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Poster Boy – Performance Intercooler R&D, Part 2 – Design Plans

As the temperature drops and the leaves begin to change, we start to enter prime boosting season. That’s correct, as the weather gets spookier, the efficiency of your charged air system improves. The cooler, denser outside air is much easier to cram into your GTI’s cylinders than the thick muggy summer air. However, just because the outside temperatures are dropping, that doesn’t mean the heat is leaving your stock intercooler.

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If you recall from our review of the stock components, VW shrouded the base of a good intercooler design in the support system for the creature comfort we all enjoy, and put it in close proximity to the radiator. To make matters worse, mostly in our case and not so much for climate change, the adaptation of the PremAir system limits the build envelope even further. We have our work cut out for us.

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Since our space is extremely limited for this project, we won’t be able to expand the size of the core, which is typically the first step when it comes to improving intercoolers. Lucky for us, the available space already allows for ample fin surface area. Instead we’ll have to focus on improving the overall construction with our new design.

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We start with the core. Since this is the rock star when it comes to cooling the charged air, we need to make sure it’s singing on key and dancing with the beat. The stock’s tube-and-fin core fits the “good enough” mantra when it comes to mass production. However, given that the GTI, Golf R, and subsequent Audis were built with enthusiasts in mind, the core will surely need an upgrade to handle extra boost. We plan on doing just that.

Ye did her best to make a tight squeeze even tighter. Even though there was barely any room to expand, our new design will still offer a volume increase over the stock unit.
Ye did her best to make a tight squeeze even tighter. Even though there was barely any room to expand, our new design will still offer a volume increase over the stock unit.

Our engineer, Ye, plans on squeezing every attainable millimeter from the build envelope to give our core a noticeable size increase. In addition, we intend to swap the tubes and fins for bars and plates. The more robust construction will add some heft to the intercooler, but the benefits are vastly improved flow and heat rejection characteristics.

For the best cut-away look at a bar-and-plate core, we literally cut away one of our BMW F30 intercoolers. The robust fins and thick bars efficiently whisk away the heat from the charged air.
For the best cut-away look at a bar-and-plate core, we literally cut away one of our BMW F30 intercoolers. The robust fins and thick bars efficiently whisk away the heat from the charged air.

Our renovation doesn’t stop at the core. The plastic end tanks are in desperate need of an overhaul. To start, we plan on removing plastic from the equation. Our revised end tank design will increase the size of the tanks for improved flow of the charged air through the system and will include an internal diverter to make sure the full core is being utilized.

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If you look close at our new end tank design, you might notice the lack of those tell-tale quick-disconnect inserts hanging off the end of the inlet and outlet. As part of our objective to improve the flow, Ye increased the diameters of both the inlet and outlet to allow the charged air to flow more freely to and from the core. In doing this, the stock piping connections would need to be quick-disconnects or they simply wouldn’t connect at all.

Seen here in plastic, our proposed couplers will be included with the new intercooler. They finalized set will be made up of silicone and will be the perfect fit under your GTI.
Seen here in plastic, our proposed couplers will be included with the new intercooler. They finalized set will be made up of silicone and will be the perfect fit under your GTI.

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October brings just about all things “basic” to fruition. From the UGG boots, flannel shirts, and pumpkin flavored everything, we’re prepared for the chill of autumn. Just from the plans alone, this MK6 platform intercooler is anything but basic, and is slotted to incorporate just about every feature you’ll need to keep that TSI running like it’s Fall all year round. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it) we weren’t quite able to get the pumpkin spice flavor just right.

Thanks for Reading!

 -Nick

One thought on “Poster Boy – Performance Intercooler R&D, Part 2 – Design Plans”

  1. I hope you guys are going to develop a radiator option too. The only radiator option for the MK6 is $1,200+…versus the 7 or 8 different companies already offering intercoolers from $600-$1000.

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