Let me begin by saying that this report on my experience with the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tire is entirely based on subjective feedback. When we purchased our Boxster, the tires were already well worn, and certainly were not even in the same category of performance as the Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires we have now. Not only that, but the old Sumitomo tires were on the smaller stock wheels in much narrower sizes. Comparing the two would be foolish. Furthermore, we don't have the tools at our disposal needed to properly test a tire, like tread depth gauges, g-force meters, or accelerometers. There are other places where more data-based information is available, we're focusing solely on how our Michelin tires feel, and basing our results on actual logged miles and real-world driving response. The tires we're testing are sized perfectly for 996 GT3 fitment with 295/30ZR18 in the rear and a 245/40ZR18 in the front, which have been mounted on a set of 996 GT3 wheels.
Why We Chose Micheline Pilot Sport Cup 2 Tires
Our first experience with Michelin's fantastic Pilot Sport Cup 2 tire was during a short trip with Sharkwerks' GT2 Phase 2 build, just over a year ago. It didn't take long with that car to figure out that this compound of rubber is magical in its properties, and we had to have a set for our own project car. Project Boxster Clubsport first got its sticky Michelins almost a year ago now, and we've put a ton of miles on them in that time. Admittedly, I haven't been keeping very good mileage records, but I believe the car and I have logged well over 10,000 miles since the Cup 2 tires were installed. Road trips, Sunday drives, autocross action, coastal tours, and commuting; These tires have survived it all and come out the other side ready for more. Infallible, unflappable, and beyond our expectations.
Driving These Tires On The Highest Performing Porsches
I've had the opportunity to drive these tires on other cars as well (including non-Porsches), and they've never failed to impress. In the rain at Road Atlanta, they felt stable and grippy even in horrible conditions. With the GT3 RS and GT4 both shod in Pilot Sport Cup 2s, they never felt like they were going to slide off the road, and always felt planted right where you wanted them. This is a massive improvement over the last generation Pilot Sport Cup, which would conspire to shove you into a lightpost if someone dumped their coffee out onto the parking lot.
The second generation Cup tire, however, is rapidly rising to the top of the list as my favorite road-car tire ever. I've been daily driving Project Boxster for nearly the entire time we've had it, and it sees all kinds of conditions. Being that I live in the desert, it's mostly hot and dry, though. Last winter, I was caught out in an unexpected snowfall, having driven the Boxster to work in the morning when everything looked great. I would never recommend this to anyone, but a careful right foot and keeping plenty of distance from cars in front of me, I managed to make it home with nary an issue. These are tires that don't particularly like the cold, but they can certainly make the best of a bad situation. If I'd had most any other low-tread/high-grip tire on my car, I probably would have had to call an Uber to get home.
In perfect driving conditions, these tires perform perfectly, as they're expected to do. As witnessed with the GT3 RS or the Sharkwerks car, these tires are more than capable of handling high-horsepower, so in our comparatively low power Boxster, things are even grippier. I have never felt like I am overpowering the tires, and grip is just plain indefatigable in all corners. There is no understeer, there is no oversteer, and I'm not sure I'd even describe it as 'neutral' handling. The only thing that can be said is *grip*. Chuck this car into the corner at any speed, and it simply goes where you want it to go without any protest. Most corners are calmly handled at twice their posted 'advised speed' sign recommendation. While the Boxster was fun before, it's borderline mind-melting with how much grip it has. I don't have a G-meter hooked into the car, but it's easily the highest cornering force I've ever felt in my life. I occasionally find myself hoping that my bracing against the door in corners doesn't cause the door latch to fail at the most inopportune moment.
With prodigious grip comes near-immediate turn-in
As fast as you can turn the wheel, it feels like you're already around the corner. As the suspension settles on the trajectory path, there is no tread squirm or sidewall washover to worry about with these tires. It may be cliche at this point, but the response to steering wheel actions is bordering on telepathic.
I've been lucky enough to drive some amazing machines throughout my years as a writer, and I've grown firm in my belief that every sports car would benefit from a set of these tires. Not only are they grippy and provide excellent lateral g-force acceleration, but they are built to last longer than anything in their class, they handle wet weather in a way that doesn't put the driver on edge, and they're actually reasonably comfortable. These are definitely not inexpensive tires, with a set running into the thousands of dollars. For most of our readers, that's perhaps a non-issue, as these tires will outperform the competition in almost every metric.
As for road noise, you may notice an increase in decibels, as others have stated these are pretty noisy tires. For my purposes, I don't really notice, as I'm driving a convertible with the top perpetually down, so everything is loud. I don't think I can hear the rolling noise over the engine noise or passing cars noises. I didn't notice a difference in road noise between the Cup 2 tires and the ones they replaced, but I am comparing these to old worn out Sumitomos in different sizes and at least a decade older technology. Not really a fair comparison, I'd say.
In any case, this set of Michelins has done us very well, and it is likely that we'll continue with another set following this one. Depending on what you're looking for out of your tires, these could be a really good option for your street/track combination car 911 or Boxster/Cayman. Porsche already trusts the Pilot Sport Cup 2 on their GT4, GT3, GT3 RS, and 918 Spyder, so maybe take their word for it?
These tires are currently available to order on Tire Rack's website.
[In the interest of full disclosure, this set of tires was provided by Michelin in support of our Boxster Clubsport project.]