Testing & Validation: CorkSport 2.5L SkyActiv Race Header

mazda 6 exhaust header

Over the past few months, we’ve been teasing you with tidbits of info on the CorkSport Race Header for the Mazda 3 2.5L SkyActiv-G in the GEN3’s. Today’s blog is a big one as we go through the testing we performed on the header and share some results, including power! Before we get too deep though, be sure to get up to speed with a breakdown of the OEM header and our design goals for the CS header.

mazda 3 skyactiv header
2014+ Mazda 3 Header Installed

Addressing Underhood Heat

In our previous blog, some of you keen-eyed individuals were asking about underhood temperatures with the ram-horn style CorkSport header. Well, we went through testing to ensure everything will function as before when the new header is added. We’re happy to let you know that we saw very similar under the hood temperatures as the OEM header. As a double check, we applied some temperature sensitive stickers to some areas near to the CS header, as shown below. These stickers will fill in with color if a temperature listed is reached. While these ended up reaching higher temps than with the OEM header, no areas are at risk of damage or malfunction. Furthermore, both the CorkSport racecar and our beta tester have run the 2014+ Mazda 3 race header at the track with no issues with overheating, power losses, or engine bay damage!

2.5l SkyActive Race Header testing
2.5l SkyActive Race Header testing with temperature sensitive stickers

How Does The Header Sound?

Before we get into the really good stuff, let’s go through a side effect of freeing up the headers on any engine: volume. We tested the Mazda 3 SkyActiv race header with multiple different setups: OEM cat back, CS 60mm cat back, CS 80mm cat back, and straight pipe. The race header on an OEM cat back is something that will not likely be used often (who runs a racecar with a stock exhaust?) but offers some nice growl and extra volume over the OEM exhaust. Both the CS 60mm and 80mm exhausts sound fantastic, with the 80mm being louder and having higher power potential than the 60mm. Even so, the 80mm is not uncomfortably loud and could be daily driven if full catalytic converter deletes are street legal in your area. We cannot recommend the straight pipe though. It is extremely loud and very uncomfortable. If you want a tease of sound with the 80mm cat back, check out our feature on our beta tester’s car in the video below.

80mm Cat Back with the 2014+ Mazda 3 Header!

The SkyActiv-G Race Header Adds Power

Full Race Header for the Mazda 2.5l SkyActiv Engine
Full Race Header for the 2.5l SkyActiv Engine

Alright, I’ve kept you waiting long enough, let’s talk power. The 4-2-1 design is very evident in our tests, as we did not see huge gains at peak WHP/WTQ. We did see very good gains throughout the midrange. From 2000RPM or lower all the way up to about 5300RPM we made 4-8WHP and 5-15WTQ. On our beta tester’s car with a good tune and supporting mods, this meant 194WHP and 226WTQ on 91 octane pump gas. The graph below shows a direct comparison of a 2016 Mazda 6 with a CS short ram intake, CS 60mm exhaust, and the same tune with and without the race header. Keep in mind, there is more optimization to be had with tuning with the header installed, and greater gains with an 80mm exhaust. The midrange gain may not seem like much but is extremely noticeable when driving the car.

Mazda 6 Race Header Dynograph
Comparison of a 2016 Mazda 6 with a CS short ram intake, CS 60mm exhaust, and the same tune with and without the race header.

That’s about it for our testing and validation blog. Next time you’ll hear about the CorkSport Race Header for the 2014+ Mazda 3, it will be released! Be sure to stay tuned to all the CS channels if you’re interested in being one of the first to pick one up.

-Barett @ CorkSport

P.S. We noticed a lot of you asking if this header will fit the auto transmission or 2.0L. The automatic transmission is 2-3” larger right where the lower section of the header sits, so for optimum pipe routing, we had to do away with automatic fitment. The 2.0L has a different bolt pattern and exhaust port spacing on the engine, so the 2.0L will not work with the CS race header either.

Please
submit a product idea here if you would like to see automatic fitment, 2.0L fitment, or any other product for your car. The more submissions, the more likely we are to produce one so tell your car buddies!

SkyActiv-G 2.5T Intercooler & Piping Testing

The CorkSport Intercooler and Piping upgrade kits for the Mazda SkyActiv-G 2.5T are inching closer to release and it’s time to share more of the R&D that goes into making these kits perform the best. We went through extensive testing to determine which intercooler was the best fit and to validate that our changes were worthwhile. If you missed any of the previous blogs on these kits be sure to check them out: OEM IC & Piping Breakdown, CS Piping Upgrade Design, and CS Intercooler Design.

AEM CD-5 Digital Dash on Mazda 6

AEM CD-5 Digital Dash

Testing Preparation

To start, we got some new toys from AEM Electronics. The main brain of the entire testing operation for the intercooler is an AEM CD-5L digital dash with logging. This dash allows us to tap into the vehicle’s ECU to see the same information that the OEM sensors are reading. To go along with the CD-5L, we got new AEM sensors that can be positioned to get the data that we need to see how our intercoolers perform.

We used the CD-5 to datalog our dyno runs so we can see what the car is doing while simultaneously seeing power levels from the dyno. To get the data we need, we tapped into the OEM intercooler and 3 intercooler core designs that we created to get pressure and temperature data before and after the intercooler core. In case you were wondering, drilling into a brand new intercooler is stressful!

Mazda 6 on Dyno
SkyActiv-G 2.5T Intercooler Testing

Once we got everything wired up and the AEM properly set up, we were ready for testing to begin. There were multiple rounds of testing, each consisting of a string of dyno pulls back-to-back to test heat soak. We also performed standalone power runs with the intercooler setups. During testing, we used the full OEM intercooler and piping kit, and each of the CorkSport Intercoolers with the CorkSport piping. Of the three CorkSport intercoolers, we took the best setup and tested it with and without our piping kit.

Conditions were near identical for all tests, with the CS intercooler tests being ~10°F. warmer than the OEM tests (65° vs 55°).

Testing Intercooler Pressure Drop

OEM Intercooler pressure testing graph
Pressure testing the OEM intercooler.

Starting with pressure drop, the OEM intercooler performed better than we initially expected. The graph above shows the pressure drop across the core through a dyno run. In this case, the smaller the number the better. Starting at around 0.5psi at low RPM and peaking at around 2.4psi at higher RPM is pretty good for a core with fins that are fairly dense.

CorkSport Intercoolers pressure testing graph

Pressure testing the CorkSport intercooler cores.

Shown in the graph above are the CorkSport intercooler pressure drop results. Core A has the densest fins, while Core C has the least dense fins. Looking at the graph above, you can see that Core A and B had a larger drop in pressure than OEM. Meanwhile, Core C had a smaller pressure drop than the OEM core. Having a smaller pressure drop than OEM means that your turbocharger can make less boost at the turbo yet still hit the boost target in the intake manifold. In other words, your turbo is working less to make the same power levels! Based on our results, option C appears to be the best option due to the low drop in pressure, but first, we will test temperature drop to be certain.

Testing Intercooler Temperature Drop

OEM Intercooler Change in Temperature Graph
OEM Intercooler Change in Temperature from Inlet to Outlet.

The graph above shows the change in temperature from the inlet to the outlet of the OEM intercooler during a dyno run. As you can see, there is a temperature delta (the amount of heat being removed from the boost air) of approximately 100-110°F through the majority of the dyno run. Not bad for the OEM intercooler as larger the better here, but we can do better.

CorkSport Intercoolers Change in Temperature Graph

CorkSport Intercoolers Change in Temperature from Inlet to Outlet.

The graph above shows the same temperature drop data for each of the three prototype cores. Please note, the difference at the beginning of the runs is a result of using the run with the best temperature change for each core. With this comparison, larger numbers mean that the intercooler is cooling the boosted air efficiently. As you can see, the very dense cores (A and B) with a high-pressure drop, cool better. However, there are diminishing returns that come when you make a core denser. Through the meat of the dyno run, Core C has approximately 140-150°F of temperature drop, Core A has 150-180°F of temperature drop, and Core B has 140-170°F of temperature drop. This data shows that Core C cools almost as well as A and B despite having a drastically lower pressure drop. Core C is definitely our winner, but we have one last thing to test: heat soak.

Testing Intercooler Heat Soak

OEM Intercooler Heat Soak Graph
OEM Intercooler Heat Soak

The graph above shows the OEM intercooler tested for heat soak by being run on a dyno in back to back runs. The graph is showing the intercooler inlet and outlet temperatures, so the boost temperature before the intercooler and the boost temperature after the intercooler that your engine sees. Over the runs, the inlet temp increases as the engine and turbo get hot. The OEM core does a pretty good job at preventing the outlet from increasing over the pulls (heat soak), but the CorkSport core can do better.

CorkSport Intercooler Heat Soak Graph
CorkSport Intercooler Core C Heat Soak

The graph above shows the results of the same test that was performed with the CorkSport prototype Core C. The inlet temp follows a similar path of heating up drastically as the run’s progress, but the improved cooling efficiency is highlighted when you look at the outlet temps. The CorkSport intercooler core cools better and also shows less heat soak, leaving you with 20+ degree cooler temps after the same tests. During testing of the CorkSport core, ambient temps were slightly higher than the OEM test, having been done on a relatively cool day in the mid to upper 50s. If the tests had been performed at 100% identical ambient temps or overall higher ambient temps, the results would be further skewed in the CorkSport kit’s favor!

Testing Intercooler Power

Last, but certainly not least, is power. We tested back to back with the OEM setup, CS FMIC only, and then the CS FMIC with the full piping kit. With the CorkSport FMIC alone, we picked up 3WHP at peak but more importantly, 3-9WHP and 3-12WTQ from 2250-4250RPM. Seen in the graph below.

Dyograph comparison between CorkSport and Mazda Intercooler Cores
Dyno Testing OEM Intercooler and CorkSport Intercooler

With the CS intercooler and piping Kit, we picked up around 6WHP at peak compared to full OEM but even more WHP and WTQ through the midrange. For clarity, the graph below is the full CS setup vs. full OEM setup; without tuning!

Dyograph comparison between CorkSport and Mazda Intercooler setups

Dyno Testing OEM Intercooler and CorkSport Intercooler with Upgraded Piping

While these gains are decent, the intercooler and piping kit will truly shine once we are able to tune the car for different boost and load targets. In addition, we checked for changes to spool time and throttle response with the piping kit but only noticed marginal gains as we are limited by the current tune on the car. Based on our testing though, it is clear that we are increasing the efficiency of the turbocharging and the intercooling system, which future proofs your ride for further mods and tuning down the road.

Let us know if you have any questions regarding our testing, we can’t wait for you all to get these parts. Look for the CorkSport Intercooler Upgrade and CS Piping Kit coming soon, along with more fun parts for the 2.5T!

-Daniel

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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 Design – 2.5L SkyActiv-G Exhaust Header

CorkSport 2.5L SkyActiv Header

A few months ago we broke down the complicated design of the exhaust manifold found on the 2014-2018 Mazda 3 & 6 2.5L SkyActiv.  Mazda put extensive R&D into the design and packaging of the OEM header to optimize the exhaust gas pulses and overlap.  

In this blog we are going to explain some of the design features in the CorkSport 4-2-1 header and why those features are important.  

Below is a diagram showing the primary, secondary and collector routing of the OE header.  

Mazda 2.5L SkyActive Header
The OEM header for the 2.5L SkyActiv engine has a 4-2-1 design.

When designing a performance header we have to ask ourselves, “what is the goal with this performance part?” and then fulfill that goal.  With the performance header for the 2.5L SkyActiv our goal was to increase mid-range torque, retain good fitment and user installation, and improve the sound output of the exhaust system.  

CorkSport Aftermarket Exhaust Header
CorkSport 2.5L SkyActiv header design.

Immediately you’ll notice a significant difference in the design of the OEM header and the CorkSport Header.  There are three major differences:

  1. Primary, secondary, and collector diameters have been increased to promote better exhaust gas flow.
  2. Primary and secondary runner lengths have been increased to optimize power/torque lower in the RPM range.
  3. The design is two-piece to drastically improve the installation process.  

The primary runners (these are the runners that mate directly to the engine) have been increased in diameter from 1.55” to 1.75” and the secondary runners (these are the runners that combine only two cylinders before the collector) have been increased in diameter from 1.87” to 2.00”.  Both of these changes improve peak flow per cylinder throughout the RPM range. Lastly, the collector has been increased from 2.00” to 3.00” to be paired with the CorkSport 60.5mm or 80mm Cat-Back Exhaust Systems.

CorkSport Exhaust Header Installed
CorkSport Header Installed.

Here’s where things got a bit tricky.  Increasing the length of the primary and secondary runners forced us to be a bit creative in routing all the piping.  In order to achieve the primary runner length we wanted, we had to route the piping upward first (as you can see below) then back down between the engine and firewall.  The results were better than we expected with a “Medusa” style header peeking out of the engine bay and the lengths we wanted.

It makes us grin every time we pop the hood open, we hope you love it as much as we do.  

CorkSport 2.5L Exhaust Header broken down for install.
The final design of the CorkSport 2.5L header is installed in two pieces.

However, the complicated CorkSport design did create a new problem.  Installation! We always try to create a performance part that can be installed by the average enthusiast in their garage and this was no exception.  In a one-piece design, the header was nearly impossible to install. We went to the drawing board and realized that separating the upper and lower halves of the header was the best option.

We considered a conventional flange, gasket and hardware setup, but realized it to was far too complex in the close quarters behind the engine.  We then moved to a v-band connection that proved to be the best setup for installation, weight, and sealing ability.

That wraps up the design, next we’ll breakdown the testing and results! Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts down below.

-Barett @ CorkSport

CorkSport CST6

Testing & Validation of the CorkSport CST6

As we get closer and closer to announcing the launch of the new CorkSport Turbo Line-Up we want to share the testing and validation we put our turbos through.  You may not realize it, but we’ve already shared a lot about the CST6 without really saying so, check out Barett’s Built Gen1 Here.  

So we’ve talked a bit about the design intent behind the CST6; defining the wheel sizes, wheel size ratio, and the ball bearing CHRA.   If you’ve seen the teaser listing then you’ve already seen the 633 whp dyno graph, so we’ll look at the data to support it!

The First Look at the CST6 Performance

CorkSport CST6 dyno at 28psi
CST6 running at 28PSI

First let’s look at the CST6 at a more moderate boost pressure.  Above are the results of back-to-back testing comparing the XS-Power V3 Exhaust Manifold and the upcoming CorkSport Cast Exhaust Manifold.  All dyno runs were performed with the same 28 psi peak pressure tune.

So the exhaust manifold testing is exciting, but it’s not what we’re here to discuss.   What I want you to know is that the CST6 is fully capable of providing mid-500 whp power at 28 psi.   While we have and will continue to push the CST6 to its max ability, the 27-30 psi range has proven to be a sweet and efficient spot for the CST6.

Testing the Limits on the CST6

CorkSport CST6 Dyno Graph running 34psi
CST6 running at 34PSI

Searching for the limits with the current fuel system we can easily push past the 600 whp mark plus some.   The efficiency of the CST6 at this power level is still very strong and the turbo continues to pull through the RPM range.   What really makes the CST6 shine is the power under the curve. This is a BIG turbo and will respond like one, but the loss of early spool is easily compensated for with the abundant power curve and power that carries past 7500 rpm.  

It’s important to note that testing for the CST6 is not finished because we are currently limited by the fuel system on the vehicle.   The current fuel system is OE DI injectors paired with a boost based methanol system flowing 40 gph peak. In the near future, we will continue finding the limits of the CST6 with a true port injection system and Split-Second controller flowing E85.   This will give us headroom for 8000+ rpm and boost levels past 34 psi (let’s see what 40 psi give us!).

Looking at the CST6 Data Log

CorkSport CST6 Data Log
MAF Voltage and Actual AFR of the CST6

This is a datalog form the 633 whp dyno run and was recorded on the chassis dyno.   Because of that, it is not a perfect example of street driving… let me explain why. The dyno dynamics chassis CorkSport uses can control load and thus the rate at which the engine can rev through the RPM range.   In order for us to dyno a vehicle at this power level safely, we need to find the right ramp rate for low RPM and high RPM. The biggest factor this affects is the spool RPM of the turbo.

On the graph I marked ~200 rpm shifted to the left for the boost curve.   On the street, the CST6 spools about 200 rpm sooner due to the higher load on the street vs the dyno.   This puts the CST6 @ 20 psi around 3800-3900 rpm.

Also shown on the graph are MAF voltage and actual AFR.   Both of these are important because they provide real data about how the vehicle is being tuned.

Target AFR is set for 11.76 which is neither rich nor aggressive for this setup.  The slight up and down of the AFR curve from 3500-4000 rpm is due to the very high amount of auxiliary methanol starting to spray along with the DI injectors.

Looking at MAF voltage you can see us get well past 4.50v.  Actually, we are consistently seeing MAF Voltage around 4.65-4.70v using the CorkSport 3.5” Intake which has a true ID of 3.50”.  This is just further validation that the CST6 is flowing enough air to support 600+ whp.

There’s more to come from the new CorkSport turbo lineup so stay tuned for more info on the CST5, CST6, and EWG housings.

-Barett @ CorkSport