Driving impressions on 16" rims

Discussion in 'Fiesta ST Wheel and Tire Upgrades' started by Kap, Dec 20, 2014.

  1. Kap

    Kap Member

    Oh what a difference an inch can make. (Take that statement as you will.) ;)

    I made this poll a year ago when my ST was on order, because I was wary about the reviews that talked of how harsh the ride was. Having driven the car for a year now (on the stock 17" wheels), I wouldn't describe the suspension as harsh, but rather taught and tight.

    This past weekend, I put on my "winter" wheels. Snow tires would have been overkill for me since I don't plan on driving in the snow, but I needed something to handle the colder temps, so I put some Kumho Ecsta PA31 high performance all-seasons on a set of OEM Focus 16" alloys.

    They're 205/50 16s, so the wheel diameter is half an inch taller, but the sidewall height is a 25% increase, and I noticed a definite change in ride quality. It's considerable smoother and more comfortable, especially as the road quality worsens, and for a car that'll be used primarily for long freeway driving and/or on questionable roads, I'd strongly recommend this as a permanent swap.

    The downside for me, though, is just how much it numbs the ride. It seems to take away a lot of the raw fun factor and makes the ST feel like more of a "regular" car. I was surprised at how floaty and disconnected it feels now, and I guess I got used to (possibly addicted to?) the feel of the 17s. I appreciate the added comfort, especially with the potholes that the winter will inevitably bring, but I'm already looking forward to the spring when I can put my stock wheels back on. (I also notice a lack of relative cornering confidence, but that may have as much to do with the downgrade in the class of tires as it does with the added sidewall height flex.)

    For those who have downsized your wheels, either for the winter or permanently, what do you think?
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  3. haste

    haste Member

    I didn't downsize but went to a 205/45 profile tire. It's still taught but not nearly as harsh. It also retained that fun factor when driving. Turn-in is still quick and I don't feel any sidewall flex when driving in a spirited fashion.
  4. Mister_Mino

    Mister_Mino Member

    I have 15" winters and I rather enjoy not having to cringe every time I hit a pothole worrying that I might crack a wheel.
  5. LuvfiestaST

    LuvfiestaST Active Member

    I am running 15 winter rims and tires. Yes it is a much smoother ride but with the potholes I don't worry as much about cracking a rim. Being in Canada I need winter tire on this beast.
    iLiptiKal likes this.
  6. eRic

    eRic Active Member

    I'm running 16x6.5" SVT Contour wheels with 195/45-16 Pirelli Snowcontrol winter tires and they take the edge off the bumps.
  7. dmondi12

    dmondi12 Active Member

    Size matters
    Every inch counts
    Everyone likes a little extra meat
    More cushion for the..

    OK that's enough. My 15" winters are definitely a much smoother and much more forgiving ride, although its far from the sharp handling car it once was. Although I'm hoping that its mostly just the nature of my skinny, soft snow tires and that 15" or 16" summers won't lose too much of the handling characteristics as compared to my 17s.
  8. WScottCross

    WScottCross Well-Known Member

    I run 16" Pirelli SnowSports in the winter and 16" Direzza ZII's in summer on the same wheels. I can tell you that tire compound and tread design play a very big part in the responsiveness of the tires. The winter tires have a lot more squirm due to the sipes and small tread blocks as well as very soft compound. I just got a set of extra sticky Nitto NT01's on 15" wheels so we'll see how much steering response change there is once the weather warms back up.
  9. hollywood

    hollywood Member

    I can tell a difference just with my 45 series tires on the stock 17" wheels. Much easier to live with over bumpy roads.
  10. stuntdoogie

    stuntdoogie Active Member

    Those PA31s are getting great reviews. Had my eye on them for a while. Thinking about switching my snow tires for those on steelies. Do they have soft sidewalls?
  11. RDgolfer

    RDgolfer Active Member

    The oem wheels in conjunction with the low profile tires=disaster on bad winter roads...look at Rodmoe's set up with 15's...less weight, higher sidewalls..this all means a FiST intact...I am looking right now how to keep my car alive during my winter...
  12. Kap

    Kap Member

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! I think the "pothole peace of mind" is shared by all of us, which is partly why we downsized for the winter, since the stock setup doesn't really offer much cushion or rim protection. I knew that I'd be taking a hit in responsiveness with my wheel swap, but I didn't expect to miss the feedback from the tires as much as I do. The stock wheels were just more visceral and felt more connected to the road, and for me, that tactile feedback seems to have added quite a bit of excitement to driving this car. Don't get me wrong, for the winter, I'll gladly take the added comfort, smoothness and peace of mind, but I'm already longing for spring. ;)

    Hey doogie. I've only had them on the car for 2 1/2 weeks, but so far, I like them. I'm certainly not a tire expert and haven't driven on other 16"s to compare these to, but the sidewalls feel fairly soft and comfortable to me. I remember that you have experience with the Ecsta 4X tires from a previous car, so this quote from another forum should help: "We recently switched from the Ecsta 4x (Ultra High Performance A/S) to the Ecsta PA1 (High Performance A/S) on the Mazda 3. The sidewall is noticeably softer, both visually and steering feel wise. But as a commuter car, it was worth the trade, and they should last a bit longer. You could try the Ecsta 4x if you wanted a bit more 'sportiness'..."

    Going from a max performance summer tire to a high performance all-season, I was expecting a downgrade in grip and steering response, but I think the lack of feedback probably has more to do with the sidewall stiffness in this case. I'd guess that your extreme performance Direzzas are fairly stiff, and may even give the same feel as the stock tires, despite the difference in sidewall height. :)
    stuntdoogie likes this.
  13. stuntdoogie

    stuntdoogie Active Member

    Im riding on 185/60/15 H rated X-ice2 and these things are super soft. Im so bored driving my car not being able to throw it around like I used to. So I may switch them out for high performance all season tires so i can have some fun again while not giving up some snow and rain traction. Those PA31's are probably the best A/S tires out right now so may give them a shot for $69ea
  14. hollywood

    hollywood Member

    I'm not a Goodyear fan, but these Eagle Sport All Seasons are pretty darn good. Slightly softer than the stock Bridgestones, but I can still corner about 80-90% of what I could with the stockers. This is just regular driving, I don't autocross the car or anything. Just wanted some cold weather grip (and for the 1 or 2 days of snow we get here in NC).

    You can get the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S3 in the stock 205/40/17 size as well. I read that the winter/snow grip was less than that of the Eagle Sport A/S though, so that's why I went with the Goodyears. As soon as March rolls around, the Bridgestones are going back on.
  15. stuntdoogie

    stuntdoogie Active Member

    I would go with pilot sports if i had 17" wheels lok
  16. RDgolfer

    RDgolfer Active Member

    Motegi 125 with Michelin Pilot 'Sports...etc...go back on my car tomorrow...don't be scared running the Bridgestones under 40 degrees...it's just easier to light them up, and less traction during cornering...so be careful..but it's no big deal...until snow fall...and I will tell y'all how this front wheel drive beastie does with a snowy road.... and those up north already know what works, unless they're FiST is garaged and their running around in a 4 wheel drive vehicle...first winter starts now with me car...very mild so far, and the Farmer's Almanac says mild until spring...for those of you unfamiliar with the farmer's almanac, check it out...it goes back to George Washington...and probably further...but all their prognostications were based on the stars and constellations...check it out..
  17. stuntdoogie

    stuntdoogie Active Member

    Put my order yesterday for 16x7 Gloss Bkack Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 wheels. Now to decide if I wanna do 205/45/16 UHP summer or 195/50/16 DWS all season.
  18. Kap

    Kap Member

    Why limit yourself? Order up another set of those rims and go crazy. ;)
  19. stuntdoogie

    stuntdoogie Active Member

    Wish I had the space for a second set.

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