I really hate my car….its been like this for years. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration…..i don’t hate my car but i don’t like driving it that much. I mean, i LIKE driving it, its just not the car i fell in love with. You see, i drank the Koolaid a couple years ago and have been regretting it ever since.
I love to drive. Sometimes, I drive around for no reason. I take the long way home, it’s one of my favorite things to do. Since 2010, I’ve had a second generation Mazdaspeed3. First, a white 2010, then in 2013, I got a silver one. Its not a civilized car. Its pointy, its rough over bumps and it wants to take the steering wheel away from you when you floor it. Find yourself on a nice piece of twisty, smooth road and its mega fun. But, all this fun came to a quiet, drama free, boring halt in the spring of 2017.
In 2013, I gave my 2010 Mazdaspeed3 back to the dealer for a new one, so I’ve never had to replace the tires on a second generation Mazdaspeed3. The Dunlop SP2050s that came on it from the factory were finished when i took them off before the winter of 2016, and the plan was to replace them come spring. I should have just gotten a new set of the Dunlop’s while they were still available. I liked them fine, but the price was shockingly high at almost $450CAN a tire in the stock 225/40/18 size. So i took the winter and did my research before making any decisions on what to get.
Now, if a tire comes on something like the Ferrari 599 GTO and the BMW M3 and is highly regarded by everyone who has them, then it must be a great tire, right?. The tire or Koolaid in question, was the Michelin Pilot Super Sports and i had to get me a set. So I did….and oh boy, did I ever regret it!
With The Michelins fitting and after the brief break-in period, it was grip for days and torque steer be damned. I could settle into a curve and once the sidewall folded over on itself, they hooked…..I mean, they really hooked. I could lift the outside rear on a roundabout if i wanted to. I drove the living hell out of them and they wouldn’t wear out, and I drove them hard all the time! It wasn’t that I was in a particular rush or anything, i was just hoping to get some kind of feel out of them, some kind of joy driving on them…. but it never came. The grip was enormous, but numb. They felt lifeless, pillowy and boring. My machete of a car was as dull as dishwater.
I needed to make a change.
Enter the new Bridgestone Potenza Sport,. They promised great steering response and a meaty feel, with as much grip as the best UHP tires on the market. Sounds like a lot of what i was missing in the Super Sports.
Before we go any further, i have to mention that i had the 88Y star rated (BMW) version of the Pilots. People tell me i should have gone with the XL version, so I borrowed a friends and they weren’t any better. I was told that I should try the new Pilot Sport 4S’s, but they felt as uninspiring as the Super Sports, so i took them back. I read that Pilot Super Sports were soft and refined feeling before i bought them, but i couldn’t believe how soft they were for a Ultra High Performance tire. Also, not every manufacturer offers all of their UHP or Max Performance Summer tires in a 225/40/18. I thought a 225/18 was a fairly popular size, but a little digging revealed that to be untrue. Mazda’s hasn’t used them on any car since the 2013 Speed used this size. Incidentally, the current Civics don’t either, the GTI does, Subaru WRX doesn’t, I think the Veloster Turbo does………What was I saying?
Oh Ya, so my options were limited when it came to the best tires out there. Luckily for me, the Bridgestone Potenza Sports are available in pretty much every size. They also happen to be epic and every bit as impressive as I’ve heard. My car feels right again. Somehow these tires deliver a immense amounts of turn-in response, excellent sidewall stiffness and highspeed stability, while being supple over bumps. My car has never felt so refined in this way. The stock Dunlops were unforgiving on anything but billiard table roads. The Pilots, undulating and nausea inducing. The Bridgestones however, feel surreal.
I’ve read that the Potenza Sports don’t last very long, but its too soon to tell. They have a treadwear rating of 300 but so do the Pilots, and Michelins are notoriously long lasting. The Bridgestones also start with less tread then most of its competitors, 8/32″ vs 9-10/32″, which may be one of the reasons the handle so well, even when new. Less tread = less treat squirm. I would say the Bridgestone give up a little bit in ultimate grip to the Michelins but not much. Additionally, the Bridgestones feel safe and confidence inspiring in the wet, just like the Michelins. Good job Bridgestone!
Disclaimer: I’ve read that these tires do NOT handle track use very well. Bridgestone did just come out with the Potenza Track that may be better suited for that, but I doubt they will be available in anything less than a 19″. If you plan to track or autocross your car and you need a smaller size like me, get a set of the Bridgestone RE-714Rs.
In Summary: The Bridgestone Potenza Sport Max Performance tire is the best thing to happen to my 2013 Mazdaspeed3 since 2017, when i paid it off and drove it for the last time on the stock tires. There are tires i would have likes to have tried, like the Goodyear F1 or the F1 Asymmetric 2, the Continental SportContact6 and few others. All of these tires are rumored to have great steering feel but don’t come in a 225/40/18. The Bridgestones are also priced very well at $259CAN a tire at CostCo.
If you own a stiffly sprung car like the Mazdaspeed3, you should check out the Bridgestone Potenza Sport Max Performance tire. While i wasn’t happy with any of the Michelin’s on my car, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them as they are incredible tires. You might like them on your platform but consider the Bridgestones too.