Protect your Mazda 3 with the CorkSport Skid Tray

Extra Protection for your 2014-2016 Mazda 3

That’s right folks; CorkSport’s favorite skid trays have made their way to the GEN3 Mazda 3. Whether you have a broken OE plastic skid tray or are just looking for some extra protection for the winter months, please welcome the CorkSport 2014-2016 Mazda3 Skid Tray. Made from laser cut, 0.090” thick aluminum formed to a perfect fit, this skid tray is a direct upgrade from the OE Mazda3.

From the factory, the GEN3 Mazdas come with a flimsy plastic under tray that can crack and break with the smallest of impacts.
It exists primarily to smooth the airflow traveling under your car and act as a splash shield for the engine compartment while driving in the rain but offers no real protection for your oil pan. We felt compelled to remedy this issue, and thus, the CorkSport Mazda3 Skid Tray was born.

The 0.090” thick aluminum protects your Mazda 3 from road debris, rocks, and damage to vital engine components while adding minimal weight to your car. This aluminum is the same material as our Mazdaspeed 3 skidplate, and it has proven itself to take plenty of punishment. We even torture tested one of our prototype skid trays during the 25 Hours of Thunderhill on the CorkSport Mazda 3 Race Car and had no issues.

As always, we sought out to make the installation as painless as possible while retaining all OE features. The CorkSport skid tray only uses the OE mounting locations without having to drill or trim anything. The CorkSport Mazda3 skid tray is a two-piece design that allows for a more straightforward install. Each piece is more manageable to move around for installation than the traditional one-piece design. As a bonus, it also makes the shipping is cheaper! We retained The oil and filter access panel so you can easily perform maintenance without having to remove the Mazda3 skid tray.

By extending the front of the skid tray above the bottom of the front bumper like OE, the CorkSport Skid Tray retains the smooth transition from bumper to skid tray to ensure smooth airflow under your car. You can even run the CorkSport Skidplate with the Mazda OE front lip with no issues.

If you’re worried about your oil pan or can’t seem to keep an OE skid tray in one piece, let the CorkSport Skid Plate for 2014-2016 Mazda 3 alleviate your issues.

P.S. Our two-piece design allows us to develop fitments for other models. If you’re interested in a skid plate for your car, let us know, and we might start work on one for you!

 

Sneak Peek at an Upcoming Transmission Motor Mount

Here is a treat for GEN3 (2014+) Mazda 3 owners!

We are in the process of designing and producing a CorkSport Transmission Motor Mount, (TMM), to reduce the excessive engine movement present from the factory. Buckle up as we go through a sneak peek at some features and go through the design process and decisions that all serve to give you a better mount in the end.


When approaching this project we sought out to improve the performance of the GEN3 Mazda 3 without sacrificing drivability or OEM fitment. Stiffer motor mounts are a great way to improve throttle response, improve shift feel, and reduce wheel hop by reducing the total amount of engine movement but they can hugely increase NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness). As such, there is a balancing act between finding an acceptable level of NVH for the performance gains you get.

In a typical front wheel drive car the engine is mounted in a transverse matter, that is, the engine is parallel to the axle centerline. So when the engine tries to turn the wheels, the force to do so tries to make the engine rotate in the opposite direction. Motor mounts resist this motion of the engine.

Initially, we wanted to change the orientation of the factory mount for the Mazda3 to use the polyurethane bushings in the most optimal way possible as the bushings function best when they are parallel to the axis of rotation. Doing so proved to be difficult as we were effectively creating a new pivot point in the system.

Going through this design, we also realized that overall size was becoming a problem as different transmissions have varying heights. Since this mount sits right above the transmission, this was a vital thing to keep in mind. So for our 2.5L manual Mazda 3, we had a good amount of room below the mount, but it needed to go on a serious diet to fit an automatic model. This meant moving to a drastically smaller bushing which likely would have increased NVH, only using the mount for manual models, or using a custom bracket for each different transmission & model. Check out down below for one of the early (and ugly) designs.

So we went back to the drawing board. We decided to move forward with a design similar to the OE design. Doing so allowed for a smaller mount, easier manufacturing, and a significantly wider applicable model range. This includes all 2014-2016 Mazda 3, all 2014-2016 Mazda 6, and 2013-2016 CX-5 (we have not confirmed the 2017+ models years yet, but there’s a good chance this will be compatible).

Even though we went to a similar design to OE do not assume it’s the same thing. The CorkSport mount has the same diameter bushing as the OE mount; however, the OE mount does not utilize all the available space. This means that in addition to the stiffer polyurethane material, there is simply more material to resist the engine’s movement.

The CorkSport TMM utilizes billet aluminum for the main body of the mount with stainless steel plates for the washers and the angled section of the mount. This provides a more attractive and lighter mount than the OE offering while retaining the same strength and fitment of OE. Check out the picture down below for a look at one of our 3D printed prototype test fits.

We just received our first functional prototypes for further fitment and testing since 3D printed plastic parts don’t support an engine & transmission very well. With these samples, we can determine exactly how stiff to make the polyurethane and finalize the best possible design for you. During our test fit, we even noticed some deterioration of the OE mount.

This OE mount came off of the CorkSport Mazda 3 racecar. While it does not have many miles, they have all been racing miles that are very hard on all vehicle components. Check out the image down below to see a comparison between the used mount (left), a new mount (center), and the CorkSport prototype TMM (right). It’s interesting that Mazda has made some changes to their OE mount in the last few years. What you can’t see very well is that the racecar’s mount has areas where the rubber is starting to separate from the metal center section of the mount. There are even a few small tears forming on some of the inner bushing surfaces.

These signs of wear are encouraging to us at CS since this means we are helping to solve a potential problem facing 2014+ Mazda3 owners. As such we could not wait to get the TMM on a car for testing. Fitment is great so far, and we were even able to overcome some minor manufacturing errors. The first test for the mount was with the CorkSport Mazda 3 racecar at the 25 hours of Thunderhill. This event is an endurance race that runs for 25 hours straight.

The Mazda3 completed 613 laps during this time covering over 1800 hard miles. This is a torture test for any part, and I’m happy to report that the CorkSport TMM passed with flying colors. The drivers liked the mount and Derrick (who owns the car) reported greatly reduced slop in the transmission when shifting. Here is what the mount looked like after the 25-hour long race:

Aside from being very dirty and having a few scratches where it was bolted down, the mount had no issues and was still in good working condition. It already has a new home in a daily driven Mazda 3 to get even more testing done. Initial impressions are good, but we will look to decrease NVH as much as possible before any of you get your hands on it. Look for the CorkSport 2014+ Mazda 3 Transmission Motor Mount in the next few months.

Dear Mazda, I have a Wish List

Dear Mazda,

I want to let you know what’s on my wish-list so that if you ever happen to stumble upon our wonderful little world of CorkSport, you’ll see everything I’ve been dreaming of.

1.      New Mazdaspeed

While I personally prefer the Mazdaspeed3 hatchback look, I’d even be ok with a Mazdaspeed6 iteration. I like to have fun; I like to be pushed back in my seat by power and performance, and realistically I LIKE TO GO FAST. The newest generations of Mazda are missing some of these aspects, and I’ve been dreaming of their return!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the Gen3 Mazda3. It’s a smooth ride, and we’re pretty stoked about what it can offer. However, our customers like to make power, N/A leaves us begging for more despite what HP we can squeeze out of the Mazda3.

So, Dear Mazda, Please bring back the Mazdaspeed!

2.      Mazda CX-3 with a turbo

Genuinely, I like the look of the CX3, I enjoy the size of the CX-3 and even find that it suits my ever changing lifestyle being a little higher off the ground. (For those who don’t, check out CorkSport’s lowering springs for the CX-3). It’s just flat out missing the power that comes with a turbo. It’s “get up and go” is … well… slow. This could, with the right improvements, be a great replacement for the Mazdaspeed3 for those of us waiting for the newest generation. Just please, please, can we get some more POWER?!

3.     Turbo Diesel Mazda 6

You gave it to everyone else!!! Why in the world would you leave us out?! You have to do ZERO redesigns; just getting it to the states is all I’m asking. The clean look of the Gen3 Mazda6 is something we like, but the power and improvements that come with the Turbo Diesel, I mean COME ON?! Just let us have a chance at it!

Heck, make that an AWD Mazda 6.

If you’re feeling generous, you could make it an AWD Turbo Diesel Mazda 6.

If we’re going THAT far, make it an AWD Turbo Diesel Mazda 6 wagon, because “I love me some hatchback!” that big booty look, and being able to fit all of the things… What’s not to love?!

It’s not a long list, and I realize that it’s selfish of me to ask, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one you would be making happy if you would just deliver on even ONE of these items.

Hopefully yours,

Kim@CorkSport

 

P.S Apple Carplay, and Android Auto… have been in the works for about 3 years, and you probably could have just hired a coder and completed a custom code in half the time… so we’re still waiting for that one too.

Kill The Nannies

Nannies. One thing we have discovered while racing our Mazda 3 is that the OEM safety systems in the newest generation of Mazda 3 work well, too well in fact for racing.

Each year, new safety features are added by Mazda which make the cars safer and reduces the risk of collisions. This is great for day to day driving and commuting, but it presents a problem if you plan to take your car to the track to race it.

The OEM system in the car really frowns on lifting a rear tire off the ground, or when you get wheel spin accelerating out of a slow speed corner. They design the cars against these things happening for safety purposes (understandably). However, Mazda does give you a button on your dash to turn off the traction control. This gets us racers around the limitations to a certain degree.

Let me explain:

When you disengage traction control, the system which measures yaw/pitch and ensures your car has all the wheels on the ground is actually still working, even with the button off. What the button does essentially is give you a sort of leash with more leeway, until the computer thinks you have gone too far of course, then it will kick in traction control again.

So, how do we get past these nanny systems so we can push our cars for maximum performance?

Can you simply unplug the computer which controls the this? I wish it were that simple, but you cannot. The systems in the car are all tied to each other, and the car may not start, it may not run safely, or it may run in a limp mode. A good example of this in our 2015 Mazda3 is: if you unplug the rear view mirror the car won’t start. The ABS is also controlled by the same unit, and this is very handy to have on the track.  The ABS is very good in the Mazda3 by the way, so I recommend you keep it.

The solution we’ve come up with at CorkSport is pretty simple: Leave the computer plugged in and turn it over.

That’s it, simple, nothing else is required. What happens when you turn the computer upside down is the computer loses its physical reference point, so it defaults by turning off the stability control and nannies, but most-importantly, the ABS still functions.

A big word of caution: The computer which controls the nannies also runs the airbags. If you race your car on the track, the airbags will have been removed from your car already. DO NOT drive your airbag-equipped car with the module flipped over.

The reason this solution works for the track is that our Mazda 3 race car has additional safety equipment installed, with the 6-point harness and halo seat, along with the rest of the driver’s safety gear, that keep you from injury in the event of any wrecks.

FYI: When using this “hack”, your Mazda 3 dashboard will light up like a Christmas tree from all of the warnings; but that is a small price to pay for the improved performance while racing.

–Derrick

DISCLAIMER: This modification is for racing purposes ONLY. Doing so will render many of your car’s safety systems ineffective. Installing other safety systems after this modification is essential.

 

FACEOFF: 2018 Mazda 3 Touring vs 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport

As a car guy, I can appreciate any newly-released automobile despite my individual taste and opinions. I believe every car has its own style, character, and soul, and should be given a chance to win you over.

With that being said, let’s compare the style, character, and soul of two different cars that have found a way into my life this year and see how they measure up against each other.

In one corner of the ring, we have a 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport trim, equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission. In the other corner I have a 2018 Mazda 3 Hatchback Touring trim, equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

I realize these two cars don’t provide a perfect “apples-to-apples” comparison, but I think the differences will make for an interesting comparison, so let’s roll with it.

Exterior Overview:

Walking up to the Civic Hatchback Sport gives me a rush of being a teenager with a new car, as if I was 17 and my dad just gave me the keys to his coveted R34 GTR (maybe that’s pushing it, but you get the idea).

There’s an overwhelming urge to jump in and fast-track the chiseled 4-door to the nearest curvy canyon back road; not to return till the E light brings me back to my senses.  

The hard lines, pronounced fenders, and smooth roofline from hood to end of the hatch tell you that the civic hatchback is here to party, but then there’s more.  Bump it up to the Sport Trim to add a little attitude with the piano black finishes, grill, hatch spoiler, and matching front/rear lips and side skirts.

Now that I’ve had my teenage fun, it’s time to throw on the button-up and head into town for an eventful evening… with the Mazda 3.

The Mazda3 gives me a different feeling than the Civic: the more refined and sophisticated appreciation of being a car guy. I walk up to the Mazda 3 Hatchback smiling; wondering which German exotic I’ll be mistaken for today and knowing that I can enjoy cruising the strip just as much as the autocross course at the local track.

The body lines of the Mazda 3 emphasize the beauty of simplicity: long defining curves, with just a bit of a sharp edge, follow the natural shape of the hatchback from front to rear. The curves tie-in with the front and rear fenders, headlights, and the hood line providing a fluid motion style.

The 3rd Gen Mazda 3 Hatchback does not immediately scream “speed”, but it does whisper “sweet nothings” in your ear. What more could you ask for? However, if you are looking for a little more of an aggressive look, then opt-in for the piano black lip and side skirt kit available from Mazda.

Interior Overview:

Now that we have made it past the sleek curves of the Mazda3, let’s take a seat inside to get a little more up-close and personal.

The first impression of the Mazda3 Touring Model interior is great, to say the least. Strapping in, the black leather seat is plush and supportive with functional but conservative side bolstering. The brushed nickel style accents are purposeful and not overwhelming in the steering wheel, dash, doors, and center console, with the all-black interior broken up with tasteful chocolate/maroon leather in the door panels and center console. Lastly, the beautifully simple exterior curves are brought into the cabin from the door panels and up through the dash. If there wasn’t a large chrome “M” on the steering wheel, I might begin to mistake the Mazda 3 for a more exotic automobile.

Back to the Honda Civic and its more aggressive visual language.

That same language carries into the interior, but in a less-refined manner than the Mazda 3 provides. The Civic’s interior is full of sharp edges, much like the body, and some touches of brushed nickel and carbon fiber print to give it a sporty feel. The seats follow a more functional style with the sports-inspired cloth material, carbon print inlay, and conservative side bolstering. They do the job in creating a sporty look, but leave something to be desired in terms of higher-end quality.

Power:

Both platforms have two engine options, both of which are a naturally-aspirated 2.0L 4-cylinder, producing around 155 hp each. Lucky for me, neither the Honda Civic nor the Mazda 3 have those lowly-base model engines.

The Honda Civic Hatchback Sport comes equipped, standard, with the turbocharged 1.5L 4-cyl, putting down an impressive 180 hp and 177 lb-ft, according to Honda. Most inspiring of all is the spirited 1.5’s ability to produce the torque from a meager 2000 rpm and carry it to 5000 rpm before beginning to fall off. Pair this with the slick 6-speed manual gearbox, and a curb weight of just 2868 lb, and you have a very fun daily driver.

Jumping back in the Mazda 3 Hatchback, we have the 2.5L Sky-Activ G 4-cylinder laying down 184 hp and 185 lb-ft, according to Mazda. The naturally-aspirated 2.5 provides alert throttle response and power that continues to build through the RPM range. The peppy feel of the hatchback could be improved a bit if you opted for the 6-speed manual transmission, unfortunately the automatic takes away from the responsiveness a bit. With similar power, the Mazda Hatchback comes in with a curb weight of 3098 lb for the AT, and 3046 lb for the MT.

Looking at the dynographs, you may notice an issue:

Honda’s claimed crank horsepower and torque match our measured wheel horsepower and torque. Did Honda sandbag their numbers? I can neither confirm nor deny, but we are not the only ones to see this in testing. The Mazda 3 dynograph shows a more typical drop in power and torque to the wheels, as the drivetrain does have some parasitic losses that rob power.

Honda vs Mazda Dynograph  |  Red = HondaGreen = Mazda

Handling:

Enough about the style and looks, let’s dive into how do these automobiles drive.

Looking at the chassis and suspension, both the Civic and Mazda3 have a 106.3 in wheelbase, 18 in alloy wheels, MacPherson struts up front and multi-link suspension for the rear. Other than the curb weight, we have two very similar vehicles. However, we really start to see differences in the driving experience.  

Tossing the Hatchback Sport around corners feels almost effortless; the 5-door is nimble on its feet and eager to respond to every input. The steering is light, bordering on almost numb feeling, but does not show any sign of wandering with inputs. The chassis likes to move around, whether diving into a corner or with body roll through a corner. Despite the moving body, the Civic is predictable and confidence-inspiring. It wants you to rip around low-speed corners with a smile on your face.

Daily driving the Hatchback Sport is also a pleasurable experience; the suspension is not too harsh, perhaps more on the soft side, providing an easy and no-jarring cruise along the interstate. Looking at the lineup Honda has for the Civic this makes sense. The Sport Hatchback stays under the “sport” level of the Civic SI, and if you really want a canyon and track toy, you opt for the Civic Type-R. I do have one major complaint about this model: the clutch engagement is really… disappointing. Tighten this up, and provide a bit more feedback and you can have a real winner.  

Now, how does the Mazda 3 hatch stack up against the Honda?

Driving the Mazda 3 again inspires confidence with it’s tidy and playful response to steering inputs, however the steering feels a bit heavier than that of the Civic. The steering provides a bit more feedback and a desired amount of effort; it reminds you that you are driving a full size car instead of a go-kart. The Mazda3 really comes alive through the corners, and you begin to understand why the ride quality has just a bit of stiffness for a daily commuter. The “3” dives into corners with great steadiness, then plants and pulls through the apex. However, the extra 230 lb can be felt, as the car just feels like it’s trying to move more weight around vs the Civic.

For the daily routine, the Mazda 3 hatchback is a joy to drive through the city or on road trips. The slightly-stiff suspension reminds you that the Mazda is willing at any moment to kick it down a gear and have fun, but is still refined enough to sit back and relax. The only criticism I can really comment on is that it feels like the Mazda 3 is really trying to be a “jack of all trades”, unlike the Civic Hatchback Sport.  Perhaps, if Mazda brought back the Mazdaspeed or equivalent to the lineup, they would be able to offer more specific performance setups for customers to truly choose what they want, leaving the base Mazda 3 to be a little softer.

Coming back to my earlier sentiment: every car has a style, character, and soul that should be given a chance to be appreciated by any gearhead. Both the Honda Civic and the Mazda 3 have loads of each and love to show it.

When faced with the decision to choose between the two, it’s a difficult choice.

I’m a performance-oriented car guy and I love the fact that the Honda now has a turbo engine in the line-up, so that’s a huge selling factor for me, as well as the boy-racer in me who jumps to put pedal-to-floor every time I look at it. The Mazda 3 Hatch reminds me that I could have my cake and eat most of it too.  The exterior is still edgy enough to keep me hooked as a speed-fiend, and the interior is just great, far above what you would expect at the $20k to $23k price point.

Pricing: Honda = $21300  |  Mazda = $21890

SPECIFICATIONS
  2017 Honda Civic
Hatchback Sport
2018 Mazda 3
Hatchback Touring
Vehicle Type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
POWERTRAIN:
Engine Type: turbocharged & intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block & head, direct fuel injection naturally aspirated DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block & head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 91 cu-in, 1497 cc 151 cu-in, 2488 cc
Manufacturer Claimed Power: 180 hp @ 5500 rpm 184 hp @ 5400 rpm
Manufacturer Claimed Torque: 177 lb-ft @ 1900 rpm 185 lb-ft @ 3250 rpm
Chassis-Dyno Recorded Power: 180 hp @ 5750 rpm 160 hp @ 5900 rpm
Chassis-Dyno Recorded Torque: 180 lb-ft @ 3100 rpm 175 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
CHASSIS:
Transmission Type: manual, 6-speed automatic, 6-speed w/manual shift & sport mode
First Gear: 3.643 3.552
Fourth Gear: 1.024 1.000
Final Drive Ratio: 4.105 3.389
CHASSIS:
Wheelbase: 106.3 in 106.3 in
Curb Weight: 2871 lbs 3100 lbs
Front Suspension: MacPherson strut
w/stabilizer bar
MacPherson strut
w/stabilizer bar
Rear Suspension: multilink
w/stabilizer bar
multilink
w/stabilizer bar
Steering Ratio: 10.93:1 14:1
Brakes F/R: 11.1 in / 10.2 in 11.61 in / 10.43 in
EPA-ESTIMATED FUEL ECONOMY:
Fuel Type: Regular Unleaded Regular Unleaded
City: 30 25
Highway: 39 34

To make a long story short, you can accomplish many of the same goals with both candidates, but in two very different ways.

So, whether it’s the brand, the trim, or the balance of style and performance, ask yourself: which one speaks to you?

Let us know in the comments!

-Barett, CorkSport Engineering