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As tire technology progresses, the market for well-rounded (pun partially intended) compounds gets more and more crowded. Finding one tire that offers long life, good overall traction, a comfortable ride, low noise, and economy-minded rolling resistance used to be an awfully tall order. Maybe not so much anymore.
Pirelli’s new P Zero AS Plus 3, part of the AS Plus 3 family of tires, aims not to be perfect at everything, but to offer a solid overall balance. A balance that modern all-season tire technology had trouble reaching just a few short years ago. Especially here in the North American market where we cover significantly more ground—in many different climates—than every other market on Earth.
When it comes to from-the-factory or OE replacement tires for daily-driven vehicles, the P Zero AS Plus 3, plus its Scorpion AS Plus 3 and P7 AS Plus 3 relatives, have a lot of appeal that'll go far mounted up in their intended segments. These include premium branded vehicles like BMW, Genesis, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Alfa Romeo, as well as more mid-range options, such as Nissan, Honda, Volkswagen, and more.
Pirelli P Zero AS Plus 3 Specifications
First, Pirelli says that the AS Plus 3 tires' full effectiveness is as high as 82% before it reaches the wear bars and requires replacement. This is a 20% improvement over the tire it replaces, the P Zero AS Plus.
Each tread features a stiff shoulder for solid handling, as well as tread chamfers and 3D sipes to help cut through snow and other slippery surfaces. These give it a 20% improvement in snow braking stopping distance—as well as a 10% wet braking improvement—over the former AS Plus.
Not only that, but its asymmetric tread pattern has a 1.2 dB decrease in noise over the old compound, too. Then, its 10% lower rolling resistance means better economy to boot. What's rather neat is its tread design changes slightly as they wear to ensure optimal grip over its entire life. To top it all off, these meats come with a 50,000-mile warranty.
The P Zero AS Plus 3 Leans Towards Performance
My impressions are rooted in Pirelli mounting up the PZ Zero AS Plus 3 to the athletic Toyota GR Supra 3.0. Taking this tire out on Dream Racing's short road course within Las Vegas Motor Speedway's oval was a lot of fun for many reasons, mainly due to having a very fun variety of corners, but also a front straight where reaching 100 mph was well within the Supra's wheelhouse.
Over the course of six or so hard-driven laps, sans any impedance from stability/traction control, the P Zeros didn't fall off by any significant amount. They gripped just as well on the out lap as they did shortly before heading into the pits. Though, I suspect that if I were on a circuit that I was more familiar with I'd find a way to overheat them. Turn-in felt ever-so-slightly muted at speed, but this is par for the course with a performance all-season tire.
Still, their highest qualities quickly revealed themselves: Confidence and stability under heavy braking. They also held a respectable amount of grip without making any noise on a long, double-apex fast sweeper, and turned in very well under braking. I repeatedly flogged on the P Zeros by braking a tad too late (to my instructor's repeated dismay) for Turn 1 following the fast front straightaway—they never got too squirmy or gave up grip as the session progressed. Finally, they didn't mind eating up the course's generous curbing and instead rolled across with assured confidence.
On Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Oval
To up the ante in its pursuit of proving performance, Pirelli sent us out in an Alfa Romeo Giulia—piloted by one of Dream Racing's top instructors—to do a handful of laps on LVMS' oval. Sure enough, his skill and the tire's performance chops meant that reaching over 120 mph on the front stretch was a walk in the park for this compound.
While this isn't a track-ready tire per se, its grip and handling qualities point to a tire that'll stand up to a more responsible pace on any enthusiast's favorite twisty road, as well as come in clutch in the event of any emergency maneuvers. Including heavy braking. This tire is available in 31 sizes ranging between 17 and 21 inches in diameter, which Pirelli considers the sweet spot for today's sporty, premium-brand models.
The P7 AS Plus 3
Pirelli also sent me out on two other compounds—the P7 AS Plus 3 and Scorpion AS Plus 3—to build up some impressions and utilize for comparison. The P7 is a touring all-season tire meant less for performance and instead focuses on longevity and comfort and carries a 70,000-mile warranty.
I put the P7 to the test behind the wheel of a very-new G20-generation BMW 330i, and it performed admirably for not having any real performance focus. While it was nearly impossible to move through half of LVMS' Outside Road Course, for 5-6 laps, without quite a lot of screeching, they still held up well enough and stayed solid under threshold braking. Heck, the screeching just meant that I had to loosen up my inputs, straighten out the wheel, and eat up more curbing; this was fine by me as it made for a very entertaining drive.
The Scorpion AS Plus 3
The Scorpion AS Plus 3 is geared towards SUV and truck models, and my Alfa Romeo Stelvio tester seemed like the perfect test vehicle as its size and weight is pretty spot on for the majority of crossover sales in our vast country. Like the P7, it carries a 70,000-mile warranty.
This tire performed similarly to the P7—albeit with less noise, oddly—and on the other half of LVMS' Outside Road Course where there was a big, decreasing-radius left-hander covered in water. The tire didn't wash out (pun slightly intended) in understeer when entering this section with a decent amount of speed and lock, and stayed confident through the entire corner.
Then, a sharp, cone-outlined chicane meant to slow us down after the following corner did a great job showing off the Scorpion's poise under braking. The very-occasional-autocrosser in me did everything possible at speed to cut through at a very straight line, and despite a mix of brake dive and quick right-left steering input, the tires held confidently. Finally, like all of the tires above, the Scorpion felt very confident under heavy braking. My instructor remarked that I probably drove the stilted Alfa the hardest it'd ever experienced. That's a point of pride in my book.
The Pirelli P Zero AS Plus 3 tire is a versatile compound that's fit for many different environments and scenarios. It might not be a snow tire, but it'll perform at low ambient temperatures and cut through snow and rain. On the flip side, it's not a track tire, but it'll hold up well for its rating while supporting a spiritedly driven, rear-wheel-drive-propulsed, 382-horsepower sports car.
In terms of channeling its enthusiast background for a more well-rounded daily tire, Pirelli nailed it with this latest P Zero. Between its likeable qualities and impressive specs, it's well-suited for any platform that errs on the side of performance and fun day in, day out.