Mazda MZR Z Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning and performance parts on the Mazda MZR Z engine!"

We've had a few Demio and Mazda 2/3 owners getting in touch asking about mods for their MZR Z series engine, so we've put together a guide to getting the most from this engine.

We shall examine the options for your MZR Z tuning and summarise the premier modifications for your car. Mazda MZR Z are popular tuning projects and with a few sensible tuning parts like a remap, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will definitely increase your driving fun.

History of the MZR Z Engine

This 16V DOHC engine varied in size from 1.3 to 1.6, the cast iron block can ve rebored to larger capacities fairly easily subject to matching pistons.

92 hp (69 kW; 93 PS)

91 hp (68 kW; 92 PS)

90 hp (67 kW; 91 PS).

88 hp (66 kW; 89 PS) EEC
110 hp (82 kW; 112 PS) JIS

130 hp (97 kW; 132 PS) JIS

105 hp (78 kW; 106 PS)

130 hp (97 kW; 132 PS)

105 hp (78 kW; 106 PS)

111 hp (83 kW; 113 PS) 

Tuning the Mazda MZR Z and best MZR Z performance parts.

Best MZR Z tuning mods

When talking about the greatest modifications for your MZR Z engine, we are going to focus on the upgrades that give the best power gain for you spend.

Altering your MZR Z camshaft will make a dramatic difference to the engine torque. Choosing a higher performance camshaft profile raises the torque accordingly.

Fast road cams tend to increase the torque across the rpm range, you may sacrifice a little low end power but the higher rpm power will be lifted.

Race cams, increase the higher rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Competition cam makes it harder when in heavy traffic.

You should ideally match your power band to your typical driving style so for a typical daily driver stick with a shorter duration MZR Z cam

Each engine responds better to extreme cam durations so view each engine as unique.

The map and fuelling also will say much on the torque gains you'll make.

Longer valve durations can alter the torque band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

Typical stage 1 mods often include:
Remaps/piggy back ECU, Intake headers, Sports exhaust manifold, Fast road camshaft, Panel air filters, drilled & smoothed airbox.

Typical stage 2 mods often include:
Ported and polished head, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, high flow fuel injectors, fuel pump upgrades, induction kit, Fast road cam.

Typical stage 3 mods often include:
Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Engine balancing & blueprinting, Twin charging conversions, Competition cam, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression.

The MZR Z power plant make great tuning projects and we're finding that there are increasing numbers of parts and tuning parts around.

Mapping helps release the full potential of all the parts you've done to your MZR Z.

It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but your mileage usually vary depending on the parts you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

Forcing more fuel and air into the MZR Z engine is vital to any engine modification project.

Intake manifold flow the air from the filter and allow it to be sucked into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

The shape and flow rate of the Intake manifold can make a noticeable improvement to fuel engine efficiency on the MZR Z.

On popular production engines air intake manifolds are improved through motorsport parts, although a few car makers provide decently flowing air intake manifolds.

Increasing the MZR Z valve size, doing a bit of MZR Z port enlargement and head flowing will also lift torque, and more importantly will afford you an improved torque increase on other parts.

MZR Z Turbo upgrades

NASP engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your MZR Z

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes impressive power gains.

When a car is fitted with a turbo upgrades are simpler to install and turbo engines are made using harder and stronger components.

However most engines will need better parts at higher power limits.Research these limitations and install forged components to handle the power.

It's not unheard of people spending a lot of money on turbo charger upgrades on the MZR Z only to suffer the indignity of watching the whole thing literally blow up on it's first outing after it's used in anger.

Big turbos tend to experience low end lag, and smaller turbos spool up quickly but don't have the high rpm torque gains.

Thanks to new tech the selection of turbochargers is always increasing and we commonly find variable vane turbochargers, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust flow into two channels and direct these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo charger. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is not unusual that there's a restriction in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on the MZR Z when a lot more air is being pulled into the engine.

We see 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited performance at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large torque gains, although harder to get working. We have this article covering twinchargers if you want to read more.


Don't omit to increase the fuel system when you are increasing the performance - it makes the car more thirsty. Most tuners we speak with say to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

As a rule of thumb add 20% capacity when specifying an injector, which takes into account injector deterioration and affords some spare capacity should the engine need more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

4 Cylinder turbocharged engines

  • 58 PSI 340cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 511cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 682cc/min 400hp
  • 58 PSI 1022cc/min 600hp

4 Cylinder NASP engines

  • 58 PSI 285cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 426cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 568cc/min 400hp
  • 58 PSI 853cc/min 600hp

4 Cylinder supercharged engines

  • 58 PSI 312cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 468cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 625cc/min 400hp
  • 58 PSI 937cc/min 600hp

MZR Z Performance Exhausts

Only look to increase your exhaust if the existing exhaust is actually causing a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you'll find the exhaust flow rate is still good even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Sports exhausts will certainly help air flow through the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too wide or you could restrict the flow rate. Keep the exhaust pipes to around 1.5 to 2.5 inches as a rule of thumb.

Usual exhaust restrictions can be located in the catalysts installed, so adding a faster flowing sports aftermarket catalyst will improve air flow, and rather than doing an illegal decat, will keep the car road legal.

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the MZR Z

The MZR Z engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Regular oil changes are vital on the MZR Z, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

If you want to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your MZR Z engine please join us in our car forums where you can discussMZR Z tuning options in more detail with our MZR Z owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Mazda tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which upgrades work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these MZR Z articles which are continually updated.

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