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What's new? Falken Azenis FK453CC
The new Falken tire has innovative construction and a novel tread pattern, which is designed to improve the stability, feel and noise of high-performance SUVs.
Japanese manufacturer Falken has unveiled a tire designed to improve the stability, feel, and noise of high-performance SUVs such as the Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover Sport, and BMW X6.
To deliver the unique stability and higher speed requirements, coupled with the increased loading experienced with sportier SUVs, the Azenis FK453CC is said to feature a more warp-resistant casing construction than comparable tires in its segment. The ‘NUR-Spec’ design incorporates an additional, nylon-reinforced cover ply and more rigid sidewalls to improve stability, even at speeds up to 300km/h (186mph). This construction is complemented by a rounder tire shoulder shape to optimize pressure deployment on the tread area. The result is a claimed 21% improvement in steering stability over the previous S/TZ01 offering.
With larger rim sizes and lower profiles commonplace on performance SUVs, Falken has also addressed the noise issue that is widely experienced and endured by drivers and passengers. A ‘pitched’ tread block whereby adjacent tread blocks on the outer edge vary in length and width, eliminates the consistent tire-road ‘drone’ by breaking up the sound. The resulting tire exceeds the ECE117 76dB noise limit.
“Thanks to the rounder shoulder and phase-shifted tread bars, pass-by noise is reduced by 15% compared with the tire’s predecessor,” says Yukio Yoshida, Falken Tire Europe’s corporate planning director.
To keep the tire sporty, the FK453CC’s silica percentage has been increased over the tire’s predecessor to achieve stronger interaction with the road surface, further enhancing steering responsiveness and handling. Dry handling in particular is improved, with grip levels up 14% on the previous tire; the corresponding figure for wet handling is 10%.
To develop the very specific compound that delivers the performance required, Falken’s engineers worked closely with the parent company Sumitomo Rubber Industries.
In all, the FK453CC took two years to develop, with engineering and testing undertaken both in Europe and Japan. With an eye on the target market, the majority of car testing was done using Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7 vehicles. A rigorous testing and benchmarking program, including an extensive evaluation at the Nürburgring, has led Falken to believe its FK453CC surpasses its competitors in terms of high-speed stability, wet and dry handling, and hydroplaning resistance.
“Resistance to hydroplaning, critical for heavier and taller SUVs, is up 7% [compared with the previous S/TZ01] due to advances in tread pattern,” continues Yoshida. “Three central tread grooves in the tread design allow efficient water deflection. In addition, the staggered sipes integrated into the first tread bar at the tire shoulder break up the water film more effectively than conventional tread patterns.”
The volume provided by three channels helps evacuate more water than the commonly used central channel, further minimizing hydroplaning. Any fears that the novel design may affect stability answered by the use of a fourth stabilizing groove on the outer edge. Falken’s tests show that the resulting lane-change stability means the tire performs better in this area than the competitor tires it benchmarked.
Final testing was undertaken by one of Falken’s team drivers. The company says that by using a Porsche Cayenne on the Nürburgring Nordschleife to assess handling and to complement the objective test track and lab data, it ensured that the tire still “felt like a Falken”, with high levels of responsiveness and feedback.
The Azenis FK453CC was launched in January 2012 in 14 different sizes with V, W, and Y speed ratings.