The Tanabe engineers from Japan were here last week, so I dropped off the Mazdaspeed 3 at Tanabe so they could do some R&D work.

They test fitted a bunch of parts and realized that because of the intercooler ducting in the hood, the strut tower bar from a regular Mazda 3 (or Axela in Japan) would not fit. They also realized that the rear springs they thought would work wouldn’t due to the car’s bumpstop and damper dust boot cover. I never got to see or drive the car with the springs, but I imagine it would be a nice improvement. The car handles nice already, but it looks like a 4×4 sometimes.

What did work out though, is the front underbrace. As you can see below, the front underbrace goes right beneath the engine. Driving towards the freeway from Tanabe always provides for a nice suspension test because the roads are so junky and uneven. The car feels a bit more tight under uneven surfaces and initial turn in response is nice.

On a side note, gas mileage increased significantly after the 3,500 mile mark. Gas mileage went from 23-24 to 26-28! I’m amazed and so much happier with the car now.