What is the purpose of an intercooler, and why does it matter? For just about every turbocharged engine it is an important ingredient in the turbo recipe which increases your engine’s power. To understand why, we need to know how a turbo works. Quite simply the turbo builds power by recycling the compressed air coming out of the engine through the exhaust. This spins a turbine attached to a compressor, which stores this built up power until it is ready to be delivered to the engine’s intake. This is not the same as the air your intake provides to the engine, it is secondary, and where the additional power comes from.
The main job of the intercooler is to take the hot air expelled by the turbo and cool it before delivering it to the engine. The reason this cooler air is preferred is it is more dense and provides more efficient combustion. Similar to a cold air intake, your car is able to generate more power when you install parts that will provide it with more, colder air. This is why spring and fall are referred to as “turbo seasons” because the car has to do less work and your car will naturally have more power.
Stock intercoolers do a fine job for daily use but under hard driving they are pushed to the limit, especially in warm weather. The more power you are getting out of the car, the more important engine temperature is. For a turbocharged engine, the intercooler is a necessary upgrade to keep up with your other mods.
To make sure your car is performing under hard driving conditions, it is important to go with a larger intercooler. Now when we say larger, we mean larger than stock, because like everything, size is not the most important thing, because too large of an intercooler is the main culprit in turbo lag. Considering the distance the air must travel from the turbo, to the intercooler, then back to the engine, we also want to maximize the speed that we receive that boost. The key is finding out the perfect balance between a large enough intercooler that it can handle the size of your turbo and properly keep that air cool under hard driving, while also finding a small enough one and proper piping so the engine receives it in a reasonable time and prevents boost load at high RPMs.
Unlike exhausts or intakes, intercoolers can be a bit more universal and there are far more options available. Check out all of our intercooler options on the site, in the meantime here are a few of our favorites for the Volkswagen MQB platform. We can help you find the perfect Intercooler no matter your car’s platform. Don’t hesitate to give us a call, especially if you can’t find what you are looking for on our site.
APR has been a name in the euro performance markets since 1997, and their products show that legacy. Their front mounted intercooler has been installed on a variety of platforms with success across the board. The racingline option here is a bit more model specific, pairing with the 2.0TFSI engine impeccably. With a perfect balance of size, the Racingline intercooler keeps weight down and reduces lag, while maximizing cooling, both of which are incredibly important with such a small engine putting out so much power. Regardless of the options, an upgraded intercooler is a necessity, to both increase power on its own, and increase the power gains from any other mods.