|After the stock Mazda 2 we were eager to try the Mazdaspeed B-Spec racer!
However in the turns, better things happen. The first thing is that the car has really good brakes. A very light touch hauls the car down from moderate speed very quickly. The brakes also have a lot of initial bite, so much that we at first found ourselves upsetting the chassis balance and over slowing the car for the turns. Try as we might, the brakes stayed good for many laps of journalistic pounding without fade. If anything the brakes got a little less sensitive which was a good thing.
|The Mazda 2 racer had a pretty tight cockpit which made it a little hard to get settled in the car. Some guys had to be helped with the belts. We liked the upright driver's position and the location of the steering wheel and pedals. The stock car had poor pedal placement for heel and toe shifting but the race car had better pedal placement.
Although the car had a lot of body motion in pitch and roll, the car was surprisingly well balanced. With a little lift throttle the car would rotate really nicely and it took some ham fisting to get the car to understeer. It fact the Mazda 2 might be the best balanced stock FWD car we have ever driven. In our product liability conscious world, it is a refreshing surprise that Mazda has given us a car for the masses that is a little bit tail happy!
|Unburdened by a bunch of weight, the Mazda 2 racer was much faster. It was still a pretty leisurely stroll down the straights. The open exhaust probably adds a little power as well.
With good brakes and a chassis that could rotate well we had a surprising amount of fun driving the stock Mazda 2. We know Coleman and company are hard at work giving their cars some spirit. Now for the bad news. The pedal placement of the Mazda 2 is horrible for heel and toe shifting. The gas and brake pedal are so far apart, I had to do an unnatural stretch of my calf muscles to blip the throttle. That combined with sensitive brakes led to some less than graceful moments in the first two quadrants of some of the turns as I fumbled with the pedals. Other journalists with bigger feet didn’t have an issue but I sure did.
|Slow or not down the straights the Mazda racer handled well with good grip, excellent balance and little body roll. With less weight to haul down from speed, the brakes also worked well with little fade and decent pedal feel. Although the power is low, the little Mazda 2 has the same or better cornering speed of other production based race cars.
Once I got used to the pedal position I was able to put down some pretty good laps in the car, even catching some of the other journalists in the race prepped cars, possibly because I am really used to front wheel drive cars.
|The high grip and low powered platform encourages smooth driving to conserve momentum. Overdriving the car makes it go slower. The B-segment racers are a blast to drive and even experienced drivers can improve their skills by learning to conserve speed and read the lines of the track to maximize exit speed. The Mazda 2 could be made to oversteer easily and was a little wiggly under braking due to its short wheelbase although this was no big deal to control. The car had very little tendency to understeer which is refreshing for a FWD car.