Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2006   by Jim Anderton, Technical Editor

Bridgestone Potenza RE960AS

Any day where you're flying around a racetrack in a Porsche Boxster is a "Good day at the office." For SSGM's Tire and Wheel Canada Report, it's also part of the job. On this day in late March in Phoe...

Any day where you’re flying around a racetrack in a Porsche Boxster is a “Good day at the office.” For SSGM’s Tire and Wheel Canada Report, it’s also part of the job. On this day in late March in Phoenix it’s all about testing Bridgestone’s new Potenza RE960AS Pole Position tire.

The new RE960AS is designed to appeal to a similar demographic as Goodyear’s new ResponsEdge product (also reviewed in this issue), although with a tilt toward sports car fitments. There are a lot of performance tire options on the market, including others from Bridgestone’s Potenza lineup. The RE960AS aims to carve a new niche as a high-performance all-season radial in sizes and for vehicles normally reserved for summer-only use, in Canada at least. Available in sizes from 185/60R14 82H to steamroller 285/30R20 XL 99W, the RE960AS should fit everything from Honda Accords to Porsche 911’s, but the emphasis is not on all-out grip.

Wet traction, and according to Bridgestone, snow are targeted, although winter performance, with the possible exception of the B.C. lower mainland, should be more theoretical than practical. As a three-season tire, however, the concept is very sound. Most owners of high performance sedans and sports cars are, like it or not, not performance drivers, but the majority of high-roller cars need speed-rated tires, traditionally limiting choices to harsh riding performance rubber.

The Potenza RE960AS Pole Position (it seems every tire maker needs a sentence to name a tire) works as advertised on dry pavement, with good progression that telegraphs the tire’s limit amply to even the ham-fisted driver. Dry limits are high for an all-season, but the RE960AS really shines in the wet, especially when worn, as it retains a considerable amount of the as-new water clearing ability. The content that drives the wet performance is Bridgestone’s now familiar UNI-T AQ II technology, which uses a dual-layer tread, advanced carbon black reinforcement and a spliceless bead, among others. An interesting addition is new non-vent technology that eliminates the rubber “nipples” seen on newly molded tires. Bridgestone has established a UTQG of 400 AA and A, appropriate for the speed potential of the tire’s intended fitments. The RE960AS Pole Position is currently available in 37 sizes and carries Bridgestone’s 30 day trial guarantee and “Platinum Pact” limited warranty.

For dealers, the entry of Bridgestone and others into the upsell niches occupied by owners with sporting vehicles, but without the “need for speed” represents a new segment in an industry with razor-thin margins. The ability to offer a speed-rated tire to a 70-something Porsche pilot without excusing the harsh ride of performance radials is a real asset, as is Bridgestone’s decision to offer the tire in 14-inch sizes to spread the glory down to wage-slave econoboxes. It should be a strong value proposition in the showroom and under the chassis.

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