Mazda 3 Cold Air Intake Upgrade Guide

One of the first considered upgrades for many automotive customization projects is a new intake. This idea rings true for the Mazda 3 and its various configurations as well. An upgraded intake comes with a variety of benefits. However, one of the main values that an upgraded intake brings is a boost in overall power.

Upgraded intakes are some of the most cost-effective modifications in terms of horsepower per dollar ratio. Since the Mazda 3 offers a great and adaptable base structure for customizations, upgrading its intake is a natural priority for many drivers. In synchronization with a good tune and proper supporting mods, a new intake can substantially increase the engine’s power and performance.

However, the benefits gained greatly depend on many different aspects. Quality, type of intake, and a proper balance of supporting modifications are essential for any modded engine. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the most important aspects when considering an upgraded intake for your Mazda 3.

Mazda 3 upgraded intake

Open vs. Closed Performance Intake Systems

Before diving into the direct benefits and horsepower gains associated with Mazda 3 performance intakes, it is essential to examine the different types of available intakes. Two of the main subcategories of intakes are open vs. closed. Both offer different design structures with accompanying pros and cons.

Closed air intakes are designed within an enclosure, producing a comparably cleaner and cooler airflow capacity. This enclosure also creates a safeguard or boundary around the intake itself. Additionally, the intake sound of a closed system is generally deeper in tone than that of an open system. A closed system is going to intake airflow at a lower temperature due to the casing surrounding the intake. Yet, many drivers may find that the aesthetic of a closed intake is less attractive than an open intake.

Open intakes may pull less clean air and air at higher temperatures. Yet, these options are more popular for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they generally have that higher induction sound and clean modded look many drivers seek. In terms of performance, cold air intakes allow for more overall airflow with their open design. Closed intakes may offer a lower temperature of intake airflow. However, this may become null considering the function of an engine’s intercooler. The horsepower differential is generally not great enough to sway drivers’ preferences between the two designs. Therefore, drivers must factor in our other previously mentioned details when choosing between each design.

Cold Air vs. Short Ram Intakes

The following two main differences in intake types are cold air versus short ram. Different strengths are associated with each type. A cold air intake is designed to reroute the intake towards a cooler part of the engine bay. This design allows the intake to pull in the air with a lower temperature to optimize efficiency. A short ram’s design generally eliminates a resonator and filter box and is designed with less length. Therefore, a short ram design’s main focus is to pull in the air effectively without making airflow travel a longer distance.

Airflow into a short ram intake will have a hotter temperature than a cold air intake due to its direct line of airflow and the fact that the design does not aim to pull air from a cooler area of the engine bay. Thus cold air intake may have a slight edge over short rams in terms of horsepower gains. Yet, this may be a marginal difference in many circumstances. Generally, short ram intakes are louder when heavy on the throttle. But, cold air intakes usually have that higher induction performance sound that many drivers seek. So, aside from the aesthetics and sounds, drivers should not expect too substantial of a difference between each type of intake design.

Benefits of an Upgraded Performance Intake – Mazda 3 

Many drivers with mod projects seek a quick and economical way to boost their horsepower. The first consideration is often an upgraded intake system. As we stated previously, a new intake is one of the most economical and quick ways to boost overall power. However, it is important to note that an upgraded cold air intake may only boost power by a slight margin. More substantial increases in horsepower and torque are a product of many supporting modifications and a proper tune.

However, upgrading the intake for a Mazda 3 is a great starting point when aiming to increase engine power. Following this modification, drivers should consider additional mods to reach higher gains. Further recommended mods for your Mazda 3 include:

  • Tuning
  • Performance cams
  • Upgraded exhaust
  • Upgraded turbochargers/superchargers

With a balanced combination of the modifications and upgrades listed above, Mazda 3 drivers can expect to increase power and performance to a higher, more noticeable level. Along with increased power, various other benefits may come with an upgraded intake. For example, many drivers may see an improvement in fuel efficiency. This improvement may not be significant but might be rewarding for those looking to save a few bucks on gas annually. Therefore, improved fuel efficiency, more power, better acceleration, and enhanced induction sounds are all benefits drivers are seeking with upgraded intakes.

Additionally, the rule: “you get what you pay for” generally rings true for most modifications. Researching cost-effective products, balancing supportive mods, and practicing proper maintenance and repairs are the key to any customized engine, including the Mazda 3.

Best Mazda 3 Intake Systems

There are a wide variety of upgraded intakes on the market, as of 2022, for the different eras of the Mazda 3. Almost a superfluous amount total; therefore, many drivers may be asking what is best for their engine. We aim to save many drivers’ time with our best recommendations for your new upgraded intake options. With that said, let’s jump into a list of our top 3 recommended intakes for the Mazda 3 below.

1) Mazda K&N Performance Air Intake System

As I like to say when recommending modifications, “can’t go wrong with K&N.” This is one of the most reputable dealers of aftermarket parts available today. This K&N performance air intake will be the most expensive option we recommend for your Mazda 3. However, you get what you pay for, and K&N is sure to deliver a high-quality overall product. These intakes utilize a washable and reusable filter for easy maintenance and replacement if needed. The custom-sized heat shield is also a great value, deterring heat or unwanted particles from potentially entering the filter. Less heat and more airflow generally means better engine efficiency and more power.

This intake is a top-shelf option, sure to increase those induction sounds, clean up your engine bay, and add that slight but present boost of extra power. Open intake systems are more readily available for the differing Mazda 3 years and configurations, and K&N is one of the best manufacturers of open and closed CAIs. This K&N performance open air intake is sure to be a dependable and high-quality overall choice.

Price: $380

Buy it here!


Mazda 3 K&N Performance CAI

2) Injen SP Series Cold Air Intake System

This intake is offered by another notable name within the aftermarket industry, Injen. With an affordable price point, sleek aesthetic, and reputable manufacturer, it’s hard to deny the overall value of this option. Injen utilizes a dry web filter that doesn’t require cleaning, making it easy to maintain. In addition, this intake is advertised to withstand high mileage and wear without losing efficiency or deteriorating. An economical performance option, it’s hard to deny the balance of values that come with this Injen Intake. A considerable strength that Injen advertises is the “super nanoweb” dry filters that these intakes come along with. This filter optimizes airflow, increases overall filtration, and boosts horsepower and torque.

For less than $215, this is a great option for any Mazda 3 driver seeking out a mod that can immediately improve induction sounds, add a more sleek aesthetic, and hopefully increase some speed (even if it is a marginal amount).

Price: $212

Mazda 3 Injen CAI

3) Mazda3 JBR Power Path Stage 3 Cold Air Intake

JBR offers another open CAI option for your Mazda 3, guaranteeing a performance boost and dynamic induction sounds. This JBR power path CAI comes in a variety of three different filter and silicone tubing colors. It is constructed of molded polished aluminum to allow for maximum airflow. Additionally, the lighter silicone and aluminum housing components should allow to shed heat quicker and lower overall intake air temperatures. This intake is applicable to Mazda 3s manufactured from 2013 to 2017. Another CAI that is sure to create those higher induction sounds and boost power for those drivers seeking a little extra under the hood. Plus, the aesthetics of a clean engine bay with the different color options is a big selling point.

Price: $285

Buy it here!

Mazda 3 JBR Power CAI

Mazda 3 Intake Upgrade Summary

It’s important to reaffirm the fact that many drivers may be expecting too much from an upgraded cold air intake alone. An upgraded intake does have immediate benefits upon installation. Yet, for those seeking significant gains in overall power, additional upgrades are a necessity. A good tune, proper supportive mods, and an understanding of your Mazda 3’s engine system are some of the requirements for those seeking those more extensive power and performance boosts.

Although, an upgraded intake is a commonly chosen first step for installation in many customization projects for a good reason. Generally, upgraded intakes will immediately add those more aggressive or higher-toned induction sounds that many are seeking. Intakes may also clean up the engine bay and add that cleaner or sleek aesthetic that can also make maintenance and installation of further mods more accessible or easy overall. Some Mazda 3 drivers may also report an improvement in overall power, but again, they will see larger increases in torque and power with a tune and other supportive upgrades. The pros associated with a cold air intake and their overall affordability compared to other modifications make them an attractive choice for many engine projects.

The Mazda 3 has a growing consumer base for modifications. The engine itself may not be extremely well known for its performance value; however, there is still a community intrigued with its potential and capabilities. Therefore, throughout our list of upgraded intake options, we recommended products from the companies K&N, Injen, and JBR. It is important to remember that you often get what you pay for in regards to aftermarket car parts. Therefore, sticking to reliable and reputable manufacturers such as the ones that made our list is always the best choice.

Relevant Read: Guide on Mazda Skyactiv-G 2.0 Engine Problems

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