The Ferrari Enzo, Lexus LFA, Porsche 997 Turbo, Ferrari 599 GTO. These are seriously fast cars, which place extreme demands on their tyres, and just some of the range of premium hypercars which have chosen to be fitted with the Bridgestone S001.
That said, Bridgestone have taken somewhat of a beating in the media recently. Their development of run flat technology with BMW was very public, and with the 1st generation of runflats having a number of comfort and dynamic issues, Bridgestone have a branding issue; and yet the fact is they still make some great tyres.
The Bridgestone Potenza S001 is Bridgestones entry into the maximum performance category, and sits along side some premium contenders from Michelin (Pilot Super Sport), Goodyear (Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2), Dunlop (Sport Maxx RT), Continental (Sport Contact 5 P) and Pirelli (P Zero). With each tyre having its own unique blend of qualities, we need to stop and carefully consider what a max performance tyre should offer. Grip, is of course the easy answer, but it needs to be accessible, there's no point having best in class wet grip if the tyre doesn't communicate where the limit is, or the steering feels slow and wooly.
This is Bridgestones party trick. While the S001 doesn't quite match it's premium rivals in outright wet grip (Bridgestone are aware of this and refreshing the S001 range for improve wet grip), or ride comfort, it does offer best in class dynamics.
To find out exactly what the S001 has to offer we fitted a set to our test M3, the same M3 that's been wearing Michelins finest for the past 6 months. This gave us a chance to compare the S001 directly to the best overall max performance tyre on the market, the Pilot Super Sport.
The first thing you notice about the S001 when comparing directly to the Super Sport is the speed of steering. The Bridgestone has a firmer sidewall, and while that does slightly compromise ride comfort and cabin noise, these aren't qualities we covet in a performance tyre. We want precision and stability, both of which the S001 offers in abundance. It’s super stable in high speed turns, extremely predictable once sliding and the razor sharp front really brings the M3 alive, even comparing to a tyre such a brilliant tyre as the Pilot Super Sport.
Wet is where Bridgestone get marked down in tests, and it’s certainly bested by the Super Sport here, but the margin is small. Under braking is seems to be 95% of the Super Sport, and while it lacks a little during wet traction, its predictability and clear communication once sliding more than make up for the traction disadvantaged. It's fun in a way the Pilot Super Sport seems too grown up to be. From a driving dynamics point of view, it certainly improves the M3.
Like modern sports cars, tyre manufacturers seem to be getting lost in numbers. 3% better wet braking and 2% better noise for the purposes of a better EU label score generally seems to be coming at the expense of driving pleasure. There's no doubt the Super Sport is the faster tyre in the wet, and most likely the dry too, but there's more to tyres than raw figures.
The Bridgestone Potenza S001 has its own approach. It's not the quietest tyre on the market, nor does it offer the best ride comfort, but what it does offer is a dynamic range of abilities which make driving your performance car as fun as it can be.
We thoroughly recommend the S001, and hope that Bridgestone’s next range of sports tyres don't lose this sparkle in the quest for ultimate label scores.