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Toyo Proxes FZ4 205/50R15

Pic: FZ4 These tires were chosen due to their reasonable performance vs. reasonable price. Toyo is a well known company, especially in import oriented circles, and these tires are made in Japan, so quality control should be good. They carry a treadwear rating of 300, so they last reasonably long for a performance oriented radial. The tradeoff, however, is less outright grip. They are "V" rated for sustained speeds of up to 149mph. Although they are listed as all season radials (hence the 4 in FZ4 for four seasons), they would not be very good on snow and ice at all, especially in the wider 205 width.

Performance wise, these tires are head and shoulders above your average all season or OEM tire. They are not, however, nearly as grippy as some of the more performance oriented tires on the market (eg. Toyo's own T1 or RA-1). They make a good all-around daily-driving not too expensive low-profile radial. With a bigger budget, there are definitely grippier tires out there, but for bang for the buck, these tires hold their own. Wet traction for these tires is only slightly above average. Again, better than your average OEM tire in the wet, but there are definitely grippier tires out there when the rain comes down.

Treadwear through one summer, including two autocross sessions, shows a reasonable amount of wear, with considerably more wear on the fronts. With consistent rotating, these tires should last about three to four summers of hard driving, and much more than that without the autocrossing or high speed on-ramp/off-ramp endeavours.

Update June 2001
As these tires wore out, they got very noisy, and began to hunt around much more in ruts and grooves in the roadway. This is apparently common with the FZ4. Also, wet traction went out the window once tread depth was at a minimum, which is to be expected.

I replaced these tires last month with the Toyo Proxes T1-S in the same size (205/50R15) with great results (reviewed here). For a true summer performance tire, the T1-S is miles better than the FZ4, but at a price. Performance-wise, the FZ4 are not even in the same league as the T1-S, which is to be expected when comparing a reasonably priced all-season to a more expensive pure performance tire.

In retrospect, I should have gone with the Toyo Proxes T1 Plus (the earlier version of the T1-S that was available when I got the FZ4s) and just paid the extra cash. However, if you just cannot swing the extra money, or you prefer an all-season, the FZ4 is a decent choice. My advice, though, is to save your cash and get the T1-Ss and a good set of winter tires on separate wheels. Not cheap, but safe in the winter and darn fun in the summer...