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Front Mount Intercoolers

From The Broken Fiat Club

Front Mount Intercoolers

The job of an intercooler is to take the air coming from the turbo, which is pressurized and very hot, and cool it before passing it to the engine. Cooling the air allows for greater density, more oxygen and better ignition.

The turbo'd Fiat 500 comes stock with a pair of intercoolers, mounted one on each side of the engine, with air being supplied through the grills on the fenderwell

Stockintercoolers.jpg

The stock system is clever but has some disadvantages:
- the intercoolers are relatively small
- the intercoolers themselves are not very strong and can leak
- the piping is very complex with lots of places for the pressure to potentially leak-out
- The piping weighs a lot (~18lbs)


To support the turbo in making more boost most folks remove these side mounted intercoolers (SMIC) and replace them with a single front mounted intercooler (FMIC).

These FMICs have a number of advantages:
- Much larger volume and cooling faces
- Better construction
- simpler connective piping
- weight savings


There are a number of options available today for the US market cars. There are also generic intercoolers that can be used, with a little modification, using parts from eBay (or other similar sites).

Installing an intercooler is relatively straight forward. You will need to remove the front bumper cover, and it will help to lift the front of the car on ramps or axle stands. The most challenging part of the install is usually removing the stock piping or getting the new silicone piping to fit. Detailed instructions will be specific to the particular FMIC.

The following after market intercoolers fit all years of the US marketed cars unless indicated otherwise. The goal of this list is to outline the options available using publicly available sources and without declaring any specific preference.


AGP FMIC

Agpfmic.jpg

This FMIC is no longer manufactured, but may show up as good option used


ATM FMIC

ATMintercooler.jpg

Introduced in 2013, the ATM (Ambient Thermal Management) FMIC became very popular.

It's one of largest intercooler currently available but also one of the more expensive.

Advantages

Much larger core volume - 81% larger than stock at 450cl
Large ambient face 165 sq/in)
Cast end tanks for better flow
Test data to validate its performance
Short piping
Available in black and brushed aluminum
Lighter than stock - 19lbs

Disadvantages

Expensive - $750
Tight fitment - It utilizes every inch of available space.  Doesn't fit a very small percentage of cars.

Corza Forza Performance FMIC

CFP-FMIC4.jpg

A later arrival for the Abarth, the CFP FMIC created some excitement at a price-point under $500.

There are very limited technical details about this FMIC. Corsa Forza Performance (CFP) claims it is the "Best Performing Abarth FMIC" but has not provided any technical details to support that claim

Advantages

Low price - $500
An improvement over the stock intercoolers
Short piping
Lighter than stock - 19lbs

Disadvantages

Some customers have been waiting on the silcone pipes for over a year
Not the most attractive construction and welding
End tank design is poor with a sharp, flow restricting, 90 degree turn to feed air in and out of the intercooler.

CHQ V2.1 by NGEN Performance

CHQ V2 1.jpg

The first version of the CHQ FMIC used the stock hot side piping. For some users this would leak at higher that stock boost pressures. This has been resolved with version 2, and CHQ also improved the welding to create a nice looking intercooler.

Advantages

Low price - $550
Improvement over the stock intercoolers
Aluminium piping for additonal cooling
Easy install
Lighter than stock - 18lbs

Disadvantages

Right angle on inlet could restrict flow compared to a straight-through design.

EuroCompulsion FMIC

Ec fmic.jpg

This is another popular choice for a number of reasons. Firstly this is perhaps the most thoroughly tested of all the FMICs, as it's the one that Eurocompulsion runs when developing the Euro+Drive tunes for the Abarth and 500T. There is also a substantial amount of technical data to back this as a choice. It's price puts it in the middle of the pack, but it's performance is amongst the very best.

Advantages

Much larger core volume - 50% larger than stock at 376cl
Test data to validate its performance
Light weight at 10.8lbs
Eurocompulsion develops their tunes with this intercooler
One piece silcone hoses

Disadvantages

There have been multiple reports of the hoses rupturing
Install can be challenging on some cars as the grill has to be trimmed to make it fit
A small number of users have questioned the performance number and been unable to replicate the performance
Price - $650. (This is not the cheapest, but also not the most expensive)

Forge FMIC

ForgeFMIC png 1024x1024@2x.jpg

This FMIC is made in Europe and is similar in design to the CHQ FMIC. There seems to be no technical information available for this FMIC.

Advantages

Better than stock
Choice of colors for silcone pipes
 

Disadvantages

Price.  ($800 to $1100).  The most expensive intercooler currently available.
Right angle on inlet could restrict flow compared to a straight-through design.

SILA Concepts - V2 - BAR + PLATE Design

SILAintercooler1-750x563.jpg

Another intercooler that has almost no technical data published for it.

Advantages

Better than stock
Lighter than stock by 5lbs 
Price.  $475, cheapest of all the listed intercoolers.
 

Disadvantages

160 degree turn on inlet could restrict flow compared to a straight-through design.
reuses stock inlet side piping.  This is known to have issues at more than stock boost levels.

TbF Performance Intercooler

Tbfintercooler.jpg

Newly introduced by 500madness, there is currently no technical data published for this intercooler.

Advantages

Better than stock
Light weight - intercooler itself weighs less than 8lbs (not including piping)
Black

Disadvantages

Price. $700 
Piping is made in multiple parts.  Risk of boost leaks.
Manual transmission only