If you want to keep your performance car sure-footed in snow and ice -- without settling for slow, squishy snow tires -- experts and owners agree that the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 is the best tire for the job.
Far sportier than severe-winter tires. Experts recommend the Pilot Alpin PA3 for drivers of sports cars and performance sedans who travel on cold, clear roads. It handles spectacularly (for a winter tire) in test after test, and it rarely hydroplanes. "Sports-car responsiveness on dry roads in winter," Car and Driver concludes after testing the Pilot Alpin PA3.And compared with all-season tires, the Pilot Alpin PA3 "immediately makes you feel like a better driver in snowy conditions," Car and Driver testers say. Negotiating curves and corners "becomes a game of inches, rather than of feet."
Owners are equally enthusiastic in their feedback. "Your car drives like it is on summer tires," raves one BMW wagon owner from Toronto at TireRack.com. A Chicago driver reports that unlike regular snow tires -- which get squirmy at highway speeds -- the Pilot Alpin PA3s "easily handle speeds WELL in excess of posted speed limits here in the U.S."
That said, reviewers caution that this is not an appropriate tire for regions that experience severe winter weather. Still, it beats other performance winter tires in one harsh-winter test. It plows through snow with ease and brakes very quickly on ice.
Quiet and extremely comfortable. Experts and owners agree: The Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 delivers an extraordinarily comfortable ride.
It's quiet, too. In a leading expert test, the Pilot Alpin PA3 rates just average for noise -- but no other performance winter tire in the test is any quieter. According to owner ratings at TireRack.com, it's the quietest winter tire you can buy: "As quiet as my all weather tires," as one Lexus owner puts it.
Long-wearing, but treadwear warranty is 'tricky.' According to owner ratings at TireRack.com, the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 is one of the longest-wearing winter tires you can buy. "I just removed these tires after their third winter, thinking I would be replacing them," writes one Massachusetts owner after 33,000 miles. "They still looked so good I measured the tread depth and found they still averaged over 7/32 [of an inch] so I will be getting a fourth winter out of them."
Unlike most winter tires, the Pilot Alpin PA3 carries a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty. But Canada's Automobile Protection Association warns that the warranty "requires the tread to be worn nearly to a banana peel" -- just 2/32 inches -- "before you can collect." That's too worn, experts at TireRack.com say. They recommend removing winter tires when they have 5/32 inches of tread left.
Review Credibility: Excellent Editors here test 15 performance winter tires, including the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3. Each tire is judged on snow, ice, wet and dry pavement, as well as for noise, comfort and more.
Review: Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
2. Car and Driver
Review Credibility: Excellent Car and Driver magazine tests several types of Michelin tires: all-season, severe-winter and performance-winter. The performance-winter Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 proves the best on cold, bare pavement, with much better winter grip than an all-season tire (although not as good as the severe-winter tire).
Review: 2009 Winter Tire Test, Dave Vanderwerp, December 2009
3. Tire Rack
Review Credibility: Good Experts at TireRack.com regularly test winter tires. Jim Holloman names the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 as a top pick for performance winter tires, but this brief synopsis doesn't link to any specific tests.
Review: Winter Tires for General Cold Weather Performance, Jim Holloman, Oct. 29, 2010
4. Tire Rack
Review Credibility: Good TireRack.com customers like the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 better than any other performance winter tire. With more than 150 reviews posted, it outranks every other mild-winter tire, especially for silence and dry-road grip.
Review: General Altimax Arctic, Contributors to TireRack.com, As of November 2012
5. Automobile Protection Association
Review Credibility: Good The Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 gets a Very Good rating here, but it's not listed among the top performance winter tires. The review says the PA3 is "optimized for dry pavement handling, but not optimized for snow due to shallow tread depth and narrow openings between the tread blocks."
Review: Winter Tire Info: Performance Tires, Editors of Automobile Protection Association, Not Dated