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

CST6 – The CorkSport Stock Flange Record Turbo

A few weeks ago we discussed some of the design intent behind the CST5 turbocharger for the Mazdaspeed platform.  Today, we want to follow up with the CST6. The CST5 and the CST6 both were a result of CorkSport’s desire to develop a new stock flange turbocharger that goes beyond the power limits of our FANTASTIC  CST4 Turbo.  

During development of a higher power stock flange performance turbo we found that we were asking too much of the CST4 Design.  The result of our efforts are the CST5 Turbo which you can see here and the CST6 Turbo which we are about to dig into.  

In this blog we’ll dig into the wheel sizing, the CHRA, and some of the challenges we faced in the development and testing.  

The compressor wheel utilized on the CST6 the well-known and trusted GEN1 GTX76.  The GTX76 compressor is rated for 64 lb/min and is capable of boost pressures that will require a 4bar MAP sensor upgrade.  Like the CST5, the compressor housing is a 4inch inlet with anti-surge porting.

Unlike the CST4 and CST5, the CST6 uses a completely different CHRA and bearing system, and for good reason.  As the turbocharger wheel sizes increase so do the weight and potential boost pressure. This results in higher loads on the wheels, turbine shaft, and bearing system. To increase durability and performance of the CST6, we opted to move from a conventional journal bearing design for a more modern and robust ball bearing design.  

The ball bearing system improves durability and stability for high horsepower/high boost operation along with improved spool and transient response.  Changing the CHRA did pose some new challenges however. Ease of installation has always been a key feature with CorkSport products and that’s not lost with the CST6.  The CHRA has been modified to support use of the OE oil drain line and all necessary oil feed components and coolant components are included for seamless installation.

Like the CST5 Turbo, we’ve put focus on the wheel size ratio and have validated it’s performance. The CST6 Performance Turbo uses the Gen1 GTX76 compressor wheel paired with the Garrett GT35 turbine wheel…aka GTX3576r.  This wheel combination provides us with a ratio of 1.12 which falls well within the rule of thumb discussed the in the past CST5 blog.

In testing, we found that increasing the size of the turbine wheel from a GT30 to a GT35 with the same GTX76 compressor wheel resulted in more top-end power and no penalty in spool time.  This combo also provided a good power delta from the CST5 to better provide an optimal power option for the community. Since then the CST6 has proven power at 600+whp at ~34-35psi and testing will continue past 40psi.  

The initial testing of the CST6 started with an internally wastegated turbine housing as that was the original goal with the CST5 and CST6.  However, it quick became obvious that a turbocharger of this size and power potential could not be safely controlled with an internal wastegate.  The amount the wastegate port and “exhaust” or flow was not nearly adequate for proper boost control.

Boost would creep to nearly 26psi with no signs of tapering off.  Nevertheless we continue testing knowing that auxiliary fueling was necessary.  Once the CST6 power and durability was validated we moved to design a turbine housing that could provide the necessary boost control and power potential.

Above is the removed CST6 internally waste-gated housing.  In our testing we pushed the turbo to nearly 600whp with 40gph of methanol auxiliary fueling.  This amount of heat combined with a turbine housing that was literally being pushed to its limits resulted in a great learning experience.  As you can see, the turbine housing was cracking! The GT35 turbine wheel and power was just too much.

From this discovery and analysis we developed the EWG turbine housing with the CST6 in mind.  The scroll size was increased, wall thickness increased in critical areas and the 44mm EWG port added.  

With the use of the EWG turbine housing, boost control is now spot on and can easily controlled from spring pressure to an excess of 35+psi.  Stick around as we continue to push the limits of the CST6 as we continue testing and validation of the CorkSport V2 Intake Manifold w/Port Injection.  

Thanks for tuning in with CorkSport Mazda Performance.

-Barett @ CS

CorkSport Mazda6 2.5T Boost Tube

We are proud to release the https://corksport.com/2018-mazda-6-2.5l-turbo-boost-tubes.htmlCorkSport Upgraded Boost Tube for 2018+ Mazda 6 2.5T and 2016+ CX-9 2.5T. The CorkSport boost tube is larger, stronger, more reliable, and of course better looking than the OEM rubber tube. Increase throttle response down low, hit boost targets easier and future proof your ride for mods down the road with a simple 1-hour install. Read on for full details and be sure to check out the R&D blogs here and here for the backstory.

In case you haven’t read the previous blog installments, the CorkSport Boost Tube improves on the OEM boost tube by first strengthening the tube. Instead of using rubber with one reinforcement layer, the CS boost tube use silicone with 5 layers of reinforcement. Aside from the extra layers of reinforcement, silicone stays strong at high engine bay temperatures that may cause rubber to flex excessively. In addition, silicone lasts longer and will better resist cracking as your Mazda 6 Turbo ages. The OEM boost tube is made from materials very similar to the OEM Mazdaspeed 3 boost tubes that showed signs from aging extremely quickly, especially when subjected to higher than OEM boost levels. Cracking or splitting of the OEM tubes results in boost leaks and a poorly running car, definitely not what you want from your brand new SkyActiv 2.5T.

The added strength prevents the CorkSport Upgraded Boost Tube from expanding excessively when subjected to pressure. When pressure tested at 20psi (the largest pressure we have seen at the intercooler outlet), the OEM tube was shown to expand 12% at the internal cross-sectional area. The CS tube tested under the same conditions expanded 3x LESS. This difference would get even larger when subjected to the same pressure at a higher temperature. What does this mean for performance though? When you get on the gas, the boosted air will have to expand the tube before it can enter your engine. The less the tube expands, the easier it is to hit boost targets, and the better throttle response you have, especially down low in the RPM range.

The CS Boost Tube also is a larger inside diameter than your OEM tube. It is 3” through the middle vs. the OEM ~2.44”. Since this area of the charge piping system is directly ahead of the throttle body, this large volume of air has the same effect as it does with our GEN2 Mazdaspeed3 FMIC kit, reducing boost lag and increasing throttle response. For full info on why this happens, check out the release blog for that kit here. As a basic overview, the large volume of air right before the throttle body fools the engine into thinking it has a larger intake manifold plenum than it really does. While not as severe of an effect with just changing this boost tube, try it for yourself and see what you think!

Installing the boost tube is a little tricky due to where it is located, but we include high quality installation instructions to make it easier. Even so, it can be installed in an hour or less in most cases. We also include polished stainless steel T-bolt clamps to ensure a complete seal and add a subtle visual boost.

Be sure to check out the product listing for more pictures, the install instructions, and a detailed product video. Let us know if you have any questions, we’ll be sure to help you any way we can!
Lastly, if any of you are looking for a more serious upgrade, stay patient, our FMIC upgrade & full piping upgrade kit are coming soon!

80mm Gen3 Mazda3 Cat-Back Exhaust

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4 years ago, we released the 60.5mm Exhaust kit for the 3rd Gen Mazda 3 (both in axle back and full cat back flavors). It’s certainly been a hit, but there has been a few of you longing for more noise. Today we are proud to announce the 80mm variant of our cat back exhaust for the 2014-2018 Mazda 3 Hatchback and Sedan! At this time, just the hatchback version is available, but we will have the Sedan version ready in just a few short months.  

Now I know what you’re thinking, an 80mm exhaust seems excessively large for a naturally aspirated car making less than 200whp. But, hear me out because I think you’ll like what’s coming.

80mm piping allows for some unique & louder tones its smaller little brother can’t offer, but it wasn’t as easy as just using the old design and making the pipes larger. We had to do quite a bit of resonator experimentation and NVH analysis to get to the finished result with as little drone as possible. I’ll be upfront with you guys though, this is loud. It’s a good loud with tons of fun noises, but if you’re looking for something subtler, then our 60.5mm cat back or axle back may be a better fit. We do a good job of capturing the audio for you though so you have a good understanding of what you’re getting. Be sure to check out the product video to hear it.

For those wanting this more aggressive exhaust note, sound isn’t the only bonus. We thought about the appearance, and how we could take advantage of this time to tinker with the design. The 80mm does a nice job of not only filling the exhaust tunnel under the car, but the axle back portion is a bit more prominent when you catch a glance.

On the Hatchbacks, the exhaust tips got a nice size increase up to 100mm and they are slant cut to help follow the profile of the bumper. Sedans have also been upsized to 100mm tips, which were lowered slightly to ensure your bumper doesn’t melt with the large piping. This has the added bonus of making the tips a little more visible from the rear and side of the car. In both cases, the way the upsized exhaust accents the rear of the car provides an aftermarket look, that’s classy and somehow the way it always should have been from factory.  
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As with every CorkSport exhaust, this new 80mm variant is made from fully polished T-304 stainless steel for long lasting corrosion resistance. All flanges, hangers, and resonators are precision TIG welded in place while all of the piping is made with smooth mandrel bends. Each  resonator uses a direct flow-thru design to keep the drone down and the volume up without sacrificing power.

Speaking of power, check out the dynograph below. The upsize to 80mm showed similar power gains as the 60.5mm variant, so the extra size isn’t really needed at similar to stock power levels (aside from the great noise of course!). The only change in parts or tune between the two graphs was the exhaust. OEM exhaust (red) vs. CorkSport 80mm Exhaust (green).I

We also believe it’s also very important to be prepared. Future proofing your car for mods down the road is always a great idea, and you’ve probably heard that we have a turbo kit (yes it’s still happening!) and race header in the works. More on those projects later, but I’ll let you put 2 & 2 together…

GET YOURS HERE!!

SkyActiv 2.5T: Let’s Talk Intercooler Pipe Upgrades

We recently went over the stock intercooler & piping system for the 2018+ Mazda 6 2.5T. If you missed it, be sure to check out the blog HERE.

Today, it’s the first look at the CorkSport parts that will be coming in the near future to remedy the issues we found with the OEM system. We are not covering our upgraded intercooler just yet though; today’s focus is piping upgrades!

As you can see we’ve been busy getting the upgraded intercooler piping designed & 3D printed for test fitting (while you can’t see it I promise the cold pipe is hanging out in there too!). I’m happy to say there’s plenty of room to fit the upgraded piping sizes that we were targeting and hopefully they will net us a few HP gain without any other changes.

These horsepower gains typically comes from removing sharp bends and diameter reductions in the stock piping that cause pressure losses. Then, the turbocharger can operate more efficiently to reach the desired boost level. Now how about some more detail on how and why each pipe has changed.

Starting off with the hot side of things (piping from turbo to intercooler), check out the CAD image above. As you can see, the OEM piping (left) is smaller than the CorkSport piping (right). In fact, we plan to use 2.25” piping for the hot side. Note that the plastic OEM piping is much thicker wall than the CS aluminum piping so even if the outer diameter looks similar, the inside diameter is much larger.

In addition, we keep this same inside diameter throughout while the OEM piping has a major diameter reduction through the middle. For those of you coming from a Mazdaspeed 3, 2.25” is the same size used on the hot side of all CS intercooler kits and has proven itself to support 600+WHP on Barett’s car (more info on that HERE). While we know the Sky-T may not be to that level just yet, 2.25” is a great size that gets the hot air to the intercooler as fast as possible while retaining high horsepower capabilities.

It’s not all about size though. Instead of using many tight radius direction changes like OEM, the CorkSport hot pipe uses smooth, large radius mandrel bends throughout. This means smoother and faster airflow to your intercooler. Lastly, you may notice the CS hot pipe is significantly longer than the OEM hard plastic unit (the OEM rubber tube starts at the connection point circled in the image above). This reduces the amount of flexible connector used, limiting what could expand at high boost levels. That being said, the CorkSport kit will use high strength silicone with four fabric reinforcement layers to prevent any expansion anyways.

The cold side of the system was already a decent diameter from the factory, but as you can see, we went even larger. The rubber OEM cold pipe will be replaced with a 3” diameter aluminum pipe. This large diameter pipe and huge volume of air that comes with it right before the throttle body has proven to help throttle response and reduce boost lag on our GEN2 Mazdaspeed 3 FMIC kit. We hope to get much of the same from the SkyActiv 2.5T. The cold side also uses large radius mandrel bends for smooth and fast airflow.

Lastly, the cold side piping reduces the amount of flexible connector used. And just like the hot side, each end of the pipe will use 4-ply reinforced silicone to prevent any expansion under high boost levels.

Those of you with a keen eye will have realized that our planned silicone connectors do not use the same connection style as the OEM intercooler. This is for good reason: we believe that the OEM intercooler will run out of cooling capacity before the OEM piping really becomes an issue. So a piping upgrade by itself wouldn’t show too much of a performance advantage.

In addition, we were able to design the piping to be the best it can without using the constraints of the OEM intercooler. So yes, the upcoming CorkSport intercooler upgrade will be required for the CS piping upgrade to work, but it’s so the CS piping & FMIC combo can be the best it can be for you all!

For those of you that have stuck around this long, check out this tease of a CAD model of the CorkSport FMIC & Piping kit.

And just because we like teasing you, check this early prototype out. Testing to come soon!

Stay tuned for more, as next time we will cover the intercooler itself. Also let us know your thoughts down below, we love your input!

-Daniel @ CorkSport