Tire Test Results

Testing Bridgestone's Potenza RE970AS Pole Position Ultra High Performance All-Season Tire

June 01, 2011

Tires Tested

Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 225/45R17 94W)
  • What We Liked: Balanced handling and sporty driving feel
  • What We'd Improve: Winter weather traction
  • Conclusion: A very well-rounded performer for drivers who experience minimal winter weather
Continental ExtremeContact DWS (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 225/45ZR17 91W)
  • What We Liked: Good wet and winter traction and a quiet ride
  • What We'd Improve: Steering response
  • Conclusion: A capable Ultra High Performance All Season tire that leads the category in wintertime traction
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 225/45ZR17 91Y)
  • What We Liked: Crisp steering response and nimble handling
  • What We'd Improve: Wet handling and traction
  • Conclusion: An older tire that's sporty and fun to drive
Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season (Ultra High Performance All-Season, 225/45ZR17 94W)
  • What We Liked: Comfortable road manners, ultimate dry and wet grip and good snow traction
  • What We'd Improve: Tire-to-driver communication
  • Conclusion: A very competent tire that goes about its business with little fanfare, while also delivering very good winter traction

Vehicles Used

2011 BMW E92 328i Coupe

Nothing lasts forever. True for a super model's good looks, money in the bank account and even good tire designs. And after a successful run as a top-selling Ultra High Performance All-Season tire, Bridgestone has decided to replace their popular Potenza RE960AS Pole Position with the new Potenza RE970AS Pole Position. While only a few numbers in the long name have changed, there is plenty of advanced technology packed into this all-new tire.

The design of the Potenza RE970AS Pole Position has been refined over several years of development, and features a new silica-enriched tread compound that is designed to improve wet, dry and winter traction versus its predecessor. Extensive work has been done on the inside, too, to further optimize the footprint shape for better traction and wear characteristics.

To find out how the new Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position performs, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing it with three top tires from the category - the Continental ExtremeContact DWS, Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus and Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season. Our evaluation used 2011 BMW E92 328i coupes fitted with new, full tread depth 225/45R17 tires mounted on 17x8.0" wheels.

What We Learned on the Road

Our 6.6-mile loop of expressway, state highway and county roads provides a great variety of road conditions that include city and highway speeds, smooth and coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt. This route allows our team to experience noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling, just as you would during your drive to school or work.

Out on the road, the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus once again proved to offer the crisp steering and responsive handling we've come to know and like about this tire. Right with it was the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position, which responded to driver inputs with authority. The steering response of the Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season was direct and reassuring, but didn't quite have the urgency of the Michelin and Bridgestone tires. The Continental ExtremeContact DWS rounded out our group with appropriate levels of handling for the category that wasn't as crisp as the other three tires.

If you can separate what you feel from what you hear, the ride quality of all four tires is surprisingly close. The Potenza RE970AS Pole Position and ExtremeContact DWS both did a good job taking the edge off the sharp impacts from expansion joints and bigger hits of potholes and rough patched sections of the road. Close behind was the P Zero Nero All Season that also did a good job smoothing out the road's irregularities. The overall ride quality of the sporty Pilot Sport A/S Plus wasn't objectionable, but did send a bit more of the road's imperfections through to the driver.

Overall noise levels for the group were reasonable, with a few distinctive standouts. The P Zero Nero All Season was surprisingly quiet when it encountered bumps as well as while it rolled along smooth road surfaces. The ExtremeContact DWS produced minimal tread noise and only moderate impact noise, while the Pilot Sport A/S Plus tended to ring when it encountered sharper bumps at higher speeds. The Potenza RE070AS Pole Position produced a moderate but distinctive tone when rolling across cross-grooved concrete expressways, as well as an audible thump sound when it ran over larger impacts.

What We Learned on the Test Track

Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, lane changes and simulated expressway ramps. Run in both dry and wet conditions, the test track allows our team to experience the traction, responsiveness, handling and drivability normally only encountered during abrupt emergency avoidance maneuvers or competition events.

Objectively, the Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season was able to post the quickest overall lap time, generate the highest lateral g-forces and weave its way through our five-cone slalom faster than the other three tires. And yet, subjectively, it was rated just third best by our team, as it did not communicate its capabilities and ultimate traction level as well as several of the others. Although the Pilot Sport A/S Plus was second fastest around our track, it received the best subjective marks for responsiveness and cornering stability. The Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position felt poised and well balanced with equal capability in cornering, braking and acceleration traction. The Continental ExtremeContact DWS features the most open and aggressive all-season tread pattern of the group, and as a consequence felt a little disconnected during rapid transitions.

With water on the track, just one tenth of a second separated the lap times of the three fastest tires - ExtremeContact DWS, P Zero Nero All Season and Potenza RE970AS Pole Position. Subjectively our team really liked the balance and communication of the Potenza RE970AS Pole Position, as the driver always knew exactly what the tire was doing, and what it was capable of. The ExtremeContact DWS showed it has plenty of ultimate wet grip, transitioning to moderate understeer when quick steering inputs were applied. Our team found the P Zero Nero All Season also has plenty of wet traction, but as we found in the dry this tire did not communicate with the driver quite as well as the Bridgestone and Continental tires. The Pilot Sport A/S Plus trailed the group, with a reasonably high level of overall grip that felt edgy and proved more challenging to balance at the limit.

Fuel Consumption Results

Our Real World Road Ride features a relatively flat 6.6-mile loop of 65 mph expressway, 55 mph state highway and 40 mph county roads along with two stop signs and one traffic light every lap. Our team drove approximately 500 miles over the course of several days. Since we wanted to compare fuel consumption results that typical drivers would experience, our drivers were instructed to maintain the flow of traffic by running at the posted speed limits and sustain the vehicle's speed using cruise control whenever possible. They did not use hypermiling techniques to influence vehicle fuel economy.

Tire Test MPG* Gallons/Year
@ 15,000 Miles
% vs. Most Efficient
Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position 27.8 539.6 --
Continental ExtremeContact DWS 27.8 539.6 --
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus 27.7 541.5 -0.36%
Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season 27.6 543.5 -0.72%
*Our evaluation used Linear Logic ScanGauge II automotive computers to record fuel consumption, and Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.

None of these tires were designed with low rolling resistance as a high-priority, and we didn't find a significant difference in observed vehicle fuel economy. Based on our results the 0.5 mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of about 3.9 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $4.00/gallon, it would amount to about $16 for drivers traveling 15,000 miles a year.

It's important to note our test's fuel consumption measurements follow consistent procedures designed to minimize variables that could influence the results, however they do not represent an exhaustive long-range fuel consumption study. While our procedures require the test vehicles in each convoy to run under the same prevailing conditions, the week-to-week differences in ambient temperatures, barometric pressures and wind speeds that we experience over a season of testing can influence vehicle fuel consumption and prevent the absolute mpg values of this test from being compared directly against those of others.

Larger differences in consumption between tires may indicate a difference that might be experienced on the road, while smaller differences should be considered equivalent. As they say, your mileage may vary.

Driving In Winter Conditions

Winter weather is often unpredictable, and road conditions can change so fast that it's hard to know what waits for you around the next corner. For consistency, our snow testing is done at a dedicated winter test facility in Northern Sweden, and ice testing is done at a local hockey rink to simulate the glare ice often found at intersections and in other high-traffic areas. We measure each tire's ability to accelerate and brake in both conditions, as well as gather subjective ratings of how each tire feels from the driver's seat while driving through several inches of groomed snow on a handling course.

As we've found in past winter testing, the Continental ExtremeContact DWS again showed it is an Ultra High Performance All-Season tire that also delivers reasonable snow traction. Very, very close behind was the Pirelli P Zero Nero All-Season which also delivered an impressive level of traction and stable handling. The Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus managed adequately, but not at the level of the Continental and Pirelli tires. Trailing the others was the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position which felt rather slippery and proved much more challenging to get and keep moving around the course.

Product Details

Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Potenza RE970AS Pole Position is Bridgestone's flagship Ultra High Performance All-Season tire developed for drivers looking to combine high speed capability with all-season traction for sophisticated sports cars, sporty coupes and high performance sedans. The Potenza RE970AS Pole Position is designed to provide predictable handling, traction and control on dry and wet roads, as well as in light snow.
Read more.

Continental ExtremeContact DWS (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The ExtremeContact DWS (DWS for Dry, Wet & Snow) is Continental's Ultra High Performance All-Season radial developed for drivers of sports cars, sports coupes, performance sedans and sport trucks. The ExtremeContact DWS is designed to satisfy their year-round driving needs by blending dry and wet road performance with light snow and slush traction. Read more.

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The Pilot Sport A/S Plus is the Ultra High Performance All-Season tire member of Michelin's Pilot family of low profile, high-speed tires that represents the evolution of the Pilot Sport A/S. Developed for the drivers of high-end sports cars, sporty coupes and performance sedans, the Pilot Sport A/S Plus is designed to combine enhanced all-weather performance, wet grip and treadwear along with year-round traction, including in light snow.

Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season (Ultra High Performance All-Season): The P Zero Nero All Season is Pirelli's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire designed to provide all-season traction and handling. It was developed for drivers who operate their vehicles in America's various weather conditions, including in light snow. Read more.


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