When I made the decision to go with a Stage III kit I felt upgrading from the stock intercoolers was an important part of getting the most out of the Stage III kit.
The intercoolers are a moderately expensive upgrade that requires making some modifications to the vehicle. As always I was looking to get the most bang for the buck while changing as little on the car as possible.
- AWE SMIC
- RS4 SMIC
- DUH FMIC
As when I had purchased the IC mister system, the options available consisted of the RS4 and AWE kits, but now there was also a fully developed front mounted intercooler from DUH Engineering.
DUH FMIC: I quickly ruled out the DUH FMIC on the basis of several concerns. First there was no data available showing a clear benefit over the other two options. Second, at roughly twice the cost of the other systems it was very expensive, and unlikely to perform twice as well as the RS4 or AWE IC’s, if it performed better at all. Third, it required significant modification to the front end of the car, to include cutting portions of the front end off the car, a process I was hesitant to allow.
AWE vs RS4: The choice between the AWE and RS4 IC’s was more difficult. The only comparative data available is from AWE, and thus leads to some suspicion about the testing. Nevertheless, they did conduct tests, and showed some slight benefits of their IC’s to the RS4 IC’s. The difference was slight enough that it did not definitively sway me one way or the other. The RS4 IC’s were a more cost effective solution, selling for approximately $200 less than the AWE IC’s. The final consideration was fitting them into the car. Here the AWE setup was superior, having been designed for the S4 and thus requiring the minimum modification to the car of any of the options.
With performance being nearly a toss-up but slightly to the AWE IC’s, fitment going to the AWE IC’s, and cost to the RS4 IC’s, I decided to pay the extra cost for the AWE setup. As AWE points out, since their IC’s require less modification to the car, installation time is reduced, and if an auto shop is doing the work, some of the initial cost difference will be recouped by the reduction in labor costs.
I’m quite pleased with the AWE intercoolers though I have not had the opportunity to do any real testing with them. Even when I am able to I doubt I’ll be able to draw any conclusions about how they perform compared to my stock IC’s given that my car had a Stg3 kit installed at the same time as the intercoolers.