Choosing the perfect set of tires seems almost impossible without acquiring a university degree of some kind. There are simply too many performance variables and intricacies that can sway your decision way, and that is before we factor in the costs, availability, and longevity.
However, if we were to start from the beginning, we would likely start by choosing the brand, and there aren’t too many tire brands out there that carry as much weight as Pirelli and Michelin. Whether it be racing, off-roading, touring, or even visionary concepts of the future, these two tire heavyweights are almost a synonym for quality-made rubber.
In this article, we are going to compare Pirelli vs Michelin tires and tell you what makes one better than the other.
The Pirelli company was founded back in 1872 in the city of Milan (Italy) and was initially in the business of making all sorts of products made from elastic rubber. Pirelli first started making tires by designing carriage wheel tires and in 1984 they produced tires for pushbikes. The early 1900s saw the beginning of the motor car and Pirelli soon expanded its facilities to cope with the market demand for car tires.
They opened tire manufacturing facilities across the globe and they also started getting heavy into motorsport. Pirelli might as well be the tire company with the longest-lasting commitment to motorsports which only began in 1906 with the world’s very first Grand Prix event held in France by the Automobile Club of France.
1922 saw a historic moment in Pirelli’s history as they were the very first Italian company to trade their shares in the US. After WW1 ended, Pirelli made the very first dedicated sports performance tire, The Superflex Stella Bianca. Ever since then, Pirelli is in the business of making high-end performance tires for many car companies around the world.
Today, Pirelli has more than 31,600 employees worldwide with production facilities in 12 different countries. Pirelli is also the sole supplier of tires for the world’s most illustrious racing organization, the Formula One which is only the tip of the iceberg of what Pirelli is known for.
Pirelli’s Tire Families
Pirelli tires are divided into six different product families depending on particular tire needs and other technical characteristics. This makes it easy to find the tires you need as all Pirelli tires are designed and manufactured according to the highest standards of tire manufacturing.
P Zero Family
The Pirelli P Zero family is what makes Pirelli stand out in the modern-day tire industry as these tires are made for those who want to explore the very limits of traction and handling. The Pirelli P Zero tire family consists of the regular P Zero, the more focused P Zero Corsa tire, P Zero Trofeo semi-slick tires, and P Zero Nero GT tires for sedans and sports cars with an emphasis on comfort.
The P Zero Rosso is a tire made specifically for electric cars and is designed to give maximum range and stability. Finally, the P Zero Winter is a tire that maintains all of the elements listed in other P Zero tire products but enables you to enjoy them even during wintertime.
Probably the most interesting tire family made by Pirelli is the Cinturato family which incorporates everything Pirelli offers in all other tire families but combines that with the lowest environmental effect possible. This means that these tires incorporate eco-friendly designs and means of production in order to cut down Co2 emissions as much as possible.
The Cinturato family comprises P7, P7 All-Season, P7 AS Plus 3, Strada, Strada Sport, and the Winter tire designed specifically for winter use.
We live in an era dominated by SUVs, CUVs, and crossovers and that is why Pirelli decided to make a tire series specifically designed for cars with higher ground clearance. This series follows the usual Pirelli tire philosophy but also offers added durability and better off-roadability. Pirelli also says that their Scorpion family emphasizes steering precision more than most utility tires do.
The Scorpion family comprises Verde, Strada, All-Season, ATR, STR, Zero, Assimetrico, Winer, and Scorpion Ice & Snow tires.
Even though Pirelli makes winter tires within each of the tire families listed, the best Pirelli winter tires are found within the Pirelli Sottozero family. Pirelli says that the Sottozero family is specifically designed with snow use in mind above everything else while all other Pirelli winter tires are made for mild and moderate winter driving.
Ice Family, Winter Snowcontrol Family
If you need a dedicated ice tire, the Pirelli Ice family is the one to get because it is designed to provide the highest levels of traction on icy roads. The Winter Snowcontrol Family combines everything we listed into a single tire series. This means that these tires are made to be eco-friendly, agile, enjoyable, and safe in both moderate and extreme winter conditions.
Almost 12 years after Pirelli came to be, two brothers named André and Édouard founded the Michelin rubber company that first specialized in making tires for horse-drawn carriages. They envisioned the first pneumatic tire for a car which first saw the light of day back in the late 1890s when they successfully used these tires on the Paris-Bordeaux racing event.
Even though they didn’t win the race, they did win over many interested customers who were interested in seeing the pneumatic tire on public roads. This was the first nudge in the back for the company which eventually became one of the largest tire manufacturing companies by the mid-1900s. This was also the time when Michelin invented the steel-belted radial tire which is arguably the most significant tire invention of the century.
Michelin was never only interested in making tires as they strived to become a company that encompasses many different aspects of the automotive industry. One of the more notable things the company did is publish an international series of travel guides called Guide Michelin. This is where the Michelin star was born and is now one of the more prestigious certificates a fine dining restaurant can have.
Michelin tires are usually at the very top of most tire charts and competitions because Michelin is adamant about making the best products that will satisfy all drivers, both on two and four-wheeled vehicles.
Michelin Tire Families
Michelin groups their tire families in the same way as with Pirelli which means that choosing the type of tire you need is simple and easy to understand.
The Michelin Pilot series is what Michelin believes is the perfect choice for a driver that wants safety and comfort without sacrificing performance or controllability. Best Michelin Pilot tires for passenger cars are the Pilot Sport 4/4S/3 tires and the new Pilot Sport 5 as these are commonly found on many sports cars and sports sedans straight from the factory.
Best Pilot tires for SUVs are the Pilot Sport 4 SUV tires. You can also get Pilot Sport All-Season, Sport A/S, and the Sport Alpin tires which are specifically made for winter use.
The Michelin Primacy series is tasked with making some of the world’s best touring tires which are designed with comfort and longevity in mind. The Primacy tire family encompasses all segments which means that you can buy Primacy tires for passenger cars and SUVs. These include all-season tires and dedicated summer tires.
The Michelin Premier family is also a touring tire family but puts an emphasis on performance more than the previous Primacy family. However, the Premier tire family does not come in as many sizes and variations which means that you can only get all-season Premier tires. The Premier LXT series is reserved for SUVs and crossovers.
The Latitude tire family is dedicated specifically to SUVs and crossovers. This means that the Latitude series is designed to cover a wide array of usage scenarios for various weather conditions. As such, you can get Tour, Sport, Alpin, and X-Ice Latitude tires. You also have a bunch of sub-models of each of these which means that it is incredibly easy to pick the right tire for you.
The best touring winter tires Michelin makes can be found within the Michelin X-Ice series. The X-Ice family comes with either studded or non-studded tires which are perfect for ice. You can also get the North X-Ice tire which is somewhat of a jack of all trades when it comes to winter tires.
Defender Family, CrossClimate Family
One of the more famous Michelin tire series is the Michelin Defender tires. These are the type of tires most people would go for because they are made for touring which emphasizes longevity, refinement, and comfort. The Defender series consists of T+H tires which are designed for all types of cars while LTX M/S tires are designed for large SUVs and light trucks.
We also need to mention the CrossClimate touring tire series which seems to be the one setting the standards for the best touring tires in the current Michelin lineup. These are available for both passenger cars and SUVs.
Michelin also offers tires specifically designed for electric and hybrid passenger cars and they are called Michelin Energy tires. These tires offer the least amount of rolling resistance which in turn increases your overall range. The Energy lineup consists of LX4 all-season tires and Saver tires that can be had in both all-season and summer variations.
If you want tires that are specifically designed for larger cars, the Michelin LTX tire series is the one to get. These can even do some off-roading, especially the A/T2 tire which is designed both for SUVs and light trucks. You can also get the M/S2 which is more of a touring tire. Both of these are intended for all-season use.
Differences Between Pirelli And Michelin
This part of our Pirelli vs Michelin tires comparison is where we compare these two brands head-to-head to see which one is better in the most important categories there is.
When it comes to outright performance, these two brands make the best tires on the market. The Pirelli P Zero series is designed with handling and responsiveness in mind, but Michelin’s Pilot Sport is very much the same. We can say that the Pilot Sport tire is usually the better performance tire at the lower end, but when you venture into the semi-slick territory, you simply can’t beat the P Zero Trofeo R tire.
Off-roading is not necessarily where these two tire giants are at their very best which means that there are better off-road tires in this price range. Pirelli’s Scorpion tires are more than capable of mild to moderate off-roading while the Michelin LTX tire is the best Michelin tire when it comes to off-roading and it slightly beats the Scorpion by Pirelli.
As far as winter tires are concerned, it’s a really tough call as the Pirelli Sottozero, Ice, and Winter Snowcontrol tire families are really good. The X-Ice tire is the best Michelin tire, but besides ice, Pirelli is the one making better regular wintertime tires. However, Michelin takes it when it comes to touring tires as this is where the difference between these two brands is most noticeable.
The best studded tires here are definitely the Pirelli Ice Zero Type because these tires have revolutionized the world of studded tires. That’s not to say that Michelin does not make great studded tires too because the X-Ice tire is also available with studs.
When it comes to availability, Michelin takes it as there are simply more tire series to choose from. Pirelli tries really hard to perfect a certain category while Michelin does that by offering more versions of each tire and thus has more options in the catalog.
Touring tires are where this is most noticeable as Michelin offers a few tire families that are specifically designed for touring purposes. Moreover, Michelin offers a wider array of options for SUVs and trucks, commercial vehicles, and even motorcycles.
When it comes to sizing, Michelin takes it once more as they simply offer more series of tires in different sizes which means that the available options are incredibly plenty.
Price & Warranty
We can confidently say that both of these two brands make tires for the premium market as they are at the very forefront of tire innovations and overall performance. Pirelli tires seem to be more expensive when you get to the very upper echelon, but there are more entry-level options you can choose from.
Michelin on the other hand simply offers more regular tires such as touring tires which inherently cost less, but aren’t as serious when it comes to performance. All in all, these two are really closely matched when it comes to pricing.
Both Pirelli and Michelin offer their customers a 6-year long warranty on materials and workmanship. Pirelli also offers its customers a limited tread life warranty and a 30-day customer satisfaction guarantee. Michelin on the other hand also offers all of these, but instead of a 30-day customer satisfaction guarantee, they offer a 60-day customer satisfaction guarantee and a 3-year road assistance service.
Advantages Of Pirelli
- More driver involvement
- More control over snow and ice
- More entry-level options
- Better on gravel roads
- More eco-friendly
Advantages Of Michelin
- Better touring tires
- More options and sizes
- Better performance in the wet
- Better warranty coverage
Which Brand To Choose?
You simply can’t go wrong with choosing any of these two as both Pirelli and Michelin offer the very best automotive tires on the market. Michelin does Touring tires better while Pirelli takes it at the very high-end performance tire segment.
Michelin tires are slightly more comfortable and quieter as well. On the other hand, Pirelli emphasizes making their tires in an eco-friendly way which is not something you can say for Michelin, at least not to such an extent.