2016 Pirelli P Zero Review
Pirelli are very much one of the most respected tyre manafacturers in the world. They may not be the largest (that accolade actually goes to Lego!), but when it comes to high end and performance there is very little comparison. The fact F1 crawled back after leaving and Pirelli also supporting most other major race series around the world speaks volumes. Whilst the P-Zero may have been round for many years, 2016 sees an all new revamp and range – and there is no better test than heading to the home of British Motorsport, Silverstone, in a bunch of the latest Audi R8’s. Let’s see how we went.
Like many tyres before it, the P Zero’s birth was in motorsport. Developed for Lancia in 1986 to help them compete in the exhilarating Group B category of Rallying. Just one year later the P Zero transferred its race-bred technology to the road on the legendary Ferrari F40.
Between 1988 and 1991 the P Zero graced more Ferraris and their arch rivals, Lamborghini as well as many supercars from Europe’s tuning houses. In 2000 the P Zero evolved to cover SUVs and executive cars as well as hot hatches and sports cars. All with an emphasis on performance and safety.
Between then and now the P Zero range continued to grow and develop in both motorsport and on the road. The P Zero has become the tyre of choice for more than half of the prestige and performance cars sold around the world and is the sole choice of tyre in Formula 1.
The new 2016 P Zero comes in 11 different flavours from the all-season Nero to the high performance Corsa. These 11 types can be group into three main categories; luxury saloon, sports cars and supercars.
This latest line-up of P Zero tyres from Pirelli has focused on improving wet and dry grip as well as rolling resistance to improve fuel consumption. By working directly with manufacturers, Pirelli has been able to tailor each tyre to the car it is fitted to. This enables the car to get the best performance from the tyre possible. A P Zero fitted to a car like the Audi R8 is not the same technically as the one fitted to your BMW 3 Series as you can imagine.
2016 P Zero Review
Now we couldn’t just jump straight into a manic R8 and see just how long it took us to spin out with Quatro helping us. That’s just not cricket.
So in true testing style we set-up a perfectly safe road environment with the safety of run-offs from a track. The day started with the Audi TTS on a slalom course located just next to the Stowe Circuit at Silverstone. We negotiated the tricky combination of tight turns and slightly loose tarmac. After a few practice runs we had one chance against the clock to see who was fastest. Whilst this was a huge giggle, it also provided a good chance to test the tyres under rapid acceleration, hard braking and overambitious turns. For me a good performance tyre has to be predictable. The P Zero handled this challenge very well despite the TTS’s front-axle biased four wheel drive. I was able to push harder and faster on each run as I knew what the tyre and the car would do. It still didn’t help me set the fastest time, but the tyres aren’t the reason I was slow..! Even then, I wasn’t far off.
Next came the Audi RS3 on the Stowe Circuit. Led by our race-winning instructor we pounded round and round, getting faster and faster. Now I should point out that the RS3 is not in my opinion a good car for a track day. Yes it is supercar fast on the road but on track it’s weight and Quattro four wheel drive end up spoiling the fun. That being said you can still carry some crazy speed in the car and after a while I was really hustling the car along, carrying great corner speed as well as being able to brake quite late. So much so that we had to stop so that my passenger could avoid depositing his lunch all over the dashboard. Again this is thanks in part to the predictability of the P Zero tyre. Past versions of the P Zero have felt knife-edged at the limit but this latest generation seems to be more progressive. The limits are more easily reached and bad things don’t happen quite so quickly when you start to step past that limit.
The final car of the day was a totally different animal to the RS3. The Audi R8 V10 Plus is every bit the supercar that its looks suggest it is. Behind you sits a naturally aspirated V10 from Lamborghini that makes all the right noises. The limits of this car are much harder to find but just like the RS3 it gives you confidence to push it whilst making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and heart race from the sheer brutal nature of the acceleration. I haven’t driven a car that is so visceral and so usable in equal measure. At slow speeds it is no harder to drive than an A3 but wring every last rpm out that wonderful V10 and it will make you smile from ear to ear. Couple that with a the P Zero tyres and you have something that you can use in all weather both on the road and on track.
The all new P-Zero range of tyres are fine tuned, near perfection rubber slippers for your car. With options on some grades for noise reduction and re-inforced tyre walls to ensure continued driving after punctures or flat tyres, if Pirelli get the pricing right then they have a sure fired winner.
For more information on the P Zero range and to see if there is a tyre for your car, visit tyres.pirelli.com.