport 4 S is a precision tool that offers spectacular grip and a decent ride. Big downsides here are price and tread life, but those are both small blemishes on an otherwise great report card.

  • Excellent durability
  • Superior performance
  • Available sizes: 17″ – 23″

Continental ExtremeContact DWS06

Continental developed the ExtremeContact tire to provide excellent traction in all seasons. The tires manage extreme dry traction while maintaining a confident level of grip in wet conditions. Continental says that the ExtremeContact tires are suitable for winter use, and notes that its complex tread patterns makes it ideal for light snow.

  • Solid handling
  • Excellent dry and wet traction
  • Available sizes: 16″ – 22″

Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate

The Eagle Exhilarate is a solid choice for drivers wanting a tire to take them through the winter months without giving up the farm in performance. Goodyear says that the tires’ sipes and groove patterns provide grip on ice and in light snow, and notes that they feature reinforcements to improve high-speed capabilities and stability.

  • Good in rain and light snow
  • High speed traction
  • Available sizes: 17″ – 20″

General G-Max AS 05

General G-Max tires have been developed with traction and grip in mind, and have a large, wide footprint to get and keep as much rubber on the road as possible. The tires feature visual alignment indicators to help you know when something is off, and come with an excellent 50,000-mile treadwear warranty.

  • Large treads
  • Good in rain and light snow
  • Available sizes: 16″ – 22″

P Zero All Season Plus

The Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus is a winner for folks who live where winter is a legitimate weather threat. High-performance all-season tires can be hit or miss, as it’s easy to drop the ball when you try to be the jack of all trades. Pirelli gets around that trap with a complex tread pattern, which allows the tire to maintain grip and performance in a wide variety of conditions, even cooler weather. That all-around capability does come at the expense of all-out performance, but the trade-off is a welcome one for people who love driving year-round.

  • Excellent control
  • Advanced asymmetric tread
  • Available sizes: 17″ – 20″

BFGoodrich G Force Comp 2 AS Plus

BFGoodrich’s newest G Force tires feature a special cold weather tread compound that the company says offers shorter stopping distances and better traction in poor weather conditions. The tires feature a squared shoulder to create a larger contact patch with the road, and should deliver excellent wet traction. The V-shaped grooves help channel water away and reduce the risk of hydroplaning.

  • Responsive handling
  • Excellent control
  • Available sizes: 16″ – 20″

Sumitomo HTR A/S PO3

The Sumitomos may have only grabbed a bronze award, but there’s still plenty to like. The HTR A/S PO3 offers great year-round performance, and even holds its own in snowy conditions. Sweetening the pot is the tire’s budget-friendly price tag, which makes them accessible to a wider range of drivers and vehicle owners.

  • Traction in dry, wet and light snow
  • Asymmetric tread pattern
  • Available sizes: 15″ – 20″

What Are Performance Tires?

Performance tires, as the name suggests, are designed to deliver maximum grip and performance above all else. Tire manufacturers use special rubber compounds to increase grip and maximize cornering abilities, but the tradeoff here is usually a shorter lifespan. Many tire manufacturers have worked to increase the comfort and tread life of the tires, so they are much more comfortable and accommodating than performance tires of years past. Performance tires are also generally better in warm weather, as the rubbers are more pliable and provide better grip in summer-weather months.

When to Buy Performance Tires?

One of the easiest and most impactful modifications you can make to any vehicle is to upgrade its tires. You don’t need to drive a full-on performance car to get a benefit from the tires either. Buying performance tires at any point will increase your vehicle’s grip and performance, but tread carefully if you live in cooler climates, as you may not get the best out of the tires in winter months.

What is the Cost of Performance Tires?

The table below shows an average starting price for a few of the tires that made our best-of list. There is a wide range of pricing between them, which can be attributed to a few factors. The first, and most obvious is branding and marketing. Michelin does this better than anyone, and while its tires generally perform at the top of their class, the company’s branding is top-notch as well.

Carlos G. Hill

Carlos G. Hill

Carlos joined TireReview in 2019 after seven years of living and working in Dubai. He has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Time Out, iQ and Loaded. After starting out on the automotive team as deputy editor of Engine Technology International, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International and Transmissions Technology International, he has been an editor since 2015, and began editing Tire Technology International in 2018. In 2020, he was appointed editor-in-chief of Tire, Professional Motorsport World, Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International and Crash test Technology International

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