Adapt to survive.
Such is the way of the world since time immemorial. Much in the same way that living organisms have had to make incremental improvements over the course of time to adapt to the changing environment, so too must the things we make change in order to adapt to the new demands and greater expectations in the market.
That's what Bridgestone is trying to convey with the new Potenza Adrenalin RE003, the latest evolution of their popular performance tire.
To further drive their point, Bridgestone Asia Pacific booked us a day at The Performance Driving Center in Queensland, Australia just to see and feel what this new rubber can do.
RE: Racing Equipment
To the uninitiated, the Adrenalin series of tires is a sub-category under the Bridgestone Potenza performance tire brand, of which Potenza Adrenalin represents the entry point into the category. Locally, the Potenza hierarchy consists of the Adrenalin (performance), the Potenza RE-11 (high-performance) and then by the Potenza S001 (ultra high performance). Out of curiosity, we asked Bridgestone's executives what “RE” actually meant, to which they answered “Racing Equipment”.
The tire that Bridgestone is launching is the Potenza Adrenalin RE003; the third version of their hot selling performance tire, incorporating all that the company has learned from the RE001 and RE002.
During the product brief, Bridgestone Japan's executives gave us a primer of the many things they did to develop the RE003. When compared to the RE002, the new RE003 achieves improvements in straight line stability, dry cornering, center feel, wet handling (particularly water dispersal), wet braking and comfort, all while maintaining levels of fuel economy (through rolling resistance) and tire noise. These improvements were achieved by engineering a new wide center rib, a curved groove-wall enforcement, a new connection block, a revised silica-based compound and a pulse groove.
We'll put these improvements to the test.
Bridgestone had closed out a facility in Norwell, Queensland, Australia known as The Performance Driving Center. The facility is actually a 2.1 kilometer test track for Holden (the Australian arm of General Motors) as well as a driver training ground; it even hosts a V8 Supercars driving experience for a fee.
Upon closer examination, it's clear that the track is actually quite flat but features a variety of challenging corners. The flat ground will be essential because the absence of camber or banking puts the emphasis on tire grip. There is also a large skid pad with a turntable; a rotating surface that intentionally throws a car out of balance to simulate a sudden loss of control.
Bridgestone had divided the track into several sections: the skidpad will be used for wet handling and stability, the turntable will be used for skid recovery, the last few corners will be used for a slalom while the larger portion of the track will be reserved for dry handling and quick lane changes.
Testing the RE003
Bridgestone wouldn't have flown us all the way down under if they were not confident about their new RE003, and they fitted their new tires to several examples of the new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk. 7 and the new generation Subaru WRX CVT.
On the dry, the RE003 was just impressive overall. The stability, the control and the higher limits afforded by the new rubber are excellent given its price and competitors. On the high speed course the Potenza Adrenalin RE003 exhibited how the new design afforded the driver more confidence when pushing around the bends.
The slalom course displayed the new tire's traceability and control; capabilities that were backed up by results and times from a datalogger. Tire noise is still similar when compared to the RE002, but do keep in mind that these are performance tires so noise will always be the drawback.
On the wet skidpad the RE003 showed off its improved water dispersal qualities and resistance to aquaplaning, and this was compared to its predecessor in the RE002; the RE003 was also more predictable and more progressive when the car approaches the limits of its grip at speed.
Bridgestone had actually fitted some of the other cars with performance-oriented competitor tires (from Brand G and Brand M) for us to sample the difference, or at least to see how big the gap has become.
Proper performance for the sports driver
When Bridgestone launched the Adrenalin series several years ago, the Potenza sub-brand quickly grew to become one of the most popular performance tires in our market even with the influx of other tire companies and brands. The Adrenalin series made the abilities of the Potenza brand more affordable to enthusiasts without compromising performance, and this RE003 is the latest evolution of the series.
We asked Bridgestone's executives if the Potenza Adrenalin RE003 will be offered to manufacturers as an OE (original equipment) tire on performance cars like the VW Golf GTI, Subaru WRX, Toyota 86, among others, to which they answered no. This means they will be convincing customers to switch to their tire on pure performance; a difficult task no doubt, but they seemed very confident that the RE003 can do it.
“This is a very strong weapon for us,” said Minoru Kuroki of Bridgestone.
After seeing and feeling what the new Bridgestone Potenza Adrenalin RE003 can do, it's easy to see why.