Regular or runflat tyres – which are best for you?

Falken Tyres

Runflat tyres have their pros and cons. We road tested a new set of Falken “extended mobility tyres” to find out for ourselves…

Unless you have access to state-of-the-art tyre evaluation facilities, there’s no better time to road test new rubber than a straight swap with an existing set on a car you know well.

After months of searching for a second-hand BMW Z4, I finally found one during the summer heatwave.

BMW Z4 E85

A very tidy example (E85) from 2005 with just 75,000 miles on the clock, there was only one issue. The tyres.

Don’t get me wrong, they all had more than enough tread and there was no damage. The problem was that there was a mix of three budget brands.

It looked like a previous owner had plumped for the cheapest tyres they could find – on one or more occasion – just to get it through an MOT or two.

Mixing tyres isn’t a good idea and it was clear from the test drive and subsequent trips on more familiar local roads that the Z4 was tramlining and the tyres weren’t balanced.

Time for a change, so I took up an offer from Falken Tyres to have a new set of rubber fitted. I plumped for Falken ZIEX ZE310 ECORUN FEXM (Falken Extended Mobility Technology) tyres, otherwise known as runflats – a controversial choice in Z4 circles.

Even though runflats were originally fitted to the Z4 (OEM or original equipment manufacturer) and it was developed with these in mind, many owners have now switched to conventional tyres.

What are runflats?   

Runflats, or run flats, have specially reinforced sidewalls that mean you can continue driving on them at a limited speed and for a limited period, even if you have a puncture.

There are other advantages. You don’t have to change the wheel at the side of the road (often in dangerous locations) and no spare wheel means more space in the boot, less overall weight and improved fuel efficiency and mileage.

Falken ZIEX ZE310 ECORUN FEXM tyres

Falken says its FEXM tyre technology is an improvement on traditional runflat tyres, offering the convenience and safety of “run-flats” whilst retaining the comfort and compatibility of conventional tyres, alongside improved rolling resistance and lower weight.

Crucially, drivers have the ability to travel up to 80km (49.7 miles), at up to 80km/h (49.7mph) at zero pressure. Falken’s run-flats can also be fitted on a conventional wheel rim as long as the vehicle has a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

Sounds good. However, runflats are not perfect and they are a compromise, as I’ll explain…

 Back on the road

So, I had the new set of tyres fitted and balanced, but there was a problem with the wheel alignment because the rear nuts were seized. That was sorted a few weeks later, but in the meantime there was an immediate improvement in terms of road noise (much less) and grip (lots more).

After the tracking had finally been completed it was time to work out definitively how the new Falken tyres had affected the Z4 in other ways.

The good news is that it’s improved no end on smooth roads in both the wet and dry. The stopping distance in the wet (especially) is superb, no doubt helped by the wide circumferential grooves for efficient water displacement.

Falken ZIEX ZE310 ECORUN FEXM tyres

The overall ride is firmer, but there’s excellent grip and traction, and you really can confidently push these tyres to the limit.

However, on poorer roads with an uneven camber there’s still some tramlining. I’ve experimented with tyre pressures and by lowering them to closer to the minimum recommended, this has improved matters, but the tramlining hasn’t been totally eliminated.

That said, as long as you are mindful of this on certain roads, it’s not enough to spoil the enjoyment of the Z4 ownership experience.

Ultimately, sports cars are sensitive little things and tyres make a huge difference. Having read the views of other Z4 owners, it’s clear that my experience is not unusual.

Falken ZIEX ZE310 ECORUN FEXM tyres

So, the compromise with run-flats is convenience and safety over ride comfort and handling on uneven surfaces.

Visit the Falken Tyres website to get the lowdown on their range of award-winning tyres which are fitted as standard on new cars from the likes of Toyota, Volkswagen and SEAT.

The Falken brand was born in 1983 and Falken Tyre Europe is the European subsidiary of the Japanese tyre manufacturer Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd – the sixth largest tyre manufacturer in the world.

UK million milestone for SEAT cars

Gareth Herincx

4 days ago
Auto News

SEAT-Leon-e-Hybrid

SEAT has reached a new landmark in the UK – the sale of one million vehicles.

The milestone car was Leon e-HYBRID (plug-in hybrid) registered by Pulman SEAT (based in Southwick, Sunderland) and sold to a private customer.

The UK is SEAT’s third largest market, after Spain and Germany, and it has exported cars here since September 1985.

The first models were the first-generation Ibiza and the Malaga saloon, with both models initially achieving a combined first year sales total of 405.

By comparison, SEAT sold 68,800 vehicles in 2019, a new UK record for the brand, and was one of the fastest growing major automotive manufacturers in the country.

To date in 2021, SEAT sales have already passed 40,000, close to surpassing the full-year 2020 COVID-effected figures.

“The UK is one of SEAT’s largest and most significant international markets,” said Richard Harrison, Managing Director of SEAT UK.

“This is a tremendous milestone and comes at a time when SEAT offers its most diverse range of vehicles yet.

“Our SUV family – Arona, Ateca and Tarraco – have sold extremely well within the UK, while legacy models – Ibiza and Leon – continue their longstanding popularity.

“It’s fitting that the one millionth car is a Leon e-HYBRID as it symbolises SEAT’s journey towards electrified powertrains.”

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Every Little Counts For SEAT Leon Cupra 290

Remember the SEAT Leon Cupra 280? Launched at the start of 2014 to a flood of praise and accolades (including from myself), it was seen as one of the best hot hatches on the market. Well, that’s so last year, because the Cupra 280 is gone.

SEAT Leon Cupra 290 01SEAT Leon Cupra 290

Instead we’ve got a Leon Cupra 290 and, as you might have guessed, it’s got a power increase of 10PS courtesy of a mild ECU remap. Which might not seem like much but, as a certain supermarket giant likes to remind us, every little counts. It takes the Leon’s output even closer to the Golf R, beats the Focus ST with ease and matches the Megane 275’s recent power hike.

Not that you’ll notice much difference. The official acceleration times for the Cupra 290 are exactly the same at 5.7 seconds for the DSG and 5.8 for the manual transmission and top speed is still limited to 155mph. Economy and CO2 emissions are identical but the peak torque of 350Nm is at least available across more of the rev range than before, from 1,700rpm all the way to 5,800 rpm.

Of course, you could go to an aftermarket tuner and get 4 or even 5 times the power increase along with some extra torques for a few hundred quid. The trouble is that might upset SEAT’s warranty department so if you want a little more power this is one way of getting it without affecting your Leon’s warranty.

No official word on prices yet but expect to see a slight increase from the 280’s £28,485 OTR.

SEAT Leon Cupra 290 02SEAT Leon Cupra 290

2015 SEAT Leon Cupra 290 Specifications

Model 2015 Leon SC Cupra 290 2015 Leon SC Cupra 290 DSG 2014 Leon SC Cupra 280 2014 Leon SC Cupra 280 DSG
Transmission 6-speed manual 6-speed dual-clutch automatic 6-speed manual 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Engine 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power (PS / bhp) 290/287 290/287 280/276 280/276
Torque (Nm /lb.ft) 350/258 350/258 350/258 350/258
Kerb Weight (kg) 1,395 1,421 1,395 1,421
MPG 42.2 42.8 42.2 42.8
Top Speed 155 155 155 155
0-62 mph (s) 5.8 5.7 5.8 5.7
CO2 156 149 156 149
VED G F G F
Price £TBA £TBA £28,485 £29,840

Every Little Counts For SEAT Leon Cupra 290

Remember the SEAT Leon Cupra 280? Launched at the start of 2014 to a flood of praise and accolades (including from myself), it was seen as one of the best hot hatches on the market. Well, that’s so last year, because the Cupra 280 is gone.

SEAT Leon Cupra 290 01

SEAT Leon Cupra 290

Instead we’ve got a Leon Cupra 290 and, as you might have guessed, it’s got a power increase of 10PS courtesy of a mild ECU remap. Which might not seem like much but, as a certain supermarket giant likes to remind us, every little counts. It takes the Leon’s output even closer to the Golf R, beats the Focus ST with ease and matches the Megane 275’s recent power hike.

Not that you’ll notice much difference. The official acceleration times for the Cupra 290 are exactly the same at 5.7 seconds for the DSG and 5.8 for the manual transmission and top speed is still limited to 155mph. Economy and CO2 emissions are identical but the peak torque of 350Nm is at least available across more of the rev range than before, from 1,700rpm all the way to 5,800 rpm.

Of course, you could go to an aftermarket tuner and get 4 or even 5 times the power increase along with some extra torques for a few hundred quid. The trouble is that might upset SEAT’s warranty department so if you want a little more power this is one way of getting it without affecting your Leon’s warranty.

No official word on prices yet but expect to see a slight increase from the 280’s £28,485 OTR.

SEAT Leon Cupra 290 02

SEAT Leon Cupra 290

Model 2015 Leon SC Cupra 290 2015 Leon SC Cupra 290 DSG 2014 Leon SC Cupra 280 2014 Leon SC Cupra 280 DSG
Transmission 6-speed manual 6-speed dual-clutch automatic 6-speed manual 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Engine 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power (PS / bhp) 290/287 290/287 280/276 280/276
Torque (Nm /lb.ft) 350/258 350/258 350/258 350/258
Kerb Weight (kg) 1,395 1,421 1,395 1,421
MPG 42.2 42.8 42.2 42.8
Top Speed 155 155 155 155
0-62 mph (s) 5.8 5.7 5.8 5.7
CO2 156 149 156 149
VED G F G F
Price £TBA £TBA £28,485 £29,840

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New Engine For SEAT Ibiza Cupra

With the 2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI switching to a new engine, it was only a question of time before the SEAT Ibiza Cupra followed suit. So now it’s the upcoming Ibiza’s turn to drop the venerable twin-charged 1.4 TSI and upgrade to the more powerful and cleaner turbocharged 1.8 TSI.

Seat Ibiza Cupra 2015 Preview 01

Seat Ibiza Cupra 2015

As you’d expect there are improvements in every area of the Cupra’s performance. Power is up from 180PS to 192PS while torque rises from 250Nm to 320Nm, and is available from 1,450 and 4,200rpm. 62mph arrives in 6.7 seconds and top speed goes up to 146mph.

There are no official figures yet for economy and CO2 emissions but expect to see slight improvements despite the increase in engine capacity. Another aspect that could affect those figures is the choice of transmission. The Ibiza Cupra is now available with a six-speed manual transmission, replacing the compulsory dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission. There is a DSG on the options list, this time with six ratios, and it’s emissions figures are likely to be lower than those of the manual.

With the new engine comes options to tailor the Ibiza’s drive characteristics. Cupra Selective Suspension is an adaptive suspension control system that lets you choose between comfort or sport modes, with a different steering feel in each.

There’s also a host of electronic driver and safety aids; the latest XDS electronic differential lock, ESP electronic stability system, hill start assist, multi-collision brake and drowsiness warning are part of the standard safety package in the Ibiza Cupra.

There are improvements in the interior too. The detachable infotainment system and its horrible cradle are gone, replaced by a touchscreen system that’s been properly integrated into the dashboard. The infotainment system has a wide range of functions but it’s worth noting that it now supports both Apple Car Play and Android Auto, allowing you to control your phone through the Ibiza’s touchscreen.

No news on UK prices or availability yet, other than it’ll go on sale in early 2016.