The Potenza Tire
Bridgestone has been making its Potenza tire line since the late 1970s, putting performance rubber on a wide range of vehicles. Over the years, auto makers have chosen Bridgestone Potenzas as original equipment tires on some of the most legendary performance cars on the road: the Porsche 959, the original Acura NSX, the Jaguar XJ220, to name a few. More recently, the Lamborghini Huracan STO and Maserati MC20 have been equipped with Bridgestone Potenza tires direct from the factory. Today, Bridgestone offers Potenza performance tires for many use cases, including the new, all-season Potenza Sport AS.
Not surprisingly, most tires available today in America are designed to be fitted on SUVs and crossovers, but there is still a healthy demand for performance tires. Bridgestone offers four variants under the Potenza name, ranging from full-on track tires to the newest offering — the all-season Potenza Sport AS. Bridgestone invited us to Atlanta Motorsports Park to test these tires in their proper environment, and we came away suitably impressed.
Potenza Sport AS
The newest tire in the portfolio, the Sport AS is the brand’s first ultra-high performance all-season tire that uses the company’s new ENLITEN technology. ENLITEN tech reduces tire weight while improving performance without reducing wear life. This new Sport AS tire also uses Bridgestone’s proprietary PeakLife polymer in its construction, which enhances the tread’s wear resistance as well as creates lower rolling resistance for better efficiency.
Spirited Driving All Year
“Inspired by our rich history and expertise in motorsports, the Bridgestone Potenza Sport AS tire was created to provide the same ultra-high performance that enthusiast drivers expect from a spirited driving experience, including a quiet, comfortable ride, but with wet and winter capabilities that will keep them in command of the road year-round,” said Dale Harrigle, chief engineer for replacement tires for Bridgestone Americas.
Rain or Snow
Aiding its ability to handle wet or even snowy conditions, the new Sport AS tire features a unique tread pattern that optimizes water evacuation, thanks to ultrathin interlocking sipes that provide more bite in slick or snowy conditions. With its innovative compound, the Sport AS tire gets a 50,000-mile limited warranty.
Excellent in the Wet
During our press test, Bridgestone set up an autocross course doused by sprinklers to keep the pavement wet, which also created occasional standing water to showcase the new Potenza Sport AS. Tires were fitted to a Subaru BRZ, a car known for excellent performance and great handling. We were immediately impressed with the grip these new tires provide while we hustled the sporty Subaru through the wet turns of the course.
Staying on Track
Even at higher speeds in sweeping turns, the quick BRZ stayed on its intended path. The rear of the car slid a bit in certain situations, but that could be called somewhat intentional as we accelerated out of particular turns. (One might say showboating on the particularly moist course.) Even in the slippery conditions, the car remained completely in control, providing utmost confidence even when plowing through standing water.
The most common Potenza tire, the Sport is designed to provide excellent steering and handling during everyday street driving. With 83 sizes available for sport sedans and sports cars, this tire delivers a comfortable ride with a good tire wear rating while providing grip and performance for spirited driving on both winding roads and freeway cruising. The Potenza Sport is used as the original equipment for Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Ferraris.
We had the opportunity to drive in the new Nissan Z fitted with Potenza Sport tires on some twisty roads around the Atlanta Motorsports Park in Georgia. The Z is already a great performer, and the grippy Potenza Sports simply added to the overall experience. Steering is precise with predictable turn-in, and even while being pushed hard through corners the car stuck to the streets with confidence.
The name of the Potenza RACE tire is somewhat misleading — it isn’t a race tire, per se. But this high-performance tire is designed to deliver excellent on-road and on-track handling for cars set up for both driving scenarios. The RACE tire was originally developed in partnership with Lamborghini for use as original equipment on the Lamborghini Huracan STO.
On the Track
We didn’t have a Lamborghini to test the Potenza RACE tires, but Bridgestone arranged for an Acura NSX Type S — certainly a suitable alternative to the Lambo. Not only are these tires designed to provide high-speed grip needed on a track; they also deliver excellent braking as well as consistent performance during extended periods on the track.
With 600 horsepower on tap and a zero-to-60 mph time of around 3 seconds, the NSX Type S is a prime example of a sports car that possesses great on-road manners but really excels when it takes to the track. With seemingly unlimited power, the NSX shoots out of corners with incredible acceleration. During our stints the Potenza RACE tires performed flawlessly, allowing us to use the NSX to its full potential. Turning into corners at speed was precise and predictable, and full acceleration out of the corners or around wide, sweeping turns occurred with complete confidence. By the end of the day we had learned the track and kept increasing the speed, but the tires never squealed in complaint as we pushed harder, maintaining excellent grip through the final laps of the day.
While the RACE tire isn’t really a racing tire, the Potenza RE-71S does occupy the racing category. The RE-71S features a new tread compound and asymmetric pattern to provide enhanced dry pavement performance as well as improved tread wear on the track. While they are street legal, these tires are built in various sizes to be used at high-performance driving events, autocross or amateur endurance racing. Expect to see the RE-71RS on everything from Mazda Miatas to Porsche 911s. In fact, the RE-71RS has been on winning vehicles in the SCCA Solo National Championship, World Racing League Endurance Racing and the ChampCar Endurance Series.
Honda Race Car
To properly showcase the capability of the RE-71RS, Bridgestone provides us with a Honda Civic Type R endurance race car that had run at the 25 hours of Thunderhill NASA (National Auto Sport Association) endurance race. With a stripped-out cabin, roll cage, improved aero and a big wing, the Civic delivered exceptional handling with quick response and strong braking. We shared the track with the NSX Type S, and the 600-horsepower supercar had to move over so we could fly past in the Civic. The Honda never slipped, and there was no understeer even when diving hard into corners. When we returned to the pits, the tires were hot but still had plenty of life in them.
Whether you drive a Mazda Miata, a Lamborghini Huracan or a street-legal track car, Bridgestone has a Potenza tire that fits your driving style. And now with new Sport AS tires, this performance can be enjoyed year-round.
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