Not all tires are created equally. Unfortunately, there isn't a magical tire that can perform and meet every requirement for every single type of driving - yet. Bridgestone knows this and recently invited us out to Firebird International Raceway in Arizona to try out a trio of tires that covers the spectrum of needs and included the Ecopia EP422 Plus, the DriveGuard, and the Potenza RE-71R. We were surprised at just how far tire technology has come along.
First is the Bridgestone all-season Ecopia EP422 Plus, the tire for the money saver and backed by a 70,000-mile tread wear limited warranty. Let that sink in for a moment. The average miles driven per year are between 12,000-15,000. That means this tire will last you roughly four years and will supposedly give you an extra 20 miles per tank. Robert Saul, Senior Product Manager of Bridegstone America says, "Americans continue to look for ways to achieve better fuel efficiency because that translates to more money in their pockets."
A makeshift course was put together to simulate a situation where you'd have to steer away quickly to avoid an object on the road. The Ecopia EP422 Plus was put against its predecessor the EP422. Right off the bat we noticed a lot more squealing from the EP422 in dry conditions. In the wet section, our Toyota Camry tester went off course shod in the EP422, while the EP422 Plus made us look like F1 ace Lewis Hamilton.
The Ecopia tire line was so special that BMW engineered its i3 around it, specifically the Ecopia EP500, which ranges in 155 to 175 tire sizes. The tire uses "ologic" technology that employs elements of a larger diameter with a narrow tread design. We were allowed behind the wheel of an i3 and being an electric car you'd expect some of road noise, but that wasn't the case. It provided a nice comfortable ride even when we were slamming the gas around corners. The Ecopia line marks another step toward Bridgestone's goal of reducing C02 emissions by 50 percent by the year 2050.
The DriveGuard series is a part of Bridgestone's first line of run-flat tires that will let you drive up to 50 miles at up to 50mph after a puncture or complete loss of pressure. The tire is perfect for the safety-focused drivers and will give users the peace of mind to drive safely to a tire shop to get it replaced. Saul says, "With DriveGuard tires, even if a flat tire strikes, drivers are empowered to keep moving. They can avoid the immediate burden and circumstances, and choose when and where to have their tire repair or replaced."
Bridgestone's statistics show that two out of three drivers say if they had a flat tire, they would call someone to change it. The Porsche 959 was the first mass-produced vehicle equipped with run-flat tires, which became standard equipment in 1987. However these early run-flat tires were unable to provide a smooth or comfortable ride compared to conventional tires. The DriveGuards are also an all-season tire and come with a 60,000 mile tread wear warranty. To test them, we drove a BMW 328i that had the air released from the front driver side tire.
Last but certainly not the least is the Potenza RE-71R, the tire that's geared towards most of you, the tuners. Potenza is Bridgestone's performance series that provides grip and enhanced steering response. It's the OE tire for Nissan GT-R, the Acura NSX, and even the Lexus LFA. The RE71 name dates back in the '80s when Bridgestone saw the mass growth of interest in sports car racing. It was Bridgestone's flagship tire and decided to bring it back with the new Potenza RE-71R, the R signifying "revival."
The wide center rib and the large shoulder blocks promise enhanced steering, while the subsurface slot and groove geometry promote stability. The wide circumferential grooves are positioned at an angled direction pattern for effective drainage in wet conditions. The RE-71R has a Uniform Tire Quality Grade of 200 AA; the first number explains tread wear and the letter after is the traction grade, AA being the best. The RE-71Rs were mounted on the sporty Scion FR-S for our driving pleasure and proved to be a tire with plenty of grip even for people with heavy foots.
Depending on what kind of driver you are, whether you're balling on a budget with the Ecopia, safety oriented with the SafeGuard, or the performance enthusiast with the Potenzas, Bridgestone has the rubber you need.