Whenever someone asks me for a tire recommendation, my first question is related to driving habits and conditions. Some people want a comfortable and quiet tire for longer highway journeys, while others want a maximum attack tire for a twisty canyon road.
Unfortunately, you cannot have both types of tires into one, so it’s essential to decide which one you’ll be willing to go for. If you chose to focus on performance part, then this list is for you.
Today, I’ll be talking about performance-oriented tires for passenger cars and SUVs, then outline what makes them good or bad. To cover all the bases, I’ll also be talking about tires from different categories in terms of weather conditions, so you’ll be getting a few summer and a few all-season recommendations.
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Best Summer Performance Tires for Cars
The list starts off with what is considered to be the best in terms of performance. Summer tires are designed to be good in the summer, so there are no compromises here. Since I’m guessing you’d be putting these on your daily commuter car, I went with models that are a more sensible option and can be used in wet conditions.
#1. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
To deliver the performance Michelin promises, the tire is designed with a compound derived from the tires used in the Le Mans series. For improved handling, the tire features shoulders with low void areas, making it more dynamically inclined. The silica enriched area of the asymmetric pattern is designed to enhance wet traction.
In dry conditions, the Pilot Sport 4S delivers excellent results across the board. The grip and traction and phenomenal and not too far from the best in the class. Despite the minor differences, you won’t notice them unless you’re on a track. As far as braking goes, you have the shortest stopping distances in the class.
The performance in rainy conditions is also excellent, and the Pilot Sport 4S is a very capable tire on wet roads. You’ll get a confident feel, combined with plenty of grip and traction. One thing that may be a bit annoying is that the tire is a bit prone to understeer when you’re at the limit.
Regardless of the weather conditions, the handling of the Pilot Sport 4S is excellent. The tire turns instantly and is communicative, meaning that when you’re on the limit, you’ll know what’s happening with all 4 corners of the car.
Refinement is decent, considering that it’s not designed for it. The comfort levels are surprisingly decent, while the noise is acceptable.
The best part is that the Pilot Sport 4 comes with a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty, something its competitors don’t offer.
- The shortest dry braking distances
- 30,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Excellent handling capabilities
- Slightly prone to understeer in wet conditions
- Not the cheapest option on the market
#2. Bridgestone Potenza S001
Next on the list is a model from the Japanese manufacturer Bridgestone. The Potenza S001 is a tire designed to be a direct competitor to the Pilot Sport 4S, and it seems to hold up pretty well.
In these applications, the tread pattern is crucial, and Bridgestone seems to nailed it with the asymmetric design. The large shoulders on the sides help the tire deliver a more responsive feel. Down the middle, the central rib is key to keeping stability in check. The circumferential grooves and high angle notches help the Potenza S001 evacuate water more effectively.
On dry roads, the tire provides all the performance you’ll ever need. There is more than enough traction to get your car accelerating without any slip. Combine that with the lateral grip, and you are looking at one of the best tires in this category. In terms of braking distances, the Potenza S001 is good, but there are a few better performers.
For driving in wet conditions, the tire is good but not as good as in dry. The Potenza S001 still delivers very high levels of grip and traction and is a perfectly capable tire. With that said, it may get outperformed a bit in certain scenarios. Then there are the safe braking distances, but average for this category. On the positive side, the aquaplaning resistance is one of the best in class.
The handling is excellent on dry roads and pretty good in wet. Thanks to the tread design, the Potenza S001 responds instantly to inputs and provides plenty of feedback through the steering wheel.
As for comfort and noise, the Potenza S001 isn’t a particularly good performer. The comfort levels are acceptable, but the noise is noticeably higher than some of its competitors.
The biggest disadvantage over the Pilot Sport 4S is that the Potenza S001 comes without a treadwear warranty.
- High levels of grip and traction on dry roads
- Handles very good
- Excellent aquaplaning resistance
- No treadwear warranty
- Average braking distances on wet roads
#3. Continental Sport Contact 6
The last tire in the summer performance category is the Continental Sport Contact 6. As you may know, the German manufacturer is known for making excellent tires, and this one is on par with the previous two.
For the compound, Continental used its proprietary Black Chili rubber featuring carbon black, which helps the Sport Contact 6 deliver the best possible traction. The reinforced shoulder blocks with the intermediate rib are part of the asymmetric pattern designed for improved handling and stability. On the rainy side of things, the tire features deep grooves and lateral notches for superior aquaplaning resistance.
The Sport Contact 6 is a tire that won’t disappoint you when you drive on dry roads. Push it a bit, and it will reward you with an excellent grip in the corners along with a “sticky” experience when accelerating. As for the braking distances, they are the second-best in this class and get outperformed only by the Pilot Sport 4S.
Continental is often crowned as the king of wet performance tires, and the Sport Contact 6 is proof of that. You are looking at some of the highest levels of grip and traction in this class. As for braking, you’ll be getting the shortest stopping distances in the class and not by a margin. The aquaplaning resistance is pretty good, but the Potenza S001 performs better.
When it comes to handling, I believe that the Sport Contact 6 is the best out of the 3 mentioned here. It feels like it’s the most responsive out of the bunch and delivers a planted feel while providing plenty of feedback. Don’t get me wrong, all 3 are excellent, but this one feels a tad better.
In the refinement department, I have some good and bad news. The good news comes in the form of acceptably low noise levels, while the bad is in terms of comfort. It’s not the harshest, but there are more comfortable tires out there.
Like the Bridgestone model, the Sport Contact 6 has no treadwear warranty.
- The best wet performer
- Shortest wet braking distances
- Very responsive and planted
- The ride is a bit on the harsher side
- The Pilot sport 4S has slightly shorter braking distances in dry
Best All-Season Performance Tires for Cars
Like the summer tires, this section will cover the all-season ones. Technically these are tires that you’d drive mostly on dry and wet roads, but unlike the summer ones, they can be used in colder temperatures. On top of that, if it starts snowing, you may get away with driving them, unless it’s a harsh snowstorm, in which case you’d need proper winter tires.
#1. Michelin Pilot Sport All-Season 4
Like the summer option, Michelin’s Pilot Sport lineup is among the best in class, and the same goes for the all-season option. The Pilot Sport All-Season 4 is a tire designed to provide superior performance while remaining usable in winter.
As far as features go, the main one is the use of Michelin’s Helio technology in the compound. The sunflower oil provides softness, making the Pilot Sport 4 usable in the winter. Traction on wet roads is backed by the addition of silica, while for overall handling, you have the asymmetric pattern and shoulder blocks to thank.
Dry performance with the Pilot Sport All-Season 4 is phenomenal, and there is hardly a tire that can outperform it. You’ll have no problems putting the power down, thanks to the high levels of traction. In the corners, the grip is also excellent, and the tire remains pretty neutral until you decide to have a big slide.
When it comes to rain, the Pilot Sport All Season 4 will remain as one of the best ultra-high-performance tires. In damp conditions, it can provide very high levels of traction without slipping and keep you in check in the corners.
On the winter side of things, the Pilot Sport All-Season 4 is not a bad performer. Even though the traction is limited in snow conditions, the tire can bite down and get you moving. In this category, it manages to provide surprisingly good results.
Handling is what Michelin does best, and the same goes for the Pilot Sport All-Season 4. The tire is almost one of the most responsive ones in its class, and with the feedback, you’ll be getting, it won’t catch you by surprise.
Comfort and noise levels are not the best, so this is a bit of a downside. The Pilot Sport All-Season 4 delivers a slightly harsher ride when compared with some of its rivals. Also, the noise levels are average and a bit higher than some of the other tires in this class.
The warranty also isn’t something the Pilot Sport All-Season 4 can brag with. Michelin offers the tire with a 45,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is a bit behind some of its rivals.
- Marvelous handling characteristics
- Dry performance is excellent
- Snow performance is very good
- Not the most well-refined tire
- There are tires with a slightly longer treadwear warranty
#2. Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate
Next up in the all-season performance-oriented tires is the Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate. The tire is a direct competitor of the previous one, and with a similar price, it aims to deliver similar if not better results.
To deliver performance in summer and winter, Goodyear designed the Eagle Exhilarate with its proprietary rubber compound, including several technologies. The ActiveGrip technology enables the tire to have even pressure across the entire width, while the ActiveBraking work to maximize the contact patch during braking. The grooves and sipes are designed to increase traction on wet roads and improve aquaplaning resistance.
The technology put into the tire paid off as the dry performance I excellent. There are some minor differences in the grip and traction levels when compared to the Michelin option, but you may notice them on the track. On the road, the levels are very high and more than enough for what you’d need. One area the Eagle Exhilarate falls a bit behind is the braking distances which aren’t the shortest in class.
In wet conditions, the Eagle Exhilarate is a tire that manages to outperform the Pilot Sport All-Season 4. It offers slightly higher levels of grip and traction when pushed hard. Like in dry conditions, the braking distances aren’t as impressive. They are still short and very safe, but not the shortest in this class.
Snow seems to be this tire’s worst enemy. The Eagle Exhilarate manages to provide usable traction and grip in snowy conditions, but the limit isn’t too high. While it is safe to use, it’s not a tire that you’d want to push hard in these conditions.
When it comes to handling, the Eagle Exhilarate is a tire that delivers a true UHP experience. Thanks to the tread design and internal construction, the tire offers plenty of feedback and is very responsive in nature. On top of that, there is very little flex in the sidewall when you corner hard.
The Eagle Exhilarate is a tire that also manages to be a well-refined one. Even though it’s not comparable with a grand touring tire, it manages to be decently comfortable and not produce a lot of noise.
For the treadwear warranty, the Eagle Exhilarate is evenly matched with the Michelin counterpart, meaning that you’d be getting a 45,000-mile treadwear warranty.
- Well refined
- Excellent wet performance
- Responsiveness is phenomenal
- Snow performance isn’t as good as some of its competitors
- Braking distances are slightly above average
#3. Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 Plus
The last in the list of ultra-high-performance all-season tires is a German one. Continental is part of the premium group of manufacturers, meaning that the ExtremeContact DWS 06 Plus needs to battle the previous two tires on this list.
DWS stands for dry, wet, and snow, meaning that to achieve that, Continental needed to use a rubber compound capable of remaining softer in the winter. The traction and handling are backed by the asymmetric pattern, along with the 3D sipes. They also help a lot on damp roads or snow-covered surfaces. In addition to that, the sipes work with the circumferential grooves to deliver excellent water evacuation properties.
If the roads are dry, the ExtremeContact DWS 06 Plus will deliver excellent performance. You can rely on the high levels of traction to eliminate slip when you accelerate hard. There is also plenty of grip, and the tire will remain stable in the corners. The braking distances are also short, making it a very good performer in these conditions.
There isn’t a better tire suited for rainy conditions than the ExtremeContact DWS 06 Plus. It can hook to the road and provide a very stable experience. The grip and traction levels are the highest in this class, so you can push it very hard. Continental’s tread design also helps the tire with water evacuation, making it very stable in deeper water.
In the winter, the ExtremeContact DWS 06 Plus is a usable tire, but not as good as the Michelin and certainly not as good as a proper winter tire. The level of traction is acceptable, but the tire won’t wow you in deeper snow as it will begin to struggle.
Continental also worked on the handling side of things, making the ExtremeContact excellent in this regard. The tire will react to every steering input instantly and with ease, but you may find yourself looking for a bit more feedback from it.
For normal driving, the ExtremeContact DWS 06 Plus is a tire that can be classified as an acceptably well-refined one. The comfort levels are good enough to provide a decently comfortable ride, while the noise levels aren’t the lowest, but still not the highest either.
The ExtremeContact DWS 06 Plus has a slight advantage over the other two tires in terms of the warranty. It comes with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is 5,000 miles more than the Michelin and Goodyear options.
- Wet performance is best in class
- Handling is dynamic
- Comfort levels are acceptably good
- Dry performance isn’t the best in class
- You may find the feedback to be a bit numb at times
Best Summer Performance Tires for Crossovers and SUVs
Despite the off-road nature of SUVs, there are some models which are more road-oriented and have a sporty feel. For these models, the following two tires are a good option. I’ll be talking about summer performance tires designed for SUVs.
#1. Michelin Pilot Sport 4 SUV
We’re back with another Michelin tire, and it’s the Pilot Sport 4 SUV. Like the previous two Pilot Sport options, this is a performance-oriented option, but unlike them, this one is designed to be fitted to an SUV.
In terms of features, things aren’t too different here. The Pilot Sport 4 SUV is a tire designed with a rubber compound rich with silica, aiming to improve traction on wet roads. In more extreme wet conditions, the grooves and sipes help channel water away from the blocks to keep the tire stable. On the sides, the tire features stiffer shoulder blocks whose goal is to make the tire respond better.
Dry roads are where the Pilot Sport 4 delivers its pest performance. The levels of grip and traction are superior, minimizing slipping when accelerating or in the corners. There are some cases where you can get understeer during the initial turn-in, but you’ll notice it only when you push it too far.
Things don’t change much when you drive on wet roads. The Pilot Sport 4 SUV continues to deliver superb performance despite the non-ideal conditions. Slip is very minimal when accelerating aggressively, and the tire will keep gripping to the road in a corner. Thanks to the design, the tire remains stable when driving in deeper water patches.
Like most performance-oriented tires, the Pilot Sport 4 SUV can offer excellent handling capabilities. Even though it’s a tire for an SUV, it still feels nimble and responds very quickly. There is a bit of flex in the sidewall, but far from what can be categorized as terrible. In addition to that, the feedback you’ll be getting through the steering wheel is excellent.
When it comes to refinement, the Pilot Sport 4 SUV starts to fall back a bit. The stiffer sidewall means that you’ll be getting an averagely harsh ride, with some moderate noise levels.
One thing that sets the Pilot Sport 4 SUV apart from the competition is the warranty. Michelin offers the tire with a 20,000-mile treadwear warranty, something the other tires don’t have.
- Short braking distances
- The best aquaplaning resistance in its class
- Superior performance in dry and wet conditions
- Not the most affordable option
- Refinement isn’t its strongest side
#2. Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV
Goodyear is a brand known for making excellent premium tires, and its Eagle lineup is the pinnacle of what it has to offer. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV is a direct competitor of the Michelin, and it manages to deliver a punch.
There are several technologies capable of delivering that performance. The compound is called Grip Booster, enabling the tire to be more sticky and provide improved grip. In terms of stopping, the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV is baked by the ActiveBraking technology, which increases the contact patch, shortening the distances. To remain stable and handle well, the tire is designed with a sturdy construction, reducing the flex in the sidewall.
If the road is dry, the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV is a tire that will deliver superb performance. Even though the levels of grip and traction are just a tad behind Michelin’s model, they are still quite high. For the most part, the differences can be noticed only when you drive at the absolute limit.
For wet conditions, the story remains more or less the same. The Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV remains one of the best tires in this category. Damp roads won’t pose a big issue, and the tire can deliver high levels of traction without too much slip. The same can be said in the corners, and with the levels of grip you’ll be getting, you can push it. As for the aquaplaning resistance, it’s good and above average, but I was hoping for a bit better results.
In my opinion, as far as handling goes, the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV is on par with the Pilot Sport 4 SUV and maybe even better. In wet conditions, it’s slightly behind, but in both cases, the tire delivers excellent responsiveness with plenty of feedback.
As you’d expect, refinement is acceptable, but far from a touring tire. The comfort levels of the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV are decent enough, and the noise levels are acceptably low, making it a bit quieter than the Michelin.
The drawback comes in the form of a warranty, and without one, the French tire is at an advantage.
- Excellent handling
- Noise levels are acceptably low
- Among the shortest braking distances
- Aquaplaning resistance could use a bit of an improvement
- No treadwear warranty
Best All-Season Performance Tires for Crossovers and SUVs
I’ll be ending the list with two all-season tires for SUVs. Essentially, if you find yourself in that situation, you are looking for performance-oriented models that can be used in the snow.
#1. Pirelli Scorpion Zero All Season Plus
As part of the premium lineup, Pirelli has plenty of tires designed to deliver maximum performance, and the Scorpion Zero All-Season Plus is one of them. The tire is made to fit SUVs, and unlike the previous ones, it can offer some limited performance in the winter.
To deliver performance throughout the year, the Italian manufacturer designed the Scorpion Zero All-Season Plus with a unique rubber compound. Adding silica into the mix not only helps it remain pliable in lower temperatures but also improves grip on wet roads. The zig-zag pattern that’s part of the design is there to help the tire with traction on snow.
The Scorpion Zero All-Season Plus manages to provide excellent performance in dry conditions. There is plenty of traction and grip to play around with, offering a lot more than what you’d need. Even if you’re pushing it, the limit is still high. The tire is a bit prone to understeer in the corners, but only in the most extreme situations.
Things don’t change too much in wet conditions, and the Scorpion Zero All-Season Plus continues to deliver on Pirelli’s promises. The tire can hook up and minimize wheel spin without breaking a sweat. In the corners, things are much better, and the levels of grip are superior. Throw in the excellent aquaplaning resistance into the mix, and you have an excellent tire for wet conditions.
Snow is an area where the Scorpion Zero All-Season Plus won’t shine. Most all-season tires are usable in these conditions, as is this one. In reality, when compared with some of its rivals, there are some differences, and this one seems to fall back a bit.
The handling is the area of the tire that can be praised. Pirelli managed to fine-tune it to be very responsive, which is partly thanks to the stiffer design. On the other hand, the feedback feels numb at times, which may not sit well with some enthusiasts.
When it comes to refinement, things aren’t perfect. Sporty tires and comfort don’t mix, so you should expect the Scorpion Zero All-Season Plus to be a bit on the harsher side. The same can be said about the noise levels, which aren’t the lowest in this class.
Luckily, things improve in the warranty department, and with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, it’s among the longest in its category.
- Aquaplaning resistance is superb
- Marvelous performance in dry conditions
- Excellent handling
- Poor snow performance
- Doesn’t provide a lot of feedback
#2. Yokohama Parada Spec-X
Yokohama is a brand that sometimes flies under the radar for tires, which is a shame. The Parada Spec-X is its model designed to compete with Pirelli’s option for performance all-season SUV tires.
The tire is designed with Yokohama’s rubber compound, enabling it to provide performance in colder temperatures. The Parada Spec-X is designed with a more aggressive pattern, which aims to provide traction on snow-covered roads. There is one central groove and angled sipes and additional grooves which are made to improve aquaplaning resistance and traction in wet conditions.
On a sunny summer day, the Parada Spec-X is a tire that can offer phenomenal performance. Grip and traction levels are very high, meaning that you’ll have a lot to play with without worrying about losing control. At the limit, the Yokohama tire will be a bit worse performer than the one from Pirelli, but you may notice that on a track.
Wet conditions are also no problem, and the Parada Spec-X won’t disappoint. If the road is damp, the tire can hook up and deliver high levels of traction. This means that the slip may be minimal even if you accelerate aggressively. The same level of performance will be delivered in the corners with a touch of understeer when you push it to the limit. You can also expect high levels of aquaplaning resistance, which are thanks to the tread pattern.
Like with the previous tire, the snow performance isn’t exemplary. Yes, the Parada Spec-X can deliver some traction, but it’s only usable and not something you can fully rely on. The tire is controllable and won’t lose control as long as you’re driving accordingly.
The handling of the Parada Spec-X is good, maybe not on the same level as the Pirelli, but still pretty good. It can offer a very responsive input and some feedback to let you know what’s happening with the tires. With that said, it doesn’t feel as dynamic as the Italian model, though.
Despite being a performance-oriented tire, the Parada Spec-X is a decently refined one. It can deal with bumps decently well and offer a comfortable riding experience, combined with acceptably low noise levels.
Unfortunately, unlike the previous tire, the Parada Spec-X doesn’t come with a treadwear warranty, which is its biggest downside.
- Decently well refined
- Excellent performance in dry and wet conditions
- A tad cheaper than the Pirelli
- No treadwear warranty
- Lacks a bit more dynamic handling