Project FR-S: More Power Everywhere with an Intercooler from Innovate Motorsports

by Mike Kojima

With good handling and unbelievable brakes, our FR-S is really hurting for power. In one of our last stories we added an Innovate Motorsports supercharger and got a healthy boost of power across a really wide powerband, we gained power literally everywhere from idle all the way up to the redline.

As a bit of great news we were informed that the Innovate Supercharger has earned a CARB EO so in addition to making nice power, the Supercharger is now 100% smog legal!

We really loved the additional power we got from the Supercharger but we did notice that the power would drop rather quickly with consecutive applications of throttle or on long pulls even with the super efficient screw type compressor. We also saw a drop of around 10-15 hp on the dyno when the blower really got heat soaked. If anything needed an intercooler, this system sure could use one.

Before we could worry about it too much, we had a call from Innovate, they had one of their pre production intercooler kits ready for us to test!

Like the supercharger, the Innovate Motorsports Intercooler kit came very complete with every little bolt, clamp, bracket, hose and fitting needed. The kit also came with some very well written and easy to follow instructions. The completeness of the instructions and kit made the intercooler a very easy upgrade to install.
The heart of the intercooler kit is this highly efficient Laminova water-to-air heat exchanger. It is rated to 400 hp. Although the core encasement looks to be restrictive, extensive testing by Innovate Motorsports has proven it not to be. The intercooler drops right into the plenum of the supercharger intake manifold. The manifold was designed to have the intercooler as an upgrade from day one.
You can see the turbulators and the the intercooler element water passages here in this hole provided for the intercooler's water fittings.
The heat exchanger that cools the water for the intercooler is huge. It has the capacity for more than 400 hp. For instance it is just as big as the heat exchanger on our 504 hp supercharged Project Tundra. The heat exchanger is a dual pass. This generally improves the efficiency of a heat exchanger by around 15% with no added gain in size or weight. With a dual pass the end tanks are blocked in such a way that the water must pass through half of the heat exchanger twice before exiting.
The intercooler system uses a reliable OEM grade Bosch centrifugal electric water pump. These pumps are efficient and quiet in operation as well as reliable. This is the same pump our Project Tundra uses.
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Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Thursday, December 19, 2013 6:04 AM
This is my favorite MotoIQ project. Well, besides my Mustang, of course. :-P
Thursday, December 19, 2013 7:28 AM
I was just going to say that, of all the MotoIQ projects, I look forward to updates on this one the most. Well, this and the Autocross BRZ.
Thursday, December 19, 2013 8:14 AM
How is this dyno run is showing that the intercooler made you power?

You put a smaller pulley on it did you not?
Thursday, December 19, 2013 8:37 AM
@SM, the car was at the knock limit of the fuel running the bigger pulley/lower boost without the intercooler. With the intercooler, it allows for more boost without detonation.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:41 AM
What he said! The intercooler just about eliminates power drop due to heat soak which was an issue before we had it. I personally would not get this kit without it. The power levels are more than the numbers suggest. Since the power of the supercharger and the intercooler are increased across the board, the gain in area under the curve is huge and the kit makes the car much faster. It feels like a 3 liter engine.
Thursday, December 19, 2013 11:46 AM
That intercooler setup seems like a must with the SC. I'd be interested in knowing what the whole kit weighs, with and without the IC (including the water).

I understand the intercooler makes the greater power possible and keeps it consistant. Just seemed like you were saying the intercooler made the power instead of making the power possible.

Looks like a fun car.
Sean C
Sean Clink
Thursday, December 19, 2013 12:46 PM
Great article Mike! The intercooler certainly helps maintain consistent power lap after lap and with tuning with 91 octane fuel. The non-intercooled system still offers a lot for the low cost ($3195 tuner), especially if you're running E85 fuel. We just had a customer car exceed 300whp on E85 with the intercooler and 69mm racing only pulley. The torque is a flat 250ft-lbs at the wheels from 4,000-6,500rpm. At 2,500rpm it was making 215ft-lbs at the wheels. I'm looking forward to what can be accomplished with this project car...
Thursday, December 19, 2013 2:05 PM
Looking at the dyno graph, I think you might have forgotten to put a "1" in front of the torque gain (it looks more like 15.6)
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, December 19, 2013 2:58 PM
Good catch! I mis-transposed the data when I double checked.
Thursday, December 19, 2013 8:42 PM
That kit reminds me of building a water-cooling loop for one of my computers. The pump had a similar design, too.
Friday, December 20, 2013 7:39 AM
I ask this not to be critical of this kit, but out of genuine curiousity: what's the advantage of using a separate heat exchanger vs plumbing this intercooler into the factory cooling system? Even if you had to double the radiator core thickness to deal with the extra heat, I think I'd prefer to not have to mount a separate unit in front of the radiator with an extra set of hoses (figuring that, if plumbed into the factory system, the hose runs would be shorter). Is there an engineering reason to have a separate part, or is it for simplicity sake? I'm guessing using the radiator would skip the need for a secondary water pump, but not sure about that - it might depend on how the system is designed.
Friday, December 20, 2013 10:36 AM
The stock cooling system would be too hot to effectively cool the incoming charge air, and in many cases may even heat it. Your factory cooling system averages somewhere around 180-210 degrees F, due to the factory thermostat. The separate system will have coolant temps FAR lower, which will help increase the cooling capabilities and improve the system's efficiency.
Friday, December 20, 2013 11:18 AM
I know that's true at the exit of the cylinder head where the thermostat regulates temperature, but if you grabbed water right as it came out of the radiator and then plumbed it back into the car's coolant circuit after leaving the intercooler, would you still have the same issue? I'm figuring you could do that by Y'ing off the pipe at the radiator exit, since I doubt the intercooler's passages are big enough to be placed inline for all water flow.
Friday, December 20, 2013 1:54 PM
Well, there are a ton of variables and it'll vary a good amount depending on the radiator, available airflow, ambient temperature, etc... From what I can find, an average drop is somewhere around 20-30ºF? (overbuilt systems and cold ambient temps would further increase the cooling efficiency) But even that still puts you well north of 150ºF and that's still really hot, when you're trying to cool the charge air.
Friday, December 20, 2013 2:01 PM
And putting the engine in parallel with the intercooler like that isn't that simple, since you have to think about how restrictive each one is in relation to the water pump's pressure-flow curve and its varying speed.
Thursday, December 26, 2013 11:29 AM
I'm running the non-intercooled kit but plan to upgrade to the intercooler in the next couple of months. I've run 93 and E85. E85 is awesome on this kit but 93 still makes good power. I have an intake, header, overpipe, front pipe, and OEM cat-back and hit 237whp on an early tune. Innovate made 245whp on the intercooled kit on 91 octane. The advantage of the intercooler is you can run more timing. That's why the results of MotoIQ's untuned intecooler install didn't yield a ton of power with the new pulley. The best I've seen is 305whp with the 70mm pulley on E85. That is the where I'm heading soon. I expect about 275-280whp on 93 octane. Which is pretty darn good power in a 2700lbs car. E85 is about 15-20miles away so every now and again I run it. The car has a good 20whp at every RPM on E85 and it feels smoother.
Thursday, December 26, 2013 11:31 AM
For anyone interested on my build, I have a thread over at ft86club.

I'm running a BRZ. Props to MotoIQ on this build, I've been following along and it's great to have an objective review with such good detail.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, December 26, 2013 10:08 PM
Nicely built car!

You can't run more timing with an intercooler on 91 octane fuel. The logs say our ECU is pulling out 3-4 degrees of timing with the current map with an intercooler.

Our dyno is a Superflow load type and it is going to read much lower than a dyno like a Dynojet or a Dynopack.

Also forum power tends to be a lot higher or at least subject to a lot of variability as a lot of people don't dyno late model cars correctly.
Saturday, December 28, 2013 6:36 AM
hello mike, iam from south africa, i intend buying this kit, i just want to check, if i buy kit with cooler, would the car need ecu tuning or would we get away with stock ecu, my reason is here in south africa we have no ecu tek, back up and the software tune does not come with a cable, we have a guy doing vortec s/c useing uni-q piggy back, it seems to work on 7psi, what psi is that kit boosting with that pully, are there upgrades, we get 95 octane fuel, would mix of 5/10 percent ethanol E95 in pump fuel help,
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Saturday, December 28, 2013 11:38 AM
The engine would probably die very quickly with no turning due to it's very high compression ratio. What is your method of octane measurement? Motor, research r+m/2? Due to the sophistication of the ecu a uni chip will probably not work at all. With 12.5:1 compression this engine is very unforgiving to poor tuning. You should send your ecu to innovate for a reflash.
Monday, December 30, 2013 1:02 PM
Mike - Are you guys running the CARB tune from Innovate? My tune isn't pulling any timing with E85 but will start to on 93 when it gets warmer. I haven't found any reliable information on an IAT sensor set-up. Like anyone, I want more power but with the high-compression I don't want to play with fire for a few more ponies. I want to keep my car reliable. Have you guys collected any post-compression IAT (Intake Air Temperature) data? I don't experience much of a heat-soak feel with E85 but it seems more pronounced on pump gas. I plan to order my intercooler upgrade kit here shortly. With it being winter, I've been driving more like a grandma so not in dire need yet.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, December 30, 2013 10:11 PM
Our tune is essentially the CARB tune with a couple of degrees pulled out in one place. It wasn't necessary to to it but we did just to see if it made any difference which it didn't. Innovate has logged the temps around the system extensively during development but we haven't.
Billis DeWillis
Billis DeWillislink
Monday, March 24, 2014 9:56 AM
Nice job...one question I have: with the intercooler mounted, is there room for an oil cooler? The Perrin oil cooler looks like it mounts in the same location as where the intercooler is and I was looking to add that at the same time I add the supercharger...
Friday, June 03, 2016 7:36 PM
Mike, now that the supercharger has been on Project FR-S for a few years, would you recommend it for a daily driver? How has it been? I just finally picked up a BRZ this year, and I'm trying to decide if want to do the Sprintex w/ intercooler or some other FI kit... typically I've been biased towards a turbo over a supercharger, but since this is my daily driver, reliability is one of my top priorities - just not high enough to stop me from adding forced induction!
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