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Intercoolers - Mini enthusiasts will argue (usually with each other) that there isn't a straight up, best of the rest, intercooler out there.
And generally, it's true, all aftermarket and OEM intercoolers have their benefits and their downsides. Introducing a bigger core to the party will generally result in lower intake temperatures, but at the sacrifice of power generating boost, with smaller cores doing the complete opposite. Diverting cool, incoming air into the optimum surfaces of the core can also be a problem.
From a top mount intercooler point of view, there are two that stand proudly at the top of the popularity charts - The GRS Motorsport Edition and the OEM R53 GP Intercooler - I've owned both and they are very good.
But after years of sitting relatively unchallenged at top of their game, there's a new boy in town, and MiniTorque sponsors Orranje are supplying it to the modified masses.
Airtec have obviously listened to what's working for those that use the GP and GRS intercoolers - the GP has excellent recovery abilities due to it's effective diverters directing that delightful cool air collected by the tradmark Cooper S bonnet scoop into all the right places, while the GRS relies on it's bigger core to keep charge temps down to a minmum.
The Airtec features a deeper core than both the GP and GRS intercoolers to maximise the effective reduction of charge temps through the core, while it also features diverters welded to the intercooler itself to direct all the air you could possibly need through the fins to keep the density of your charge air.
I've spent a lot of time deliberating over which intercooler I should use, but when I saw the design of the Airtec I knew it was going to be a fantastic option for us long suffering MCS owners. One phone call to Rich @ Orranje and the order was placed.
One day later it arrived, smartly packaged with new fittings for it to be attached to the inlet manifold.
The Airtec is noticeably heavier than the GRS Motorsport Edition I replaced it with - although if you put the two side by side and discount the welded on scoop, they are very similar looks wise. It's a heavy beast, but feels very well built to the touch.
Looking into the core, the cooling fins have a very OEM feel - this a very different build than the GRS intercooler once you get under the skin.
As you look around the intercooler, you start to notice more differences from the other intercoolers out there - the welded fittings are placed in different positions,to any of the competition and the bolts supplied to keep the intercooler in position are a novelty compared to having the use the exsisting fittings on the others. While the welding isn't the neatest I've ever seen, the panels look very well sealed together and again, the build quality, on first impressions, is very good.
So how does it fit? Really well. The intercooler was a doddle to fit and my goodness, it looks good in the engine bay. The front 'lip' meets with the plastic at the front of the engine bay to ensure that incoming air doesn't escape underneath the intercooler, while the 'walls' built around the top of the intercooler seal with the roof of the bonnet to stop any air flow escaping into the engine bay.
So, from my first impressions, the Airtec intercooler has been developed using the best features of it's competitors - but does it work? Well, in all honesty, I've not had it on the car long enough to tell. I run a relatively high boost application compared to most that run with the M45 Supercharger and I can say so far it's working as well as my GRS Motorsport Edition did.
Being the kind of company they are, Orranje decided to independently test the intercooler on the Dyno with some impressive results that can be found here, which speak a thousand words compared to me trying to describe the effect on my butt dyno.
Here's the dyno results -vs- stock and the nearest competitor..
In summary, the Airtec intercooler at £399 delivered direct from Orranje is fantastic value compared to both the GP and GRS alternatives and it performs well against what I considered to be the best Top Mounted Intercooler available in the GRS Motorsport Edition and keeps that temp clipping at bay better than the other options out there.
But look, don't just take my word for it, get onto Rich at Orranje and find out for yourself - it's £400 well spent.