I wanted to upgrade the intercooler and pipes so that when I do a ECU tune in the near future, I will have good airflow to begin with. I got myself a Tornado Intercooler, and FTP charge pipes. All made from aluminum.
Here are some pics of the intercooler, size comparisons and the charge pipes.
The pipes come in black but I painted them the same blue as my engine cover. Too bad as during installation some pipes dropped by accident and got scratched. Oh well.
Bumper has to come off, cover underneath, both headlights, bumper beam , which both the horn and crash sensors are attached to, so those gotta come off too.
Unlike the RADO intercooler which forces you to slice a good portion of your aluminum bumper support off, with this intercooler I just had to shave off a tiny bit of plastic on both sides of the rad support frame ( yeah, new cars the rad support is made from plastic, for weight reduction ) and on the passenger side the aluminum beam I just had to cut a 2mm gap into the curved part where the intercooler weld sits. I actually cut more than I should have but nothing drastic like RADO. But basically the structural integrity is not compromised with this intercooler, which is one reason I wanted to buy it. Plus it's all aluminum which the stock one lacks in terms of longevity with plastic prone to cracking, especially if you are planning on making more power.
I was surprised taking this car apart, to discover how little metal there is up front. Literally everything is plastic, including the rad support. The only thing metal is the aluminium bumper support.
Also as you can see from the pics, my stock intercooler was bent ( I did not buy this car new and the car had some scratches underneath the front bumper ) so I guess the idiot who drove this before was a curb smacker.
There is also a plastic cover that a Air temperature sensor attaches to, that surrounds the intercooler. The sensor reads the incoming air. This cover will not fit with the new intercooler so the sensor will have to be zip tied . This is not a big deal IMO as I found a good way to attach it.
Anyways after finishing the job and starting up my car, it was idling fine and everything looked good initially. So I went for a test run.
As soon as I got on the street and pushed the gas a little bit, I noticed something is wrong. The RPM is going high, but the car is slower than a 96 Corolla. No check engine light or anything and no misfires. I was confused. It felt like the turbo was detached from the engine. So I went back into the garage and noticed on my old pipes there was a rubber gasket on each end of the pipe. This gasket has to be transferred to the new pipes as they don't come with a gasket installed.
After putting it in, the car was back to normal! Initial impressions are as follows.
Definitely more noise in the car, you can hear that the car is sucking more air in, and you can hear the motor more for some reason. The motor sounds much meaner to be honest. It will sound really good with a exhaust job.
Anyway, performance wise, initially I didn't feel MUCH difference, but noticed it pulled harder towards the redline. It felt like I gained more horsepower while torque didn't feel much different. But I drove it a bit more and I guess the ECU learned it can stretch the limits more so it became more preppy over the days. I took it on the highway and I was in 4th gear going 100km/h and accelerated hard until 160 and it felt really strong throughout. That's when I realized how hard it pulls. Then after a few days of driving, I can now feel the difference on the street too. It's fun to drive it in manual paddle mode.
So I cant wait to do a ECU tune or Piggy back. Overall i'm happy with my purchase and I believe it will last longer than the stock setup, plus gets more ponies, plus sounds a lot meaner!. Oh yea, the blow off valve is more noticeable too! Sounds sweet..
if you are interested in the intercooler and for pricing, write an email to