Pirelli calls this the new P-Zero, no other designation like Nero or Rosso, just P-Zero. This all new pattern is really based on the 4-groove design with bigger blocks on the outside. It is asymmetrical but unidirectional making mounting easier. There is no continuous tread band which is unusual and the drainage channels cut across the entire tread. The sidewall has a flexible point 1/3 way from the crown. Tread belting is stiff but is a lightweight for this size.
Scrub-In Period: Initially the P-Zeros felt a little soft when fresh out of the wrappers but after about 200km they took on a sharp, positive feel. Its not darty and displays progressiveness despite being sharp. The connection with the road is uncannily positive allowing precise cornering lines.
Steering: This P-Zero feels like a cross between the Nero and the Corsa in terms of grip and handling. Handling and grip improves up to about 37 psi where it does not deliver much more but becomes uncomfortable. At 35 psi the tyres seemed to have a fine balance between handling and ride. [8/10]
Lateral Grip: Cornering grip is aided by the handling balance. Where braking reveals the true mechanical grip of the tyres, cornering in addition to mechanical grip needs handling balance and this P-Zero delivers beyond the grip available as borne out by the impressive figures. [9/10]
Handling: The tyres can be coaxed into a neutral stance by feathering the throttle without instability and this greatly enhances speed thru turns. The stability at the limit is what sets this tyre apart from the others. Turn in is sharp but not overly so. Rating 9/10
Longitudinal Grip: Braking performance is excellent and apart from the quasi racing variety is equal best overall for a street tyre. [9/10]
Steering: The steering relays the same clear picture about what is going on at the contact patch. Of course the meaty feel at the limit is replaced by one that has a light tough and to the uninitiated is disconcertingly light. In this respect the P-Zeros are similar but better than most in terms of steering feel. Turn-in is only slightly dampened but the stability and adjustability in a corner is truly exemplary. [8/10]
Lateral Grip: They did not feel so grippy as they remained closer to neutral than most. Sure limits are lower than in the dry but what we measured defied comparison even among the intermediate race compound tyres. Incredible wet grip. [9/10]
Handling: Again the element of balance plays and integral part of what can be achieved by the P-Zeros. The P-Zeros cling on well and offer the same sort of handling balance that can be exploited for good effect round corners There are race compound tyres that feel as if they have higher mechanical grip but when measured in corners, they do not seem that impressive. [9/10]
Longitudinal Grip: Aquaplaning resistance is naturally of a high order taking a full bore take-off in its stride. Braking is equally tenacious and works extremely well with the ABS. The braking in the wet exceeds or equals the dry capability of a couple of recently tested tyres. The reason for this wet prowess is probably the compound’s ability to recover rapidly from a skid and this probably gives it the on-limit cornering balance as it does not continue to slide like some tyres that tend to run wide or continue to slide even when ABS is working like crazy. [9/10]
COMFORT & NOISE:
Comfort: With an aspect ratio of 40 it is surprising that the P-Zero is quite so pliant in its ride. The carcass and compounds used absorb small amplitude high frequency harshness very well. However given the short sidewall, larger road imperfections can become jarring. Of course further suspension tuning can eliminate this but as an aftermarket replacement it is very good. Inflation pressures up to 37 psi can be used to improve performance but it is moderately uncomfortable. Between 32 and 35 psi seems like the best compromise for ride and handling. [7/10]
Noise: 66 dBA @ 70 km/h coasting. Noise is low and does not have sizzle or roar but the short sidewall transmits low frequency noise.
Dry Cornering: 1.04g
Dry Braking 80-20 km/h: 1.73 sec in 24m
Average g: 0.98g
Peak g: 1.02g
Wet Cornering: 0.84g
Wet Braking 80-20 km/h: 1.96 sec in 27m
Average g: 0.84g
Peak g: 0.87g
Rolling Resistance: 0.0242g (lower than average, good)
It is now abundantly clear why the new P-Zero is standard equipment on the Audi R8, Ferrari 599GTB, Lambo Murcielago, Aston Martin DB9 and the Bentley Brooklands. Pirelli has really spared not effort on the P-Zero. Its combination of wet, dry and ride qualities puts among the very best. The fascinating thing is the new P-Zero is intended for OE application but it is such a quantum leap from the Rosso. It's wet performance is the true standout, combining handling finesse and grip like no other. The price of the P-Zero may give you pause but if superlative is what you are after, look no further. Highly recommended. D=9, W=9, C=7