Mazdaspeed Essentials

Everything you need to know to start your upgrading journey


What's the point of this guide?

The idea behind this guide surfaced as I was researching upgrades for my own car. I learned a lot of really useful information, but it didn't come easy. Lots of time was spent scouring old forum posts, bookmarking reddit threads and jotting down part numbers and various measurements to make sure my build would all come together without any major issues.

After all was said and done, I wanted to gather my findings and share them with others, in an easy and intuative manner — and that's why this guide exists.

Community Built

This guide would not have been possible without you, the Mazdaspeed community. The knowledge herein comes from everyone's collective experience and is by no means a representation of my own knowledge of the platform.

A note on 'steps'

I will not be disclosing any power figures throughout this guide. The 'steps' are purely for organizational purposes and are not akin to what's commonly known as 'stages'.

Prologue - Essentials

Ignore at your own perill!

If you plan on modifying your engine and have not installed the parts above, it is highly advised that you do so before proceeding any further. For stock engines, it is still a recommended mod – but it's not required. You have been warned.

Step I: Engine

Intake / Turbo Inlet Pipe * Requires a Tune

An upgraded intake and turbo inlet will allow more air to pass through your system.
Most common sizes are 3", 3.5" and 4" intakes. The latter two require you to relocate your ECU box, with the bigger 4" needing a smaller (51R) battery.

View a list of common intakes and turbo inlets

Step I: Chassis / Suspension

Rear Motor Mount

Stabilize your powertrain under acceleration for a better driving experience.
Depending on which mount you get, you may experience increased NVH levels. For most people, this is a small price to pay for a far superior driving experience that mitigates the feeling of giving your engine whiplash every time you step on the throttle.

View a list of common rear motor mounts

Step II: Engine


Install an upgraded DP and replace your secondary cat with a test pipe.
Consider getting a 3" exhaust if you intend on upgrading your turbo later on, but you won't see much of an improvement with a stock K04. The biggest gains will come from the downpipe and clearing the secondary cat.

Great source for DP's, by user 'MS3-a(sore)Ass-rex' of

Step II: Chassis / Suspension

Rear Sway Bar

Reduce body roll and improve turn-in with an upgraded rear sway bar.
A lot of after market sway bars allow for some adjustability in regards to how stiff you want the setup. While you might not notice much of a difference in your daily commute, the extra rigidity will ultimately keep your car more level through corners.

Great source for RSWB's, by user 'jrkart99' of

Step III: Engine

Keeping it Cool * Gap your plugs according to your tuner's specifications

Install an upgraded intercooler along with 1-step colder spark plugs.
While a front-mounted intercooler (FMIC) might yield better cooling results, top mounts (TMIC) will give you superior throttle response. For most, an upgraded TMIC is plenty for a daily, with FMIC's ideal for those looking for more aggressive cooling. While you're taking the TMIC off, go ahead and install 1-step colder plugs.

Great info about gapping plugs, by
Great source for intercoolers, by user 'uncorked11' of

Step III: Chassis / Suspension


Yes, really. Don't go any further without making sure your car is up for the task.

Make sure your tires have adequte thread on them; check the health of your pads and rotors, replace worn struts and bushings. Don't build your platform on a house of cards and have it all fall apart when the big, bad wolf boost comes knocking.

View Available Maintenance Resources


In Conclusion

That covers all the essential upgrades on this platform.

While there are many more parts one can install on these cars, I am not interested in covering them here. This guide is intended as an essential mod list only, with components that are easily reversible and yield the most return in an otherwise stock setup.

Why no brakes, tires, wheels, etc...?

These modifications are intentionally omitted from this guide due to un-accountable variabilities. There are simply way too many factors involved in recommending such setups to warrant covering them in a guide such as this.

I will be having a 'where the rubber meets the road' guide available sometime in the future to discuss such topics.

Have questions or complaints?

Use the contact form to send me a message. You can also contact me via email using the address in the footer, but I can't promise that your message won't get lost.