The best Mazda 6 tuning modifications

"I'm too Sixy for my car"

The Mazda 6 is a good attack on producing an executive car. The car is well thought out and has a good range of engine options and a good chassis design.

However the 6 was not originally aimed a the performance market until very recent times, and as a result, the early models lack many of the interesting engine options available in other marques. That doesn't mean you can't tune them, you just have to try a bit harder, but you can create something special.

This shouldn't stop you as there is much you can do to improve your 6, you just have to pick your mods carefully and do them in the right order.

The drawbacks of the standard Mazda 6 are the lack of engine power and the soft suspension. Both of which can be easily addressed enabling the Mazda 6 tuner to build a good fun car.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

 

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Improving the handling for people often first priority in your Mazda 6 tuning project.

Fully adjustable suspension allows you to fine tune the handling of you Mazda6 greatly benefitting your drive.

We suggest that you fit modified suspension and lower the car by 24mm - 35 mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with performance suspension.

Our members love the Bilstein and Koni kits, however your alternatives will vary based on where you live. In older cars, damaged suspension bushings cause bumps, rattles, and sloppy handling, thus replacing them or installing soft compound polyurethane bushings is highly advised.

Let's cover Mazda6 engine tuning now.

Top end bhp should be your overall aim with a nice fat wide peak torque band.

With just a few mods you can change your Mazda 6 into a really fun car, potentially beating larger cars on the track.

Sadly with smaller engine sizes you are wasting your time spending money on modifications, so if this applies to you get yourself an engine swap then apply the following mods.

Engine tuning mods.

Anything less than the 2.0 NASP is a bit of a waste of time when it comes to tuning as the cost is quite high and the return in power is relatively low.

You might look to the other Mazda engine options to source a suitable donor and do a 2.3 Turbo conversion from the Mazda3 range.

Alternatively, take the 2.0 engine and get the head polished, ported and gas flowed. Then add a fast road cam matched to some larger valves (with a 3 or 5 angle valve job)and you already have a nippy rev happy car.

First generation engines

Engine

  • 1.8 L MZR L8 i4 (gasoline)
  • 2.0 L MZR LF i4 (gasoline)
  • 2.3 L MZR L3 i4 (gasoline)
  • 3.0 L Duratec 30 V6 (gasoline)
  • 2.0 L MZR-CD i4 (diesel)

Transmission
4-speed 4F27E automatic
5-speed JF506E automatic
5-speed FS5A-EL automatic
5-speed G35M-R manual (I4)
5-speed A65M-R manual (V6)
6-speed AWTF-80 SC automatic
6-speed G66M-R manual

The Mazda6 MPS
Powertrain

  • Engine 2.3 L MZR L3-VDT Direct Injection Spark Ignition (DISI) turbo I4

Transmission
6-speed A26MX-R manual

Second generation GH1 07-12

Engine

  • 1.8 L MZR L8 i4 (gasoline)
  • 2.0 L MZR LF i4 (gasoline)
  • 2.5 L MZR L5 i4 (gasoline)
  • 3.7 L Duratec 37 V6 (gasoline)
  • 2.0 L MZR-CD i4 (diesel)
  • 2.2 L MZR-CD i4 (diesel)

Transmission
5-speed manual
5-speed FS5A-EL automatic
6-speed G36M-R manual
6-speed AWTF-80 SC automatic

Third generation from 12-16

Engine

  • 2.0 L SkyActiv-G PE-VPS i4 (gasoline)
  • 2.5 L SkyActiv-G PY-VPS i4 (gasoline)
  • 2.2 L SkyActiv-D SH-VPTS i4 (diesel)

Transmission
6-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic
6-speed SkyActiv-MT manual

This list of the stages and performance upgrades are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

Getting the correct grade of uprated parts for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 motor sport mods just don't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to subscribe and support our new channel.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Lighter flywheel, Remap, Sports exhaust, Alloy wheels, Suspension upgrade (drop 24mm - 35 mm.), Panel air filter.

Stage 1 refers to those who wish to improve their car's performance as simply as possible. Most are DIYers and or have minimal mechanical skills. Sadly, many stage 1 parts do little to improve your car's performance, and we'd like to highlight the most prevalent misconceptions.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Fast road cam, high flow fuel injector, Power/Sport clutch, Ported and polished head, fuel pump upgrades.

Stage 2 mods involve or need the installation of additional parts. While you may argue that many stage 1 mods can be used together, we disagree in labeling these as stage 2 because each mod can be used alone and perform well, however, true stage 2 mods MUST have associated further modules fitted.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Sports gearbox, Engine balancing, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Competition cam.

Stage 3 cars are usually set to function at the top third of the RPM range, where the power is. To avoid stalling, the car may need to be set for a high tick over. Flywheels are often lighter, allowing for faster engine RPM changes, better acceleration, and rev-matching through gear changes but this can cause bogging down on hills.

Peak power is nice in motorsport but for a daily driven car you need a long power band and perhaps extending the rev range.

Best Engine Mods for a Mazda6

No1 Mod is usually remapping an ECU.

NASP engines do not achieve big power gains if you remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications typically around 10%.

With turbocharged engines this is another story. A remapped turbo will give phenomenal power gains and take full advantage of the strength of the block, even the diesel units respond particularly well to ECU tuning.

Electronic ignition allows manufacturers to optimize fuel economy at common highway speeds like 30mph, 56mph, and 70mph where most automobiles travel.

The timing can now be advanced for more power or retracted for better economy when the throttle is wide open.

Why are OEM maps so bad?

Local variances in fuel emission regulations and temperatures usually necessitate a fudging of the one setup for all method.

Manufacturers develop timing maps with a large margin of error to account for temperature variations, minor faults, and bad weather.

Some countries' CO2, HC, and NOx emission targets differ, necessitating a fudged approach.

For this reason, car manufacturers include a large margin of tolerance in their designs.

The fact that different countries utilize different gasoline grades and have varying degrees of adverse weather adds to the fudge that has to be done to keep all cars functioning well globally.

Depending on how well the components are machined and assembled, each Mazda6 has different power output.

Rather than examine each automobile individually and create a custom timing map, they use a one-size-fits-all approach.

Manufacturers employ remaps to create multiple power versions of the same engine, lowering insurance rates and improving fuel economy but all use common components, so in this case, there is power to be ulocked.

Add to that the reality that the average TorqueCars reader will be upgrading components, and you have a compelling case for a remap.

The manufacturer also factors in user neglect, such as infrequent servicing, unclean plugs, poor leads, clogged air filters, partially blocked injectors, etc. And so on.

Who should do a remap?

Anyone who has upgraded their Mazda6 engine should consider remapping. Remaps are also suggested for all modern turbocharged engines, adding 20-30% additional power. On Nasp engines you are looking at around 10% more power.

TorqueCars strongly recommends a remap for turbocharged cars with electronically regulated fuel injection.

Read more about this in our Remapping article

Be wary of peak power claims from remapping companies.

Look at the dyno plot below, one maker quotes a 200hp power and the other a 175hp power level.

The stock car at 150hp is clearly in need of a boost, but which map is the better map?

As the red plot line shows the power is only a small peak at high RPM and most of the rest of the RPM range power is down considerably.

Although this is an extreme exaggeration it does highlight the follow of comparing maps just by looking at their peak power figures.

It makes more sense to have the power come on early and keep a wide flat torque curve than have a large spike of power.

Taking the Mazda6 power levels higher

The aim of our tips is to give a little insight into the world of car tuning performance parts and point you in the right direction, our forum is where you can ask for more detailed advice and tips on your car tuning project, the best modified kits and all aspects of modding cars.

Sourcing parts for the Mazda6 is often a challenge but the fact these engines are used in other models usually means parts are around but will be badged for another makers model range.

Don't forget to pay attention to the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

Frequently power losses, and erratic idling after uprated parts are done can usually be traced to timing or fuel delivery issues. To get sufficient fuel you may need to increase the injectors on your engine.

If you've uprated your fuelling with bigger injectors you will also need to get a bigger fuel pump to supply it.

Mazda6 balance shaft removal

Some engines fitted with a balance shaft can perfrom better if you get this removed.

Reliability is a major issue with balance shafts. These bearings can be very stressed since they move twice as fast as the engine.

The belief is that balancing shafts may help stabilize the spinning components.

The balancing shafts are separate from the rotating assembly.

It's simple to push the balance shaft bearings to their limits as the rev range increases.

Oil pressure is necessary to stiffen the balance shaft chain tensioner and feed the balance shaft bearings.

The balance shafts keep engine vibrations from reaching the car's occupants so is primarily a function of comfort rather than performance.

Mazda6 Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine. Air induction kits are only beneficial to boost power if the air intake is struggling!

Most conventional engines gain NO LOW END POWER when an induction kit is installed.

An induction kit can assist remove this constraint if your engine has been significantly upgraded and its need for air has increased dramatically.

Induction kits work well on turbo and bigger engines (if equipped with a proper cold air feed or air box), however we recommend a performance panel air filter for Mazda6 engines.

Sports exhausts can normally flow air out of the engine, although a huge exhaust can reduce flow rate. As a general guideline, maintain it between 1.5 and 2.5 inches.

Investing in a professionally gas flowed and ported head with larger valves can maximize power gains significantly.

One of the best ways to keep that power going where it should is with a heavy duty clutch.

Never make false savings and cheap out when buying a clutch or assume your normal clutch will suffice, the clutch is often the first weak point in a Mazda6 tuning project.

The best mods we would recommend for your Mazda6 are remaps, sports camshafts and suspension improvements.

Fast road cams on the Mazda6

Fast road cams for your Mazda6 will add 10-15bhp. If you don't have access to new cameras, several cam specialists can regrind and profile your old ones.

The exhaust and intake valve timings play a big role in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car challenging to drive in traffic.

You'd need to follow a camshaft upgrade with other mods and finish with a remap for the best performance gains.

Having trouble sourcing a fast road cam for your Mazda6 in your area?

A regrind on your factory camshaft is also a possibility. If you have one of the popular Ford engines used in other vehicles, you may find performance parts for these other models listed.

Forced induction upgrades on a Mazda6

Generally speaking it is not worth trying to add a turbo to a NASP Mazda6, although possibly the cost is rarely worth it, especially when there are such good turbo engines Mazda6's around already.

The most significant power gains for NASP engines usually involve the addition of forced induction.

We've also seen some tuners experimenting with twincharging applications and making some very high power gains.

Turbos are generally harder to add than a supercharger. It is more challenging to map a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with revs.

The nice correlating boost and rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them easier to map. To cope with forced induction you will usually need to decrease the engines compression ratio .

Mazda6 Alloy wheel upgrades.

Alloy wheels can help the brakes cool down and are generally lighter than steel ones. Pay attention to your choice of tyres (tires) for your car, a good directional tread pattern tire can really enhance your cars handling. The downside to large alloys on your Mazda6 is that you alter your final drive ratio so this will have a negative effect on performance and acceleration.

Due to this fact endeavor to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the standard factory sizes. In all cases avoid going bigger than 16 inches on early models and 17 inches on the more recent ones.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Mazda6 options in more detail with our Mazda6 owners.

It would also be worth reading our unbiased Mazda tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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2 Responses to “Tuning the Mazda 6”

  1. kevin applegarth says:

    Hi I’m having problems with my engine management light being always on, also being hesssitance on setting off. The car has for a sports cat and air filter. I would like to know if the sports open filter can damage the air flow meter. Thks kev

  2. Joseph says:

    Hi I have 2009 Mazda 6 3.7 with a six speed atamatic I want get a stage 2 upgrade for my car do have any ideas how to put something together or any recommendations. thanks a lot

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