Mazda has just announced that they have made available a special model that was designed specifically for the needs of student drivers and driving schools alike.
Called the Mazda Trainer, the vehicle is based on the small Mazda2 4-door sedan, and was developed to help get learner drivers familiarized with the basics of driving quickly, as well as to minimize fatigue (and stress, presumably) for driving instructors.
The Mazda2 is the ideal size for student drivers given its more manageable dimensions, seating position, low hood, and tight turning radius, but the Trainer comes with a variety of accessories and features not normally found on any series production automobile.
Externally, Mazda took the base model and installed student driver plates, a bumper pole for easier guidance for the driver, front window visors that are wider than normal, and a protector for the rear bumper. Perhaps the biggest change is the installation of a second pair of mirrors on the primary wing/side view mirrors. The primary mirrors will be adjuster to the student driver's point-of-view, while the auxiliary mirrors are for the driving instructor in the passenger seat. More importantly, Mazda put the mirrors on top so as not to extend the overall width of the car.
Mazda says the Mazda2 is already a good vehicle for learner drivers given the better organ-type accelerator pedal (as opposed to the suspended type), and Mazda even illuminated the footwell so the driver can see the pedals better.
The engine is the 1.5-liter gasoline SkyActiv, and it can come with either a 6-speed automatic or the 6-speed manual. In anticipation of “clutch” drivers that ride the third pedal and burn out discs, Mazda also installed a larger diameter clutch disc in the Mazda Trainer.
As with properly equipped training vehicles, the Mazda Trainer comes with a second rear view mirror as well as a second brake pedal on the instructor's side. It does not, however, come with a second steering wheel. If need be, the Trainer is outfitted with 6 airbags as standard... something we hope that students won't need to test.
The Mazda Trainer car is only available in Japan, but we think they should make it available worldwide as it could prove to be an invaluable tool for teaching new drivers.