Intake Shootout! 04-08 Acura TSX – HeelToe Automotive

21 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Intake Shootout! 04-08 Acura TSX – HeelToe Automotive
Acura TSX

Intake Shootout! 04-08 Acura TSX

Synopsis: Injen, CT Engineering, KN, Weapon-R, A’PEXi, and Greddy do battle in our critical hands and on the dyno!

Heeltoe#39;s Intake Shootout, 04-08 TSX

An air intake is probably the most commonly purchased power bolt-on item in the automotive aftermarket. Everyone is on board with the idea that a higher flowing intake system is a great way to change the power of the car (typically for the better). However, it is interesting how different companies formulate their designs. Fluid dynamics is a tricky science, and sometimes the more obvious solutions are not the best.

Likewise, the more complicated answers are rarely the best to any given question. The only way to really see how designs compare was to do a dyno comparison.

The main categorical difference between intakes is between short ram and cold air intakes. The typical chrome tube with a open air element filter on the end is a prevailing design cue, however where that filter is located can change the power that is created. Systems that locate the filter in the engine bay are know as short rams. This is in contrast to longer-tube systems which place the filter outside the engine bay (usually behind the bumper) to draw in cooler ambient air.

The physics at play is that cooler air is more dense with oxygen. Since engines produce power by igniting mixtures of oxygen and hydrocarbons, the more oxygen in the intake charge, the higher the power produced. Playing in the cold-air field are ice-boxes, which are generally systems where the filter is a panel or cone housed inside an enclosed chamber with a tube running to an area which cold-air supply.

To get some contestants, we actually checked our own site to see what offerings there were for the TSX, as this is the car we#39;d be testing. The usual players were no brainers. The best-selling CT Engineering Icebox, the presumptive power producer Injen SP, and what intake test would be complete without KN and their Typhoon? A few others added some spice; A#39;PEXi#39;s Power Intake, Trust#39;s Airinx, and Weapon-R#39;s Secret Weapon all provided some contrast for the test.

Our initial plan for this test was to include a larger array intakes including even a Mugen Intake and J#39;s Racing Tsuchinoko (both ice-box type designs), however cost and availability limited the test to only ones that people regularly purchase. People buying J#39;s and Mugen many times value the brand over the benefit, although we do expect both these systems are admirable performers. An HPS entry was requested as an eBay entry, however again supply issues got in the way.

AEM declined to participate (we suspect parent company KN wanted to shine brighter).

The testing was done at Church Automotive Testing, one of the best in the business. Dynapack chassis dynamometers provide a very low degree of drivetrain loss making them sensitive to small changes. The installation of the intakes in this test was of the quick-n-dirty methodology without taking the car off the dyno. For the most part we did not affix the clamps or tubes that would serve as permanent installation requirements.

For the 3-4 pulls on the dyno we were doing, and given that were being charged by the hour, it seems perfectly fine to do things this way. If there is any dispute in the power numbers we are providing, I would kindly suggest such scrutineers validate themselves by testing on their own. The entire test took about 2 hours, and the ambient temp was about 84 degrees F. No tuning of the computer was done to compliment these intakes as that would have been too costly in time and resources.

The test TSX is not equipped with a reflash of any kind.

The point of this test is not to see how much power each part makes, because every car is going to have a different result based on the other mods it has (Incidentally, our HTSpec TSX was equipped with a Fujitsubo exhaust and UR Pulleys at the time of the test, otherwise it was stock). Instead we wanted to get them all cycled through on one car with static conditions to see how they performed relative to one-another. We are not able to publish every chart, and honestly since we didn#39;t have a stock intake to compare everything to it seemed like it wouldn#39;t be necessary.

We also took sound clips from each intake from inside and outside the car. This was in an effort to really show readers how the intake sound changes the attitude of the car, and to see which intakes sounded better. Much to our chagrin, the videos really did not reveal much of a sound difference at all, and even in person the only intake which seemed significantly different from the others was the only one without an open-air element; the CT Engineering one.

You are going to get a lot more noise with wide-open throttles with an open intake. The sound of the intakes in many cases over-powered the exhaust sound while doing this test. Most people don#39;t make a fuss and even like the sound, as with normal driving you don#39;t hear much of anything in terms of noise.

That being said, we#39;ve been in automatic cars with intakes and nothing else, and they can get pretty boomy.

To help make this one of the most informative tests we could, we are also critiquing the packaging quality and highlighting the CARB status of each intake. Being smog legal is a make or break factor in many people#39;s purchase choice. Without further delay, here is what we found out!

Trust/Greddy Airinx: #6

First up we have the Trust Airinx. Trust, the parent company of Greddy Performance, is a well trusted name in the Japanese aftermarket. They have a long history of producing some really high performance items for cars, especially with turbo applications.

This intake is not normally available in the USA and we had special ordered it from Greddy a while ago. It took about 60 days to come in. The box is small and light, but was packed well to avoid product damage.

This intake is not CARB legal.

We were surpirsed to see how simple this part was, the kit containing only three pieces. A nicely fabricated intake tube, an adapter to mount the filter, and a high quality filter assembly with replacement element. We had heard in the past that foam filters perform better than cotton ones, so we thought while this kit seemed like it had little engineering work done to produce it, it might show well by having really low restriction.

Upon closer inspection we were happy to see that the filter adapter had indeed a greater amount of detail work than we expected. The ring locks into the toothed flange area on the chrome filter assembly for a simple, hardware free fit. Also, it has a curved surface lending us to believe it would promote better airflow around the inner boundary of the tube.

Here you can see how the filter installs. Much better than the typical band-clamp that you see on every other part out there.

Once installed there is a completely smooth transition from the filter to the tube. While we are not sure how much this detail work actually benefits performance we can say that there was considerable effort to reduce as much restriction as possible.

Installation was stupid-simple. One bolt which is re-used on the car already, tuck the inlet pipe into the OEM intake arm, and you are done. We think a pre-schooler could figure this out.

Given this was a Japan-special order item and the instructions were not much help, this is a good thing. It also looked great under the hood, giving a splash of glitz and color to an otherwise plain engine bay. This is the only yellow filter we know of.

Power notes:

The short tube, foam filter combination did no favors for the HTSpec TSX. It registered a paltry 212 horsepower on the dyno. This was the lowest power producing part we tested.

We suspect this arrangement works really well on a forced induction car where more suction is created by the engine and the length of the tube is irrelevant. This design does not translate over to NA 4-bangers if this is the case!

PROS: Low cost for high quality, Easy Install, Exclusivity of rare JDM item, Underhood eye-candy.

CONS: Didn#39;t produce on the dyno, Need there be anything else to avoid recommending it?

VERDICT: Stick to Supras Greddy, Trust us.

Weapon-R Secret Weapon: #5

Next up is the Weapon-R Secret Weapon Intake. Weapon-R produces A LOT of parts. Historically, they have been somewhat of a cheapish brand, producing whatever seemed trendy at the time for a low cost. Even now their site has nearly as many scantily clad models on display as it does car parts (Hey, don#39;t leave now!

Check it out after reading our article!). That being said, it was made pretty clear to us that the Secret Weapon intake is not to be taken lightly. It does have some interesting features that make it different from the rest of the contenders here.

The packaging is quite intricate. The filter is sectioned off, and the piping is in bubble wrap. Packing seems quite safe 🙂 Nothing worse than getting a kit like this only to find parts are missing or damaged.

Pipe material is a raw, polished aluminum that looks pretty nice. The diameter is about 3 (metric size). Raw aluminum can have somewhat of a dull look to it, however the Weapon-R looks quite good. The logo and patent information are actually imprinted on the part itself.

This is actually a pretty special cue. one of our with parts today is that they all seem to be the same thing repacked and relabeled. Weapon-R values their identity and highlight their legitimacy with details like this. Even their band clamps have their logo.

Weapon-R has created something different than the mainstream, and something important enough to patent!

Here we see what is different. this insert in the piping. This must be the secret. Very interesting! Perhaps this design is to encourage a more laminar flow through the turn in the pipe.

Not sure. a dyno should tell us if the sound or power is different on this kit than the rest.

Acura TSX

The filter itself uses a foam element. As mentioned with the Turst intake, we heard in the past that foam actually promotes the best air flow as a filter substrate. If that is true the choice of foam was good in this case.

The filter is a highly engineered design. It looks in itself to be a well made part. This filter has an exposed surface area around the outside, as well as a secondary open surface on the top with an inner filter.

There is also a flange on the top and I was wondering what that was for.

And here we go! The intake actually comes with a snorkel that will draw cold air from behind the bumper. We guess this is the other part of the secret.

Under the hood you see a Short Ram Intake, but the snorkel actually makes this somewhat of a Cold Air in disguise.

We are wondering though much cold air is drawn in with this configuration since the outer surface of the filter is still open to draw in under-hood air. We will see if there is a power difference in both configurations.

The kit comes with decent hardware and looks to be quite complete. All the intakes in this test have permanent filters, and you can get cleaning kits for them online. However the Weapon-R Secret Weapon was the only intake in the test to come with a filter cleaning spray

The instructions are in English and look fairly complete. They are a bit general but intakes are fairly easy to install. The hardest part in this case is getting the stock stuff out, and Weapon-R leaves you a little on your own there.

Installation of the Weapon-R Secret Weapon intake was reasonable. The pipe could have fit a little better, and I prefer the auxiliary inputs for the breather and IAT sensor of some of the other parts better. However this part certainly did fit fine.

We decided to run the test with and without the snorkel tube on it. It was easy to fit the tube to the end of the filter and route it to the bumper. The HTSpec TSX is running a EuroR front lip but does not have fog lights installed. This provides ample air to the area where the cold-air intakes draw from.

The tube on the Weapon-R was shoved right up to the fog hole, which we imagine would give more of a ram-air effect.

Here you can see the air inlet created by the fog lamp hole, and the Weapon-R intake snorkel right inside. This seemed like an ideal mounting point.

The Weapon-R performed easily as well as the other short rams in the test given consistent temperatures. When tested without the snorkel, we did see a lot of loss to heat soak. Run after run the power was dropping (more than with the other short rams). Once the snorkel was put on we did not see any power increase however the power stabilized quite a bit.

We were able to do multiple runs without losing power to heat.

We think this is because of the extra material built into the tube near the throttle body. As heat builds under the hood the tube gets hotter, which in turn heats the internal structure Weapon-R devised. This probably is serving a good purpose for airflow however it could be acting as a heater for the intake charge as well.

With the snorkel on, the tube is supplied with a cooler intake charge which, instead of gaining power actually counter-acts this heating. We are speculating, but it seems like they would be better off without the extra bits inside the tube, or possibly make them in plastic instead of metal.

PROS: Different from the rest, Unassuming appearance, Quality tube and filter, The most complete kit with cleaning spray.

CONS: No better than the average short ram, The brand-concsious might look past it.

VERDICT: The secret#39;s relevance was lost in translation.

A#39;PEXi Power Intake: #4

A#39;PEXi#39;s Power Intake was had very high hopes for. Yes, we know it is a shorty. Yes, we know it isn#39;t CARB legal. But it does represent a really great value as the cheapest in our test. Also, we had heard of testing done year ago that placed A#39;PEXi#39;s filters very high on the performance scale, not just for airflow but for actually cleaning the air as well.

In looking at it, this part represented a good comparison to the Trust/Greddy part as it is close in design but with a different element.

A#39;PEXi packed the parts well, providing instructions that are all in Japanese (not much help but pictures are provided to aid). This was a pretty simple kit though to that wasn#39;t a bother.

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