Test Drive Tuesday review #28: 2008 Mazda Furai
The Mazda Furai was the last and most notable concept representing the new “Nagare” design philosophy introduced by Mazda between 2006 and 2008. It’s also the only one that could be driven, as it was based on the then dominant Courage C65 LMP2, with a screaming three-rotor R20B Wankel engine at its heart. The Nagare design language is all about wind flowing through the cars and its movement, and many of the little waves and creases along the carbon-fiber bodywork hint towards the car’s name, which means “Sound of the Wind” in Japanese. Its LMP2 base led to many hopes to see the graceful Mazda race, but it was never to be. When reviewing the car, the Top Gear magazine crew witnessed to its destruction as it caught fire and burned completely. The one-off concept car was never rebuilt.
But the fact that it did run at the time means that we get to drive it in Simraceway.
I was a bit disappointed by its engine, if I’m honest. Having just driven the fire-breathing 787, I expected this rotary to hint at its glorious past. It doesn’t. There is not much torque, and I hoped for more than 460hp. This is mostly due to ACO LMP2 regulations of the time. Seeing how fast the Furai looks, it’s a bit of a letdown. That being said, it’s not that slow. Think GT500 cars in terms of pace.
Dynamically, it’s not really amazing either. Understeer dominates, but at least the car isn’t hard to drive at all. It’s got impressive traction, and perfect high speed stability. I suspect the understeer is due to tinkering with the Courage’s front aero.
All that being said, the Furai is not a bad car to drive. It’s easy, consistent and light. And when you force the rear to rotate, you can get it to point at an apex. In the end, it’d probably make a good feeder series for the faster prototypes.
I should have expected all of that. The car is an LMP2 underneath, not an LMP1 war machine. It’s all perfectly understandable that the Mazda isn’t blisteringly quick down the straights. I just wanted more from this stunning car. I think reshaping the car compromised a bit on downforce, and that’s what this car lacks, ultimately
You have to remember that the Mazda Furai is probably the best concept car to drive, ever. The sole fact that it has been designed with driving in mind is unique. And if it catches fire in Simraceway, you can always reset it.
To find out how it did against all the other TDT cars, follow this link to the TDT Leaderboards: https://goo.gl/ATr6mF