CorkSport CST4 vs. OEM K04

For the last four years, we’ve been asked countless times if the CST4 is a direct replacement for the OEM K04. With the number of cars experiencing their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th owner, this question is being asked more frequently.  While CorkSport’s intent is to freely share information across the Mazda community, we cannot be everywhere all at once, and we will most likely miss the exact moment the debate explodes on your favorite Facebook page. For that reason…

Today, we’re setting the record straight: The CST4 is a drop-in UPGRADE from the ground up, and by no means is it an apples to apples comparison with the asthmatic K04.

How Does It Work?

Before we dive into the dirty details, let’s go over how a turbo works. A turbo is comprised of three major sections: the turbine, the center housing rotating assembly (CHRA), and the compressor. The compressor brings in clean air, and as the name implies, compresses the air before sending it through the CHRA and into the cylinder intake. With extra air in the cylinder, the engine is able to burn fuel at a faster rate. This process creates exhaust, which leaves the cylinder and is sent past the turbine, causing the turbine to spin. The turbine and the compressor are placed on the same shaft, such that when the turbine spins, the compressor will also spin. By burning fuel at a quicker rate, we are able to create more power in the engine, which eventually finds its way down to your tires, propelling you forward. If you’re craving more details on how turbos work, make sure to check out our white paper on the CST4. Now let’s get back to what this means for the CST4 and K04.

CST4

Is The CST4 Reliable?

The CST4 continues to prove itself as one of the best bolt-on options coupled with the needed reliability to withstand the additional demands of chasing 400 WHP  – something the KO4 cannot accomplish. This is due to an upgraded center housing rotating assembly (CHRA) which has a larger center shaft and larger bearings than the OEM turbo. The CorkSport turbo also sports a performance journal bearing with a full 360° thrust collar, which is what allows the turbine shaft and compressor to spin freely. The OEM K04 turbo comes standard with a limited 270° thrust collar.

Does The CST4 Have Increased Airflow Over The K04?

CST4 and K04 compressor comparison

Next comes wheels, which is where the CST4 really shines. Shown in the image above, we have the CST4 on the left and the OEM K04 on the right. The CST4 is 12% larger on the compressor inducer, and 21% larger on the exducer than the OEM K04. Combined with the use of a taller wheel (green line), every revolution of the CST4 not only brings in a greater quantity of air into the compressor, but has a higher airflow capacity, thus moving a greater volume of air. For those of you that need a few more key specific numbers; The OEM K04 uses a 45mm inducer; 56.25mm exducer cast compressor wheel, while the CST4 uses a 50.5mm inducer and 68.1mm exducer forged billet compressor wheel.

On the turbine side, the OEM K04 uses a 50.1mm inducer and a 44.5mm exducer 12-blade cast wheel. The CST4 uses a 56.2mm inducer and 49mm exducer high-flow 9-blade design. Again, the CST4 outshines the K04 with the turbine inducer being 12% larger and the exducer 10% larger. The 9-blade design has two key benefits: more peak exhaust flow as there is less material in the way of flow, and 21% lighter for a faster spool time.

CST4 Side View

The final component is the compressor and turbine housings. The K04 uses restrictive housings that cannot keep up at higher RPMs, and especially at higher boost levels. You can feel this as your stock turbo “runs out of steam” up above ~5200RPM. The CST4 housings may fit exactly in the OEM locations and use the OEM hook up points but that is where the similarities end.

Both the compressor and turbine housings were increased in size, increased in A/R, and optimized for the stock inlet and outlet sizes to provide better top end capabilities. The compressor ended up at a 0.53 A/R while the turbine ended up at a 0.66 A/R. This combo of housing and wheels keeps power all the way to redline, and in initial testing showed a 50WHP gain at the same boost pressure.

How Much Power Does The CST4 Make?

So what does all of this mean in terms of power? We’ve seen the OEM K04 pushed way out of its comfort zone and make in the 350-360WHP range with the right supporting mods. This is far out of the efficiency range of the little K04, and it’s a ticking time bomb when running at this power level. The CST4, on the other hand, is perfectly happy running in the 400WHP range all day, again, with the right supporting mods. We’ve even seen it pushed to its limit in the 450-460 range.

For those of you more interested in boost pressures, the K04 can hit a max of ~24-25psi in the midrange before it’s out of its efficiency range and starts producing just heat.  At redline, the K04 is typically at a max of about 17-18psi. What you feel as your car seems to stop accelerating after ~5200RPM on the stock turbo. The CST4 does a lot better, hitting a max of ~29-30psi in the midrange but carries the high pressure into higher RPMs, with peak boost pressure at redline of ~26-27psi. This keeps you pushed into your seat with a smile on your face!

CST4 Mounting Point

How Quickly Does The CST4 Spool?

We get a lot of questions on how fast this turbo spools, so let’s take a moment to discuss both. The OEM K04 spools very quickly since its housings and wheels are so small. If tuned incorrectly it can spool almost instantly and kill blocks with an extremely low-RPM torque spike. The CST4 also spools quick, making full boost by approximately 3300RPM on most cars. The big difference is that the CST4 carries power out to redline instead of falling off as the K04 does. To be clear, you still have to be careful with the CST4 as it too can kill a stock block with too aggressive of a tune.

Is The CST4 A Drop-In?

So bringing things full circle, the “drop-in” aspect of the CST4 means you can run it with almost no other supporting parts, only a HPFP upgrade, access port, and a tune are required. It also means that it hooks up directly to the OEM inlet and outlet flanges so that there is no excessive modification required to make the turbo fit. We even include new studs, lock nuts, gaskets, a custom upper coolant line, new coolant and oil crush washers, and the correct oil feed banjo bolt so there is no hassle of finding replacement hardware, gaskets, or lines to make your turbo function. We do strongly recommend picking up a CorkSport EBCS to best control boost on your CST4. We have also found that the stock intake size will be maxed out at around 18-19psi on the CST4. To get more power from there, a 3 inch or 3.5-inch intake will be needed.

By no means is the CST4 a K04 though as it’s larger and has much higher horsepower capabilities. For those of you more familiar with Garett turbos, the CST4 is just a smidge bigger than a GTX2867.

If you want even more info on what makes the CST4 tick be sure to check out the white paper on the subject HERE. As a final afterthought, remember that the CST4 is getting an EWG housing option in the coming months, for added features (and noise!) that just don’t come with the K04. Stay tuned for that, and be sure to ask any questions you may have.

Testing – CorkSport External Wastegate Housing for Mazdaspeed

Turbo EWG

Why EWG?  (it’s just about awesome turbo noises)

We hear this alot as the Mazdaspeed platform continues to grow and the 450-500whp build becomes the status quo. Following up the EWG Housing Design & Details Blog about the new CorkSport EWG Housing, we want to share some testing data and differences we saw between an IWG (internal wastegate) and EWG (external wastegate) setups.  

Details about design, flow, placement, data, and feedback from our CST4 EWG Beta Tester.  

IWG vs EWG comparison on the CST4
IWG vs. EWG on the CST4

Let’s jump right in!  First up is a spring pressure comparison between the IWG and EWG housing on a CST4 turbocharger.  Let’s first define what “spring” pressure is: this is the resulting boost pressure with 0 added wastegate duty cycle.  AKA we are not trying to add boost pressure.

Immediately you can see some very obvious differences.   The IWG setup has a taper up boost curve that could be considered boost creep.  Some boost creep is ok, but an excessive amount may reach the capacity of the fuel system or other systems in the vehicle.  In this setup that is not the case, but it does show that the IWG is at its limits for boost control.

With the EWG setup you see a much different curve.  The boost builds a few hundred RPM later (due to the larger 0.82 A/R) then climbs right to the spring pressure and then settles to a consistent plateau; very predictable and controllable.  

CAD EWG and IWG Designs
CorkSport EWG and IWG Designs

Now let’s look at the design to better understand why.  On the left is the EWG turbine housing with a 0.82 A/R and on the right is the IWG turbine housing also with a 0.82 A/R (we don’t want the A/R to be a factor in this review).   

The EWG housing has a very efficient flow path for the exhaust gas to reach the EWG control valve along with a much larger path to flow.  Both of these features provide excellent flow and thus control of boost pressure.

The IWG housing uses a side port in the turbine scroll to exhaust gas.  In this setup, the exhaust gas must make an abrupt turn and pass through a much smaller port.  Both of these issues reduce boost control.

EWG and IWG Explained

Here is a diagram showing placement of an EWG in the exhaust pre-turbine.  Granted we are comparing a EWG and IWG, but the concept of flow is the same.  

Exhaust gases will always take the path of least resistance and if the turbine wheel is the easier path than the wastegate then boost control will be more difficult.  

Internal and External Wastegate performance chart
(Left) Internal Wastegate Setup | Common Issues
(Right) External Wastegate Setup | Optimized Setup
Click to Expand

This graph was shown in the last blog, but we want to show it again so you can directly compare it to the data graph below.  

Below is the boost curves for the CST5 in both IWG and EWG setup.  Alone each graph actually looks really good, but when overlaid you can see some interesting differences.  

CST5 Dyno testing with IWG and EQG setup

IWG vs. EWG on the CST5

The purple IWG graph has a crisp spool and then flat-lines at approximately 30psi with a slight fall off at 6500rpm.  The CST5 IWG setup does control boost really well, but holding the turbo back at spool up and not over-boosting or spiking was a small challenge.  An abrupt boost curve like this can make the car somewhat difficult to drive because the torque “hits” very hard and you lose traction.

The EWG setup was a bit more controllable.  Not only did the CST5 turbo spool a bit sooner, but we were able to better control the spool up boost curve so we could create a torque curve that was more friendly to the FWD traction.  This makes the car more fun to drive. Looking at the higher RPM range we were also able to hold boost more consistently to 7500rpm.

CorkSport External Wastegate

We hope you guys and gals are as excited for the EWG options for the CST4, CST5 and CST6.  They really are an awesome setup for any driving style and power goal.  

Thanks for tuning in with CorkSport Performance.

-Barett @ CorkSport

The CorkSport CST5 is HERE!

We are happy to release the new “medium big” brother to the tried and true CST4, the new CorkSport CST5 Turbocharger for the DISI MZR engine found in the Mazdaspeed 3, Mazdaspeed 6, and Mazda CX-7 Turbo. Finding a middle ground between response and top end power is always difficult when selecting a turbo, yet we believe we have nailed it with the CST5. You get the response of a smaller turbocharger yet retain high horsepower capabilities of a big turbo.

CorkSport CST5 Turbo Front
CST5

Before we get into power, let’s first discuss what makes the CST5 tick. It’s all started with a proven MHI journal bearing center section. These offer great cooling capabilities and fantastic reliability, especially when combined with our high performance journal bearings and 360° high performance thrust bearing. The CST5 can seriously take a beating, and does it in a package that fits perfect in the OEM location.

CST5 Billet Compressor
CST5 Billet Compressor

Attached to this center section is a compressor and turbine wheel combo that is a little unconventional. Creating boost is a tried and true GTX71 billet compressor wheel that is rated at 56lb/min. The turbine that drives the CST5 is where things get a little interesting. Instead of a standard GT30 10 blade wheel, we chose a MHI TF06 9 blade design. This offers a number of benefits that make the CST5 outshine a comparable 3071 setup. One less blade means lighter weight for faster spool times and higher maximum flow capacity. The TF06 design is also slightly larger than a GT30, yielding a better wheel size ratio for more efficient turbocharger and engine function. For full info on the wheels and what they mean for your Mazdaspeed, check out our design blog HERE.

CST5 Turbine
CST5 Turbine

The new wheels are wrapped in new housings. On the compressor side, there is a 4” inlet that includes anti-surge ports for optimum compressor operation and longevity. This large size also maximizes efficiency for 3.5” and 4” intakes. The turbine side is where there are the most differences from the CST4. The A/R has been increased from 0.66 to 0.82 which provides more top end power to match the rest of its big turbo characteristics.

CST5 Internal Wastgate
CST5 Internal Wastegate

Now, what does all of this tech mean for you and your car? If you have a stock block you can easily max out power (~400WHP) and stay safe on your rods. Due to the bigger size, the CST5 peak torque is slightly later than the CST4, keeping you safer even before tuning is considered. Having a built block is where things really get interesting. The CST5 will make~450WHP all day on a “calm” boost level of 25-26psi. If you really want to push it though, the CST5 has made ~520WHP on ~30-31psi. This versatility allows the turbo to grow with your build. So even if you are stock block now, the CST5 can carry you even after you build your block.

The wheel and housing options delivers great response as well as great power. When pushed to its limits on a built block, 20psi was hit at 3400-3500RPM with 30psi hitting by a surprising 3700-3800RPM. Obviously this isn’t stable for a stock block but is possible on fully built cars with full bolt-ons and a high flowing head.

CST5 Dynograph Comparison
CST5 Internal Wastegate vs. External Wastegate

The versatility continues as the CST5 is offered with internal wastegate or external wastegate turbine housing options. The internal wastegate setup is the best if you want an easy drop-in fitment with great boost control. The external wastegate setup if you’re willing to take a little bit more time for fitment and spend a little bit more money on the external wastegate itself for the best in boost control. The EWG setup offers some great new sounds from a screamer pipe as well. As for power, they are very comparable, as shown in the graph above. The EWG setup makes just a tiny bit more up at the peak, but that is likely due to small variances in tuning. While only the IWG setup is offered at the time of writing, the EWG is coming very soon! Lastly, if you must have a CST5 now, don’t worry, the EWG housing will be sold separately if you want to upgrade down the road.

Both the IWG and EWG options come with a full hardware kit that includes everything you need for install. This means all coolant/oil lines, new gaskets, new crush washers, and even new studs and crimp nuts for both the turbine and downpipe flanges. The EWG setup includes a custom designed elbow for great EWG actuator fitment on MS3 and MS6, and the correct clamp to attach it to the housing. More info to come later on an add-on screamer pipe option.

CST5 Included Hardware Kit

CST5 Hardware Kit – Included!

Each CST5 also comes with full CorkSport support, including full-color install instructions, a 1-year warranty, and assistance with any questions you may have. We are extremely excited for you all to get your hands on the CST5 and start making even more power so please check out the product listing for full details and to place to order.

Shop Now

CorkSport External Wastegate Housings: Design and Product Details

During our development of the new CST6, it became clear that an external wastegate (EWG) would be the only option for optimum performance and boost control — Read about the CST6 design here. Since we were already developing a housing for this turbo, we just HAD to make similar options for both the tried and true CST4 and the upcoming CST5. In today’s blog we will cover what makes the new CorkSport EWG Housings tick and go through how the systems are different from a typical internal wastegate (IWG)setup.

CorkSport External Wastegate for Mazdaspeed
Mazdaspeed External Wastegate Housing.

How The CorkSport EWG Housing Works

Starting with the basics, the CorkSport EWG housings replace the turbine or “hot” side of your CST4 or CST5 turbocharger. The CS housings eliminate the small “flapper valve” of the internal wastegate with a path to a standalone wastegate actuator. While the housings will not come with the actuator itself, they will include everything you need to mount up a Tial 44mm (or equivalent) EWG, with the option to grab a screamer pipe to go with it.

CorkSport MazdaSpeed3 external wastegate
Mazdaspeed 3 external wastegate.

EWG Housing Placement

The placement of an external wastegate is very important for proper boost control. We chose the location of it carefully as the offshoot from the scroll of the turbine provides an optimum path into the wastegate. As shown in the diagram below, a shallow angle into the wastegate offers the best exhaust flow path which results in optimum boost control.

Wastegate Placement Diagram
Mazdaspeed wastegate placement diagram.
Click to Expand

A Properly Sized Wastegate

Sizing is also important for boost control. Too large of a wastegate is hard to fit on the car and can be difficult to control boost as it does not need to open much to flow a lot of volume. Too small of a wastegate can cause over boosting from a lack of flow. For most Mazdaspeed applications, 38mm and 44mm sized wastegates are most commonly used. We chose the 44mm option for its better usability on the street. Since a street car is not using the turbocharger at peak efficiency 24/7 and is usually at a relatively low boost level, the larger 44mm wastegate will more effectively vent the excess exhaust gases.

EWG Tial for Mazdaspeed 6
External Wastegate Tial for Mazdaspeed 6.

Choosing An Internal or An External Waste Gate

Now on to a big question: why an external setup over and internal setup? While they both have their pros and cons, the biggest answer is better boost control. In general, an external wastegate setup will control boost more accurately and respond quicker to changes in boost than an internal one. While the CST4 and CST5 have been optimized to work with IWG, an EWG setup will almost always have better boost control. It should be noted that, generally speaking, an EWG will have higher peak power capabilities. First, back pressure in the exhaust system is reduced due to the removal of the exhaust gas that would usually cause turbulence as it exited the IWG right near the turbine exit. Second, an IWG setup can reach a limit in flow where literally no more gas can flow through the turbine & IWG port. Most EWG setups do not have this problem as the EWG port can be larger & the wastegate gases do not have to exit in the same location as the turbine gases.

Check out the diagram below, as it illustrates a common problem with internal wastegate setups. A boost spike as desired pressure is achieved then inconsistent boost as RPM increases. External setups (right diagram) typically do not have either of these issues and can achieve a near flat boost curve.

Internal and External Wastegate performance chart
(Left) Internal Wastegate Setup | Common Issues
(Right) External Wastegate Setup | Optimized Setup
Click to Expand

The CorkSport External Wastegate Design

Moving to an EWG design allowed us to tweak the design of the housing itself. The CorkSport external wastegate housings all use a ~0.82 A/R. This number is a ratio that is determined by the geometry of the scroll. I won’t go too much into it, but for more info be sure to check out Barett’s turbocharger white paper here. This is larger than the CorkSport internal wastegate setups. Essentially, the increase means you may sacrifice a little bit of spool time but gain peak power capabilities at high RPM.

In addition, the volume of the scroll itself was increased. This is referred to as “swallowing capacity”. By increasing this volume, the turbine housing will be able to air more efficiently at peak, again increasing your max power potential. This is especially important when you have a high flowing ported head or an upgraded exhaust manifold. Check out the CAD models below, you can really see the difference in the scroll size.

CorkSport Turbine Housing
CorkSport Turbine Housing for Mazdaspeed 3.

I almost forgot the best part! An external wastegate setup gives you the option to run a screamer pipe which sounds amazing while under boost. While screamer pipes are sold for race use only, they add far more excitement to a wide open throttle pull! Stay tuned for more, next time we will be sharing testing information & some more teaser shots.

-Daniel @ CorkSport

New & Improved: The CorkSport Aluminum Skid Plates for Mazdaspeed 3

CorkSport Aluminum Skid Plate
CorkSport Aluminum Skid Plate

Aluminum Skid Plates for 2008-2013 Mazdaspeed 3 and 2004-2013 Mazda 3.

While not a new product, there is still plenty to be excited about. Say hello to the new and improved CorkSport Aluminum Skid Plates for 2008-2013 Mazdaspeed 3 and 2004-2013 Mazda 3. We took all of the great features present in the original one-piece design, and then went back to the drawing board to improve the fitment, make installation easier, and make shipping cheaper for everyone. Read on as we go through the full details of this redesign.

CorkSport MazdaSpeed 3 Skid Tray
GEN 1 Skid Plate for 204-2009 Mazda 3.

Designing the GEN 3 Skid Plate

While designing the GEN 3 Skid Plate for 2014-2016 Mazda 3, we realized that utilizing a two-piece design is a fantastic way to save you some money on shipping. The overall design is smaller which allows us to use a smaller box to eliminate any oversized package charges from shipping companies. This is the same reason why our GEN2 Speed3 Front Lip is made of multiple parts. By designing the skid plate into two-pieces, installation on your vehicle becomes more flexible when aligning the front and rear sections. The multi-piece lineup creates wiggle room to help get everything all lined up properly on your car. Since each and every car is just a bit different, the extra wiggle room helps to achieve the best alignment possible, even on cars that have had their subframe, radiator support, and/or bumper removed and not reinstalled perfectly.

CorkSport Skid Plate for MazdaSpeed 3
Skid Plate for 2010-2013 Mazda 3 and Mazdaspeed 3

The Perfect Fitment

Going to a new design gave us the freedom to improve fitment even further. We have revised the mounting locations to ensure the easiest installation possible and reshaped a few areas to best fit on your car. Like the original though, no permanent modification to your Mazda is needed as we use all OEM mounting locations. Plus, the CorkSport Aluminum Skid Plates for Mazdaspeed 3 ship with all of the tools that you will need to install it.

CorkSport Underbody Skid Plate
CorkSport Underbody Skid Plate for MazdaSpeed 3

Ultimate Protection Without the Weight

Both GEN1 and GEN2 CorkSport skid plates are made from laser cut and precision formed 0.090” aluminum sheet. This thickness offers great protection from road debris and the occasional tall speed bump without adding a ton of weight to the front of your Mazda3. Where an OEM plastic splash shield would crack and fail, the CorkSport skidplate can take a beating, offering you peace of mind whether you’re riding at stock height or have lowered your MazdaSpeed 3. Speaking of riding low, the CS under tray sits up slightly higher than the OEM shield, giving you that little bit of extra clearance when you need it.

CorkSport Aluminum Skid Plate Installed
CorkSport Aluminum Skid Plate on MazdaSpeed 3

If this is just your next mod in a long list of mods do not worry. The CorkSport Aluminum Skid Plates fit with both GEN 1 and GEN 2 Front Mount Intercooler Kits as well as the CorkSport Lower Tie Bar. The CS GEN2 Front Lip will fit as well but may require some modification to the skid plate and/or front lip. For all of you Mazda 3 owners, just a heads up that these skid plates were designed for the Mazdaspeed models so you may require some minor trimming for best fitment, all of which can be done with a simple hand saw or razor knife.

CorkSport Aluminum Skid Plate

There you have it folks, the new and improved CorkSport Aluminum Skid Plates for GEN1 and GEN2 Mazdaspeed 3 & Mazda 3. Let us know if you have any questions down below and we will be sure to help you out!