Mazda’s Game Changer

Recent news has been circulating about the new Mazda and Toyota joint production plant and what will be built there.  In a few news articles, Masamichi Kogai has been quoted saying Mazda will introduce a new and different type of CUV (crossover utility vehicle).

I have been thinking about that statement about a new and different type SUV. Looking in the marketplace, you have pretty much everything out there in size, shape, and quality.  I think there is something which is getting lost in the translation of this message.

My bet is it will be something totally new for Mazda.  

Back in 2015, Mazda showed off the Koeru concept which was hinting to future models of crossover SUVs.

Looking at the current styling and the concept cars Mazda has laid out at the Tokyo Auto Show with the Mazda 3 Kai concept this year.

The front end styling has been sharpened on this concept car, but it isn’t too far outside of what Mazda is currently offering. The changed roofline at the rear points is designed to maximize cargo space, but in a good-looking package.

I will go out on a limb and guess that Mazda is probably working on a new motor to power whatever the upcoming CUV is going to be.

The most powerful motor Mazda offers right now is the 2.5 Skyactiv turbo engine, which powers the Cx-9 and soon to be offered in the Mazda 6. This motor is based on the older Skyactiv tech though, and with Masamichi saying the new vehicle will something new, my guess is that we should expect to see another tech marvel being produced.

The last thought I have on this with Mazda is this:

If they’re coming out with something new, we may see a large-sized vehicle to go up against the truck-based SUVs from other manufacturers. It is a direction Mazda has not gone before and lines up with the statements they are giving us.

Time will tell!

-Derrick

Winterize – Dear Car Guy

Dear Car Guy,

It’s beginning to look a lot like WINTER, and for those of us who aren’t so lucky to have a daily driver, it’s time to start to winterize our Mazdas.

If you’re not one of those who put their Mazda baby to sleep for the long winter months, check out the tips below to best prepare for winter driving, and keeping yourself safe!

CHECK YOUR TIRES!

• Consider getting snow tires. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, swap out your regular tires for all-season tires or snow tires. Seems obvious, but snow tires have a softer rubber that allows them to retain flexibility in the coldest of weather. They also have specifically-designed tread pattern for gripping in ice and snow. They aren’t guaranteed to keep you from slipping and sliding in your car, but they help with better traction. (In winter, any extra help to keep us from losing control of our Mazdas)

• Check the tire pressure. If you’re not opting for winter tires, check your tires often and keep them properly inflated, however this is needed for all tire types. Cold weather changes the air pressure in your tires and causes it to drop (No, it’s not the local kids deflating your tires… I’ve fallen for that one before). Remember that properly inflated tires keep better contact with the road, and while you can’t always keep from slipping, you can do your best to have more connection to the pavement.

• Check the security of your mudflaps. Mudflaps can help keep road debris from killing your paint, be sure yours are securely installed on your ride for maximum protection. If you don’t have them yet, we can hook you up with a fresh set of mudflaps here.

CHECK YOUR FLUIDS AND ENGINE!

• Fill your wiper fluid and change out your blades. Remember that seeing the road is a requirement to staying on it! An ample supply of wiper fluid and new blades will give you a good line of sight in those nasty winter storms. Be sure to use the wiper fluid that has a lower freezing temperature. Otherwise, you’ll be trying to clear your windshield and failing.

• Get an oil change. For your Mazda’s engine to run, it needs the correct oil lubrication. Unfortunately, colder temperatures reduce the effectiveness of the oil. The colder it is outside, the thicker the oil gets. Thickened oil has trouble circulating through your engine, which means your engine doesn’t get appropriately lubricated during startup. Check the owner’s manual to see what oil is currently used in your Mazda, as well as, the recommended viscosity (thickness of the oil) level for different climates.

• Check your anti-freeze mixture. The ratio of your water to anti-freeze mixture should be 50:50 to prevent your radiator coolant from freezing. If you’re unsure, your local auto parts store should have a relatively cheap anti-freeze tester.

• Check your belts and hoses. Colder temperatures potentially weaken the belts and hoses. Look for signs of wear, and replace if needed. In the scenario that a belt snaps while you’re driving, you’ll have to wait for a tow truck, or that trusted buddy to get you out of the cold.

PROTECT YOUR CAR!

• Remove vulnerable exterior mods. Exterior modifications like front lips, custom wheels, and any other exterior bolt-ons that you cherish should be removed. The elements will take their toll on your car, even if it’s parked in the garage at night. From salt on the roads to new potholes you can’t see in the rain, keeping these beloved mods in the garage for the season will preserve your investment.

• Install floor mats. If you don’t already have floor mats in your ride, putting them in the front and back of the car will help keep your interior carpet pristine. Floor mats are easier to clean and can be removed to wash if the mud or snow gets too intense. Click here to check out our CS floor mats.

• Secure your Seat Covers. If you don’t have them, winter is the best time to use them! If you do, make sure that you have them securely installed. The wet from rain and snow isn’t great for the interior and seats. They’re also great for protecting your back and passenger seats from corners of boxes or crockpots of chili while carting presents and food from place to place.

PROTECT YOURSELF!

• Stock your car with emergency supplies. This is one that my dad never let me leave home without. Snacks, blankets, towels, waters, and emergency/first aid kit should be in your trunk during the winter seasons (if it’s not always in there). You never know where or when you might get stranded during winter, and if it’s for longer than expected being prepared is key! Also, the towel is great for kids, passengers, and pets who might be a little muddy or wet from the weather.

Note here from CorkSport: Keeping spare cash in your emergency kit can often help if you’re financially strapped and need to pay for a tow. It could save your butt one day (I know it has saved mine in emergencies!).

• Check your emergency supplies. Road flares, jumper cables, and first aid supplies should be checked for expiration and usability. Road flares do not always have expiration dates. However, the summer months with high heat can sometimes render them unusable (storage above 120 degrees for longer than a week should be avoided), as well as they could be expired if you got your kit for Christmas from Grandma a few years ago.

Whether you’re driving a Mazdaspeed 3, Mazdaspeed 6, or you’re riding around in a Mazda 3 or Mazda 6, we hope that you use our tips to keep yourself safer this winter!

We also sincerely hope that you’re not trying to weather any storms in a Miata or MX5… our Mazda enthusiasts are awesome, but that’s just a different level of crazy!

Anyone else have some good tips or tricks for winter driving in your Mazda or Mazdaspeed?

Share your thoughts or tips in the comments; I am sure we could all use them!

Wishing you safety, warmth, and clear weather this winter!

Cheers,
Kim@CorkSport

 

Kill The Nannies

Nannies. One thing we have discovered while racing our Mazda 3 is that the OEM safety systems in the newest generation of Mazda 3 work well, too well in fact for racing.

Each year, new safety features are added by Mazda which make the cars safer and reduces the risk of collisions. This is great for day to day driving and commuting, but it presents a problem if you plan to take your car to the track to race it.

The OEM system in the car really frowns on lifting a rear tire off the ground, or when you get wheel spin accelerating out of a slow speed corner. They design the cars against these things happening for safety purposes (understandably). However, Mazda does give you a button on your dash to turn off the traction control. This gets us racers around the limitations to a certain degree.

Let me explain:

When you disengage traction control, the system which measures yaw/pitch and ensures your car has all the wheels on the ground is actually still working, even with the button off. What the button does essentially is give you a sort of leash with more leeway, until the computer thinks you have gone too far of course, then it will kick in traction control again.

So, how do we get past these nanny systems so we can push our cars for maximum performance?

Can you simply unplug the computer which controls the this? I wish it were that simple, but you cannot. The systems in the car are all tied to each other, and the car may not start, it may not run safely, or it may run in a limp mode. A good example of this in our 2015 Mazda3 is: if you unplug the rear view mirror the car won’t start. The ABS is also controlled by the same unit, and this is very handy to have on the track.  The ABS is very good in the Mazda3 by the way, so I recommend you keep it.

The solution we’ve come up with at CorkSport is pretty simple: Leave the computer plugged in and turn it over.

That’s it, simple, nothing else is required. What happens when you turn the computer upside down is the computer loses its physical reference point, so it defaults by turning off the stability control and nannies, but most-importantly, the ABS still functions.

A big word of caution: The computer which controls the nannies also runs the airbags. If you race your car on the track, the airbags will have been removed from your car already. DO NOT drive your airbag-equipped car with the module flipped over.

The reason this solution works for the track is that our Mazda 3 race car has additional safety equipment installed, with the 6-point harness and halo seat, along with the rest of the driver’s safety gear, that keep you from injury in the event of any wrecks.

FYI: When using this “hack”, your Mazda 3 dashboard will light up like a Christmas tree from all of the warnings; but that is a small price to pay for the improved performance while racing.

–Derrick

DISCLAIMER: This modification is for racing purposes ONLY. Doing so will render many of your car’s safety systems ineffective. Installing other safety systems after this modification is essential.

 

FACEOFF: 2018 Mazda 3 Touring vs 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport

As a car guy, I can appreciate any newly-released automobile despite my individual taste and opinions. I believe every car has its own style, character, and soul, and should be given a chance to win you over.

With that being said, let’s compare the style, character, and soul of two different cars that have found a way into my life this year and see how they measure up against each other.

In one corner of the ring, we have a 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport trim, equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. In the other corner I have a 2018 Mazda 3 Hatchback Touring trim, equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

I realize these two cars don’t provide a perfect “apples-to-apples” comparison, but I think the differences will make for an interesting comparison, so let’s roll with it.

Exterior Overview:

Walking up to the Civic Hatchback Sport gives me a rush of being a teenager with a new car, as if I was 17 and my dad just gave me the keys to his coveted R34 GTR (maybe that’s pushing it, but you get the idea).

There’s an overwhelming urge to jump in and fast-track the chiseled 4-door to the nearest curvy canyon back road; not to return till the E light brings me back to my senses.  

The hard lines, pronounced fenders, and smooth roofline from hood to end of the hatch tell you that the civic hatchback is here to party, but then there’s more.  Bump it up to the Sport Trim to add a little attitude with the piano black finishes, grill, hatch spoiler, and matching front/rear lips and side skirts.

Now that I’ve had my teenage fun, it’s time to throw on the button-up and head into town for an eventful evening… with the Mazda 3.

The Mazda3 gives me a different feeling than the Civic: the more refined and sophisticated appreciation of being a car guy. I walk up to the Mazda 3 Hatchback smiling; wondering which German exotic I’ll be mistaken for today and knowing that I can enjoy cruising the strip just as much as the autocross course at the local track.

The body lines of the Mazda 3 emphasize the beauty of simplicity: long defining curves, with just a bit of a sharp edge, follow the natural shape of the hatchback from front to rear. The curves tie-in with the front and rear fenders, headlights, and the hood line providing a fluid motion style.

The 3rd Gen Mazda 3 Hatchback does not immediately scream “speed”, but it does whisper “sweet nothings” in your ear. What more could you ask for? However, if you are looking for a little more of an aggressive look, then opt-in for the piano black lip and side skirt kit available from Mazda.

Interior Overview:

Now that we have made it past the sleek curves of the Mazda3, let’s take a seat inside to get a little more up-close and personal.

The first impression of the Mazda3 Touring Model interior is great, to say the least. Strapping in, the black leather seat is plush and supportive with functional but conservative side bolstering. The brushed nickel style accents are purposeful and not overwhelming in the steering wheel, dash, doors, and center console, with the all-black interior broken up with tasteful chocolate/maroon leather in the door panels and center console. Lastly, the beautifully simple exterior curves are brought into the cabin from the door panels and up through the dash. If there wasn’t a large chrome “M” on the steering wheel, I might begin to mistake the Mazda 3 for a more exotic automobile.

Back to the Honda Civic and its more aggressive visual language.

That same language carries into the interior, but in a less-refined manner than the Mazda 3 provides. The Civic’s interior is full of sharp edges, much like the body, and some touches of brushed nickel and carbon fiber print to give it a sporty feel. The seats follow a more functional style with the sports-inspired cloth material, carbon print inlay, and conservative side bolstering. They do the job in creating a sporty look, but leave something to be desired in terms of higher-end quality.

Power:

Both platforms have two engine options, both of which are a naturally-aspirated 2.0L 4-cylinder, producing around 155 hp each. Lucky for me, neither the Honda Civic nor the Mazda 3 have those lowly-base model engines.

The Honda Civic Hatchback Sport comes equipped, standard, with the turbocharged 1.5L 4-cyl, putting down an impressive 180 hp and 177 lb-ft, according to Honda. Most inspiring of all is the spirited 1.5’s ability to produce the torque from a meager 2000 rpm and carry it to 5000 rpm before beginning to fall off. Pair this with the slick 6-speed manual gearbox, and a curb weight of just 2868 lb, and you have a very fun daily driver.

Jumping back in the Mazda 3 Hatchback, we have the 2.5L Sky-Activ G 4-cylinder laying down 184 hp and 185 lb-ft, according to Mazda. The naturally-aspirated 2.5 provides alert throttle response and power that continues to build through the RPM range. The peppy feel of the hatchback could be improved a bit if you opted for the 6-speed manual transmission, unfortunately the automatic takes away from the responsiveness a bit. With similar power, the Mazda Hatchback comes in with a curb weight of 3098 lb for the AT, and 3046 lb for the MT.

Looking at the dynographs, you may notice an issue:

Honda’s claimed crank horsepower and torque match our measured wheel horsepower and torque. Did Honda sandbag their numbers? I can neither confirm nor deny, but we are not the only ones to see this in testing. The Mazda 3 dynograph shows a more typical drop in power and torque to the wheels, as the drivetrain does have some parasitic losses that rob power.

Honda vs Mazda Dynograph  |  Red = HondaGreen = Mazda

Handling:

Enough about the style and looks, let’s dive into how do these automobiles drive.

Looking at the chassis and suspension, both the Civic and Mazda3 have a 106.3 in wheelbase, 18 in alloy wheels, MacPherson struts up front and multi-link suspension for the rear. Other than the curb weight, we have two very similar vehicles. However, we really start to see differences in the driving experience.  

Tossing the Hatchback Sport around corners feels almost effortless; the 5-door is nimble on its feet and eager to respond to every input. The steering is light, bordering on almost numb feeling, but does not show any sign of wandering with inputs. The chassis likes to move around, whether diving into a corner or with body roll through a corner. Despite the moving body, the Civic is predictable and confidence-inspiring. It wants you to rip around low-speed corners with a smile on your face.

Daily driving the Hatchback Sport is also a pleasurable experience; the suspension is not too harsh, perhaps more on the soft side, providing an easy and no-jarring cruise along the interstate. Looking at the lineup Honda has for the Civic this makes sense. The Sport Hatchback stays under the “sport” level of the Civic SI, and if you really want a canyon and track toy, you opt for the Civic Type-R. I do have one major complaint about this model: the clutch engagement is really… disappointing. Tighten this up, and provide a bit more feedback and you can have a real winner.  

Now, how does the Mazda 3 hatch stack up against the Honda?

Driving the Mazda 3 again inspires confidence with it’s tidy and playful response to steering inputs, however the steering feels a bit heavier than that of the Civic. The steering provides a bit more feedback and a desired amount of effort; it reminds you that you are driving a full size car instead of a go-kart. The Mazda3 really comes alive through the corners, and you begin to understand why the ride quality has just a bit of stiffness for a daily commuter. The “3” dives into corners with great steadiness, then plants and pulls through the apex. However, the extra 230 lb can be felt, as the car just feels like it’s trying to move more weight around vs the Civic.

For the daily routine, the Mazda 3 hatchback is a joy to drive through the city or on road trips. The slightly-stiff suspension reminds you that the Mazda is willing at any moment to kick it down a gear and have fun, but is still refined enough to sit back and relax. The only criticism I can really comment on is that it feels like the Mazda 3 is really trying to be a “jack of all trades”, unlike the Civic Hatchback Sport.  Perhaps, if Mazda brought back the Mazdaspeed or equivalent to the lineup, they would be able to offer more specific performance setups for customers to truly choose what they want, leaving the base Mazda 3 to be a little softer.

Coming back to my earlier sentiment: every car has a style, character, and soul that should be given a chance to be appreciated by any gearhead. Both the Honda Civic and the Mazda 3 have loads of each and love to show it.

When faced with the decision to choose between the two, it’s a difficult choice.

I’m a performance-oriented car guy and I love the fact that the Honda now has a turbo engine in the line-up, so that’s a huge selling factor for me, as well as the boy-racer in me who jumps to put pedal-to-floor every time I look at it. The Mazda 3 Hatch reminds me that I could have my cake and eat most of it too.  The exterior is still edgy enough to keep me hooked as a speed-fiend, and the interior is just great, far above what you would expect at the $20k to $23k price point.

Pricing: Honda = $21300  |  Mazda = $21890

SPECIFICATIONS
  2017 Honda Civic
Hatchback Sport
2018 Mazda 3
Hatchback Touring
Vehicle Type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
POWERTRAIN:
Engine Type: turbocharged & intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block & head, direct fuel injection naturally aspirated DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block & head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 91 cu-in, 1497 cc 151 cu-in, 2488 cc
Manufacturer Claimed Power: 180 hp @ 5500 rpm 184 hp @ 5400 rpm
Manufacturer Claimed Torque: 177 lb-ft @ 1900 rpm 185 lb-ft @ 3250 rpm
Chassis-Dyno Recorded Power: 180 hp @ 5750 rpm 160 hp @ 5900 rpm
Chassis-Dyno Recorded Torque: 180 lb-ft @ 3100 rpm 175 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
CHASSIS:
Transmission Type: manual, 6-speed automatic, 6-speed w/manual shift & sport mode
First Gear: 3.643 3.552
Fourth Gear: 1.024 1.000
Final Drive Ratio: 4.105 3.389
CHASSIS:
Wheelbase: 106.3 in 106.3 in
Curb Weight: 2871 lbs 3100 lbs
Front Suspension: MacPherson strut
w/stabilizer bar
MacPherson strut
w/stabilizer bar
Rear Suspension: multilink
w/stabilizer bar
multilink
w/stabilizer bar
Steering Ratio: 10.93:1 14:1
Brakes F/R: 11.1 in / 10.2 in 11.61 in / 10.43 in
EPA-ESTIMATED FUEL ECONOMY:
Fuel Type: Regular Unleaded Regular Unleaded
City: 30 25
Highway: 39 34

To make a long story short, you can accomplish many of the same goals with both candidates, but in two very different ways.

So, whether it’s the brand, the trim, or the balance of style and performance, ask yourself: which one speaks to you?

Let us know in the comments!

-Barett, CorkSport Engineering

2018 Mazda 3 CBR – Transmission Modes Comparison

If you didn’t know already, CorkSport recently bought a brand new 2018 Mazda 3 Hatchback Touring Modelwith an automatic transmission.

Yes, I know, a performance aftermarket parts company has an automatic; I’m right there with you, but there’s a good reason for it.  CorkSport has a couple Mazda3 6-Speed Manuals and a couple manual and automatic Mazda 6’s, but no automatic Mazda 3; so it made sense to add that to the garage, especially with the many new performance parts we have in the pipe line.  Check those out here.

Now back to the CorkSport’s new 2018 Mazda 3.

The 6-speed automatic comes equipped with three transmission control modes; Standard (default), Sport, and Manual (aka manumatic).

We became curious about how those three modes affected the driving experience, specifically the shift points. I believe we all understand how the Manual control mode works, as it provides nearly 100% control of the shift points, so for the comparison I am going to focus on the differences between the Standard and Sport modes since those are controlled by the ECU.  

Driving the car on the street, you can easily feel the difference between the Standard and Sport modes of the Mazda3.

The Standard mode feels soft, relaxed, and maybe even lazy between shifts. It seems to default to the highest gear (lowest engine RPM) possible in every driving situation. This is great for fuel economy, but disappointing for smiles-per-gallon.  Push the Sport toggle, and the car comes alive.  The engine pulls through the RPM range longer for each gear and seems more eager to accelerate with the slightest throttle input. MUCH better.

The Butt Dyno is great and all, but it’s subjective, so we decided to strap the car down on the dyno to see what is happening; what exactly is changing between the Standard and Sport modes with the CorkSport 2018 Mazda3.

On the dyno, things become much clearer, but first, we had to set up the dyno to provide us with useful information. Typically we are testing wheel Torque and Horsepower, not shift points. It was interesting to play with the various parameters the dyno has available to find a readout that would convey the shift points and the effort the car was exerting. Check out the graph below; this is not your typical dyno plot.

With this dyno plot we quickly see that is much different than the typical readout.  I’m going to break it down, so it’s clear and easy for you to understand what is going on.

Description: Standard Mode = Red, Sport Mode = Green

The horizontal axis is our independent variable in the test. This is the variable/parameter we can control directly in the test. Since we are trying to understand the difference in shift points between the Standard and Sport modes, Road Speed was the logical choice. To be consistent, the throttle input percent for both Standard and Sport modes was held constant throughout the test runs.

The two vertical axis’s are the dependent variables in the test; these are the parameters that depend on engine RPM. On the right side of the dyno plot, we have engine RPM; this is represented by the lines with dots. On the left side of the dyno plot, we have tractive effort, which is essentially the amount of force the tires are applying to the road surface.

Looking at the two graphs, it’s clear that the Sport mode shift points and tractive effort are much different than Standard mode. This is interesting because we can now visualize what we were feeling while driving the Mazda 3 Hatchback on the street.

In Sport mode, the car carries through the engine RPM longer, and the resulting RPM after each shift is also higher.  Because each gear is carried to a higher RPM the resulting power is much greater, which is shown with the tractive effort plots.

Finishing statement: Sport mode significantly changes the way the car drives and responds. If you are looking for some fun out in the curves, don’t be shy, hit that Sport toggle and let the Mazda do what it was designed to do best.

Happy driving!

-Barett @ CS