Bridgestone Potenza Sport best in wet and dry in Auto Express 18” tyre test, good result for Maxxis
Bridgestone’s newest ultra-high performance tyre, the Potenza Sport offered the best results in wet and dry performance in the latest Auto Express tyre test. The tyre was able to make the most of its home field advantage as the magazine used Bridgestone’s Aprilla proving ground, just besting Goodyear’s Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6 by 0.5 per cent. Another notable result was the third-place finish of the Maxxis Victra Sport 5, which adds to a growing list of test successes proving that the brand is increasingly able to hold its own against the traditional premium brands. The test was conducted on the biggest selling 18” tyre size, 225/40R18 92Y.
This UHP tyre test of seven products was split from the “UUHP mini test” of three of the highest-performing road tyre products, won by the new Continental SportContact 7. For the UHP test, Auto Express weighted its results to reflect UK driving needs: wet tests counted for 50 per cent of the final mark, dry 40 per cent, and the remaining 10 per cent on noise, fuel economy and price.
Test winner and podium
The Bridgestone Potenza Sport proved itself a worthy winner, finishing first in the major handling and braking tests in both the wet and dry. Auto Express noted that the tyre unusually straddles both the UHP and UUHP segments, with a broad size range starting at 17”, as Tyres & Accessories noted in the tyre’s 2021 launch. The magazine praised Bridgestone for bringing in a product that could compete with the best UHP tyres from premium competitors – a segment that has previously proved hard to crack for the manufacturer. The tyre was not a long way ahead of its rivals, but did show very consistent performance only seriously tarnished by its rolling resistance, which was more than 30 per cent greater than the Pirelli Cinturato P7, which featured the best fuel economy ranking.
Goodyear’s F1 Asymmetric 6, which is new to market this year, offered overall performance within half a percentage point of the leading Bridgestone tyre – a fact that is perhaps more impressive for the product’s positioning as a true UHP tyre in the Goodyear product portfolio, a rung down from the UHP Eagle F1 Supersport range. While wet and dry handling and braking results were within four per cent of the leading tyre, the Goodyear product actually beat the Potenza Sport in straight and curved aquaplaning tests, evidence of a slightly higher emphasis on safety in the worst summer driving conditions over the Bridgestone tyre’s more performance-driven characteristics. The Goodyear tyre was 14 per cent better in rolling resistance too, making it a more economical choice for UHP driving.
The Maxxis Victra Sport 5 (sometimes known as the VS5) was the surprise package in this test, picking up third place over more vaunted competitors. Pointing out its strong finish in the Evo 2019 18” tyre test, Auto Express said the tyre did not disappoint this time, with a very good balance of performances consistently within five per cent of the leading product in the major tests. Its dry handling and braking put the tyre very close to the top position, albeit with some very strong rivals. It ultimately secured third place because of across-the-board consistent performance.
Hankook and Falken tyres close behind
The Hankook Ventus S1 evo3 is a proven test-winner, including the previous Auto Express UHP tyre test, and the tyre remains particularly impressive in the wet, especially in braking where its performance was quite close to the all-conquering Potenza Sport. The tyre also offers good comfort, with the lowest cabin noise in the test. In the dry, the tyre dropped behind the Maxxis, but not by much, and its rolling resistance is comfortably better than the overall test winner.
The new Falken Azenis FK520 has big shoes to fill, with the FK510 a long-running high performer in tyre tests. Auto Express said manufacturer Sumitomo Rubber would have hoped for a better result from the new iteration, though ultimately its wet performance could not keep up with the better tyres in the test. In deep water, the tyre proved very effective, and Falken’s motorsport-derived technologies made the tyre extremely competitive in dry conditions, where the tyre secured podium places. Fifth place was confirmed by wet handling and particularly wet braking, in which the tyre lagged nearly 20 per cent behind the test winner.
Pirelli, Austone criticised
Auto Express has tested three size steps of the Pirelli Cinturato P7 over three consecutive years, and the magazine says the tyre is “still struggling in this company”. The tyre’s most glaring result was its sixth place in wet handling and wet braking, particularly the latter, in which it was nearly 30 per cent off the Potenza Sport – a gap that means it “needed eight metres more to stop” versus the leading tyre. It was also around 10 per cent down on the wet braking of the fifth-placed Falken tyre. Exceptional rolling resistance – nearly 20 per cent better than any other tyre in the test – shows that the tyre was designed with greater fuel economy in mind. Yet overall, Auto Express questioned “what has gone awry with this tyre from one of the premium manufacturers,” given the quality of other Pirelli designs.
The Austone Athena SP 7 was the representative of the budget-conscious end of the UHP tyre market in this test, costing £20 less per corner than the next-cheapest Maxxis. This price differential was reflected in the tyre’s performance in every component of the test except cabin noise. Auto Express was concerned with the performance gaps demonstrated in wet conditions – its wet braking was more than 45 per cent worse than the leading tyre, and considerably worse than the sixth-placed Pirelli tyre. Summing up, Auto Express said: “Budget tyres are tempting because the cost for a set can be significantly less than the top performers. But based on this result, the risks are also significantly higher. Don’t be tempted.”