What happens when Saucony applies principles of minimalism to a shoe that ain’t so minimal? The world is about to find out this Summer with the introduction of the Saucony PowerGrid Cortana. Saucony clearly understands minimalism, when it is defined by the “less is more” concept and small heel-toe drops. The Saucony Kinvara is a perfect example of this philosophy. With its light weight, simple upper and 4mm heel-toe drop, the Kinvara was the right product at the right time. Sales have been terrific and the shoe has received rave reviews. Saucony has decided to strike while the iron is hot and fill in available market niches with other low heel-toe drop shoes as evidenced by the upcoming Mirage (4mm heel-toe drop), which is basically a slightly supportive Kinvara and the Hattori (zero drop), which gets you close to being barefoot.
The new Cortana applies the 4mm heel-toe drop and light weight concept from the Kinvara, to the high-end, max feature, all the bells and whistles category of trainers. It starts with a new midsole composition and features PowerGrid with PowerFoam, an injected molded, lighter and more responsive midsole than the SSL-EVA and ProGrid package that you’ll find in other Saucony models, such as the Triumph and Hurricane. The Cortana also differs from the the other Saucony 4mm drop shoes by providing an additional SRC cushioning unit in the landing area of the heel that ties this shoe in with the more traditional shoes in the Saucony line. Sauc-fit: replaces arch lock and improves midfoot and heel fit of the upper. The outsole/midsole features a fairly built up area beneath the medial arch that looks to add pronation control to the shoe. However, Saucony labels the Cortana as Supportive Cushioning, which means it is likely to be best suited for neutral runners or slight over-pronators. The jury is still out on this, but we think it will likely be better for mild to moderate over-pronators.
The PowerGrid Cortana has a predicted weight under 11 oz in a men’s size 9.0 and is scheduled to arrive at Running Warehouse in July 2011 with a full retail price of $135. Although not first to market, the Zoot Kane and Kalani are maximum featured shoes under 11. oz, the Cortana does add a new twist to the premium class of shoes by not only being light weight, but also having a low heel-toe drop. Will it be a success? Only time will tell, but if it feels anything like the Kinvara then Saucony is about to turn the industry on its ear.