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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's hard to find many good reviews of tyres for the M3. There is a massive unwillingness to admit to a very expensive bad choice, so most reviews are glowing with a few damning ones thrown in by those with particularly bad experiences.

After owning my E46 M3 for two years and over 45K miles I think that I can now speak with some authority on the tyres I have tried.

When I bought the car it was shod with CSC-M3s all round, still with the bulk of their tread remaining. My initial impressions were good as it was the only M3 I'd ever driven and that was clearly something special in itself. All in all I was quite happy. The tyre pressures were all over the place when I picked up the car, but I soon settled on 35psi front and 37psi rear as giving good, balanced handling. After 6K miles the rears were shot, the fronts lasting 16K, although given that they weren't new when I got the car, not much can be judged by this. That said 16K from a set of performance tyres is pretty good. It should be noted that the inner edge of the tyres wore more than the rest of the tread.

Not wanting to risk a bad choice of tyre, I would have got the same again, but there were none to be found, so I opted for the Michelin PS2 as it had rave reviews. My first impression wasn't good. Turn-in was really bad; make that really, really bad. The car felt distinctly wallowy. Aware that these tyres were very light-weight I reasoned that perhaps the side walls were lacking stiffness and more air might be a good idea. I therefore played around with the pressures, and upping them to 37psi front and 39psi rear seemed optimal.

The turn-in was still awful, but after 300 or so miles it seemed to improve (either that or I was getting used to it). I was immediately aware of the extra grip the PS2s offered however; with the CSCs wheel spin when changing from 2nd to 3rd was a problem, especially in the wet, but not so with the PS2s. On hot days (>20 degC) the latteral grip was also very good, unfortunately below about 8 degC the tyres become very unpredictable. The problem is that the inner 3rd of the tyre has one compound, and the outer 2/3rds is another. The outer compound is clearly designed to operate optimally when hot. When cold, as the car leans onto that part of the tyre during cornering, the grip is really rather poor. The upshot of this is that the variance in cornering performance is so great as to negatively affect confidence in the tyres. I'm sure that if I lived somewhere hotter I'd love these tyres, but in the UK, it simply isn't warm enough. On winter days I'd find the first roundabout rather daunting, the warming of the tyres along the town's bypass making a big difference (fortunately) by the next roundabout. The rears lasted 15K miles, and the front's 18K which is quite good. Not wanting a mix of tyres front and rear, I replaced the rears with the same type when the fronts were part worn. Shortly after I got to drive the car in snow, and despite the rears being nearly new, the grip was terrible. As this set of tyres approached the end of it's life, it was cut short by one front tyre having a large cut, the other developing a bulge, and one of the rears getting a puncture. It is worth noting that the wear on the PS2s was perfectly even across the full tread width indicating that the 37/39psi pressures were spot on.

In summary, the PS2s are most certainly a summer only tyre, their winter performance being outright dangerous. Due to their light weight they also require a bit of extra pressure, and are very prone to damage. In ideal conditions a fantastic tyre I'm sure, if you don't mind very poor turn-in.

After the pain of needing to replace the tyres prematurely due to damage, I decided to switch back to CSC-M3s. The first thing I noticed was the sudden, and very welcome, return of decent turn-in. I also noticed the relative lack of grip under hard acceleration. Under most UK weather conditions, however, more latteral grip was available than on the PS2s, only falling short on hot days. However, because of the increased confidence I had in these tyres I was able to extract more from them... they are thus effectively more grippy.

After 14K miles these tyres have just been replaced due to the inner edges wearing again, and also because the front tyres had developed a step which was causing bad tramlining. Uneven wear appears to be a characteristic of these tyres.

In the past I have very much liked Bridgestone tyres, having run RE040s on an Audi TT, Mazda RX8 and BMW 328i. I therefore chose to try RE050As (93Y front 96Y rear load ratings).

My first impression is "why on earth didn't I try these earlier". Fantastic turn-in, at least as good as the CSCs. On the first drive at 5 degC, with the tyres still not run in, the grip, both under acceleration, and cornering, is without doubt better than either the CSCs or PS2s. I've yet to try them above 10 degC, so I can't compare them to PS2s' latteral grip when warm, but like the CSCs they inspire confidence, only more so. With the fronts at 35psi and the rears at 37psi the handling is sharp, yet neutral until a dab of the loud pedal enourages a little oversteer, much like the CSCs, whereas the PS2s would tend to understeer first before transitioning into oversteer.

As yet I am unable to comment on the wear rate of these tyres, but I shall update this thread when I can.

I think that my recommendation for M3 owners in the UK is clear. :)

Steve
 
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