Full width intercoolers – worth the cash or just so much hot (well cold)air

A couple of the club cars are now running bigger intercoolers so I thought this might be a good time to talk about it.

Lets start with a 200TDI. Followers of this blog will know that I documented a full engine rebuild and other updates for Alice’s oily bits here. But although I made mention of the intercooler I didn’t go into any detail.

I opted for what Allard term their stage 3 kit. This is effectively a full width intercooler that fits in front of the radiator, some blue silicone hoses and a 200 TDI turbo charger case bored out and fitted with TD5 internals although at the time of ordering much of this seemed to be shrouded in mystery! However when the kit arrived the turbo was in a box with a card from The Turbo Centre and so I was able to ring them and ask exactly what they had done. I will talk about the turbo upgrade in detail in another post.

Delivery was by courier and took a couple of days. Cost of the whole kit was literally a couple of quid short of a grand (more expensive than Allisport) and at that price I felt that I should really be receiving a premium quality kit. When the intercooler was unpacked I was not disappointed, however, there was a hose missing from the kit (in fairness I received one in the post a few days after telling Allards this) and the brackets to mount the intercooler were  a Heath Robinson affair that didn’t fit, leaving me to re engineer them at one end and pack the other end with washers, much disappointment at this. I really felt that this looked like a bodge job.

But how does it perform you ask! I wanted to know whether the intercooler would make a difference to the old engine so I fitted it before the rebuild. In truth the transformation was nothing short of amazing! Long hills were previously punctuated by a series of down shifts with other club member behind me bemoaning the fact that my gutless old truck was constantly causing them to come off of the power, this is no longer the case. in most cases I can simply sit in third gear and largely she just pulls, this goes for driving round town too. To get the best out of the intercooler mod I have adjusted my fuelling a little and a good, simple guide on adjusting the fueling can be found here.

It has been pointed out here that the comparison between the upgrade and the old intercooler is hardly fair, given that the original one might be a couple of decades old and in a poor way and I did try to account for this by ensuring that the original intercooler was thoroughly clean and in good order for several months before the swap.

One down side that I have noticed is that my Revotec cooling fan is working harder, the engine never seems to be in danger of overheating but the fan switches in more frequently and for longer. This is not really a suprise since I have obstructed the radiator, not only with a full width intercooler but also with a large pair of Hella rally spot lights! It’s not a problem in UK conditions (even in the 2018 heatwave) but since we are planning a trip to the Spanish Pyrenees and Portugal it will need some investigation.

On the 300TDI powered Campulance Mike uses normal width double core intercooler.

Campulance uses double core single width intercooler.

These are readily available from suppliers such as Allisport at around the same cost as full width intercoolers and may be the way to go if you are not confident changing the layout of the engine bay or simply want to retain the original look while getting some increase in power. This type of set up will also not adversely affect cooling as it doesn’t sit in front of the radiator.

Mr Steve runs a full width version in his TD5 powered truck (Bumble) and reports good improvements in power and tractability, while improving cooling and fuel consumption.

He says of the upgrade “it’s an Allisport intercooler (the latest one with internal louvres) from Alive Tuning and I had to wait months to get my hands on one. I also fitted silicone hoses and an EGR blanking kit at the same time. Performance is noticeably better. Hard to say specifically by how much, but where I struggled to maintain top at anything less than about 50mph – which given that we cruise in convoy at about 50 was a real pain in the clutch leg – now I can accelerate in top from 35, and maintain top as low as 30 in benign conditions (i.e. no hills or hard acceleration needed). Also I now cruise using much less throttle than before. Totally transformed the car. I’d definitely recommend uprating to one of these”

The alive kit is easy to fit,  Instructions are included, but other than a reminder to cut the existing plastic intercooler mountings off (they are no longer needed and they’re in the way of the bigger intercooler) they aren’t really needed.

Mike has not adjusted his fuelling yet but Steve has looked at this with a remap.

Bumble runs a full width intercooler


So is it worth the approx £400 – £500? I would say resoundingly yes. If I had known what a difference it would make I would have done it earlier.


RHOL profile
Author Mark Edwards

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