Review of the Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS

This porridge is just about right.

Bridgestone Potenza RE97AS tires
Bridgestone, Inc.

Bridgestone's Potenza line of tires has generally always meant performance. The Potenza RE970AS, for example, which I reviewed last year, is a sterling example of an Ultra High Performance (UHP) All-Season street/track tire with excellent wet handling. This year Bridgestone introduces the Potenza RE97AS which is intended to replace the Potenza G019 Grid as a High Performance (HP) All Season.

Confused yet?

What this all means is that the RE97AS is designed to have a smoother and quieter ride than the RE970AS, but has somewhat less track-style performance. At the same time, it has more performance and a less smooth ride than, say, the Ecopia line, making it pretty much a “Goldilocks” tire in most respects. It's not too hot, but then it's not too cold either.

Pros

  • Performance easily good enough for most everyday use.
  • Very nice ride.
  • Superior wet handling.

Cons

  • “All-Season” basically means wet only, look elsewhere for winter performance.

 

Technology

High Silica Content – Silica gives increased grip, particularly in wet conditions.

Circumferential Grooves - Four deep grooves channel water away from the tread areas.

Finely-Tuned Tread Pattern – Bridgestone says that their tread pattern “increases steering feel and responsiveness.”

Stiffened Shoulder Blocks – Stiffening the tread blocks on the tires shoulder area will generally improve cornering grip and response.

Optimized Footprint – An interesting new development that I've only seen so far from Bridgestone, (and had to have an engineer explain it to me twice) the Optimized Footprint means that the tread surface of the tire is very slightly canted to even out heat buildup and tread wear. It's somewhat like cambered tires, but at much less of an angle.

Eco-Product Designation – Bridgestone's Eco-Product badging means that the tires are low rolling resistant and lower weight to improve fuel efficiency and use “environmentally conscious materials” such as low-aromatic oils.

Performance

I was able to drive these tires under both dry and wet conditions on two tracks laid out at Bridgestone's launch event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last month, and I was quite impressed. While these are not track tires, nor even autocross tires, they certainly do hold their own under most conditions. Dry grip is excellent, particularly in terms of straight-line braking. The lateral grip is not, of course, as good as the RE970, but is perfectly acceptable for just about all real-world driving. The grip engages smoothly and quite positively when you ask for it. At the limit, the tires break away slowly, giving plenty of warning that grip is being lost before they give up the ghost. Wet grip is quite similar – excellent but not superlative. Ride quality is both smooth and quiet, but not too soft and not too springy. I enjoyed the ride quite a bit, in fact.

The Bottom Line

As I said, this tire is intended to sit somewhere in the middle between a UHP tire and a Grand Touring, and having had the chance to drive the Potenza RE970AS, the Ecopia EP422 and these tires all within minutes of each other, I can say with great confidence that this is exactly the case.

The RE97's do not have the screaming hot performance of their UHP cousins, nor do they have the pillow-soft ride of the Ecopias, but they do manage to combine many of the best features of both to make for a great daily driver with a smooth ride, plenty of zippy response and grip to spare. In fact, they probably lean more towards the High-Performance side than the Grand Touring side. The Potenza RE97AS therefore strikes me as an excellent daily street tire for those who like to have fun with their cars out on public roads without getting all crazy and stuff.

Available in 25 sizes from 195/55/16 to 225/40/19.
UTQG Rating: 480 A A
Treadwear Warranty: 55,000 miles (V-rated) 45,000 miles (W-rated)

Bridgestone's non run-flat tires are also covered by their “Buy & Try” guarantee, in which a set of four tires may be returned for refund or exchange within 30 days.