PROJECT CARS: New Boots Falken ZIEX ZE914

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When you buy a car at auction, like we did with Project Ruby – our beloved 1993 Saab 900 Turbo T16 end-of-the-Mk1-line special ‘Ruby’ edition – you buy what you see. And one thing we saw was that the old gal had obviously been sitting a while, or under-used, as the Toyo rubber on there was all cracked, hard, past it and in deed of changing.

And we don’t mess about with tyres at Road Magazine. The only point of contact with the road surface, tyres are the final word on performance and safety. Bad, cheap tyres are an accident waiting to happen – especially at this time of year, when the roads are covered in ice, snow, mud, standing water and worse, here in rural Norfolk. Conversely, fit a set of proper rubber boots and you can unlock your car’s peak performance potential.

What we look for in tyres is multi-faceted – outstanding levels of grip is standard, especially wet grip. But we’re also after low rolling resistance, acceptable/enjoyable levels of road noise, longevity and value for money. And one brand we’ve found all these things and more is Falken – a name that’s been established now, upsetting the establishment, since 1983 and who we know firsthand from kicking ass in their insanely fast Green Hell destroying Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Falken say: “Known parameters and experience from previous productions flow into the development as well as the latest research findings in areas such as the additives in the rubber mixture. Years of laboratory developments are complemented by the most important parameters of race tracks from around the world. Balance is the key factor in tyre development: between optimum wet performance, perfect handling on dry roads, pronounced directional stability at high speeds and, at the same time, the lowest possible wear. Falken has developed a perfect new product if the rolling noise is very low and the tyre confidently compensates for uneven road surfaces such as transverse grooves.”

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We also have a set of Falken Azenis FK453CC fitted to Project Beast, which are SUV performance specials and have proved themselves to be insanely good at wet weather grip, avoiding aquaplaning (terrifying in a two-ton Rangey prone to do this, wearing the wrong rubber boots), offer low NVH levels and a decent shelf life too. They were also great VFM. So, we had no issue at all in selecting our tyre brand for Project Ruby: Falken.

But what model of tyre from their extensive and ever-expannding range for our super Saab and it’s 195/60×15 retro rubber requirements?

Well, after a chat with the expert UK Falken PR department, we’ve gone for their new ZIEX ZE914 ECORUN Falken tyre, from their ‘Sport & Comfort’ range for cars, which “offers cost-conscious drivers a modern tyre with optimised rolling resistance and well-balanced performance characteristics, as well outstanding level of grip on dry and wet road, low external rolling noise and is particularly suitable for a sporty driving style.” Tick. Tick. Tick.

B-rated for wet weather ability, C for fuel economy and with a perfectly acceptable 69-72 dB reading, the ZIEX ZE914 ECORUN rubber seemed to fit the bill ideally – especially when we heard the new rubber comes with Falken’s latest tyre trickery, SPECIAL EYES® tyre wear indicators, which alter shape to tell you when it’s time for tyre rotation/changing. Cool eh?

Fitting our Falkens was just as straight forward a decision – popping down to our local STS Tyre Pros in Wymondham, where Manager Simon Perren and his new lad Shane Reeve offered their usual expertise, efficiency and economy. The care and attention they take on every job is superb – meaning I never have any worries about alloy damage, or worse. And with a top laser alignment machine in situ too, these lads are blooming handy to know – always doing a superb job, for a superb price. Cheers chaps.

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Out on the road, the effects of the new Falken boots are immediately noticeable. Not only are they  quieter than the past it rubbish that was on there, but the grip levels are incompatible: A bootful of turbocharged gas in these slippery wet Wintry conditions in second gear previously resulted in wheelspin aplenty from the no-TCS Ruby – even in a straight line, let alone cornering.

But you can get on the throttle pre-apex and use Ruby’s titanic turbo torque to perfectly propel you out of the bends no worries now there’s all the extra grip and piece of mind security provided by these fantastic Falken ZIEX ZE914’s. Once again, Falken has proved that what they do on the Nürburgring filters down to their road rubber and provides a perfect product for those with performance and safety in mind, at a great price. First class. Cheers guys.