Project Mazda3 Part 3: Improving Our Contact Patch


As they say, assembly is the reverse of removal—and we're just about ready to see how our changes helped our handling on course. 
Back on the ground, you can see there wasn't all that much change in ride height. Where the springs lowered the car about .75 inches, the camber plates gained us back another .25. Stance: we're doing it wrong.  
The smaller-than-stock autocross wheel and tire package makes the wheel gap look larger, even though the car is a half-inch lower than stock, not including the ride height change from the short tires. 
The Corksport camber plates worked as promised, helping us get to about 1.5 degrees of negative camber.  
With our car back together, we stopped at our local alignment shop to get our Toe set back to zero on all four corners.  We like to use this as a baseline if we have to make any at the track changes. 

At this point, our plan is to simply drive the heck out of it and see what the car needs from here. We consider the mild stuff we did a decent starting point, but clearly not the end of what we need to do to make this car competive from a suspension standpoint. That said, you have to start a project somewhere and we'd rather autocross it in this form rather than stock until new parts are developed.  Our first event with the new suspension is in a few weeks and we'll post a new update then.  

Our initial impression is that we're certainly moving in the right direction with the obvious need for performance shocks at some point soon.  We personally like the big bar combination, especially on the front, as the outside front tire's contact patch is held much more consistent at  mid-corner and it would take big spring rates to accomplish the same thing.  It doesn't have that OMG!1!!1 OVERSTEER!!11!! feeling that a big rear bar only will give you. That said, once that big rear bar hikes the rear inner tire off the ground, it's not helping you anymore.  

As far as camber is concerned, we love the design of the Corksport camber plate, but can see the need for more negative camber in the future. With the two-bolt lower strut design, we can see a set of smaller-shanked bolts figuring into this project shortly. 

Rate-wise, the Racing Beat spring set has a great “Trunk-kit” feel to it–like something that Mazda should have spec'd in the first place as a part of a “cheater” SCCA package like the MX-5 MSR.  Firm, but usable on the street for a daily driver, which is exactly what this car is.  


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