The Bridgestone RE040 tyres on our 350z had served us well, but after 15,000 miles the rears had seen their best. With the winter weather fast approaching we decided to investigate a budget performance tyre that's widely regarded as having some of the best wet weather qualities in the segment - the Falken FK452.
Now we've covered 1500 miles since fitting we thought we'd detail some of our initial feedback and thoughts.
Pulling out of the tyre garage (thank you to RTEC in St Albans for an excellent service) we immediately noticed the improved ride comfort and suppressed noise levels over the RE040s we'd just had removed. Being tyre enthusiasts we did what anyone in our situation would do, turn the traction control off, select the second cog and deliver the 300bhp directly through the new rear tyres. We were quickly reminded, while fishtailing down the road, at the lack of grip new tyres provide due to the mould release agent. We spent the next 10 miles driving extremely carefully to be sure to scrub the tyre in without ending up in a hedge.
500 miles later the tread blocks had nicely worn in and we were starting to see what we'd call a representative performance from the tyre. In non performance conditions the tyre really does offer a nice quiet ride and absorbs bumps and ruts where the RE040 would just crash. One slightly surprisingly aspect of the tyre was increased tram-lining along our country test route, perhaps this will disappear as the tread blocks wear down?
Under performance conditions the increased comfort provided by the FK452 starts to become a hindrance. While pushing on the car feels like it rolls onto the sidewall in fast bends giving you a quite unnerving double entry impression to a corner - the car first assumes an angle the tyre is comfortable at then assumes slip angle. Dry grip is excellent and progressive as is the wet traction, however we find the tyre to be far less controllable past the limit in wet conditions.
1500 miles in and we can certainly see the appeal of the FK452. While they don't offer the most direct feedback they're a quiet, comfortable and grippy tyre which come in significantly cheaper than the premium competition. Wear is the only unknown at the moment, but according to reviews on this site they should last almost as well as the Bridgestone RE040 they replace.
Update 2 - Feeling the pressure...
Having lived with the previous Bridgestone RE040s for nearly a year we had found a pressure combination we were happy with. Due to the stiff side walled nature of the tyre we ended up with 32 psi front and 34 psi rear which we naturally carried across the to Falken FK452s.
One evening when discussing the new Falkens floaty, double stab nature with a friend he casually mentioned perhaps we should increase the pressure. While this was an obvious thing to say it would have seemed our comfort with the previous tyres meant we didn't even consider the pressure to be the cause, apparently even we can make mistakes!
The next morning we went up 2psi front and rear and are happy to report the car feels much better on turn in without sacrificing any of the dry grip. Still not quite as positive as the RE040 but much better than they were
While we're updating we feel it worth mentioning the progressiveness of these tyres. Under dry conditions they're excellent, if drifting is a passion of yours you will get on well with the FK452! In the wet is a different story. While the wet grip is impressive, we've nearly been caught out a couple of times as the break away nature of the tyre is so sudden. Not ideal in a powerful RWD car!
End of life report
It's been 7 months and 7000 miles since we had the FK452s fitted to the 350z. There is just over 4mm of tread remaining on the driven axle (rear) meaning the tyres are approximately half worn, amazing considering the abuse they've been given. While they've never seen a trackday they've been subjected to near daily wheel spinning and sideways action around slower roundabouts. Grip levels have started to drop off in the last 1000 miles, something other people have noticed at around half life of the tyre but it's progressive dry characteristics remain. We're still not a fan of the wet weather handling, the grip is there but it's not very controllable at the limit.
The Falken FK452 is an excellent tyre for the money and will be hard to beat at a similar price. The dry grip it offers is good, it can move standing water with ease and it is surprisingly hard wearing. Only the Toyo T1-R seems to offer any real competition but as we've not driven on them yet we can't offer any direct comparison. If you're after excellent performance on a budget we thoroughly recommend you look into this tyre, however if cost isn't an issue then the FK452 is still noticeably behind a premium ultra high performance tyre.
If you have any questions please ask in the comment section below. We still have a set of FK452s on our Mazda 6 which lives mainly on the motorways so we will monitor tread life and add to the article once there has been any real wear. While you're here, why not submit a tyre review of your own!