One of the most common questions we get is: What mods will give me the biggest “bang for buck”?
The answer is easy: tires.
A great tire can turn even a bad car into a solid performer. On the contrary, a bad tire can leave a great car in the dust.
In regards to the 2011 MINI Countryman on the previous pages, a poor choice in tires left this great car wanting. Clad from the factory in Pirelli run-flats, the MINI’s ride was on the harsh side with an excessive amount of road noise. Moreover, the run-flats would squeal at the first sign of impending load and transform themselves into understeering chunks of rubber. We’d driven MINIs with good tires. The experience impressed us enough to call the MINI one of the best FWD cars in the world.
As this MINI would see action in virtually every type of environment, we chose to outfit it with Falken’s latest entry into high-performance all-season rubber: the Azenis PT722.
Falken’s Azenis PT722 A/S premium performance touring tire appeared to have everything we were looking for. The PT722 touring tire is targeted at drivers looking for a smooth, quiet ride without sacrificing either performance or tread life. Primary features include an asymmetric tread pattern designed to provide outstanding ride comfort, along with treadwear indicators placed in the tread blocks to regularly inform drivers of proper tire rotation in order to maximize wear performance for better mileage and a longer operating life. The PT722 also incorporates various features specifically aimed at improving overall performance in wet, slippery driving conditions.
Measuring the same 225/45-18 as the factory run-flats, the Falkens were an easy fit for the 18-inch factory alloys. In less than an hour we were back on the road.
The difference was both immediate and impressive. While the stock tires had a distinctive noise pattern, the Falkens were dead silent. It allowed us to actually hear the exhaust while quieting a few annoying rattles (what a bonus!). During hard cornering, the MINI stays planted at speeds well beyond what the stock tires could handle. As they approach their adhesive limit, the PT722 break away slowly and progressively, leaving us time to catch up with steering duties. Ten years ago this type of performance rivaled the best UHP summer stock. Now we can get it in an all-season package.
While the Falken Azenis PT722s left our MINI with a considerably larger performance envelope, they also made us realize the car had more to offer. During hard acceleration, the stock tires would scramble for purchase. Yeah, it was cool but it was also wasted power. After a trip to Neuspeed, these new Falkens became a “must have” for our MINI.