17-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S: Exclusive Early Review From Samantha Tan

When Michelin launched the PS4S tires in 2017, it first came in 35 different sizes but all for wheels eighteen to twenty inches. Many BMW owners with older cars with smaller wheels cried foul. They wanted the same vaunted performance their larger-wheeled brethren were enjoying. One large segment of that eager audience is about to be sated; later this month, Michelin is launching the PS4S tires specifically in the staggered sizes from the 1996 – 1999 E36 M3.

You don’t have to wait until then to hear how they perform on an E36 M3, though! Michelin has provided a set of these 225/45/17 front and 245/40/17 rear PS4S tires for one of our members’ E36 M3s before they’re available to the public. But we’re not letting that member have all the fun. We’re putting four BMW CCA members behind the wheel, too (not all at once…), to give us their feedback on the tires.

The first input comes from BMW CCA member Samantha Tan, who counts as her daily driver a tuned 1M. When not in her 1M in 2017, she raced the M235iR in the TC class in the Pirelli World Challenge and this year will race the M4GT4 in the GTS SprintX class. Before trying these Michelin PS4S tires on this E36 M3, she drove the same car with its previous tires, so in addition to having plenty of racing miles under her belt, and presumably plenty of fun in her 1M, she knew this car, too.

Right into the drive, she could tell the difference. “After trying the older tires that we had on here, these feel a lot better. I could immediately tell the difference in grip after I had warmed them up,” she said while shifting through the gears on the winding canyon road. “I was feeling a lot more confident driving with the PS4S tires than before.”

We suppose it’s extremely good that the Michelin PS4S tires inspired confidence. This winding canyon road was Southern California’s Ortega Highway, the mountainous 20-plus mile stretch full of switchbacks labeled by many as the most dangerous road in the state. In fact, another marque-focused magazine suggested some corners make you feel as though you’re at the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca.

No wonder Samantha liked the drive in the E36 M3 on this drive, having most recently raced down the actual Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. “The PS4S’s enabled me to corner and brake a lot faster, which increased my confidence because the handling was so much better,” she described after the Ortega drive. “It was much more predictable around turns; there was no oversteer when I added throttle and no understeer like before.”

It wasn’t just Samantha getting a feel for the tires braking capabilities. She gave her passengers a great feel for them, too, with near-complete stops from speed, fortunately on a straight-away, rather than on one of the hairpin turns 2,500 feet above the canyon floors below. “Wow…that was impressive,” she exclaimed, and then proceeded to do two more for good measure. “Yeah, these definitely improve braking,” she confirmed.

The drive ended with Samantha reluctantly handing over the keys to the E36 M3 saying emphatically, “These tires felt incredible. Now I really want an E36 M3.” She might have to wait until after the 2018 race season. Her first race this season is coming up quickly in March at COTA in Texas, followed by four more throughout the year. Although she might miss the Michelin PS4S tires, she’ll be having her own fun in the M4GT4! —Kyle van Hoften

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