Project 46: Tyred & Tested

Project 46 is an on-going series that demonstrates common fixes and preventative maintenance tips, as performed on our own E46 330Ci. Click here to read our introduction to the series, here for part two, here for part three, and here for the last instalment.

A car is only as strong as its weakest part. Fitting the best suspension components is useless if the tyres aren’t very good, and the tyres on our 330Ci M-Sport have been a major complaint of ours since we first picked the car up. We’ve been itching to get them swapped over to a good set of rubber so we can finally have a good baseline to work with and improve upon. The problem was that our E46 was fitted with three different brands of tyres -- two Kumhos on the front, and a Michelin run-flat and a Continental on the back. Different levels of grip, different levels of sidewall hardness, different levels of material quality. Not only that, but the wheels were horribly out of alignment, making the car unpredictable and dangerous on the road. After fixing up a lot of suspension issues that the car had in previous instalments of Project 46, it became obvious just how bad the tyres were.

We began doing a some research on what ultra-high performance tyres would best suit the E46, and eventually decided to order in a full set of Hankook Ventus S1 evo2s. Hankook have been original equipment suppliers to BMW and Mercedes-Benz for years, as well as being the exclusive tyre supplier for the DTM racing series. These tyres feature low-weight steel cords that they developed for DTM, meaning the tyres aren’t as heavy, which lowers the unsprung weight and improves economy and handling. To further validate our decision, the tyres won the prestigious iF Product Design Award when they were originally released. More recently though, these Hankooks have been chosen as the tyre to be released on the latest BMW 3 and 4 Series models. If you also consider that a set of the evo2s have a RRP of $1200 (or almost half the price of their main European competitors), the decision starts to make a lot of sense.

We knew there would be a bit of a change with the new tyres on, but we weren’t expecting the difference to be as significant as it was. The amount that the tyres have improved the driving quality is bordering on the ridiculous -- they’ve completely changed the way the car drives. It now bites at initial turn-in as it should, but it’s the mid-corner grip that is the biggest surprise for us. The extra lateral grip allows the throttle to be leaned on more heavily than before, without fear that the front will push into understeer (as it used to). With the traction and stability controls turned off, there’s less unwanted wheelspin off the line and a more linear and predictable level of play when the rear end does begin to step out. Braking has also been greatly improved.


When we changed the control arms and bushes, we said that it brought the car back to a good baseline. In doing so, it improved the handling characteristics in some major areas, but it also really demonstrated how poor the old tyre set-up was. With the Hankooks on, the car is now handling and reacting like an E46 330Ci M-Sport should. Of course, a big part of the improvement in the handling and confidence has been because of the laser wheel alignment. The spec sheet that the tyre shop gave us afterwards proved just how laughably out of alignment the wheels were to begin with.

But it’s hard to deny the extra grip on the car and the confidence that it’s brought. We can pitch the car into a corner in the knowledge that it will be balanced, predictable, and fast. Hankook clearly spent a lot of time on creating their flagship tyre, and we’ve been incredibly impressed with how they’ve performed. We’ve only had the tyres on the car for a week so we can’t really comment on long-term wear and noise, but we’re looking forward to testing their longevity.

While we were under the car admiring the new tread, we also decided to do the Golf Tee Mod. The mufflers of many of the E36 and E46 3 Series models have a valve that opens up the exhaust when the motor is under load. The vacuum hose that controls the valve can be removed from the actuator and blocked with a golf tee (or a loose bolt). The result is a (subtly) bassier tone at idle, and a bit more rasp on low-throttle acceleration.

Clickable have no plans to start selling tyres (or golf tees, for that matter), so if you’re in the Melbourne area we recommend getting in touch with Donnellans The Tyremen in Collingwood.

New Mechanical Repairs:
Hankook Ventus S1 evo2 tyres - $870
Wheel Alignment - $55
Loose Bolt - $0
Total Cost of Repairs: $2505

New Non-Essentials:
Nothing this month!
Total Cost of Additions: $62

Total Cost To Date: $2567

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