Brooks Illusion £65

The Illusion is the best cushioned shoe in the Brooks line – and it’s remarkably light, too. This update certainly isn’t dramatic – the midsole and outsole are essentially the same as the previous model – but its upper is a vast improvement. Using a lighter, more breathable mesh, the new Illusion has the fit and feel of a flexible, fast shoe. It’s slightly heavier than the other Brooks lightweight gem – the Burn – but has better full-length cushioning. Weartesters who appreciate a cushy, flexible midsole were drawn to the Illusion’s ride. It isn’t especially stable, but it is very well cushioned thanks to the combination of Substance 257 and rearfoot and forefoot Hydroflow units. (Review of previous model follows:)

BROOKS ILLUSION
Weight 323g
Evaluation Like the Glycerin, the new Illusion replaces an existing shoe – the Radius – in the Brooks line. Most of the key features are retained, including rearfoot HydroFlow cushioning and a layer of Substance 257 (a more resilient EVA) in the rearfoot.
The most important difference between the Illusion and the Radius is simply the much better-fitting last. The Illusion is built on the same, new last as the Glycerin, which is less curved (and more comfortable) than the last that the Radius was built on. Weartesters who could wear a relatively light shoe were attracted to the Illusion’s very cushioned midsole and snug forefoot fit. Our view is that it’s worth trying on as a light, comfortable shoe (if you have narrow feet), but that it’s not ideal because it flexes in the midfoot rather than the forefoot.
In short The Illusion earns a place on the biomechanically neutral runner’s shortlist because it’s well-cushioned, light and built around a comfortable last. Ironically, the lightest runners would not be suited to it, because they would have to work too hard to make the forefoot flex properly.
Try it if you liked Brooks Radius 257 (£65); Asics Gel Cumulus (£64.99); Nike Air Pegasus (£60)