Drifting is one of the most popular sports in the automotive world, and it all started in Japan in the 80s. Today, almost every country has a drifting competition, with RWD Japanese, German, and American cars burning the rear tires in an artsy way and fans screaming along with the rear tires. It’s fun and competitive, and we love it!
But what if you want to get into drifting? Well, you’ll, of course, need a rear-wheel-drive sports car with enough power to make burnouts, a limited-slip-differential at the rear axle, and some very advanced driving skills. Oh, and I forgot the most important thing – the tires! You’ll be literally burning the rubber while drifting, making it more crucial than any other component – even your car!
And here, we’ll talk only about the best tires for drifting. These models are designed to endure under a lot of stress, especially at higher temperatures, which is crucial when your rear wheels create as much smoke as a small volcano. But also, the drift tires should be consistent and provide you with balanced handling and good traction, so you can always be on top of your game.
Choosing a tire for drifting isn’t easy, though, as no manufacturer sells models specially designed for the sport. Some companies design special drifting tires for competitions, but you won’t be able to buy them online, and they are also very expensive.
Fortunately, we can improvise a bit here and use performance summer tires from the parts bins of premium tire makers. These tires have almost everything you need for a good day at the drift track, including responsive steering, strong lateral grip, very balanced handling, good behavior at the limit, and tough construction.
In my best tires for drifting article, I included ten models that I think would be good for making your car go sideways. And to make sure that everyone can find a suitable product, I included both extreme-performance and max-performance summer tires.
So, without further ado, let’s find a set of drift tires that suits your driving style and prepare you for some sideways enjoyment!
- In-depth Reviews of the Best Tires for Drifting Available in 2022
- I - Best Extreme-Performance Summer Tires for Drifting
- 1. Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R
- 2. Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3
- 3. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Connect (240)
- 4. Hankook Ventus R-S4
- 5. Falken Azenis RT660
- 6. Toyo Proxes R1R
- II - Best Max-Performance Summer Tires for Drifting
- 7. Bridgestone Potenza Sport
- 8. Continental ExtremeContact Sport
- 9. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
- 10. Pirelli P Zero (PZ4)
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In-depth Reviews of the Best Tires for Drifting Available in 2022
I - Best Extreme-Performance Summer Tires for Drifting
1. Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R
The Potenza RE-71R is almost a staple among car enthusiasts today. You can see this tire on everything from an MX-5 Miata to a tuned Ford Mustang – people simply love it! And I can understand why – the steering is so good on this tire! It’s super responsive yet very linear and analog – just like you’d want from something you’d be using for precise drifting.
But the Potenza RE-71R continues to impress in other areas as well. For instance, it’s still one of the grippiest tires in the category, particularly in the corners. It’s also very easy to control at the limit, and the handling is very balanced and natural – again, great for some precise drifts! Also, thanks to the stiff casing and temperature-resistance tread compound, you won’t have to worry about blowouts.
And you can even enjoy some drifting fun in the rain, thanks to the excellent traction and drivability of the tire. Bridgestone’s most extreme performance tire even provides usable hydroplaning resistance, making it a great option for driving on the street.
Not everything is positive, though; in an effort to make the Potenza RE-71R drive as good as possible on the track, Bridgestone somehow forgot about the comfort aspects. This is a road-legal tire, after all, and it would’ve been great if it drove better over bumps and was quieter on the highway. But I guess Bridgestone knows that enthusiasts don’t complain much about comfort, especially when the tire is so good in all other aspects.
2. Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3
The Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 solves the comfort woes of the Potenza RE-71R partially, as it’s pretty quiet on the street, even at higher speeds. The ride is still stiff, but it’s marginally better than on the Bridgestone.
Fortunately, you won’t be losing much in the performance department. The Eagle F1 Supercar 3 is a joy to drive on a twisty road, thanks to the natural and responsive steering and very balanced handling. At-the-limit handling is also excellent, which is music to the ears of drifters, and the overall grip is among the best in the category.
Interestingly, acceleration traction is slightly worse than on the rivals. However, that is actually a positive for drifting, especially when combined with the excellent drivability of the tire at the limit.
As for longevity, the Eagle F1 Supercar 3 is neck-and-neck with the Bridgestone here, both in terms of treadlife and casing robustness. However, while Goodyear’s tire is very enjoyable to drive on a wet twisty road, the overall traction is lower than on the Bridgestone but also other premium extreme-performance tires.
Overall, though, the Eagle F1 Supercar 3 is an excellent drift tire for drivers that want an engaging and responsive experience.
3. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Connect (240)
Michelin’s Pilot Sport Cup 2 is almost a pre-requisite on high-performance track-ready versions of sports cars and is easily the most-used OEM extreme-performance summer tire. And for a good reason – apart from its so-so wet traction, the Pilot Sport Cup 2 is a real performance beast, suitable for any discipline, including track days, autocross, and drifting.
Michelin did a great job with the steering of this tire, which feels very direct and natural, and is fairly responsive. The tire is also very easy to control at the limit, which is crucial for drifting. Meanwhile, the lateral grip is up there with the class-leading tires, with particularly impressive longitudinal traction and braking.
Furthermore, the Pilot Sport Cup 2 impresses with the treadlife – it’s one of the most durable drift tires in its category, and its casing can easily withstand high-temperature abuse. And unlike most of its rivals, it rides smoothly on the street, and it’s not very noisy, either.
4. Hankook Ventus R-S4
The Hankook Ventus R-S4 is easily the best option for drifters on a budget. Now, it’s not the cheapest drift tires out there – it’s actually quite expensive compared to most performance tires, but it’s cheaper than tires from the premium competition. More importantly, it will give you the most drift laps of any other extreme-performance tire, thanks to the exceptional treadlife and very tough casing.
The Ventus R-S4 is also a very capable performance tire with a very good cornering grip. Besides, it has an oversteer balance, which is not something you’d want on the track, but very helpful for drifting. Namely, quickly turning the front tires will cause the rear wheels to drift out of the corner, which is what you want, right?
Still, there is no denying the fact that the Ventus R-S4 lacks the refinement of its premium adversaries. Notably, the steering feels a bit loose by comparison, and the wet traction is a clear step behind. Moreover, the ride quality is far from impressive, especially on the broken tarmac, and the tires are very audible on the highway.
Nonetheless, if you are a master driver that can overcome the steering deficiencies, the Ventus R-S4 is one of the best options currently available on the market.
5. Falken Azenis RT660
The Azenis RT660 is another budget-friendly extreme-performance tire, but unlike the Ventus R-S4, it’s designed for ultimate driving precision. The steering with this tire is almost as good as on the Potenza RE-71R and Eagle F1 Supercar 3! It’s very responsive, yet it never feels twitchy or too fast, making for a very natural driving experience.
Furthermore, the lateral grip and longitudinal traction are amazing, which gives you a lot of leeway. Crucially, though, the Azenis RT660 is easily controllable at the limit and has a neutral handling balance that’s easy to get used to. It also seems very sturdy, and owners are very satisfied with the longevity.
It’s not all positive, though – while the RT660 provides good wet traction, it feels quite edgy at the limit. Also, the ride isn’t particularly smooth, and the tread growl is clearly hearable on the highway.
6. Toyo Proxes R1R
The Proxes R1R is another extreme-performance tire that’s not good for comfort. However, what it loses there, it gains in other areas, particularly the steering response, which is one of the sharpest in the category.
Furthermore, the tough casing on the Proxes R1R can withstand a lot of abuse, while the balanced handling makes for a very precise drifting. Like most tires in its category, Toyo’s model is also very grippy on dry tarmac and remains so at higher temperatures. Unlike most of its rivals, though, the Proxes R1R works well in rainy conditions, despite its almost slick tread design.
Lastly, owners report long treadlife, so expect a few more laps than on other similarly-priced tires.
II - Best Max-Performance Summer Tires for Drifting
7. Bridgestone Potenza Sport
The Potenza Sport is currently the most enjoyable max-performance tire on a twisty road, thanks to the very responsive and natural steering. As a result, you can easily control your drifts with this tire.
Moreover, the high cornering grip and neutral handling balance at the limit will ensure precise drifts. The casing also seems very sturdy, though the treadlife isn’t as good as its rivals’.
The Potenza Sport impresses in rainy conditions, where it provides some of the shortest braking distances and the highest cornering grip in the category.
Nonetheless, the Potenza Sport isn’t a very comfortable tire and has a stiff and noisy ride.
8. Continental ExtremeContact Sport
The ExtremeContact Sport solves the ride quality issues of the Potenza Sport, but it’s still noisy on the highway. Still, it should have a slightly longer treadlife, although the casing feels a bit softer than on the Bridgestone.
Meanwhile, the steering is very responsive and linear, and the lateral grip on dry roads is second to none, both very useful for precise drifting.
Like most Continental tires, the ExtremeContact Sport is exceptional in the rain, where it provides the shortest stopping distances and the most balanced handling.
9. Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
The Pilot Sport 4S isn’t a particularly responsive performance tire, which isn’t a thing that drifters would want to hear. Nonetheless, the softer sidewalls do translate into much better ride quality, and the tire remains quiet on the highway.
And while the Pilot Sport 4S isn’t very sharp to drive, the grip is definitely there, both on dry and wet surfaces. The acceleration traction is also impressive for the category, and the behavior at the limit is excellent.
But the best thing about this tire is that you get a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is unique among max-performance summer tires. Now, the warranty won’t apply if you drift with the tires, but regardless, it does promise longer drifting sessions.
10. Pirelli P Zero (PZ4)
Like most Pirelli tires, the P Zero (PZ4) provides exceptionally high levels of lateral grip on dry tarmac. However, in this case, I was even more impressed with the wet grip, which is the best in the category.
As for the driving experience, the P Zero (PZ4) steering feels a bit dead on center, but that isn’t an issue when going sideways! Besides, it improves after you turn the wheels and remains linear through the drift. Moreover, the tire is very balanced and easy to control at the limit.
Unlike most of its rivals, the P Zero (PZ4) rides very smoothly over bumps and remains quiet on the highway.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What tires are best suited for drifting?
Although you’ll see that many places suggest using bias-ply tires for drifting, primarily because they are stiffer, I would suggest going for radials. Modern performance tires with radial construction are stronger than you’d need for performance driving. They are also much better in the corners, with higher lateral grip and much more responsive handling, both important for drifting.
But when it comes to the category of tires, I suggest going for an extreme-performance model. These tires are designed to provide the highest possible grip on dry tarmac and very responsive steering while also providing safe wet traction and usable on-road comfort. In other words, these drift tires can give you the thrill on the track, but they are also usable as daily drivers and, crucially, legal on the road.
If you are a professional drifter, though, you might want to have a look at some track-only tires, like the Toyo Proxes RR. This tire has a semi-slick design with only two circumferential grooves, so it provides tarmac-shattering grip, but it also means it isn’t road-legal. Do note that you would need a tremendously powerful engine to break traction on track-only tires.
Meanwhile, people that just want to drift occasionally on the street should go for max-performance summer models. These tires provide slightly lower cornering grip and longitudinal traction and have less responsive steering than extreme-performance tires, but they are also much comfier and better in wet conditions. Hence, they are still the best choice for performance-car drivers that want an on-road and on-track solution.
- What’s the correct tire size for drifting?
It depends on what you are after. Naturally, a narrower tire will be easier to drift because it doesn’t have the same traction capability as a wider tire. However, it also means the tires will overheat faster, which can quickly destroy the casing, making these tires unusable for real drifting on the track.
Meanwhile, you’ll have a harder time breaking traction on wider tires, i.e., you’ll need a more powerful car. However, these tires will last much longer, as more rubber=better heat dissipation and less overheating.
But what about the profile? Well, in my experience, a low-profile tire is definitely the way to go here. The reason is pretty straightforward – low-profile tires respond to the driver’s input much faster, and they also don’t bend as much during hard cornering. As a result, they are easier to control, especially at the limit, which is crucial for a good drift.
A quick note here – changing the overall diameter of the wheel+tire can affect how your vehicle performs. For instance, smaller wheels will give you better acceleration, while larger wheels have a higher top speed.
- Can drifting destroy the tires?
Drifting is all about having fun and destroying tires! So, yeah, drifting can accelerate the wear on your tires quite significantly! Some tires wouldn’t even last a lap on the track when drifting on every corner, and even the best of them will be done after four-to-five laps. It’s just the nature of the sport!
So, if you want to go intro drifting, I strongly suggest revisiting your finances, as a set of tires can easily cost over $600, and I’m talking about cheaper, less durable models.
Drifting is an expensive sport, as it involves an expensive sports car, expensive tires, and, crucially, expensive maintenance. However, there is no denying it’s fun, so if you are into drifting, I’d say go for it and enjoy your time spent on the track!
As for the tires, go for something that suits your driving style. Yes, you can adjust to a tire that doesn’t suit you in the first place, but the transition could be a lengthy process and increases the chances of spins and crashes!