I was a fan of the performance factor of the old Zaraca, and loved the prce point, howver was not keen on how it looked, and think this may have put a lot of people off. Happily though, Asics have redesigned te upper, and made them look more like a running shoe!
The shoes definitely look a lot better than the firt Zaraca, which is a great thing. The previous model looked a lot like a leisure shoe, and people were put off by this. However, they have now based the design around the fantastic looking, and award winning DS Trainer 18. So all things considered, it is certainly a step in the right direction. As for fit, they feel great. Asics as a brand fit shoes fairly narrow, and if you read my review of the bigger brother the Asics Gel Excel 33 2, this was a problem. However, the Zaraca 2 immediately seems to fit a little wider at the toes, which is a good move by Asics, especially from a shoe that designed for natural running. They feel a little softer than the previous versions, but due to the thinner midsole still offer plenty of ground feel. The gel in the heel is a feature that has been kept from the previous version, and I'm glad that it has been, as although they are designed fo natural running, they allow heel strikers to use them as well.
The midsole retains the principles of flexibility from the pevious version, and also contain the Guidance Line for an efficent gait. They do seem softer, although it is not stated what sort of foam they have used. I would have assumed they would use SpEVA, however cannot confirm this. Again thouhthey ar very flexible, and thinner than your regular road shoe. The gel in the heel is again a nice touch, and you can appreciate the difference this makes even when just standing or walking in them. They retain a 10mm drop for a more efficient running style.
Contrary to the midsole, the upper of the Zaraca 2 has completely changed. As mentiond earlier, it is based upon the DS Trainer 18, which is an excellent move. I cannot stress enough the importance of this change. The old Zaraca looked dated even before it was released, and definitely looked more like a leisure shoe. The new one however looks sleek, and fast, and now looks like a running shoe. And the update is not just cosmetic. The overlays have been heat welded on, so save on stitches, allowing less irritation, and a better fit. The mesh is also breathable, and was a very comfortable fit. As mentioned earlier, they seem rounder at the toes than the Excel 33 2, whch is a good thing, as they seemed to just cut in too much at the ends, whereas here, they fit snuggly around your toes without causing any issues.
The outsole is largely the same as the previous version, in that it is very flexible to go along with the midsole. Still made of AHAR, it will be durable as well.
The shoes do everything I expected of them and more. They are very easy to run forefoot in, but have enough about them that a heel striker would get on fine with them. They only weigh 270g, which for a shoe of this type is fantastic, and I would have expected slightly more due to the gel heel. They fit nicely, and there was just the right amount of cushioning under foot to be soft, but responsive. The lacing system was an update I'd missed, but was snug, and secure without the need for my usual butterfly lacing (however, were more secure when implemented). And again, I would be more likely to buy these than the previous version, just because they look like a running shoe! I think you get jus as much for your money from these shoes as you do from the Excel 33 2, and at £70 RRP, they are an absolute bargain. My only concern is that the EVA midsole may not last as long as that of a higher end shoe, simply because it is not as high grade. However, for a shoe costing this much, you couldn't really ask for much more