2013 Scion FR-S: Innovate Motorsports Supercharger Kit Installed
July 18, 2013
Back in May 2012, when I first drove a pre-production example of the 2013 Scion FR-S, Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada described to me in some detail the protracted genesis of its flat-four FA20 power plant. That they wanted 100 hp/liter. That Subaru's FB-series wasn't going to cut it in its then-current form. That Toyota handed the next generation of their D-4S direct injection technology to Subaru, their competitor, in order to make it happen. That it had a big ol' torque hole right smack in the middle of the rev range.
Actually, Tada-san never mentioned that last bit. I discovered it for myself the first time I touched the FR-S's throttle to the carpet. Such a terrific chassis and little punch to really exploit it.
We've been angling to remedy that for some time in Project FR-S, our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S. The other day the stars aligned, and Innovate Motorsports got busy installing their twin screw supercharger kit onto it. This is a bolt-on, belt-driven positive displacement supercharger kit that promises a bump in peak power, sure, but more importantly a slug of Tabasco in the midrange. You know, where the FR-S actually needs it.
The company originally told us installation would take four hours. It took less than three hours. Bolting this much power onto a highly-tuned normally aspirated engine has never been this easy.
[Update: installation time-lapse video added at the end of this entry.]
Then again, we had an ace in our corner. Innovate Motorsports' Gary Kubo (of NHRA drag racing fame) did the entire installation solo while Mark Takahashi (who shot the photos you see here) and I made fart jokes.
Gary's done a half-dozen installations of the kit already, so he's pretty adept at it by now. However, the company recently had a first-timer install the kit, and it took that guy less than five hours.
The contents of the box. Most of the hard work is already done, as the supercharger comes pre-installed on the new intake manifold.
Here's a better look at the Innovate Motorsports supercharger kit's main event: its twin screw blower and a proprietary intake manifold. Our car is receiving the base kit, which is not intercooled. The base kit is low boost and the calibration was developed on California 91 octane.
Sean Crawford of Innovate Motorsports tells us they've been thrashing their supercharger-equipped shop car for 7,000 miles while developing the calibration and it hasn't missed a beat, and that includes track-testing in the California desert during summer.
No permanent alterations to the donor car are needed to install the Innovate Motorsports kit. Also, an intercooled version is in the works and the intercooler hardware is modular, meaning it can be easily retrofitted to the base kit down the road, for those inclined.
The stock airbox is retained once the supercharger is installed. This is significant because the stock airbox is a rather nice piece. It draws cool, high-pressure air from the nose instead of sucking in hot air from the engine bay like the intakes found in other kits. And, because the stock MAF is not moved or relocated, its voltage characteristic remains as-stock. There's also enough voltage headroom built into the stock MAF to accommodate the higher airflow rate of the Innovate Motorsports kit.
Simple hand tools are all that's needed. There's one bolt in the kit that requires an oversized hex key, but not to worry, the hex key is included with the kit.
Twin screw superchargers are generally more efficient than Roots blowers, since a twin screw has internal compression and a Roots does not. In a nutshell, what this means is that a twin screw supercharger typically generates cooler discharge temperatures than a typical Roots.
While modern 'TVS' Roots blowers generate similar peak efficiency as a twin screw, the disparity in efficiency between the two blower types grows increasingly wide when you look at off-peak values. Suffice it to say that a supercharger can't always operate at peak efficiency, especially when it is being driven by an engine like the FA20 that has a large rev turndown (7,400 rpm fuel cut).
Discharge temperatures are said to be around 140 degrees F. when driven hard on the street, a bit higher after a good heat soaking on the track. Sean recommends that guys who track their supercharger-equipped cars also install an oil cooler.
Most of the installation time is taken by the removal of the stock intake manifold. Once you've reached this point, you're already over the hump.
Gary pops o-rings into the Innovate Motorsports manifold prior to installation.
Because the throttle body is relocated, its original electrical connector won't reach. Innovate Motorsports includes this neat plug-and-play throttle extension harness to resolve this space-time conundrum.
Injector bungs on the new manifold. All of the kit's castings look very nice, and the black power coating lends the kit a near-OEM look. Same goes for the assorted bracketry and hardware that comes with the kit. It all looks very well thought through and sano, with no corners cut.
Almost there. The blower's home, the drive belt and tensioner are installed. All that are left are a few ancillary attachments, the trick roto-molded intake tube and a reflash.
Gary uploads the proprietary EcuTek reflash. By the way, this kit is CARB EO pending.
It lives! Stay tuned for updates, as there's much more to come: dyno-testing, acceleration results, driving impressions and more.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor