Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS Review: Simply Outstanding

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  • Outstanding responsiveness and drivability
  • High levels of grip and traction in dry conditions
  • Excellent hydroplaning resistance and grip in wet conditions
  • Durable tread compound
  • Quiet for a sporty tire
  • Usable in dry winter conditions
  • Slightly worse ride quality than its main competitors

Bridgestone’s Potenza brand has become a staple within the enthusiast community, and also as an OEM choice for most vehicle manufacturers in their sports cars. These tires have always been considered as one of the best in the performance department and for a good reason – they always come with the newest technologies Bridgestone has to offer.

The Potenza RE980AS is the newest tire in this lineup, made for drivers who want outstanding performance in the corners, but don’t want to sacrifice all-season capability. As an ultra-high-performance all-season tire, the RE980AS competes with the Continental DWS06 and Michelin Pilot Sport AS 3.

All of these tires are good in their own right, with one big difference – the Michelin is by far the most expensive of them all. The question is, can the Potenza RE980AS compete with the Michelin in sheer performance despite the lower price, and can it dethrone the beloved DWS06 as the best ultra-high-performance all-season tire?

To do that, the Bridgestone must be good in almost every category you throw it in. Sure, grip, traction, and braking are the most important thing when it comes to ultra-high-performance tires, but ride quality and quietness are still very important for most people. On top of that, the RE980AS must be durable enough to be used for several seasons, and it should work in a wide temperature range. That’s a very tall order – not even Bridgestone’s direct competitors manage to do all things right.

The Potenza RE980AS is available in sizes ranging from 16-20 inches, which covers a vast portfolio of cars. In our opinion, the Bridgestone is best-suited to sporty coupes and sedans, especially more powerful versions with turbo engines, V6 engines or V8 engines. Cars such as the BMW 3-Series, 4-Series and 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, C-Class Coupe, E-Class, E-Class Coupe, and A-Class Sedan, Audi A4 and A5, Lexus IS, GS, ES and RC, Infiniti Q50, and Q60, and Acura ILX and TLX.

Apart from these premium cars, the RE980AS is also a great option for hot versions of compact and subcompact cars like the VW Golf GTI, Ford Focus RS and ST, muscle cars like the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, and Chevrolet Camaro, and sporty coupes and roadsters like the Mazda MX-5, Toyota 86 and Subaru BR-Z. In other words, if you own a slightly more powerful car and want to extract a bit more performance in the corners, the Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS will fit like a glove.

But, will it be any good? You can find out in our detailed review of the Potenza RE980AS, where we will put it through all categories that are important to tire buyers. Before we do that, though, why not check what Bridgestone has to say about their flagship ultra-high-performance all-season tire.

What are the features of the Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS?

When you land on Bridgestone’s website, the first thing that you read about the RE980AS is that it is “Bridgestone’s flagship tire engineered for drivers of performance and luxury vehicles who enjoy taking a curve in any weather. Engineered for premium sports cars and sedans, it is optimized for crisp handling all year round.” That’s a very good way to describe a tire that’s designed for drivers who want a more enjoyable and safe driving experience in the corners, for sure.

To achieve all those things, the Potenza RE980AS is equipped with several key technologies, few of them available only in this tire. Perhaps the most important is the advanced all-season compound that is molded into an asymmetric tread pattern designed for dry and wet performance. Interestingly, despite the focus on performance, Bridgestone made sure that the tread pattern is also noise-optimized for better refinement while on the go.

Dry grip and traction are further covered with the chamfered lateral slots that improve the contact with the road, and interlocking 3D full-depth sipes that make the tread more stable and thus improve cornering responsiveness. Driving in the rain is made safer with the high sipe density for more biting edges, which also helps in light snow. Thanks to the deepness of the sipes and grooves, Bridgestone says that the Potenza RE980AS retains its wet traction over time, which is not something you often hear in this category.

On top of that, the slots and grooves on the tread are interconnected, which further optimizes water evacuation for outstanding hydroplaning resistance. According to Bridgestone, the new model has 20% more see-through void than the predecessor (RE970AS) for improved wet performance. The RE980AS also has 50% improved snow traction and grip over its predecessor, which is not a small improvement for sure.

For added toughness in the sidewall and better responsiveness, the Potenza RE980AS internal construction three polyester sidewall plies and two polyester plies in the tread area. This should also help with comfort, but that’s almost always a second thought with these tires. Additionally, the Bridgestone has high-stiffness sidewall filler for less distortion during hard cornering, and twin steel belts reinforced by a spirally wound, nylon wrap for better high-speed stability.

Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS Review

What are the maintenance indicators?

The Potenza RE980AS has the usual indicator bars built into the tread pattern, which help the owner track the treadwear. These indicators can’t be seen when the tire is new (only if you inspect the tire closely), but become visible as the tread wears down. When the tread is worn down to 2/32 inch (1.6 mm) of tread, the indicator bars will be completely flush with the surface. When that happens, the tire should be replaced immediately because it lacks enough tread depth for wet or snow driving – Bridgestone will be certainly happy to help here.

Luckily, the 50,000-mile / 5 years treadwear warranty will certainly delay that. While the warranty Bridgestone offers on the RE980AS doesn’t look impressive in broad terms, it’s still exceptionally good for the category and comparable to its closest rivals. The tire is pretty new, though, which means that we can’t share some real-life treadwear stories, but Bridgestone has a great record with treadwear, and we wouldn’t worry about that at all.

Is it good for off-road driving?

The main problem with ultra-high-performance tires and off-road driving is not the lack of grip and traction, but the fact that they will easily be destroyed in the process. The Potenza RE980AS are sticky tires, which means that they will accumulate much more dirt on them than grand-touring tires for example. That’s why using these tires on rocks and dirt will destroy them in a minute.

Also, the shallow tread is not the best choice for slippery surfaces. Suffice to say, these tires are designed to only be used on the street, not in the wilderness.

How does it behave on dry tarmac?

Pretty amazing, actually. The Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS is one of the best all-season ultra-high-performance tires in the handling department, if not the best. Responsiveness is outstanding, and they are supremely drivable. They also have a great on-center feel, which helps in high-speed scenarios, and the tire seems to keep its shape with ease during hard cornering.

More importantly, the grip is simply outstanding in dry conditions, regardless of the temperature outside. The Potenza RE980AS also doesn’t lose traction under hard acceleration like some budget tires, while braking power is top-notch. Overall, we think that the Potenza RE980AS beats the Continental DWS06 when it comes to handling slightly, which is high praise indeed.

How is it over wet and slippery roads?

Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS Review

Again, amazing. Sure, some summer tires might be even better, but they only work in warmer climates. The Potenza RE980AS, on the opposite, provides the driver with excellent grip and traction in wet conditions, regardless of the temperature outside. Hydroplaning resistance is outstanding, while the tread compound keeps the tire glued on the road on damp roads. As expected, braking is also very strong.

With that being said, how is it in snowy roads?

Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS Review

Bridgestone promised 50% better performance in wintry conditions when compared to the Potenza RE970AS, and that really shows here. The RE980AS retains its grip and traction in freezing temperatures, and it also offers traction in light snow. That said, you might still want to replace the Potenza with winter tires if it snows often in your area.

Is it comfortable and refined?

The noise-optimized tread compound proves itself in the real-life too – the Potenza RE980AS is very quiet, even at very high speeds. This is not very common in this category and certainly welcome. However, the Bridgestone can be a bit uncomfortable over bumps, especially at lower speeds. Some competitors, like the Continental DWS 06, fare better in this regard.

You can see more Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS Review here: videos created by Tasfique Ahmed

Should I buy the Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS?

Oh, absolutely. Right now, this is one of the best choices in the all-season ultra-high-performance category. It offers exhilarating driving experience, high levels of grip and traction, durable tread compound, and quiet ride. The main disadvantage of the RE980AS is the slightly choppier ride, but that shouldn’t be a very big issue on modern coupes and sedans.

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