Tires are the most critical component of your vehicle, drastically affecting acceleration, braking, handling, ride, and fuel economy. So, when it comes time to buy a new set of tires for a sports car, sports sedan, or crossover, the replacement rubber should take advantage of all the latest technology, engineering, and innovation — tires like the new Bridgestone Potenza Sport AS.
Unlike most other tires with “all-season” designations, which offer compromised capabilities in winter and summer, the new Potenza Sport AS promises to expand the performance envelope — deliver precision wet performance, responsive handling in the dry, and impressive traction in the snow. To accomplish this, Bridgestone’s engineers have applied a new rubber compound with PeakLife Polymer Technology (supporting a 50,000-mile limited warranty), utilized a specialized tread pattern, and incorporated ENLITEN technology into the design.
“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,” remarks Dale Harrigle, Chief Engineer, Replacement Tires, Bridgestone Americas. The incorporation of ENLITEN technology, including custom engineering to enhance wet, winter, and wear capabilities, allows the Bridgestone Potenza Sport AS tire to offset typical tradeoffs drivers might expect from an ultra-high performance tire so they can enjoy a confident vehicle performance no matter the season.
PeakLife Polymer Technology improves the bond between the compounds in the tread — literally holding them together better — thus enhancing wear resistance and extending tread life. The tread pattern uses a solid rib design to improve handling (less tread squirm) and reduce noise, while full-depth 3D ‘sipes’ (ultra-thin wiggling slices in the tread blocks) provide much better grip in snow.
I recently had a chance to test the new tires first-hand on a closed course, where they were mounted on a 2023 Subaru BRZ vehicles — an impressive rear-wheel drive sports coupe. Bridgestone wet the circuit and challenged us to drive as quickly as possible while maintaining directional control (in the worst case, we’d spin off and hit a few rubber cones). The Potenza Sport AS did a commendable job, providing impressive grip and tenacious braking despite the slick surface. Transitional handling was stable, and their performance at the limit was easy to control. (Despite pushing harder than I ever would on public streets, I never clipped a single cone.)
Bridgestone has also addressed the aesthetic properties of the tire — looks are a big deal to many enthusiasts. During manufacturing, a laser is used to engrave (and clean) the mold. The result is a high-contrast permanent etching, visibly darker than the surrounding sidewall, to prominently displace the company’s logo.
The new Potenza Sport AS, which is asymmetrical but not directional, is available now in 48 initial sizes (the company will launch an additional 28 sizes in 2024) to fit many common 16- to 22-inch rim diameters. For those seeking very high-performance applications, the automaker will offer an impressive Y-speed rating (for sustained speeds up to 186 mph) on select sizes — this is the first time its Americas Technology Center has developed Y-speed ratings for consumer replacement tires.
Based on my test, Bridgestone has raised the bar in the crowded all-season tire category. While other tire companies continue to focus (and compromise) on a narrow performance envelope, the Potenza Sport AS addresses the real-world needs of sports cars, sports sedans, and sporty crossover owners — improved performance in extreme conditions. I’ll likely be buying a set for one of my vehicles soon.