That strikes as doubly true when new manufacturers attempt to gain a foothold in the ultra-competitive track tire niche. And while Falken isn't a new manufacturer per se, they're not as much associated with HPDE as other manufacturers with track (hey…) records of success in the segment.
If our encounters (or lack thereof) with the original Falken Azenis RT615 are any indication, it seems to have been received by the HPDE community with a collective shrug. 2016 Tire Rack track testing demonstrated its pretty clear performance deficiencies in both dry and (especially) wet conditions relative to top category options like Bridgestone's RE-71R. And without a distinct economic or other tangible advantage (e.g. mileage/treadwear), the Azenis RT615 never became a go-to option.
So the Falken Azenis RT615K+ feels a bit like a do over, and reenters the track tire scene with something to prove. Will the updated Azenis RT615K+ be able to stick with the best?
The price point looks darn right too. The Azenis RT615K+ undercuts the new Hankook Ventus R-S4 in many popular sizes, often by a significant margin. In size 225/40-18, for example, the Falken is over $200 less per set. In size 225/50-16 it's a ~$70 advantage to the Azenis RT615K+.
Most (possibly all) less costly options like the Kumho Ecsta V720 come with performance and durability limitations n/a to the Azenis RT615K+.
The pricing approach seems similar to what Falken's implemented in the all-terrain category, where the stacked Falken Wildpeak A/T3W bests the price of just about any tire of similar characteristics and capability.
But on the all-important subject of capability, absent any objective data what's to convince skeptics that the Azenis RT615K+ is a true advancement and strong option?
You wouldn’t recognize progress based upon a visual inspection for sure. The original model and Azenis RT615K+ appear identical from a tread design perspective.
It also wouldn't be the first time Falken turns around the performance and perception of a tire. The Falken Azenis FK510, a current generation performance street tire more known/popular in Europe, landed near the bottom of the pack in 2016 group tests. So far this year in at least five separate tests it's far more competitive, and nearly matching some of the best performance street tires on the market.
Perhaps an indication that Falken's struck performance tire compound gold. (The 4D Nano Design Tread Compound is common to both tires.)
We think there's enough there to take a bit of a flyer on the Azenis RT615K+, especially in consideration of its auspicious pricing.
We'd take the lead and report back, but our M3 is out of track spec, and the Azenis RT615K+ isn't available in OE size idiot for the Z/28.
Learn more about the Falken Azenis RT615+ on FalkenTire.com.