Welcome to my world, my world of turbos, tyre smoke, and tuning...
Tuning cars, driving cars, testing parts, and complaining about everything. It's my job, and a the majority of my non-work life too...
This is the never ending myth that comes up almost every time someone asks about fitting big intercoolers on forums and so on. You can be assured a knowitall, who no doubt has zero experience of it or he'd not say it in the first place, will tell you long boost pipes and/or massive intercoolers will make your car laggy, especially if you have a small turbo.
Well, let me say, that's TOTAL BOLLOCKS.
In THEORY, and it is fucking basic, primary school, narrow minded, short sighted, theory, the longer the boost pipes, and the bigger the intercooler, the longer it takes the 'boost' to travel from the turbo to the engine, and the longer it takes the 'boost' to pressurise it all before it pressurised the engine.
In REALITY, airflow out the turbo travels at fucking HUNDREDS of miles per hour, and airflow in to the engine consists of HUNDREDS of litres per fucking second, so how in God's name do you really think adding even 10ft and 10litres (and that's massively unlikely) to the pre-throttle intake length/volume will make a car laggy is beyond me.
In reality, and I've tried it over the years with really bloody extreme examples, with poxy little turbos and ridiculously big intercoolers and pipe lengths, it never ever feels 'laggier' or 'less responsive' or 'slower boosting' or any other way people want to say it, and usually (Imprezas are a great example as they have insanely long intercooler pipe lengths and massive front mounts) they actually are noticeably MORE responsive and have MORE low down power than before, as low intake temps are far more effective for performance increases than any theoretical response improvements.
Almost all top mount setups, and most v-mount setups too, usually have pretty horrendous inlet temps compared to a decent front mount, and with no real response improvements, giving up lower inlet temps just to shorten boost piping is a terrible plan in reality, which brings me neatly on to this car...
What we have here is an MR2, with a mid mounted 2ltr (2.1 maybe, can't remember and it doesn't matter) 4cyl engine. But the turbo is REAR mounted, a good couple of feet from the engine. That alone is enough to make Pistonheads forum nobheads cry 'LAAAAAAG' in some dweeby middle class voice. BUT hang on, where's the intercooler? Well, it's at the FRONT! Yes, this mid engine car, with a rear mount turbo, has a front mounted intercooler, and at least twenty foot of boost pipes connecting it all up!
Seriously, I've literally NO doubt if this car was created by some random lad in this day and age, not only would it get fucking slaughtered on whatever forum he made the mistake of posting it on, but it'd end up going viral on Facebook etc etc as the hordes of internet 'experts' ripped the absolute shit out of it for being a ridiculous stupid idea, despite none of them having any experience at all with anything even close to it.
I can picture the unfunny memes about it now...
I'm sure, even now, even after everything I've wrote, a lot of people are looking at the pics above and thinking "Fuck me, that must be horribly laggy and useless".
Well, no, no it's not, in fact the above car won the GT300 JGTC (Ie Japanese Touring/GT championship) in 1999, vs RX7s, S15 Silvias, Porsche 911s, Imprezas, and more.
I'm not 100% as I've not found enough detail to be sure, but the same setup in different livery might have won the 1998 championship too (MR2s with the same drivers did), and I think the 2002 GT300 winning MR-S (below) looks like it might've been a similar setup too, but can't find enough pics to be 100% sure...
Hi, I'm Stav...
You may or may not have heard of me, but I've spent the last 15 years working full-time in the tuning scene, and the last decade or so writing for various car magazines.