By Patrick Rall
The new Bridgestone Potenza RE970 AS enters as the top-of-the-line all-season option, having superseded the Potenza RE960 AS and when the RE970 AS hits the US market in the 2nd quarter of 2011, it will offer improved wet and dry traction year-round along with the versatility of handling the winter snow.
The wet traction of the Bridgestone Potenza RE970 AS Pole Position has been enhanced by a variety of additions over the RE960, beginning with a new high silica content, circumferential grooves and a polymer system optimized for wet traction. The interior tread sections of the RE970 AS features 3D sipes that allow improved traction on wet roads and in the snow but handling hasn’t been ignored for this Bridgestone all-season performance tire, with a continuous center rib offering improved steering response while also helping to channel water to the outer edges of the tire.
To experience these new Bridgestone Potenza RE970 AS Pole Position all-season tires, we made a trip to Firebird Raceway near Phoenix. To show just how good these tires were, our on-track testing includes a fleet of 2011 BMW 328i sedans fitted with the new RE970AS Pole Positions along with a collection of the exact same vehicles equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus. The Pilot Sport A/S Plus is among the highest rated and most expensive all-season tires in the segment so in comparing the new Potenza RE970 AS, Bridgestone wasn’t playing around in showing that their new all-season tire is every bit as good as the best choices on the market.
Our test track for the all-season-clad BMW sedans was a tight autocross course that made for a fine test venue for these European sedans with all season tires; but to kick it up a notch, the course was soaked in water before every 4-lap run. We hit the track with the Bridgestone-equipped BMWs, with the expectations of hitting this wet course just as hard as we would have, had it been dry. Both tires performed well, but in our four test sessions with each of the tire set the Bridgestone Potenza RE970 AS offered better wet braking as we entered the tight corners, better hydroplaning resistance in the long, higher speed straights and better traction when accelerating out of the turns than the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus.
Even against one of the top tires in the all season performance tire segment, the new Bridgestone Potenza RE970 AS Pole Position performed beautifully on the soaked autocross course ? making the inches of water almost unnoticeable as we ripped through the course in the BMW 3-Series.