The Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli is not the first that you think of if you want maximum off-road performance. Goodyear and their Wrangler lineup or BF Goodrich are probably the most popular tires with enthusiasts, especially those that seek maximum off-road traction and toughness. However, you might be wrong writing off Pirelli’s lineup of off-road tires. Their most aggressive tire, the Scorpion MTR, competes with the mud-terrain models of the premium competition, bringing great features at a lower price point. Yes, you heard that right – you can buy a set of Pirelli Scorpion MTR’s for much less than the BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3.
That said, there are mud-terrain tires that are cheaper than the Pirelli, but we’re talking smaller manufacturers here. Pirelli is still one of the biggest tire manufacturers in the world, trusted for their advanced technology, durability, and performance. But, does that translate into the off-road-focused Scorpion MTR? You can surely find out in this detailed Pirelli Scorpion MTR review, where we will cover all aspects of the tire, including off-road and on-road driving.
The Pirelli Scorpion MTR is designed for off-road driving enthusiasts that want maximum traction in the most demanding conditions. It is available in sizes ranging from 16-17 inches, which isn’t great, especially when compared to its direct competition. Also, the Scorpion MTR is pretty hard to find in the US, despite its outstanding popularity in Europe, Russia, and Australia. This is perhaps the biggest obstacle for the Pirelli to really succeed in the US, even though it undercuts its premium competition in price by a significant amount. On a more positive note, all models are LT-rated, so you can expect great durability and load ratings.
Vehicles that are best-suited to the Scorpion MTR are off-road-focused SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Land Cruiser, and FJ Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee, and also light trucks such as the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. That said, you should still check at your nearest dealer if the right size for your car is available. Chances are, you might not find the right size, which is a shame.
What are the features of the Pirelli Scorpion MTR?
According to Pirelli, the Scorpion MTR was designed mostly to perform on off-road surfaces. Its main features are high resistance to lateral impacts for greater durability, tread blocks and side blocks for added traction and stability on uneven terrain, and a self-cleaning tread pattern that will clean itself from mud and stones.
More precisely, Pirelli designed the tread pattern with large transversal grooves and rugged tread compound. This should give the tire better grip and traction in muddy or slippery surfaces, and better traction on slopes. Truthfully, that’s how most manufacturers design the tread of their mud-terrain tires, which is by no means a bad thing.
On top of that, the reinforced sidewall is resistant to punctures and impacts, and it also wears less than normal sidewalls on passenger tires. Pirelli also equipped the Scorpion MTR with rubber layer around the bead to protect your shiny rims from damage during the most demanding off-road sessions.
Due to the fact that the Scorpion MTR is all-season rated, it also has sipes in the tread blocks, which should help in wet and snowy conditions. However, this is not a proper winter tire, even though the aggressive tread pattern may suggest otherwise.
What are maintenance indicators?
Like all Pirelli tires, the Scorpion MTR has built-in wear indicator bars. These bars are invisible when the tread design is new, but as it wears down, the owner sill start to see them. As soon as these indicators are flush with the tread, you will need to change your tires. Obviously, since this is an off-road-focused tire, you will feel when the tread is worn-down – there will be almost no traction in mud or sand.
With all that said, the Scorpion MTR doesn’t come with any treadwear warranty, but few mud-terrain tires do, which means that this is not a big deal for potential buyers.
Is it good for off-road driving?
Well, that’s the reason why you want to buy the Pirelli Scorpion MTR, isn’t it? Of course, it’s good – the aggressive tread design really helps on various surfaces. But, how does it compare to other mud-terrain tires? Let’s discuss.
First of all, remember that the Scorpion MTR is cheaper than its alternatives, especially premium tires in the mud-terrain category. That doesn’t always mean that the tire will offer lesser performance, but it mostly does. The Pirelli really does offer excellent off-road traction and grip, especially for the average driver. It is really good in mud, even when compared to the best off-road tires around. It also works excellently in the sand, beating even some more expensive tires. Rock-crawling is not its forte, but it’s not like you can’t use it in those conditions. As expected, the MTR is outstanding on gravel roads, but that’s something that you can say for all mud-terrain and all-terrain tires.
We honestly think that few drivers will find fault with the Scorpion MTR when driving off-road. That said, it is also true that some premium competitors offer even better off-road performance, mainly the Goodyear Wrangler and BF Goodrich KM3. When compared to these rivals, Pirelli’s biggest advantage is its price – you can have it for much less. For the money you pay, we think that the Scorpion MTR is a steal, provided you find a size that suits your car.
How does it behave on dry tarmac?
Like most of its on-road oriented tires, the Scorpion MTR is safe to drive on the road. However, it is still not the most stable tire around on the highway. Traction and grip are also good, but limited when compared to the best mud-terrain tires. Braking performance is also fine, but not sensational. Still, if you don’t drive like a maniac on the road, the Pirelli should serve you just fine. It is completely safe – the things we’re talking about here only happen if you push the tire really hard, which you probably won’t do on the road.
How is it over wet and slippery roads?
The small sipes that sit into the big tread blocks and the aggressive tread design help with hydroplaning, but you shouldn’t expect miracles here. If you care about wet traction, highway tires will always be a better solution. That said, the Scorpion MTR is still completely safe and reliable, both in light and heavy rain.
With that being said, how is it in snowy roads?
It depends on the kind of snow. If the snow is unpacked and under it, the surface is not a paved road, you can expect excellent traction from the Pirelli Scorpion MTR. The aggressive tread pattern can chew even through deeper snow without any issue. However, driving on snowy roads is not something you should really do with this tire. On packed snow, traction can be limited, especially when compared to proper winter tires. This is not exclusive to this tire – most mud-terrain tires are excellent in unpacked snow but pretty bad on packed snow. More importantly, the Pirelli is one of the best when it comes to snow driving, which is high praise for the price.
Is it comfortable and refined?
Pirelli obviously didn’t put a lot of focus into comfort, and the result is a tire that’s not the most comfortable around. Ride quality is not an issue – it’s on the level of most of its competitors. However, noise can be an issue at higher speeds, especially on the highway. Obviously, mud-terrain tires aren’t known for quietness, but the Scorpion MTR is simply far behind the best in this category.
Should I buy the Pirelli Scorpion MTR?
If you’re in the market for an affordable mud-terrain tire that comes from a trusted manufacturer, then why not! The Scorpion MTR offers excellent traction in mud and sand, it is usable for rock-crawling, and completely safe to drive on the road.
Considering the low price point, buyers might want to overlook the fact that the Scorpion MTR can be noisy on the highway. However, the biggest disadvantage of the Pirelli is that it’s not available in many sizes – your truck or SUV might not be covered.
Check another Pirelli Scorpion MTR review from David Silva