Falken has a knack for combining the good merits of a touring tire (long tread wear, quiet ride) with the traction and grip of a true high-performance tire. In this review of the Falken Ziex ZE950, I tested this tire on a 2012 BMW X3 with the 240-horsepower inline-six cylinder engine. The Beemer was fitted with the stock 17-inch wheels and came with relatively new Falken Ziex ZE950 tires, or so I thought.
You see, the tires looked brand new upon first glance. The treads were still thick and highly visible to naked eyes. Unbeknownst to me, the tires were three months old and have accumulated at least 2,000 miles. I learned this at the end of the review, but I will discuss more on tread wear later.
The Falken Ziex ZE950 is a high-performance all-season touring tire. The asymmetric tread design with wide-angled tread slot gives the tire an aggressive and sporting look. I know I should have tested this tire on a high-performance sedan or coupe like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe or maybe the Cadillac CTS-V since the tire looks more suited for cars that deliver maximum performance. However, the BMW X3 is adequate since it is a sporty crossover that you won’t see lingering around on a narrow off-road trail.
With that being said, the Falken Ziex ZE950 is a sterling choice for sporty compacts or midsize sedans and small crossover vehicles. It is also available in a wide array of sizes from 15” to 20” diameters.
The Falken Ziex ZE950 is employed an exclusive silica tread compound with Dynamic Range Technology that maintains pliability of rubber at extremely low temperatures. This enables the tire to maintain a decent level of traction and grip on wet or icy roads. The compound also remains consistent even at high temperatures, which enables the tire to maintain the same level of grip on dry roads or hot weather.
The unique wide-angled tread block on the outside tread is responsible for improving traction in the snow and this allows the slush to be redirected to the center of the tire. The treads also have multiple sipes designed using 3D Canyon Sipe Technology that adds more biting surfaces to the tire for improved traction, stability, and control on all types of surfaces.
The Falken Ziex ZE950 is also equipped with wide circumferential grooves and a sculptured groove wall that helps in channeling water away from the face of the tread. This feature is designed to resist hydroplaning and deliver better handling when the roads are covered with water or slush.
With all of such technology packed in a magnificent looking tire, you would find it hard to believe that this tire is priced lower than other all-season tires from more popular brands. The Falken Ziex ZE950 tires fitted to my test car were less than $100 each. I don’t know what you will think about this, but this is good value in my book.
I started the motor and allowed it to warm up before heading on the highway. I was able to test the Falken Ziex ZE950 tires on a wide variety of driving conditions for this review. I also managed to rekindle the lost flame between me and the BMW X3. I was not a huge fan of the X3, but driving it for a lengthier amount of time has made me a believer once again.
I have nothing bad to say about the Falken Ziex ZE950 when it comes to dry performance. The tires gave me the confidence to speed ahead and execute quick maneuvers without worrying about the tires losing traction. I felt tremendous amounts of grip was ever present I cornered the X3 like I was in a Subaru WRX. Braking also felt good since I was able to stop the X3 abruptly without feeling the tires slide on the harsh concrete.
The tires also felt magnificent on wet roads. The Falken Ziex ZE950 performed just as well on the wet as it allowed the X3 to regain composure even as I was pushing it around a tight corner. Of course, I wasn’t expecting the X3 to corner like an Evo since there was still a considerable amount of body roll, but the tires enabled the crossover to behave like a well-mannered German weapon even when hustled on a slippery road.
The Falken Ziex ZE950 tires were also fantastic in the snow. My BMW X3 came standard with AWD and it helped the vehicle traverse over demanding snow-covered roads. Yes, I felt the tires lost a bit of traction on two or three inches of snow, but icy roads and moderate snow were no matches for the capabilities of the Falken Ziex ZE950.
The BMW X3 is not what you would call plush or full-on compliant. The suspension is a bit firm and the ride can get jiggly on bad roads. However, the Falken Ziex ZE950 managed to sort out the tightness of the suspension on the highway.
The Falken Ziex ZE950 was quiet at low speeds but it was a bit noisier when I stepped hard on the pedal to gather more speed. The tires calmed down on average speeds, but you will hear a bit more tire roar if you drive aggressively.
As I mentioned earlier, I really thought the Falken Ziex ZE950 tires on my BMW X3 were new since the treads were still fresh. Little did I know the tires already had at least 2,000 miles under its belt, and I only found out after returning the car to the owner. It seems Falken did a good job in making the tires more resistant to wear without compromising all-season performance.
The Falken Ziex ZE950 A/S is also backed by a 45,000 to 65,000-mile warranty.
I now understand why people will fork over more money for a BMW X3 instead of settling for a Japanese crossover. It handled like a proper high-performance sedan and the engine felt lively even at low RPM. The Falken Ziex ZE950 was a perfect match for the all-season capabilities of the BMW X3.
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Alvin Reyes has expertise in automotive evaluation. He collaborated with famous newspapers and is still making efforts in tire review for DrivingPress.com