2013 Scion FR-S Long-Term Road Test

2013 Scion FR-S: Intercooled Innovate Motorsports Supercharger Kit

November 7, 2013

2013 Scion FR-S

"Want to drive it?"

Hook, swallowed. I was already halfway buckled into Innovate Motorsports' shop car before the company's Sean Crawford could finish getting the sentence out. Their FR-S shop car is equipped with the same twin-screw supercharger kit that's on our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S, but with a twist: The shop car's kit is intercooled.

In fact, the very car you see above was recently used to complete the CARB certification testing for both intercooled and non-intercooled kits at Automotive Research Center (the same place we ran our Raptor vs. leaf blower test). It passed with flying colors. Sean tells me that once CARB sends them the finalized paperwork in the coming months (thanks, bureaucracy!), they'll have an exemption order (EO) number for the kits. Pretty cool. Heh.

2013 Scion FR-S

The intercooler kit is a liquid-to-air type. It comprises a Laminova core that drops straight into the Innovate Motorsports intake manifold, a low-temperature radiator, a reservoir, Bosch electric coolant pump, all required hardware and some really trick molded coolant hoses. Like all things about the Innovate Motorsports supercharger kit, the intercooler package is a high-quality, very straightforward install that can be done with simple hand tools.

Also, it can be had as a modular unit. You can buy the base kit like the one on our long-term FR-S and upgrade later to the intercooled version if you so choose.

With just the intercooled supercharger kit and a cat-back exhaust, the shop car currently churns out 245 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque at the wheels, roughly 30 to 35 hp more than the non-intercooled kit. Now we're talking. Oh, and that's on 91 octane, in (soon to be) smog-legal form.

By reducing the temperature of the supercharger's discharge air, the intercooler liberates more power, sure. But another benefit of the intercooler is consistency. It simply staves off heat soak, maintaining consistent power during extended full-load driving. Sean adds that the intercooler works so well that the kit can also safely use a smaller supercharger pulley for even more boost/power beyond what's on the shop car, even on 91 octane.

2013 Scion FR-S

I warmed up the shop car's engine with some gentle driving and then turned off onto a closed course. Then I gave it the wood. Wow, yup, the additional urge is undeniable. It pulls with real authority all the way through the rev range, and it's sharp and totally predictable. The speed piles up deceptively quickly.

Whereas the non-intercooled kit gives the FR-S appropriate power, the intercooler gives it the kind of shove that really allows you to exploit the chassis. You can easily induce oversteer by doing no more than giving the throttle a good squeeze mid-corner. And there's enough sauce on tap to maintain the wheelspin and hold the slide all the way to corner exit.

Man, this is a fun car.

2013 Scion FR-S

What's more, the part-throttle drivability is improved compared to our long-term FR-S. The company has refined the kit's ECU calibration since we got ours, for one. But another factor possibly contributing to the sharper throttle is the intercooled kit's reduction in throttled volume. See, the core takes up what is otherwise a big empty void in the intake manifold.

We'd do the intercooler upgrade on our long-term Scion FR-S in a heartbeat, if we had enough time. Yes, it's true, our year-plus with Project FR-S is soon coming to close. I'm really going to miss this car.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor


  • evodad evodad Posts:

    seriously what's the point of doing a project car that has limited parts available if you're just going to dump it in a year just as the aftermarket is really getting going?

  • "some gentle driving and then turned off onto a closed course.." Where would that be in that neighborhood? Please tell me you didn't take it to Laguna Woods dog park...

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    Completely agree with evodad. So you bought two cars so you could slap some wheels and a half completed supercharger system (missing intercooler, new ECU calibration) on one and leave the other stock? I'm exaggerating, of course, and not trying to diminish the effort that has gone into mods... But for a tuner car experiment this really seems like a failure to get rid of it this fast. I've seen picture-less forum builds that are more gratifying if you know what I mean. Then again, if it does stay the novelty will wear off and you guys won't drive or post on it, much like the Miata until someone asked about it in just about every post. So do what you will Edmunds. One more thing, since I'm already on my soap box, are you going to sell it and compare that price to the purchase price to determine depreciation like on the jeep where you completely ignored mod cost? That formula doesn't really make sense, and you might as well include the other expenses since we'll get normal depreciation from the BRZ.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    You guys need to keep this car around longer. I thought that was the point of a "project" car. The intercooler system sounds pretty sophisticated actually.

  • I have a few questions/comments.. you never even lowered it! i agree with everyone, don't get rid of it yet. and 2.. how much HP does that ring wing add? its gotta be 8 inches tall so its gotta be at least 80 right??

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Ah CARB, no better proof in the world that if you want to burn a lot of money while making the problem worse, the best way to do that is with a government bureaucracy. CARB restricts the sale of many aftermarket parts in California, introduces even more stringent emissions criteria than other states on the OEMs, take forever to approve the few things they actually do allow, and yet we have smog so bad the sky is perpetually brown and most days I can't see the mountains that are just a mile or two behind my apartment.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @stovt001: Maybe its time to get out... I know its not always easy, but if life isn't what you want it to be then something needs to change. We don't get a second shot at this whole life thing.

  • socal_eric socal_eric Posts:

    Nice quickie review of how that car drives. I'm looking forward to a track test to see the improvements as this is a nice car look for more power. That said I know a lot of the Edmunds staff used to be at SCC and other publication and have seen the great journalism you're capable of and I agree on the comments questioning keeping a project car then dumping it just because a year is up. If you're going to go down the road of articles, reviews and regular series about modifications (i.e. project cars) and other types of articles you'd normally see in a conventional print publication then do it right. The Edmunds site and the now integrated Inside Line section more than ever seems like a poor mismatch of buying tools with some review/ comparison, light journalism tacked on. There's some occasional great content but it doesn't seem cohesive.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    @quadricycle: I'm already on it. I'm planning on starting grad school next Fall and I'm applying out of state, and also in Northern California, where things aren't so bad (except for the pointless ineffective bureaucracy).

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