Tag Archives: mazdaspeed

Wiggle it – Just a little bit…

21 Apr

If you remember when the 2007 Mazdaspeed 3 was released, you may recall the rave reviews from the automotive press.  If I recall correctly, they called it the “Wild Child” in the Mazda lineup.  It boasted huge power for a FWD platform and enthusiasts were quick to buy and modify them for even more thrust.

Unfortunately, Mazda’s 2.3 liter direct-injected, turbocharged torque-monster was a bit TOO powerful.  How so?  The stock rear motor mount is very, very soft relative to how much power the motor makes.  Even on startup and shutdown you can see how much the motor moves around.  Hell, you can pretty much rock the motor back and forth with your hands while it’s bolted in.  Such a soft mount translates to unwanted movement that exacerbates wheel hop and torque steer.

In response, the aftermarket has come up with many, many mounts over the years.  Some companies offer several choices of stiffness to appeal to a broad amount of people.  The stiffer mount works better to limit movement and lessen wheel hop/torque steer, but that translates to a cabin loaded with vibration.  Cobb came into the rear motor mount game pretty late, but hopefully that means they have perfected what others have been doing for a while.  Unlike the other companies, Cobb offers one mount in one configuration and one stiffness…done.  While the competition has chosen urethan bushings ranging from 60-90 durometer, Cobb’s mount is 85.  To offset some of the added vibration, Cobb’s mount has several holes drilled through the bushing.  They claim that this feature offers the performance benefits of the stiffest mounts while keeping the vibrations tolerable.

Recently, I had the opportunity to install Cobb’s new rear motor mount for my 2011 Mazdaspeed 3.  Not surprisingly, the Cobb piece is beautifully machined.  It really is a shame that such a nicely finished part is tucked away out of sight.  It’s a pretty straightforward affair involving 5 bolts in total.  A vertical bolt attaches the mount to the subframe and a horizontal bolt attaches to a bracket on the transmission.  The transmission bracket has 3 bolts that must be loosened to swing the bracket out of the way for removal of the old mount and installation of the new Cobb piece.

Once installed, I was shocked at the amount of initial vibration while the car was just cranking to start – it really shook the entire car!  After reading about motor mount upgrades for a while, many people have mentioned that the start is the worst and that the urethane breaks after a few hundred miles once it’s flexed/loaded on and off.  I’ll admit, I was skeptical…the initial vibrations and idle were annoying but thankfully there was no drone on wide open throttle.

After some 600 miles and a short road trip weekend along lots of different roads, I’m pleased to report that the mount has definitely calmed down.  On a cold start, you can feel a bit of vibration during cranking but it’s nothing like that first start.  As a frame of reference, I used to have an Ingalls engine torque mount on my old 2006 Civic SI and the vibration during start-up is very similar.  In fact, I really don’t notice the mount at all except during start-up and if I blip the throttle at idle while stopped (which is super-douchey anyway).  Nothing in the cabin rattles at idle with or without the AC and there is no squeaking or rattling while shifting or loading the car with power.  On the road, torque steer and wheel hop are very much improved and replaced with a bit more wheel spin as the power is getting right to the ground.

I’m really happy with the mount so far.  I’ll admit, I do have minor concerns about the longevity of the bushing itself.  Over time, I’m wondering if the drilled sections of the urethane may crack with the constant flexing.  I’ll inspect the bushing itself and check that the mount is properly torqued during oil changes.

As a sidenote, this mount fits all 2007-2013 Mazdaspeed 3’s as well as Ford’s new Focus ST (not surprising considering how many OEM parts on my car are marked “FOMOCO”).

 

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Ooooh, that feels better!

22 Feb

Our 2011 Mazdaspeed 3 is an impressive car to drive, even in stock form.  That said, there are areas that could be improved… The stock shifter action is smooth and comfortable, albeit vague.  Interestingly, this is at odds with the lovely chassis/suspension which offer lots of good feedback.  The shift throws could be a bit shorter and more precise.  If I could set the bar for comparison, the Honda S2000 has probably the best shifter I’ve ever…ummm…shifted?

Thankfully, there are a number of products on the market that can help improve the situation.  I chose Corksport’s adjustable short shift plate and solid shifter base bushings.  Together, they should shorten the gap between gear engagements and limit the side-to-side movement of the shifter.

Installation is pretty simple, even for someone like me with no mechanical ability and fat, stubby fingers.  Still, I managed to get my hands cut up a bit!  The Corksport shift plate mounts on TOP of the factory piece so installation is simply a matter of popping off the shift cable under the hood and unbolting the stock shift-counterweight.  Corksport also supplies a lighter counterweight with their short shift plate, which should give the shift action a more mechanical feel.  The plate and counterweight fit perfectly and are made from sturdy CNC’d steel with a black powder coating.  The plate is adjustable from a 20%-40% reduction in throw.  I started at 20%…

Corksport short shift plate packaging, with free candy.  Cool.

Corksport short shift plate packaging, with free candy. Cool.

The Corksport shift plate and counterweight installed.  Easy!

The Corksport shift plate and counterweight installed. Easy!

Those with mechanical ability will come out unscathed...

Those with mechanical ability will come out unscathed…

The next step was to move on to the interior to install the shifter base bushings.  One look at the stock bushings will show you how the shifter base can rock from side to side.  The Corksport bushings and washers are made from solid billet aluminum with an anodized finish, so they should help tighten things up and eliminate some free play.  This installation is still simple, but there is the potential for aggravation if you aren’t careful.  The stock rubber bushings go through the shifter base while the Corksport bushings go UNDER the base.  Once the shift knob is removed and the shifter/ebrake console pulled up, you will see the shifter base.  The base is bolted in four locations so removal of the factory bushings is a simple matter of unbolting with a deep 10mm socket and a long extension, then pulling the bushings out with some needle nose pliers (it can take some effort).  The tricky part is sliding the bushings under the base, lining them up and bolting them in without having them slide down the underside of the carpet (which would be a chore to retrieve).  I put each bushing in one-by-one, carefully lining them up and lightly threading them by hand . This way, the base has some wiggle room without worrying about losing one bushing while aligning another one.  Once they are all in place, they get snugged down and the interior panels are popped back in.  Good to go!

Nice embossed tin case for the solid shifter base bushings.

Nice embossed tin case for the solid shifter base bushings.

Stock Squishy bushings out!

Stock Squishy bushings out!

New solid billet bushings ready to go!

New solid billet bushings ready to go!

So, all done right?  Nope.  I took the car out for a quick spin and things weren’t perfect.  The shift action was defintely shorter and more defined, but a bit too notchy for my taste.  Even worse, gears 1, 3 and 5 didn’t shift the same way as 4 and 6…as if they were just barely engaging.  Fortunately, the gear-select cable is adjustable (yay Mazdaspeedforums!)  You can unlock the factory position by pulling the set spring toward you while lifting the orange lock.  Once unlocked, you can move the select-cable up or down the shaft (hehe shaft)  and lock in a new position.  This changes the neutral position of the shifter a bit and how the gears engage.  After a little trial and error, I found the perfect position and locked it in.  So, now that all of the gears shift accurately, things are feeling pretty good…but not perfect.

The gear select cable adjuster.

The gear select cable adjuster.

So, the shift throw is shorter (20% position feels nice) and more precise but with perhaps a bit too much mechanical feeling which means “notchiness” requiring excessing shifting effort.  The MS3 is my daily driver so I’m not banging gears on the way to the grocery store…things still have to be comfortable!  I re-installed the heavy shift counterweight and everything was smooth…too smooth.  Oy.  So, it seems to me that the key is the amount of weight in the system and where the weight is.  I have Corksport’s light counterweight and a heavy OEM counterweight and neither feel perfect with the OEM shift knob.  See where I’m going with this?  So, I ordered a couple of shift knobs.  The first one I tried is the Carbing high grip knob made out of “duracon” (like delrin).  It’s super, super light and has a nice grippy, knurled center section which is cool.  With the heavy OEM counterweight, the shift-feel is just about perfect.  Shifting is quick, crisp and fun!  Unfortunately, the Carbing knob isn’t very pretty.  So, I also have a knob being custom-made from brushed stainless steel with a leather wrapped center section and an engraved shift pattern.  It will be a bit thicker than the Carbing knob, but height is the same and the threads of each one are countersunk.  I plan to try the new heavy knob with the lightweight Corksport counterweight to see which setup I prefer.  Hopefully I can achieve the same feel that I have now and retain an OEM quality look inside the car.

I will report back when the custom heavy knob arrives!  For now, I’ll live with the way it looks and concentrate on how it feels…crisp and tight!

The super-light duracon knob made by Carbing.

The super-light duracon knob made by Carbing.

The Carbing knob includes a few shift patterns if you can deal with a sticker inside your car.

The Carbing knob includes a few shift patterns if you can deal with a sticker inside your car.

Shift feel = great!  Shift look = eh.

Shift feel = great! Shift look = eh.

Ready for Spring

12 Feb

After last weeks storm, I’m really looking forward to Spring and weekend window-down driving. In preparation, I cleaned up my summer wheels for our 2011 Mazdaspeed 3.

It’s been a couple of seasons since I’ve done this so it was a chore to get the old weight adhesive and road tar cleaned up. The job calls for some simple green, WD40, rubbing alcohol and a few old microfibers. A plastic razor also helps with the tar and adhesive residue once you soak the affected areas in a bit of WD40 to loosen up the grime. A plastic razor won’t scratch the surface like a real blade…

Each wheel took about 40 minutes to clean up and polish with a good cleaner wax like klasse AIO but it’s time well spent. These wheels are now 6 years old and still in decent shape with only minor rash that I’ll touch up and wet sand soon.

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Mazda Races to the End of an Era

30 Sep

Saturday’s Rolex Sports Car Series season finale at Lime Rock Park will mark the end of an era for one of the most successful cars in GRAND-AM history.

With 18 class victories, including two GT titles at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and a sweep of the 2010 drivers, teams and manufacturers’ championships, Mazda’s RX-8 will take a final bow this weekend after a storied five-year run.

“There is not a Mazda employee, racer, or race fan who does not hear the rotary exhaust note as our special theme song,” said John Doonan, Mazda Motorsports director.

“With two Rolex 24 Hour GT wins, and a championship in 2010, we are hoping to close out the GRAND-AM GT chapter with a win at Lime Rock. I know that everyone at SpeedSource, Team Sahlen’s, Dempsey Racing and Yellow Dragon would like to be the one to deliver that win.”

Five rotary-powered beasts are expected to take the green flag on Saturday, including the flagship No. 70 SpeedSource entry of Jonathan Bomarito and Sylvain Tremblay, whose Florida-based organization built and developed the RX-8 into a championship-winning car.

This weekend, the SpeedSource entry will carry a commemorative hood, listing each of the victories and the drivers who achieved them.

The RX-8’s most recent trip to victory lane came just three weeks ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, when Dane Cameron and Wayne Nonnamaker gave Team Sahlen’s its first-ever GT class win in the team’s second-to-last appearance in the highly competitive category.

While it may be the end of the road for the RX-8, which concluded production in 2011, the rotary will live on in the Star Mazda Championship next year.

In the sports car ranks, Mazda will focus efforts on its new SKYACTIV-D engine platform, which will be seen in GRAND-AM’s new GX category in 2013, as well as LMP2 worldwide.

“Lime Rock will be the end of a chapter – but not the book, for the Mazda rotary,” Doonan added. “While rotary production is on hiatus in Hiroshima, the program is far from dead. Work continues on the next-generation rotary engine, and we look forward to sharing information with you about it, when we can.

“Right now, though, our 2013 GRAND-AM and ALMS programs will be focused on the new SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel race engine, another industry-first for Mazda.”

Dempsey Racing was announced earlier this year as the first intended LMP2 customer of the SpeedSource-developed 2.2-liter diesel turbo, while the identity of the GRAND-AM GX-class entry, which will also be SKYACTIV-D-powered, is expected to be revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

John Dagys is SPEED.com’s Sportscar Racing Reporter, focusing on all major domestic and international championships. You can follow him on Twitter @johndagys or email him at askdagys@gmail.com

More Modern Vintage

27 Mar

Additional pics and specs on the car

Engine bay:
ARC Air Chamber
Apexi Air Filter & heat shield
HKS Header
HKS Drager SS Exhaust

Suspension:
Zeal Coilovers 12k 16k,
Mazda Speed Strut bar
Flyin miata sway bars

Wheels:
Black BBS RM 15×8.5 and 15×9.5

Exterior:
PitCrew Front conversion,
Garage Vary rear Classic Tail
Rear R lip
Project-G Roof Spoiler
Classic Carriers trunk rack
JDM Chrome mirrors

Interior:
Nardi Steering wheel,
Cs Short Shifter
Racing Beat Style Bar

Cobb Accessport for 2010+ Mazdaspeed 3

9 Feb

2010 MAZDASPEED3 AccessPORT

Contact us to order! Free Shipping for a limited time