Six Sets & Counting: My Year With The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2

Car fans are a weird bunch.

We’re divided by car choice, engine aspiration, driven wheels, gearbox type and even the vehicle’s country of origin. We’ll take this to the point of arguing blind with strangers on the internet to get our view across. Take one look at our comments section if you’re unsure about that.

There’s one thing that car people get passionate about more than most, though, and that’s what tyres to run.

You’d think it would be simple; after all, cars need tyres whether they are EV, hybrid, diesel or some other futuristic powertrain. If they touch the ground they need tyres. The truth is, there is no perfect answer. There are so many performance parameters even before you consider that everyone’s needs and budgets are different. It doesn’t get any easier when you look towards the high performance track tyre end of the market, either.


In the early days, Michelin’s original Pilot Sport Cup tyre was just about the only serious, motorsport-derived and road-legal track day choice. Manufacturers specced it as an OE tyre, and it came on some of the hottest Porsche offerings. Savvy aftermarket enthusiasts soon caught wind of this advantage and followed suit.

Today, the road/track tyre market is a hotly contested one, with the big guys and relatively new companies all battling it out for your attention. This subject is probably the topic of discussion for performance-focused guys, and I’m ashamed to say I am one of them. My name is Ryan Stewart and I’m a Michelin guy.

But before you bash me with a Pirelli-shaped hammer, let me tell you my story, and in return I’ll listen to your viewpoint in the comments. Sound like a deal?

Around a year ago, I was getting ready for a Volkswagen show called Ultimate Dubs. I know this statement doesn’t really make any sense, but stick with me. I didn’t yet have wheels for my E92 M3, but I did have a space at the show.

Now everyone knows that stock wheels don’t really cut it in a show environment and I was already letting the team down with a BMW. I had to think fast.

Luckily, Mark Riccioni had just got a set of stunning BBS E88s delivered for his E61 M5 Touring (RIP, sort of), and he kindly offered them to me to borrow for the weekend. Suffice to say I was a little bit nervous about this wife-swap, but as soon as my car dropped off the jack stand I was sold.

The way the gold and silver looked against the matte black paint was amazing, and even better they were shod in fresh Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The sidewalls looked perfect; the almost flocked effect Michelin logos were an incredible detail. I had the best weekend on those wheels, and before long I found myself looking for a track wheel and tyre combo for my E92 M3 project.


At the time the car was using Michelin’s now superseded Pilot Super Sport tyre. They had been added to the M3 in standard sizes and I’d been using them for the odd track day and on the road, and they worked just fine.

The Super Sport is a road-biased tyre and I never expected them to light my life up on circuit, although they did hold up really very well. It was this unexpected performance, plus my previous encounter with Mark’s wheels that led me to want to try the next tyre up in the range, the Pilot Sport Cup 2 (PSC2).


Not that I was going to put them on the stock wheels, mind you. As you know, new tyres are almost always triggered by new wheels, and I couldn’t get the weekend fling with Mark’s out of my head. No prizes for guessing that I selected Nürburgring-nerd-certified BBS E88s then. These were just like Mark’s but a little wider and smaller diameter in order to fit 265/35R18 and 295/30R18 tyres, the go-to sizes for the E92.


Keen-eyed readers will also notice that mine were motorsport-centred, face-mount style that do not allow the fitment of a centre cap, which is pretty hardcore. Little did I know, this would be the first of many sets of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, and the first of many Nürburgring trips in the car.

It’s safe to say I got the bug for both.


The PCS2 is primarily a track tyre, but one that offers very good road manners. It has very low noise and pretty good wet weather performance, which meant that they wouldn’t be irritating on the long drive to Germany.

I’d not be put in a stressful situation if the unpredictable Eifel weather took a turn for the worse either, but most importantly, the tyre offered huge levels of grip compared to what I had run previously.


At this point I could rehash and type Michelin’s own website or copy and paste a press release to tell you about the bi-compound technology and how a “more rigid elastomer optimizes steering control and wet grip” – but I won’t do you the disservice. What I will tell you is that I ran to a total of six sets of PSC2 over the last year, in many different sizes on many different wheels, both staggered and square, 18 and 19-inch. That should surely qualify me as able to talk about these black circles at length. In case you’re interested, here’s the rundown of the setups:

– 255/35R19 and 275/35R19 with BBS E88

– 265/35R18 and 295/30R18 with BBS E88

– 265/35R18 and 295/30R18 with BBS E88

– 265/35R19 and 295/30R19 with BMW GTS wheels

– 265/35R18 and 295/30R18 with Rotiform BUC-M

– 285/30R18 with BBS RE1598

Six sounds like a lot, and I guess a set of tyres every couple of months is quite a rate of consumption when you type it out. But you have to remember this 450bhp track car weighs in at a hefty 1,550kgs (3,417lbs) with me in it, even with an extensive weight reduction of 100kgs (220lbs) over stock. It’ll post sub-8-minute Nürburgring laps all day long and drive home without a hiccup.

This leads me to my next thought – the abuse that these tyres have put up with in their lifespan. It’s incredible really.


During this time I’ve done more than 10 track days, including four trips to the ‘Ring. I’ve done 180mph (290km/h) at every legal opportunity, I’ve smoked the rears for videos, hammered tracks in 30°C+ (86ºF+) heat in the height of summer, plus travelled home in torrential rain and sub-zero temperatures, too.

I’ve done all of this without really even thinking about it. None of this is in the original design remit of the PSC2 I’m sure, but the sort of thing that they take without so much as a murmur.


It’s for these reasons then that I love the Pilot Sport Cup 2. It’s not necessarily about the huge headline grip they offer when at full chat, although that is of course a factor. It’s more the confidence and reliability that they offer.


I’m not going to bore you with describing the steering feel or on-the-limit assurance like a time-served expert road tester – I’m simply not qualified enough of a driver to impart that knowledge.


I can however be 100% sure that if I were to pick one tyre to rule them all, to tackle a new track and not give me any nasty surprises, to take on a journey to the Nürburgring and endure all the potential pitfalls and hazards along the way, that tyre would be the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2.

Ryan Stewart
Instagram: 7.nth

Additional Photos by Mark Riccioni
Instagram: mark_scenemedia
Twitter: markriccioni



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Done 300km in Renault Mégane 3 RS Stage 2 with this tyres...
There were totally worn out... Doesnt work on this car. (Nankang ar1 for that car was lot better)
I had it too in Porsche 996 C4 and i was really happy with...
Maybe for your E92 its OK, but did you try it on another car ?


Hi Ive started heat setting any tire with 340 or softer rating. From what I understand the newer compounds are realy soft but reinforced and that new tires arent completly cooked or crosslinked. Ive definetly felt a big diffence on some tires and always regret not going through the whole prcess of getting them off the ground so they cool evenly. Also while alignment is a huge deal any street tire should be able to be used with a stock alignment. I drive fwd and usualy go almost 0 to a bit neg on toe and a couple deg extra camber, mostly for turn in. Oh tire pressure I always have to play around with that it seems to be diffrent with different tires but almost never do I find the stock settings to be any good.


A lot of this is to do with driving style, smoother is not only faster but the shoulders will last much longer


This is common excess entry speed and body roll. And a car that isn't balanced entering and through the corner. And/or/not exclusively the tire might not be evenly warmed up. I learned the hard way, fortunately on much cheaper smaller 200tw tires than cup2s


I've seen AR1s completely fall apart like that as well (if not worse) on a Golf R. Did you speak with the manufacturer about it?


Yes, i've contacted Michelin. They said "thanks for your back" and "sorry we can't do anything" ... They Lost one client


Out of curiosity, did you get a more track oriented alignment when these tyres were installed? I've seen multiple brands of tyres suffer issues like this (pirelli's, michelin's, toyo, etc.). More often than not it was caused by vehicle alignment.


Yes, you need to tailor your alignment to your tyres, it is important that the package works as a whole


It's not so much that the PSC2 is not a good tire, it's just that why bother with anything that isn't the RE-71R?


I don't think the RE-71R is readily available on this side of the planet (but I'm open to correction)


Some of us have the luxury of being able to pick them up from Costco canada. And they come in a lot of sizes


I agree with every single word. There are faster tyres out there for sure (i.e. trofeo R’s) but overall the Cup 2 is just the best. It’s not just about grip, it’s all the other stuff that most people don’t pay attention to, like noise, wet handling, wear, user-friendliness... It adds up.

I’m almost done with my 6th set, in addition to trackdays and Nürburgring trips I use them everyday all year long and in every possible weather condition. They last a lot on my GT86(weight helps compared to your E92) and I could not be happier. I just can’t think of a better tyre for my needs.


Let me edjucate you a little: A quieter tire is a tire with less grooves in it. Hence a slick is quieter then a semi slick. A semi slick is quieter then a sport tire. You get the idea. So what you are saying about noise doesn't involve the real world I'm afraid....

As for the rest:
Wet is about the same, not much difference, except when you are taking about puddles. The semi slicks become an ice skate....
Wear is a lot better on the Cup 2, although it depends on the compound of the semi slicks (usually has around 5 compounds from super soft tot super hard).
User friendliness: Only fitting them becomes a nightmare in general. They don't puncture more often and both are round....


Not true, the carcass construction and stiffness has much more to do with the noise



Let me educate you with a handful of tyres with less grooves and more noise than a Cup 2: Toyo R888(R), Yokohama A048, Nankang AR1, Trofeo R’s, Dunlop Direzza... Do you need more?
The grooves are not the only thing that contribute to road noise. That’s why a Cup 2 is noisier than a PS4S, when both share a similar pattern, only more pronounced on the PS4S. It is quite noticeable if you test them back to back.
Any decent road tyre is quieter than a semi slick.

Now let me educate you about what user friendliness means:
- Predictable handling. If you come from a Pilot Super Sport or PS4S, you get pretty much the same handling and balance, but with higher grip. That means you don’t need to get used to them.
- It’s not hard to get them up to the right temperature.
- Finding the right tyre pressure can be a nightmare with some semi slicks, Cup 2’s are pretty straight forward if you follow Michelin’s advice.
- Wet handling is decent, not great, but decent. Better than most semi slicks.
- Again: comfort levels, fuel consumption or noise are better than any other in its class. Obviously this is not what you look for in this kind of tyre, but it’s a nice addition and it makes them easier to live with. It’s that simple.
- Fitting them is not part of the user experience. It has nothing to do with driving. Sure, the stiffer sidewall means a bit more effort, but it’s far from being a nightmare. You can say “I fit my own tyres” but come on, most USERS don’t.


@ Faraday:

Actually, You do know that what you say is subjective right? And You do no physics are not?

Tire noise has only one reason: Thats air resistance. And that resistance is coming from the grooves in a tire. Its as simple as that. Unless you are running on another world, the same rules apply. if you want to argue with physics, try jumping of a building and see if you can fly? It really is that simple.

Dont believe me: Try looking up Db ratings for all the tires in exactly the same dimensions. Those tests don't lie.

What you are referring to, has nothing to do with your tires, but has everything to do with alignment. because a car manufactorer says you need to align it a certain way., doesn't mean its the best for all situations. Its just a common ground starting setup. So if you think that each tire needs to have the same alignment, you are clearly mistaken.

Uhm: Let me rephrase what you typed above:

"-Now let me educate you about what user friendliness means:
- Predictable handling. you come from a Pilot Super Sport or PS4S, you get pretty much the same handling and balance, but with higher grip. That means you don’t need to get used to them. Other people might not have that problem.
- It’s not hard to get them up to the right temperature. Most tires aren't hard to get up to temp. eeven Semi slicks. You just got to pick the right ones for the application. Softer tire are easier to heat up in general.
- Finding the right tyre pressure can be a nightmare with some semi slicks, Cup 2’s are pretty straight forward if you follow Michelin’s advice. For you maybe, but thats motsly down to lack of effort. Lets face it: get a pump with you. Pump up you tires and inflate deflate as you go out testing. A kid could do that?
- Wet handling is decent, not great, but decent. Better than most semi slicks. No it isn't. Thats the big misconception about them. A semi slick doens't float in the rain. It only floats in puddles. I live in a country where it rains most of the time, and am fairly close to the nurburgring. Not a problem whatsoever. As long as you take conditions into account.
- Again: comfort levels, fuel consumption or noise are better than any other in its class. Obviously this is not what you look for in this kind of tyre, but it’s a nice addition and it makes them easier to live with. It’s that simple. Comfort is down to tire hight and pressure, Fuel consumption is down to tire width and height, carweight and mostly down to tire compound. And yes, a less grippy tire will last longer. Friction = wear.
- Fitting them is not part of the user experience. It has nothing to do with driving. Sure, the stiffer sidewall means a bit more effort, but it’s far from being a nightmare. You can say “I fit my own tyres” but come on, most USERS don’t. The reason i said this, is mostly because not every installer can instal semi slicks. Most machines are not usable and done by hand the rims get easily damaged. And for the record: I usually don't fit my own tires. The only exception being multi piece wheels. Thats one of the few thing I don't do myself.


So you’re just going to reprhase or go in different directions so you get you point. Alright, let’s give it another go.

Physics are the way they are but we don’t know everything. Again, explain to me why a Cup 2 is louder than a PSS or PS4S. And I’m always talking about same sizes and conditions, comparing in the most methodical way possible. I’m a scientist, don’t give me that subjective bullshit argument. You are the one trying to justify things by adding more variables.
And I say it again: any of the tyres I mentioned are louder than Cup 2’s. Despite what theory says and whatever rating they have road tyres are usually quieter. I can tell you after actually testing them. Prove me wrong. Explain the difference in noise between PS4S and Cup2. I’m still waiting. Answer that instead of going around talking about subjectiveness and alignment. Then, if you want, you can also try to explain the noise produced by some R888, Dmacks, etc, which doesn’t fit your precious theory.

Now into user friendliness, please realize that I’m not talking specific cases.
“Other people might not have that problem”. Sure. There’s people who may even go fast with wood tyres and be happy about it, but that’s not the point. Generally speaking, they are easier than other for the average guy. That’s what user friendly means, when a tyre works well for all kind of users.
This applies to tyre pressures and temps. If you don’t want to see that, I can’t help you. Stop talking about theory and think about the average driver. I know what you’re saying, but you need to look at the whole picture.

Regarding wet handling, I think you don’t really understand what i’m saying because. I drive on semislicks all year, in a region where it rains a lot more than the Nürburgring(which I visit often and I love driving there when it’s wet as well, in case it matters). I have no problem whatsoever, I know how capable these tyres are on the wet. People think they’re useless and that’s just wrong.
But the point is, some are better than others. Cup 2’s can cope with the rain better than other semis, that’s what I’m saying. You can go ask the Nürburgring people(since you brought that up) and they’ll agree.

Comfort. Now it just seems like you’re trolling, tyre construction plays a major role into that. Same size, same pressure: the semis are usually a lot less comfortable, it comes from their stiffer sidewall, mostly. Because you have to compromise comfort in order to get that better response and handling. You always have to compromise something in order to be better on other areas, there is no perfect tyre for everything.
And just in case you’re going to say tyre pressure needs to be adjusted(which is pretty obvious, I’m not arguing that)... even then, comfort levels won’t be as good. It’s just not what they’re made for, and just as wet handling, some semis are better than others.

Finally, about fitting, I have never found a shop that won’t fit semislicks, so to me that’s just odd. It’s a valid point depending on where you’re located, I’ll give you that :)


No not really: I'm stating the obvious. I do not have to prove my point. Nowhere have if changed my opinion to do so. And I'm not logged in, so cant change my replies anyway?

Uhm, We don't know everything? Thats a weird statement? I come from a manufacturer and motorsport background. The physics this is based off is at least a 100 years old. So yes, there are no suprises there.

So no I'm not trying to add more variables. And if you where a scientist you would actually know that road noise actually comes from aerodynamic drag in tires. Especially driving over 100Kmh. Where does aerodynamic drag come from? Turbulence. Where does turbulence come from? Not from an otherwise relatively smooth surface, but from channels in a tire.

As I said, unless you aren't testing on earth the same rules always apply. There are no exceptions even though you would like them to be there.

So lets turn it around: Prove that the same physics don't apply?

As for DB's and proving your wrong: Thate fairly simple: Just look it up They have db ratings for every tire over here. Its as simple as that. I really don't care what your ears tell you. Thats the same as saying go faster stripes gain 10 horsepower. It might work in fantasy, but it doens't work that way i real life.

User friendlyness: Again making asumptions which are hardly set in stone. What you think is hardly fact, is it?

And thats about all of my time I'm going to put in this subject.


Gosh, you really are square minded aren’t you? You can’t even answer a simple question, I’m still waiting for it. Read slowly and think about it. If you know that much, why is it so hard to answer? Right...

I’m not arguing physics and never will(you don’t need to explain me what I already know) but you just can’t see beyond that, and that’s your problem, not mine ;)

PS: No, we don’t know everything. That’s why the scientific community keeps researching and learning everyday. Be more humble. Man, you couldn’t even understand that comment.


That is not a hard and fast rule at all.
My personal experience, I have used Advan AD08R's for a couple of years now and thought I would "upgrade" and try out the Toyo R888R. A tyre with substantially less 'grooves' in it than the AD08R. They were awful for road noise.
To the point where I thought that I had a faulty wheel bearing they rumble so much! Switched back to an AD08R tyre and the noise was instantly gone.
I'm not the only one to experience this situation either, tonnes of people have noted on their ridiculous levels of road noise. Just google "Toyo R888R noise".


@ Si:

Yes it is, simple physics. The only differences that occur is that once you change other parameters the measurements become of. Same everything with less grooves will lead to less noise.


Welcome to AdHunters........


looks like super nice tires, but how you enjoy your car is much more interesting ^ ^


Ugh, I know these articles keep the lights on, but it reeks of "Michelin gave me six sets of Cup 2's to write an article about them".

No one actively seeks to write 1000+ words about their tires.


Nope, I’ve purchased Michelin for years


Funnily enough, Michelin didn't pay anything for this (that I know of anyways). Ryan just really likes PSC2s, and he's exactly the kind of person who actively seeks to write 1000+ words about tires in case it benefits someone else.


Your car looks perfect. The paint finish, wheel style/color, stance and fitment are perfect. Hella flush, without stretching the sidewalls, because you actually drive your car in a very practical and athletic way. Not a one-trick pony...or 450 ponies.


Speehunters really have a thing for Scottish showers. You've got some great articles and then there are articles like this one that make you want to break your pc with a hammer (not necessarily a Pirelli one).
To cut a long story short a guy with a cool car fell in love with Michelin, he even wants to tatoo himself with Bibendum so he's saying his tyres are the best. No technical stuff , no boring experts talking about how the car feels. Of course he does mention sub 8 laps in the Ring to prove his point. But again nothing too specific. All these coming from a guy who uses the word extensive to describe 100 kg being removed from 1,5 tonnes. I rest my case but please give me back my time reading this and you owe me a new laptop.


Hi John, took your advice and got the tattoo. If you have any more suggestions, please do let me know.


How about giving a lesson or two to Chandler on humor?


Have you not seen the popular sit-com 'Friends'?


BMW had a whole development team to get 110kg of weight out of the E46 M3 to make the CSL, so to get 100kg out of an e92 and keep the climate control, heavy MMI system and all the creature comforts, is extensive.

When you can't even spell Speedhunters correctly, then the only thing you're owed is some english lessons. Maybe whilst you're back at school, you'll learn some manners, too.


Oh I guess you have never mistyped anything in your life. Sorry mr Perfect. Even if BMW had hired a whole army still 100kg are not enough to be described as extensive. And guess what. CSL had more than being lighter. Do you have anything to add besides insults? Or that's too much to ask ? Seriously now you guys here at Speedhunters (see I actually got English lessons) have a really terrible problem when someone doesn't like what you write. I'll take my English lessons. How about a psychologist for you?


Wow, you really are an angry man. I mean, I own a CSL, so I must need a psychologist just to help me manage my emotions when I get the service bills.

Thing is, losing 100kg or so, in the right places, in an E46 or E92 makes a big difference to how a car behaves on the road and track.

Bringing misinformed negativity into the comments section just makes you look like a silly Billy.


I’ve got some really terrible tattoos, a bibendum one isn’t actually a bad idea

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Personally I just drive a regular family sedan, but I have experienced both PS3 and PS4, and they are some of the finest tyres for its class. When I purchase tyres, I will look for solid wet performance, and Michelin delivers.

I previously used Yokohama Advan Fleva V701s, and though they are also exceptional in the wet, they are really noisy. I'm currently on PS4s, and the difference are noticeable: quieter, softer ride and also more grip in both dry and wet. The only downside of the Michelin is that it commands quite a premium over its competitors, but those are money well-spent if you can afford them.


Michelin has made some of my favorite tires but then they change something and make the most disappointing tire calling it a plus or something. I have learned to enjoy a tire while I can. Also I sort my tires by wear because they tend to change a lot in how they handle rain, or rough roads, or all out cornering, or sliding around. So why not a set of slicks for the track?


How did you get 220 lbs off stock?

Akrapovic Evo exhaust, Recaro buckets, and a lithium-ion battery?


Carbon bonnet, lightweight wheels and also the seats make a big difference - stock seats are almost 40kg each


I prefer my tire articles to be a little more quantitative, but I will agree that Michelin makes a great all-around road tire.

I've daily driven 10,000 miles, made 60 autocross runs, and casually carved canyons on Sundays for 2 years on Michelin Pilot Supersports. They're just about worn so I'll go with MPS4S or MPSC2 next time.

I liked the Supersports so much I picked up Michelin X-ice xi3's for my winter driving and felt very confident on the roads, passing by all manner of AWD cars with less specialized all-seasons sideways in ditches.

That said, I'll be be turning outside of Michelin with my first set of dedicated autoX tires next year with the Yokohama A052. I hope they live up to the hype!

Anyways, thanks for sharing, from one Michelin fanboy to another.


Is there a tyre size you have finally settled on for the car? Just interested why you've gone for 285/30R18 all round rather then a staggered set up, 265/35R18 and 295/30R18. I'd guess to dial out any understeer?


285 all round allows you to rotate front to back and get a little more life/wear out of the tyres. The fronts wear slightly differently to the rears so by swapping front to back, you can wear them more evenly.


I hate the PSC2. It has such a hero lap and then drops off dramatically. Greatly prefer the Goodyear 3R for it's consistency.

I also just don't understand how anyone is touting the Cup2's wet handling ability. It might be one of the worst tires I've ever used in wet weather. The Pilot Sport 4S is great, but the cup 2 almost makes you park it if it's raining or deal with hydroplaning on the highway.


I want to here more about those brakes and if they've been reliable for your abuse? Sp

This article is great but the cup2 isnt for a novice learning the limits of their driving, car, and tire. To expensive for the noive mistakes that cause shoulder chunking like the photo below.


You really have to have the car balanced on entry, any overdriving or front end pushing will destroy the shoulder like the pic shown. Brakes have been really good and taken a serious beating. I would recommend trying Sparta to anyone, they are beautifully made.


Somehow the GTS wheel setup looks the best IMHO... btw is there a dedicated story to the E92 somewhere? can't seem to find it


There's not a dedicated story to this car, but is had been on SH before. If you want to check out some more images of the build along the way there are loads on my IG, @7.nth.