Mazda is offering a new service in Japan that unlocks some untapped potential from your 3 or CX-30. Called the Mazda Spirit Upgrade, it updates the car’s ECU, or Engine Control Unit, the computer that controls the motor’s functions, adding power and improving the car’s accelerator capabilities.
The upgrade is not even some trivial amount. The first release, called Spirit Upgrade D1.1 for the Japan-market turbocharged 1.8-liter SkyActiv-D diesel engine, outputs from 114 to 128 horsepower, an improvement of 14-horsepower. Reflash also modifies exhaust gas recirculator programming to reduce turbo lag.
While there is no increase in torque, the result of all this is that the torque curve is wider, providing more grunt between 2,800 and 4,300 rpm. What’s more, torque delivery more closely matches the accelerator pedal angle, which means less swamp and a more consistent and predictable feel when descending from a stop, going from a top to an overtake or slingshot.
Cars eligible for the upgrade include Mazda 3 diesels manufactured between April 2, 2019 and November 3, 2020, as well as Mazda CX-30 diesels manufactured between August 6, 2019 and November 30, 2020.
The Spirit upgrade costs $420 and can be done at any Mazda dealer in Japan. Mazda also says that the upgrade adds power without affecting fuel economy or warranty. However, once you’ve got it, it can’t be undone. So if you prefer the way your car runs with less power and torque, there’s no way to go back.
Looking at the nomenclature, it certainly appears that the diesel upgrade is only the first step. Mazda has said that they will provide software upgrades to SkyActive-X-equipped cars in Japan, as well as a date TBD. Volvo has also offered a similar program with Polestar-branded ECU upgrades on its wide range of models.
The updates aren’t limited to power either. Mazda has confirmed updates that speed up the cruising and traffic support system, which allows the car to steer a set distance from the car in front and, when applicable, self-steer to maintain lanes. Is. A separate update to Radar Cruise Control smoothes out that system’s acceleration and braking.
Mazda North America said it will not offer the Spirit upgrade in the US, noting that it does not currently offer SkyActive-X, SkyActive-D, or cruising and traffic support. But this answer doesn’t necessarily rule out a similar program for the products it offers here.
It’s certainly cool for car companies to give owners a way to retrofit their cars with newly discovered features without having to buy an entirely new car. However, we hope nothing more than, shall we say, subscription-happy companies artificially sandbagging their cars so they can later sell to customers.