2013 Scion FR-S: Intercooled Innovate Motorsports Supercharger Kit
November 7, 2013
"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.
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.
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.
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