Product Testing Has Never Been So Fun!

I have finally got some time to polish the washer behind the steering wheel on the 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 and I can without a doubt say it is an unbelievably fun car. I come from a world of cars that have an immense amount of what I like to call ‘Soul.’ Meaning they’re rickety and loud and generally belch mass quantities of fuel out the tailpipe on tipping into the throttle after 7500rpm decel because the 45mm Weber DCOE’s are washing the cylinder walls down like a firehose. So for me to drive a refined car is usually an exercise in complaining about how quiet it is or that it doesn’t have enough of this so called ‘Soul.’ Meaning I feel out of place because I’m actually in a nice car that behaves like it should and also accelerates and handles like a monster. It’s my exercise in self justification that my 70’s and 80’s cars have something that replaces the refinement that I am so dearly missing.

During the product validation phase for our Power Series Intake System we found that the 2010 Speed3 has a very low tolerance for improved intake designs – the window for fuel trim on the 2010 seems to be far narrower than it was with the 2007-2009. And the car runs pig-rich at wide open throttle from the factory, and from what we can tell Mazda wants to keep it that way. Which is ridiculous – maximum best torque isn’t made at 10:1 AFR. We have managed to design a system that pushes the envelope for power and also resides at the upper end of the safe zone as it relates to ECU Long Term Fuel Trims (LTFTs). This required us to spend a lot of time behind the wheel with an OBD2 datalogger to gather data off the 2nd Gen. ECU. We’d then head back to the lab to crunch some numbers and improve our understanding of what the ECU wants to see, what factors effect that and how to manipulate them for safe running and excellent power while simultaneously avoiding the dreaded CEL/MIL light. And no, the first step of the install instructions aren’t ‘Remove Gauge Cluster and cut traces on Tachometer circuit board that lead to check engine LED.’

But wait, this technical background story is nothing compared to the best part – all those hours behind the wheel!! After countless hours of punching up and down the freeway at various levels of cruise, I switched gears and took the 2010 out on one of my favorite loops… Until this point, I hadn’t had a good opportunity to really see what the car was capable of, as most of my time in it was on commutes and around town driving.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with where we’re located, CorkSport is in Vancouver, Washington – right across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Vancouver is in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens, the cascade range volcano that blew 2000′ off its top in 1980. I live about halfway between Mt. St. Helens and Vancouver and the North Clark County area has an amazing array of roads snaking over the landscape. Banked 180 degree curves abound and just when you’re ready to pull over and lean your head out to paint the tarmac with your lunch, the road opens up to 1-2 mile straights that give your inner ear the slightest respite prior to wrapping right back into beautiful Nurburgring-esque sweepers among gorgeous green foliage and narrow cliff-lined lakes.

The Speed3 performed phenomenally. There were plenty of areas for improvement, what with it having stock suspension, no strut braces, factory tires, etc. For the most part, however, it was a blast to drive. The factory brakes are surprisingly capable and the transmission gearing is perfectly matched for putting lots of power down through the curves and even more as the straights open up. The engine management provides a very crisp deceleration with its overrun (deceleration) fuel cut algorithm. There were a number of times when I had to remind myself that I was simply going waay too fast and back off in areas where sight distance was limited, but the car is so smooth to accelerate through 2nd, 3rd and 4th that it’s hard to realize you’re doing 90-100mph.

Coming from a predominantly rear wheel and all wheel drive background, the Speed takes some getting used to when hammering it around corners laying down 300lb-ft of torque. In sharp turns under acceleration, the massive torque-steer requires some elbow grease to reorient the treads to follow the road, but the benefit gained on big sweepers is well worth the tradeoff provided in the FWD drivetrain configuration. This is a wonderful car and if you can get past the torque steer and not be bothered by it (which takes very little time from what I’ve found), the benefits had from the power that causes it far outweigh the initial surprise of how heavy handed the car can be under certain conditions. But for me, the torquesteer is an excellent addition – I think I have slowly identified that what I see to be the feeling of ‘Soul’ in a car is really just elements of a visceral experience – and the torquesteer is the only unrefined and live thing about the car that reminds you that you’re not driving your girlfriend’s Jetta. As automotive enthusiasts we long for these elements in our cars which is why we love to modify them – a throaty exhaust system and an intake / turbo inlet that allow you to hear the turbo spool up both go a long way to bringing your Mazda’s Soul out of its cage and to the surface.


Mazda Trucks Are Back!

There was a recent “spy shot” of the new Ford Ranger truck seen driving around. The good news it is a Ford Ranger in name alone. The new Ranger chassis will be based on the Mazda BT-50 truck which is sold everywhere on the planet except North America.

Photo Courtesy of Mazda Australia

They are listing the new Mazda Ranger to be available in 2011 with a 1.6 DI gas engine. If Ford has some sense and sells the 3.0 16 valve 4 cylinder Turbodiesel with the 150 hp and 280 torque which is found overseas currently, they already have 1 buyer. With the Mazda chassis we will get double wishbone front suspension with torsion bars instead of the twin I-beam carry over from the 1960s. Ford had been using this suspension in light duty trucks in the last 30 years of Rangers.

If the engine and power train controls carry over from the BT-50 diesels there are plug in tuners available as well. Plug it in, turn up the boost and pick up an extra 50 torque!

You can tell I really want a new Mazda truck can’t you?

Who knows, CorkSport may even offer performance parts for the trucks.


2010 MazdaSpeed3 First Dyno Results

MazdaSpeed3 Dyno

Just got got the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 off the dyno after doing some installs and have some results to share.

The Dyno run went great for the 2010 MS3. It’s bone stock with three mods – CorkSport Power Series Racepipe (80mm with factory 65mm outlet) and CS Power Series Intake w/ Turbo Inlet and a set of CorkSport Motor Mount Inserts. Each of these products will be released shortly for the 2010 MS3 including some revised design considerations for the new 2010.

The stock baseline numbers for the 2010 were 231hp 269tq (73.8F/45%Humidity). With the two mods, it hammered down 272hp and 301tq (78.7F/43%Humidity).

41hp gain, 32ft lb of torque. Boost went from factory 16.4psi to 18.6. $388! Can’t wait to see what it picks up with the downpipe.

If you have a Speed3 without any exhaust modifications or haven’t added an intake or a turbo inlet pipe, hit me up…there’s power on the table right in front of you.


Cold Air Induction Box

CorkSport is proud to announce that we are expanding our Cold Air Induction Box product line to include an Air Box for the COBB SF Intake system as well as our current development of cold air boxes for the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 and 2010 Mazda3.

In our testing of this product we wanted to define:

  • Where the cold and hot air fronts exist in the engine compartment and what differential can be expected between these areas.
  • Where high and low pressure areas exist which direct requirements for sealing off areas to ensure the coldest air temperatures into the filter.

To achieve these results, we determined that extensive pressure drop testing under dynamic conditions was not possible while delivering a box that retails under $100. A well planned design of experiment which measured temperatures in the engine compartment, airbox and surrounding areas would give us not only the hard numbers we needed to show results, but also some intuition as to where the various pressure zones exist and how that effects movement of hot and cold air in the vicinity of the filter. What we found is that the various pressure zones in the engine compartment can create barriers preventing the intake from drawing hot air.

Our testing utilized a MSD DashHawk OBD2 Datalogging system and an Innovate TC-4 Four Channel Thermocouple Logger to measure Inlet Air Temperatures, Boost Air Temperatures, Ambient Air Temperature and two channels of thermocouple inside the box and directly outside the box in the hot engine compartment. The ambient air temperature on this day was about 64F. Earlier in the day we tested the short ram intake without our box and found intake air temps were 2-8 degrees lower than the engine compartment temperature.

Testing these variables on our cold air box design we saw a huge benefit – over 30 degree difference between the engine compartment and the interior of the box. By time of this testing, the engine compartment had a chance to heat soak and the hot air in the engine compartment 10-15 degrees higher. Despite this increase in temperature, our average temperature differential was now in the 25-28 degree range and inlet air temperatures were down 8-12 degrees dependent on volume of airflow past the sensor – obviously in traffic you’re going to get some level of heatsoak in the inlet system, MAF Housing, etc. – but that cools off quickly when 64 degree ambient air temperatures blast past at the rate of an office cubicle of volume per minute.

Some may ask, why is your box not enclosed or better sealed within the engine compartment? In the course of our testing seal off surfaces, we found areas – such as the gap under the box – are either a source of cool air or have a pressure effect that prevents hot air from entering into them. Some of these, such as the seams on the box, were beneficial to seal off, some provide relatively cool air, but others were completely inconclusive. Bottom line, there are a number of areas which may appear to allow hot air into the box, but testing proved otherwise.

The end result is a series of boxes which use a overhanging lid with seal strip along the mating surface, silicone seal at the filter port and contoured front edges which align with the headlight assembly. These systems promote filter temperatures roughly equivalent to ambient air temperature and 8-12 degree inlet air temperatures drops compared to similar intake systems without the box. Note: As we did not test at all possible outside air temperatures, extremely hot or extremely cold ambient temperatures may show some variation from these results, but the effects should be minimal.

If you have any questions or suggestions of further tests or concerns you may have with the CorkSport Power Series Intake System or CorkSport Cold Air Induction Systems, feel free to post comments to this blog so we may update the details and content.


What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? I regularly have people ask things like: “Corksport, what’s that?” or “Mazda performance, what’s that mean?” and “Ok, so where did the name come from?” I usually give a quick “Mazda used to make cork back in the day” and be done with it. We got the cork part from that and the sport was just popular industry lingo at the time.

For those interested, the longer version of the story goes something like this: Two twenty-somethings, already Mazda loyalists, wanted to do more to their car then put on some custom wheels (see Modern Stars) and remove our rear bumpers (those of you who are now thirty-somethings know what I mean). The aftermarket was nearly non-existent for Mazda fans unless you had an RX-7 or Miata. The internet changed everything. We discovered an economical way to reach similar minded people. And we quickly built a catalog of every part we could find for Mazda cars. After many moons of trying to negotiate a dealer account with MazdaSpeed of Japan (MazdaSpeed was not to have a North American arm for several years) we finally broke through. We had our catalog and a working relationship with MazdaSpeed, all we needed was a name…

We were thinking Mazdasport, nope, too much like Hondasport, R&D Racing, no too cliché. So we hit the history books. It turns out Mazda has been through several name changes. In fact, Mazda wasn’t actually Mazda, it was Toyo Kogyo. OK, that made some sense, it definitely sounds Japanese! Anyways, prior to that the company was known as Toyo Cork Kogyo. This was around the time they made the transition from artificial Cork manufacturing to tiny 3-wheeled vehicles. In one form or another, Mazda has been around for 89 years.

So, as you can see, we got the Cork part of our name from there, a tribute of sorts to Mazda’s history. We added the “Sport” and we had our name. Check out our first logo below:

It was angular and boring, a lot like the person who designed it (me) but I’ll take credit for at least getting one done! A customer helped us settle on the existing logo in 2002.

There you have it, CS as you know it today. We’ve picked up a few bumps and bruises along the way but we’re still going strong.

“What’s in a name?” Quite a lot actually.

– Rich

P.S. For those of you that want even more check out the article below:

This article was written by Alexander Palevsky and Jay Lamm.
It was published in the Aug/Sept 1998 issue of Sports Car International, Page 8.

What’s in a Name? The God of RX-7

In Japan, automobile manufacturers commonly carry the names of their founders or of the town where they were established. Though this makes perfect sense to the Japanese, these multi-word titles don’t make for a great brand identity in the Western world.
Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd., for example, doesn’t roll of the tongue as smoothly as say, Ford. But this automaker knew a better name would have to be concocted if they were ever to export their cars overseas.

The solution lay with the company’s first president, Jujiro Matsuda. In Japanese, no syllables are ever stressed and some inner syllables are virtually skipped. Thus, Matsuda is pronounced “Matsda.” To make the name fly better outside of Japan, the spelling was changed to Mazda.
Conveniently, Mazda already had meaning. Zoroaster (also called Zarathustra) formed a religion in the late 6th/early 7th centuries, rejecting the pantheistic cults of the time and instituting, in their place, a religion based on the worship of one god, Ahura Mazda (or Ormazd).

By the time Toyo Kogyo introduced their first production vehicle in 1931, (actually a 3-wheeled truck), it carried a Mazda badge. The name would continue on their first passenger car, the 1960 R360 Coupe. But the company would not be officially renamed Mazda until 1984.

Incidentally, Zoroastrianism still exists today in Iran, India, and elsewhere. No word yet on whether they’re planning to sue for trademark infringement.