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

2018+ Mazda 6 Turbo Lowering Springs

2018 Mazda 6 on CorkSport Lowering Springs

We at CorkSport are happy to introduce the Sport Lowering Springs for 2018+ Mazda 6 equipped with the 2.5L turbocharged engine. We took a fresh approach to spring design to offer you the best combination of style, ride quality, and handling in a package that fits just like OEM. The new Mazda 6 looks great, but a functional drop gives it just what it needs to look even better. Combine this with the new handling characteristics and your MZ6 2.5T transforms from a fun grocery getter to something you can actually enjoy on backroads.

Mazda 6 2.5T CorkSport Lowering Springs
2018+ Mazda 6 2.5T CorkSport Lowering Springs

Ride Height

Let’s start off with the big one: ride height changes. These springs offer a conservative drop from the stock springs with about 1 inch lower in the front and about 0.75 inches lower in the rear. We chose this height as it offers a great new look without sacrificing any of the daily drivability of the Mazda6. This height clears the typical driveway with no issues, and retains plenty of suspension travel, even when fully loaded with 5 adults and weight in the trunk. Check out the image below for a direct comparison to a fully stock MZ6.

Lowered 2018 Mazda 6 vs. Stock Mazda 6
Black: Stock Springs Red: CorkSport Lowering Springs

Handling

The height drop will be noticed when you’re outside the car, but the handling improvements will be apparent when driving. By lowering the center of gravity and stiffening the springs, body roll is reduced in corners, giving you extra confidence when attacking that backroad. In addition, we stiffened the rear springs more than the fronts, reducing understeer. By number, this meant 3.8K front springs (25% stiffer than OEM) and 7.3K rear springs (45% stiffer than OEM). Derrick, our resident racecar driver and MZ6T owner, loves the new setup.

2018 Mazda 6 on CorkSport Springs

While this may sound like a big jump, they ride similarly to the OEM springs. We used a natural frequency analysis to ensure we achieved comfortable characteristics over bumps. Read the last half of this blog for more info on what that means (it’s complicated but awesome). Part of the great ride is the OEM dampers (shocks and struts). The spring rates we chose fit well with the stock shocks and struts to prevent any bounciness, plus, the conservative drop ensures you are in the normal operating range of the dampers. This means no prematurely worn shocks/struts due to springs that are too low.

Lowered MZ6T

Material Quality

Last but not least, the CS Sport Lowering Springs are made from high tensile strength spring steel and come powder coated in an OEM style black for long-lasting quality and corrosion resistance. They install just like stock, reusing all your OEM components. The only permanent modification is trimming the bump stops to match OEM suspension travel.

Be sure to check out the product listing for more images, a product video with more comparisons to OEM, and pricing. Make your new Mazda 6 yours with just the right styling and handling boost from CorkSport.


That about does it for the Mazda 6 2.5T Sport Lowering Springs. Be sure to let us know if you have any questions-suspension is hard, even for us! Lastly, be sure to share your MZ6T with us by using #CorkSport.

-Daniel @ CorkSport

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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

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!