The CorkSport CST4 – The Best Turbo for the Mazdaspeed

How to get 400whp from your Mazdaspeed 3

Back in 2015, CorkSport announced the launch of the “CorkSport Turbo” or “CorkSport 18G” a high performance drop-in turbo upgrade for the MazdaSpeed 3, Mazdaspeed 6, and CX-7. Fast forward to 2020 this potent turbo is now called the CST4 with the introduction of the CorkSport CST5 and CST6 Turbochargers.

The CST4 has found home in thousands of community members Mazdaspeeds since launch and continues to be a highly sot after upgrade today…a testament to the CST4’s performance and durability. Starting from scratch, the CST4 is a 100% brand new performance unit.  No core, no revised K04 parts…this is a performance turbocharger from the ground up.  

A bolt on 400whp Mazdaspeed 3 bolt in turbo

Let’s recap on what makes the CST4 such a great fit for the MazdaSpeed.  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 CST4 can seriously take a beating, and does it in a package that fits perfect in the OEM location.

Mazdaspeed 3 Mitsubishi 18G CHRA

Attached to this center section is a compressor and turbine wheel combo that is a little unconventional. Creating boost is a custom MHI 18Gbillet compressor wheel that is rated at 50lb/min while the turbine that drives the CST4 is a MHI TD05H 9 blade design. Compared to a traditional 12 blade turbine wheel, the CorkSport design is lighter weight for faster spool times and less blades for higher maximum flow capacity.

Speed3 turbocharger high flow exhaust wheel

The wheels are wrapped in new housings. On the compressor side there is an OEM diameter inlet to simplify the installing with any intake system you had setup with your K04. The turbine housing maintains the stock flange design for easy fitment with any exhaust manifold and downpipe that bolted to the K04. 

The best mazdaspeed 3 turbo upgrade internal or external wastegate, better than the BNR S3.

So what’s the hype now?  Great question!  The community has pushed this turbo to the limits and has asked for more…with the development of the 500whp CST5 and 600whp CST6 we found that an EWG turbine housing can be very beneficial to boost control.  That development bleed over to the CST4 in the form of a EWG turbine housing for increase boost control and an increase in A/R size. 

Mazdaspeed 3 turbo upgrade dyno sheet

Like the CST5, you can now choose your boost control.  Internal wastegate for a stealth and simple install or go for the EWG turbine housing for extra noise and a little more top end power potential.  The choice is now yours. 

Mazdaspeed 3 EWG bolt on turbo kit

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 (~380WHP depending on fuel and bolt-ons) and keep some of the K04 spool you love.  With professional tuning you can keep a safe tune that hits hard and carries power.

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 3300-3400RPM with peak boost around 27-28psi carried to 7000rpm. 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.

Mazdaspeed 3 Turbocharger installation hardware

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.

Bolt on Mazdaspeed 3 EWG dump tube kit

Each CST4 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 CST4 and start taking your FBO Mazdaspeed to the next level.  Check out the product listing for full details and to place to order.

Need More information? Check out our video below

Zach’s Road to CorkSport

The Journey to CorkSport

Ever wonder what it was like to win the lottery. You ever let your mind wander and think what it would be like to actually “Live the dream.” I know I have, well, until I joined CorkSport! My name is Zach Sprague, and I wanted to share with you my experience of joining, what I believe to be, the best well known and respected company in the Mazda Community. Let’s take a look at my journey.

I’ve always been into cars and have had a pretty big obsession with FWD Hatchbacks. My passion for this platform started back in 2014. I sold cars for Toyota in Southwest Washington for about four years. During my tenure, I drove some pretty amazing vehicles, one of them being a 2013 VRM MS3 Tech pack. I knew what a Mazdaspeed was, a Turbo FWD Hatchback, and at that time that was more than enough to pique my interest in the platform. It was temporarily sitting on my lot, and I had to drive it back down to Portland to our sister store.

Before jumping into the seat, I didn’t know any horsepower or torque figures. I didn’t know what kind of emotion it was going to spark when I drove it. I had NO idea that it would become the screen saver on my computer. I slid in and pushed the button. (You know those Cold Starts) This car’s exhaust made my heart drop and gave me goosebumps. I honestly felt like an 8-year-old on Christmas Morning. 

Once on the ramp, I slowly shift into third at about three and a half grand on the tach and just sent it. Torque steer was prevalent as I was gently pushed back into my seat. I slammed 4th, and I hear this intoxicating PSSHHHHHH. I was done, I was hooked, addicted and didn’t know what to do with myself. I was so intrigued I stopped at every rest stop on the way down so that I could feel this car accelerate back onto the freeway. <insert uncontrolled giggling here>.

Flash forward a couple of years, and a guy I worked with, now one of my best friends, went out and bought a VRM Speed6. Everything on that car from top to bottom was stock down to the wheels. I slowly watched his build progress over the year and transform into one of the most inspiring builds I have ever seen. In that time he was kind enough to let me pick his brain about these cars and what they like, what they don’t like.

In 2018 this is when things got interesting! After a few months of looking and 100 YouTube videos later, I was finally ready to pull the trigger on one of my bucket list cars. I snagged a 2013 MazdaSpeed3 in liquid Silver. I drove almost 4 hours and paid an arm and a leg for sales tax, but it was worth it.

Miles of Smiles 

I was grinning ear to ear the entire way home; 4th gear dumps on the freeway, testing the grip of the tires out at a few stoplights, full-on shenanigans. I tell you what; I made it home a lot quicker than the drive up.  

I had the car for 3 weeks before I added my first mod. I already had a vision for the car, but first things first, I had to take care of those sloppy shifts. My shifter bushings and short shift plate showed up from CorkSport. At that time I knew they made great parts and were one of the very few places that even made parts for this car. What a difference that made! It felt robust and more responsive.

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

I always joked with my friends about working for a company like CorkSport. I just thought it was this elusive dream that I’d be sitting behind a desk helping other people build their dream cars. I never thought in my life that an opportunity like this would come into fruition. 

My buddy, who helped me get into Mazdaspeeds, sent me a message on FB, letting me know that CS was hiring. I thought to myself; this is no lie. “There is no way on god’s green earth I’d ever get that lucky.” However, I applied. What’s the worst thing that could happen, right? 

CorkSport isn’t a revolving door, and the team is made up of a close-knit group of professionals that also happen to be car nuts. They carefully consider who’s going to be a good fit with their existing team and identify candidates that are going to get the right shit done well. I knew this was a different company, and their standards were high because they didn’t just accept my resume; there was a pre-test.  

A funny little story. I got a message from CorkSport saying they wanted to set up a phone interview! I couldn’t believe it! That Friday, I called to set up a meeting for Monday. This is where the humor known as my life kicked in; I BROKE MY PHONE ON SUNDAY! *RED ALERT* My dream job was calling me on Monday, and I didn’t have a phone, so I went out and bought a little prepaid flip phone. 

Although I almost missed this opportunity, it went well enough for CorkSport to schedule a second interview over Skype. I must add, this occurred over two weeks. I was losing my mind; I couldn’t believe it was happening. All my buddies knew I had the job, they knew how obsessed I am with cars, especially my speed 3. I still was in shock couldn’t believe I had my second interview.

When CorkSport called me to let me know, I had a final interview with the Company’s President, Corey – Hello nervousness, glad to see you again! I can’t put into words how excited I was; it was pure bliss and absolute disbelief. “IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING!” I screamed at the top of my lungs when I got off the phone. I showed up a half-hour early. It was cool; I got to meet someone I’ve stalked on Instagram for a while and who has been a significant influence on me since I got into the Mazda community – Brett White.

It’s so surreal when you get an interview for a job you’ve always wanted. Above all, I remember from the interview is telling Corey, “Even if I don’t get the job, knowing I made it this far and am sitting here with you having this interview is honestly a dream come true.” It’s unreal to think that one mistake, such as breaking my phone the day before my first interview, could have kept me from writing this blog for a company I’ve looked up to since I’ve been into Mazda’s.

I cannot believe I’ve been here a little over a year already! It’s a fun environment where everyone is looking out for one another. I’ve been able to FLY in the fastest thing I’ve ever been in (Barett’s monster Gen Juan), and had the chance to drive a car I’ve drooled over on social media (Brett’s Baby) for years. 

Barett’s monster Gen Juan

Looking back, it wasn’t even four days after joining the company before the guys a CS put lowering springs on my car. It took a little over a week for me to buy an AccessPort and a Dual VTA Bypass Valve, and that was just the start! You don’t want to be an employee driving a stock Speed with a CorkSport Sticker on it.

Stay tuned to see where CorkSport and I go with my car. I’ll catch you on the flipside and, thanks for reading my first blog!

Zäch Fröm CorkSport

Mazdaspeed EWGs Made Easy!

We’ve talked a lot about external wastegates with our recent CST6 development but today we are happy to announce the standalone CorkSport External Wastegate Housings for the CST4 and CST5. Available right now as an update for your existing IWG CST4 or CST5, the CS EWG housings make it easy to get the best in boost control for your Mazdaspeed 3, Mazdaspeed 6, or Mazda CX-7 Turbo.

Bolton upgrade to go external wastegate with your Mazdaspeed

While the CST6 will only come with an EWG housing, the external wastegate (EWG for short) is a new concept for the CST4 and CST5. Both of these turbos originally hit the market with an internal wastegate (IWG) only option that has a small flapper valve on the inside of the turbine housing to let off excess exhaust gases. Instead, the CorkSport EWG housings use an offshoot from the turbine scroll that has a v-band flange on the end. This flange allows for the fitment of an external wastegate for improved boost control. To run an EWG on an original CST4 or CST5 previously, you needed an EWG capable exhaust manifold and some sort of block off for the IWG port.


Mazdaspeed 3 turbo internal and external wastegate housings

The new CS EWG housings make running an EWG on your Mazdaspeed3 easier than ever. Each housing comes with the elbow and clamp needed for great fitment. We even offer a dump tube/screamer pipe that works for both MS3 and MS6 as an add-on option. If you pick up the screamer pipe to go with your housing, all you need to supply is the EWG itself. 

Mazdaspeed external wastegate installation kit includes everything but the Tial wastegate

We strongly recommend a Tial MV-R 44mm wastegate as all design work and testing used this specific wastegate. Other wastegates may require modification for use. The 44mm size is a great fit for the Mazdaspeed engines, whether you are running an upgraded turbo on the stock block or fully built one that you intend to push to the limits.


Tial wastegates are a proven turbo commodity for the Mazdaspeed 3

So why would you want an EWG? For starters, EWGs truly offer the best boost control setup for any turbocharged car. Because the wastegate is separate from the turbocharger itself, it is easier to place for optimum boost control, plus, the design of the actuator itself can be optimized. As a result you get a wastegate that hits boost targets more accurately and responds quicker to changes in boost. This means no more boost spikes right when the boost hits (a common problem with poor quality IWG setups), and a near-flat boost curve. The isolated actuator also makes for faster and easier spring changes should you need to service or change your wastegate preload. For more info on the design behind the CS EWG housing, check out the full blog HERE.

A direct flow path for the exhaust gas on the Mazdaspeed 3

One of the best parts of EWG over IWG is the sounds that come with a screamer pipe! While only intended for off-road use, a screamer pipe dumps the exhaust from the EWG directly to the air. This allows for a fantastic noise during a WOT pull, that sounds truly unique. It’s not all just noise though, by venting the EWG to the atmosphere instead of venting the IWG in your downpipe, you are decreasing exhaust turbulence right after the turbine wheel, reducing backpressure. On very high horsepower setups, this often generates some extra power as the turbine housing can be used more efficiently. Check out the product video below for some great EWG sounds from Barett’s MS3.

There’s one final benefit of the CS EWG housings: housing design itself. Without having the IWG in the way to worry about, we were able to do some optimizing on the scroll and A/R. For CST4 owners, this means an increase in A/R from 0.66 to 0.82. Typically an A/R change like this will cause a slight decrease in spool time but an increase in max power potential. CST5 owners have this 0.82 A/R even with the IWG setup but there’s another benefit: greater swallowing capacity. This refers to the amount of volume in the turbine scroll. By increasing the swallowing capacity the turbine can ingest air more efficiently at the peak, which is especially important if you have an upgraded exhaust manifold or high flowing head. After all, an engine is an air pump – what good is shoving more air in if you can’t get it out?

Easy bolt up external wastegate upgrade for your Mazdaspeed 3

If you’re in the market for a change on your Mazdaspeed, check out the CorkSport EWG housings for the CST4 and CST5 turbochargers. Better boost control, a more efficient housing, and best of all, a great new sound. Be sure to check out the listing for even more images and don’t be shy to ask questions we’ll be happy to help!

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

Let’s Get Chilly: CorkSport Intercooler for SkyActiv 2.5T

It’s time to break down our design for the CorkSport Performance Intercooler Upgrade for the Mazda 6 2.5T. We have covered both the OEM intercooler and piping, and our design plan for the upcoming Sky-T intercooler piping upgrade in previous blogs, but today’s focus is the intercooler itself. Intercoolers are a delicate balancing act between size, cooling efficiency, and pressure drop so naturally things can get a little complicated. Buckle up and stay with us, and be sure to drop any questions you may have down below.

Taking a look at the stock intercooler mounted on the Mazda 6 (shown above) shows us quickly where our size constraints lie. With the large crash bar, we cannot go too much larger in height without trimming the crash bar, bumper, or both. However, there is a ton of room for added thickness and better end-tank design that can really help increase the width of the intercooler. The stock intercooler core is 24.5” wide, 5.5” tall, and 2.625” thick. Our plan is to fit a 27” wide, 6” tall, and 3.5” core without any trimming. This sizing combined with a low-pressure drop will be good for 400WHP with no issues! Because the Mazda 6 comes with just around 200WHP from the factory, this sized core provides plenty of room for upgrading down the road without causing excessive boost lag that can occur if an intercooler is simply too big. Check out a prototype CorkSport intercooler mounted on the car below.

Now that size is taken care of, let’s move on to cooling efficiency and pressure drop of the CorkSport intercooler for the SkyActiv 2.5T. These are tied closely together as getting extremely high cooling efficiency usually means high pressure drop and vice versa. Just so we’re on the same page, cooling efficiency is how well the intercooler cools off the pressurized air that passes through it. So a highly efficient intercooler will be able to bring the boost temperatures down similar to the ambient air temperature. Pressure drop is exactly what it sounds like, a loss in pressure from the inlet to the outlet of the intercooler which can be caused by a number of things: poor end-tank design, too many intercooler fins, or simply poor flow distribution in the intercooler. Too large of a pressure drop means lower boost pressures reaching your engine and/or your turbocharger working harder to achieve the same boost levels.

Pressure drop and cooling efficiency are influenced primarily by two things: fin density and end-tank design. Fin density is basically how many fins the boosted air must pass over when traversing the intercooler. More fins = better cooling efficiency, but also more pressure drop. To choose the best core for the SkyActiv 2.5T we plan to use multiple different fin densities and test each for power, cooling efficiency, and pressure drop. While we can get pretty close based on our work from the CS Mazdaspeed Intercoolers, it’s always best to test and identify the best one for each platform. With this extensive testing, we can reach our goal of improved cooling efficiency, lower pressure drop, more power, and no CELs.

End-tank design is critical as it determines how the air reaches the core of the intercooler. Sharp bends, poor air distribution, and small inlet/outlet size all adversely affect the performance of the intercooler. To fit the core size we want, we had to do away with the plastic inlet and outlet pipes of the stock intercooler. This was advantageous as it gave us more room to have a smooth flowing end-tank that distributes air well to all the runners and does away with the sharp corners present in the OEM end-tanks. In addition, we were able to increase the inlet and outlet size of the intercooler to 2.5”. This is a fairly standard size that has shown to work well for the Mazdaspeeds with stock power and without choking flow way up to Barett’s 600+ WHP.

Those of you with a keen eye have realized that the connection between the CorkSport front mount intercooler (FMIC) and the OEM Intercooler is not the same. As shown in the CAD rendering above, each intercooler kit will come with the silicone and custom adapters that are needed to work with the OEM piping. If you decide to upgrade to the CS intercooler piping kit, later on, the CorkSport Intercooler for SkyActiv 2.5T will not need to be removed, and you will only need to change some silicone parts.

We will have more info on this kit coming soon, with the next blog covering our testing of the different core designs using a few new toys from AEM Electronics. Be sure to check out the product listing for more info, and to be notified when the intercooler is available. Last but not least, CX-9 Turbo and CX-5 Turbo owners, we are 99% sure this kit will also work on your rides but we plan on validating fitment before release!

-Daniel @ CorkSport