The new Falken Azenis FK510 goes on sale today with a mission to beat the world’s best tyres. In some tests, it already has
Falken launched the Azenis FK510, its new flagship tyre, today. Driving enthusiasts are likely to recognise the “Azenis” label, used on the brand’s Ultra High Performance (UHP) tyres, but if the name is familiar the tyre itself is all-new.
The Azenis FK510 succeeds the FK453, and goes on sale in 75 sizes, covering 17 to 22 inch wheels and 25 to 55 series. A variant of the FK510 suitable for Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and crossovers will be added to the range soon, and a run-flat version will go on sale next year.
“These tyres are the most advanced tyres ever made, I’ve tried them myself and they are very good, totally different from any of the tyres produced by Sumitomo before,” said Cham Soon Kian, an executive vice president for Falken distributor Stamford Tyres at the launch.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries is Falken’s parent company. It’s Japan’s number two tyre manufacturer and ranks sixth in the world.
The Azenis FK510 arrives at a time when Falken is busy repositioning itself.
With low-cost brands such as Giti and Achilles at one end of the market and established giants such as Bridgestone or Michelin at the other, Sumitomo intends to push Falken as something of an upstart brand, a youthful player with high-tech products.
But Falken was originally created to tackle the UHP market, and the FK510 stays faithful to that mission.
To do that, it improves on its predecessor’s grip and high-speed stability, without sacrificing ride comfort.
Satoru Ushida, the managing director Sumitomo Rubber Asia, said the new Azenis is for driving enthusiasts. “Such drivers would like to have good cornering with high stability, and also good grip on both wet and dry roads,” he said.
Yet, that means the Azenis FK510 has to compete with high-end tyres chosen by demanding drivers. Not a problem, said Mr Ushida. “We have more advanced technology in the tyres. We have evidence of that because we already have good results in European car magazines,” he said.
Mr Ushida cited rankings from Auto, Motor und Sport, a highly-influential German car magazine, that placed the Azenis FK510 second in a test 52 tyres. The winner in that test was Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4, but the new Azenis beat UHP products from giants like Pirelli, Goodyear, and so on.
GTÜ (Gesellschaft für Technische Überwachung), a German inspection service (similar to Singapore’s Vicom), ranked the Azenis FK510 first in its own test of 11 different tyres.
The Azenis FK510 has been high ratings by a number of other European magazines, often ranking in the top-three.
Ironically, in Europe the Falken brand enjoys a much smaller market share than it does here, at around two percent, according to Mr Ushida. In Singapore, he estimates the brand has more than 10 percent of the market.
He credited that performance to Stamford Tyres. “They push the Falken brand in the market very strongly,” he told CarBuyer.
But given the Azenis FK510’s ability to out-rank tyres that often cost more, perhaps the brand’s success here might also be down to Singaporean drivers’ ability to recognise a good deal, even when shopping for a high performance tyre.