Fuzzy Cognitive Maps (FCMs) are considered a soft computing technique combining elements of fuzzy logic and recurrent neural networks. They found multiple application in such domains as modeling of system behavior, prediction of time series, decision making and process control. Less attention, however, has been turned towards using them in pattern classification. In this work we propose an FCM based classifier with a fully connected map structure. In contrast to methods that expect reaching a steady system state during reasoning, we chose to execute a few FCM iterations (steps) before collecting output labels. Weights were learned with a gradient algorithm and logloss or cross-entropy were used as the cost function. Our primary goal was to verify, whether such design would result in a descent general purpose classifier, with performance comparable to off the shelf classical methods. As the preliminary results were promising, we investigated the hypothesis that the performance of $d$-step classifier can be attributed to a fact that in previous $d-1$ steps it transforms the feature space by grouping observations belonging to a given class, so that they became more compact and separable. To verify this hypothesis we calculated three clustering scores for the transformed feature space. We also evaluated performance of pipelines built from FCM-based data transformer followed by a classification algorithm. The standard statistical analyzes confirmed both the performance of FCM based classifier and its capability to improve data. The supporting prototype software was implemented in Python using TensorFlow library.