Max grip. Yes, it's a genuine category of performance tires, and it's made up of what I loosely refer to as Southern California tires. The area's scarce rainfall, generally good roads, and the proliferation of high-powered, money-is-no-object cars make these kinds of tires a must-have for any serious SoCal enthusiast.

Many of the tires shown here represent the highest technology-for street use-offered by each tire company. Since each tire maker takes a different approach to presenting the best of its max grip technology, the types of tires presented in this group are far more diverse than those seen in last month's UHP tire guide. Some are designed to excel in wet performance, because dry grip limits are rarely reached by the average driver, while others are designed for high-speed stability or just sheer cornering grip for the occasional autocross. Purpose and application for each tire is also reflected in the selection of sizes available and their performance ratings.

The lack of price sensitivity from buyers in this category translates to fewer compromises in the manufacturing process. Some of these max grip tires are designed to be O.E. applications on today's supercars and reflect the needs and requirements they must meet. In many cases, tires are now both directional and asymmetric in tread design because of this no-compromise mentality. When combined with the staggered wheel setup as seen on many high-performance or aftermarket applications, these tires become corner specific.

From a manufacturer's standpoint, these are perhaps the most difficult types of tires to design. Though cost limitations are not as stringent, these tires have to put up with the most extreme abuse and at the end of the day still must be able to be driven to the grocery store. Unlike a race tire, max grip rubber does not have the same purity of purpose. For example, a race tire is made to provide maximum grip in either the dry or wet, not in both. In addition, race tires do not have to provide grip at nearly the wide range of operating temperatures as a street performance tire.

Most importantly, they do not have to last as long. The longevity of a tire not only has to do with the compound or tread rating, but also in the internal construction, which must be more robust in operation and even in failure.

To help you choose a tire, we've also compiled a list of choices preferred by some of the top tuners in the country. In some cases, the tuner also recommends a less expensive alternative. Keep in mind that many choose their tires based on sizing availability, such as for a Porsche 996 twin turbo that requires something in at least a 295/30/R19 size. Other tuners pick their tires based on the types of vehicles and buying power of their customers. Others are closely affiliated with tire manufactures in terms of support and in some cases development of tires aimed specifically for the aftermarket.

Tuners Choice
Tuner Vehicles Tuned Tire Choice Reason
Autotech VW *Yokohama AVS Sport Great grip, predictable at the limit
  *Kumho Ecsta MX Great for the price
Neuspeed VW, Audi, MINI *BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD Good overall max grip tire
  *Michelin Pilot Sport For odd sizes
Dinan BMW *Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 Good overall
RENNTech M-B *Nitto 555, 555R Drag Good wet & dry grip, but limited sizes,
  *Michelin Pilot Sport used on cars up to the E-Class
  *Pirelli PZero Overall, lasts longer
  *Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position Does not last as long as Michelin on many models
    Good grip
TMS BMW *Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position Alternative to the T1-S
  *Toyo Proxes T1-S SPEED World Challenge Series tire
Achtuning Audi *Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position 80% of business, covers most needs
  (late model) *BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW2 Alternative to S-03, used more for wet conditions
  *Yokohama AVS ES100 Budget
Autothority Porsche *Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 Sizing availability for wide 19-in. applications
  (late model) *Yokohama AVS ES100 Budget
  *Yokohama AVS Sport Budget, but still has good overall grip
AWETuning Audi, VW *Toyo Proxes T1-S Good grip & balance
  *Pirelli PZero Alternative
  *Continental ContiSportContact Alternative for odd sizes
Eurosport Audi, VW *Toyo Proxes T1-S Good grip and lasts longer than the Kumho MX
Accessories   *Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3 Good tires on VW R32
  *Kumho Ecsta MX Softer compound, often used on older model cars
  *Continental ContiSportContact 2 Best all-around tire for Southern California, a bit noisy
Protomotive Porsche 996 *Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Available for wide 19-in. applications; phenomenal grip
  *Pirelli PZero Decent alternative for longer tread life compounds
  *Goodyear/Dunlop Decent older technology tires when sizing is not an issue
Eurosport BMW, M-B *Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position Good balance for applications
EIP Tuning VW *Toyo Proxes T1-S Good grip, comes unbalanced easier than Parada Spec-2;
  good performance in rain & overall wear.
  *Yokohama Parada Spec-2 Not as much grip as T1-S; not as prone to balance issues
  *Kumho Ecsta MX Budget tire
ipd Volvo *Pirelli Corsa Surprisingly good in the rain for an R compound
  *Yokohama AVS Sport Better overall street tire if wear is an issue
  *Michelin Pilot Sport Harder compound than AVS Sport, lasts longer
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