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Pirelli Tires review

Pirelli tires is the sixth-largest tire brand in the world, but this manufacturer has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to consumer rubber...

Our Verdict

Pirelli offers class and quality, but has recently dropped a little when compared to the best of the rest. The main issue is that Pirelli tires are expensive, so even the most ardent fan might be looking elsewhere for all-season boots right now.

For

  • A trusted name
  • Great sporting heritage
  • Reliable tires

Against

  • Very expensive
  • Not top-three performance

Pirelli tires is a name that screams passion and heritage. Lately, though, this reputation hasn’t been matched with top-of-the-range rubber. Its tires, designed for high-performance cars, are still very good, but are coming under increasing pressure from competitors that offer similar performance for lower prices. 

In this Pirelli tire review we’ve researched its full range of tires, what they’re best suited for and how they compare to the best tire brands in 2020. We also bring together a crop of user reviews, and other expert opinions, to assess each range and highlight the best Pirelli tires you should consider.  

1. Pirelli P Zero: Ultra-high performance

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Pirelli Pzero

Pirelli P zero (Image credit: Pirelli)
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Pirelli Pzero

Pirelli P zero (Image credit: Pirelli)
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Pirelli Pzero

Pirelli P zero (Image credit: Pirelli)
Key features

- Price: From $118 to $185
- Pirelli Noise Cancelling System™ (PNCS)
- Run-flat: Seal Inside Puncture Control
- No-Pressure Drive 

Pros:

  • Quiet
  • Stops well in the wet
  • Hydroplaning resistance

Cons:

  • Could offer better rolling resistance
  • Could be more comfortable
  • Tread life could be better

The Pirelli P Zero has a lot of competition in the Ultra High-Performance Summer Car tire category, as this is the most glamorous class in the tire manufacturers' canon:  this is the rubber that adorns all the high-end sports cars. It should come as no surprise that Pirelli's offering is one of the best quality tires on the market.

The P Zero is comes as standard on some of the world's most prestigious cars -including the Ferrari 599 GTB, Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT, Audi Quattro R8 and Mercedes S-Class AMG - and has been developed in conjunction with decades of motorsport experience from Pirelli. It’s a run-flat tire so you’re safe if you have a high-speed puncture, and is designed to perform in warm, dry conditions, perfect for a summer’s day out or when being pushed on a track. 

It’s got an attractive asymmetric tread for even wear, and low noise. Plus, if it finds itself caught out in a shower it’s resistant to hydroplaning and will stop you in the wet as well as anything currently on the market. In line with its peers, it’s not particularly comfortable, and rolling-resistance and tread-life could be improved. In such a highly-competitive category this means that the Continental Extreme Conta Sport and the General GMax just pip it as better overall buys, but they're all outdone by the brilliant Pilot Sport 4s from Michelin tires.

2. Pirelli Scorpion Verde: All season SUV tires 

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Pirelli Scorpion Verde

(Image credit: Pirelli)
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Pirelli Scorpion Verde

(Image credit: Pirelli)
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Pirelli Scorpion Verde

(Image credit: Pirelli)
Key features

- Price: From $177 to $196
- Pirelli Noise Cancelling System™ (PNCS)
- Run-flat: Seal Inside Puncture Control
- No-Pressure Drive 

Pros:

  • Quiet
  • Resistant to hydroplaning

Cons:

  • Expensive

If it wasn’t for a slight underperformance in ice braking the Pirelli Scorpion Verde would probably be at the top of its class. As it stands, it only rates second, according to user reviews, after the Continental CrossContact LX20, the Michelin Premier LTX and matched with the Firestone Destination LE2. It’s a run flat and the is best-in-show for hydroplaning resistance and like its contemporaries, quiet. The only real issue is cost, as it’s more expensive than the Continental tires (though not as pricey as the Michelin) but maybe it's worth it just for the sleek looks and that logo stamped on the side. 

3. Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3: Winter tire

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Pirelli Sottozero 3

Pirelli Sottozero 3 (Image credit: Pirelli)
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Pirelli Sottozero 3

Pirelli Sottozero 3 (Image credit: Pirelli)
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Pirelli Sottozero 3

Pirelli Sottozero 3 (Image credit: Pirelli)
Key Features

- Price: From $147 to $550
- Pirelli Noise Cancelling System™ (PNCS)
- Run-flat: Seal Inside Puncture Control
- No-Pressure Drive 

Pros: 

  • A good tire for the price

Cons:

  • Better options available

The Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 is a perfectly good winter tire: it does everything well and comes in at a good price. The only snag is that there are at least four other tires that do things a little better, and the winter performance class is dominated by the extraordinary Vredestein Wintrac Pro which even leaves the Michelin Pilot Alpine out in the cold. Pun intended. Only the Nexen Winguard is cheaper and is slightly better in the snow, but doesn’t match the rolling resistance of the Pirelli. If you’re a Pirelli brand fan, you can’t really go wrong with the Sottozero 3, especially if you get a good deal. 

Other Pirelli tires to consider

Pirelli also has a P Zero All-Season Plus tire which is only worth a mention to remind the market that even the top guys can miss their target. It’s not great in the wet and doesn’t handle well, not really what you need in an all-season tire. The only comfort in this rather lowly rating is that getting an All-Season tire right in such a competitive class will always be a war of attrition, a jack-of-all-trades brief is never going to please everyone, even the highly-rated General Altimax has a decidedly average score for wet braking. The real kicker is the Pirelli tires are pricey, and even the most ardent fan might be looking elsewhere for their all-season boots this time around. 

It’s a similar story with the All-Terrain class. There are quite a few to choose from and no-one gets it spot on, not even the best on show, the Michelin LTX or the Continental TerrainContac AT. Nearly all AT tires are okay stoppers in the wet and while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Pirelli it's not helping itself by being pricey with below-average (for this class) tread life. If you're looking to go cheaper in most classes, then check out brands like Nexen tires.

Pirelli tires: User reviews

In the JD Power Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study of 2019, Pirelli Tires came second after Michelin. They have been first in the recent past, so it's a slight fall from grace.

According to Consumer Reports, Pirelli comes 4th on the list with 66%, behind General 69%, Continental 70% and Michelin on 71%.

Overall - Should you buy Pirelli tires?

If there is such a thing as a seductive tire brand, then Pirelli is it. For example, in the latest JD Power Survey, the only 5/5 score this range received was for appearance, with Michelin scoring 4/5. Overall, though, Pirelli seems to be having a rough time of it in 2020. There's no single tire that outshines the competition, but overall Pirelli remains a top tire brand and customer reviews bear that up. 

Pirelli's motorsport history, the premium cars that have its tires fitted as factory standard, and its ingenious link to the glamorous end of the fashion industry ensures it remains a contender for those who care about the make of their treads, more than the performance. If you need more advice, here's a guide to the best auto insurance this year.

Pirelli tires review

Pirelli tires are classy, but not as good as some other tires (Image credit: Pirelli)

Pirelli Tires: Company history

Pirelli was found in Giovanni Battista Pirelli in Milan, 1892. As with most tire companies that existed pre-automobile, they manufactured rubber products such as scuba diving rebreathers before moving into tires for carriages and then bicycles. They began manufacturing car tires in 1901, a year later they’d opened a plant in Barcelona, a year later another in Southampton, UK. By 1929 they had six plants outside of Italy and were establishing themselves as the leading lights of motor racing. Over the following decades, they continued to expand, opening more plants with increasingly innovative products. 

In 1974 they invented the wide radial tire which attracted the attention of Porsche who shod their (now) classic 911 with the new design. In the early 90’s Porsche sold off a non-automotive division of their empire and attempted to buy Continental, after selling more acquisitions and assets throughout the following decade, declared themselves as a ‘pure tire company’ in 2010, they re-entered Formula One and are currently the exclusive tire manufacturer. 

Always in a state of flux, Pirelli now exists as an Italian multinational Company on account of their business interests in China, but its core focus is still on the manufacture of tires, and maybe the odd calendar which it first began publishing in 1964.

Unlike its contemporaries, Pirelli only has three major brands, P Zero, Cinturato and Scorpion, but within each of these, there is a veritable cornucopia of different flavors catering for most needs.