The Upgrade Guide for the Kia Stinger Intercooler. Kia introduced the Stinger GT/GT1/GT2 sedan for the 2018 model year, and it has been a big success since then. The top-of-the-line Stinger has a Lambda II V6 3.3 L twin-turbo engine that produces 365-368 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. The engine is the same as that found in the Hyundai Genesis G70, G80, and G90s. It is extremely dependable and has a massive amount of power potential for mods.
An improved intercooler to replace the undersized factory unit was one of the top Kia Stinger performance upgrades we recommended. Upgraded Kia Stinger GT intercoolers increase power while also making your engine run safer. They significantly reduce charge air temperatures, or air already compressed by the turbo, resulting in less knock and greater horsepower.
This post will examine the best Kia Stinger intercoolers available today in terms of price, quality, performance, and design. We’ll also go over the fundamentals of Lambda II intercoolers and how they work on the Stinger platform.
*This information only applies to Kia Stingers equipped with the V6TT Lambda II engine.
The Fundamentals of the Kia 3.3T Intercooler
Intercoolers are the greatest Kia Stinger modification for lowering intake manifold temperatures. The twin-turbos are driven by engine exhaust gases, which means they generate a lot of heat. Furthermore, when air is compressed, it begins to heat up. Because hot air is less dense and contains less oxygen than cooler air, higher intake temperatures reduce engine performance. Warmer intake temperatures can also cause heat soak, knock, and pre-ignition, all of which can cause engine failure in the long term.
The objective of an intercooler is to cool the air before it enters the combustion chamber. The Stinger’s default intercooler is adequate for factory power levels, but it quickly becomes overmatched at anything higher. When compared to the stock unit, upgrading the intercooler on the Lambda II Stinger improves cooling efficiency and recovery time. Because the temperature has dropped, the air is denser and contains more oxygen, resulting in more power. With cooler charge air temperatures, tuners may run more boost and timing, allowing them to enhance power output.
Another incentive to update your intercooler is if you live in a particularly hot area, such as Arizona or Nevada in the United States. When temperatures outside reach 90°F or higher, it becomes extremely difficult to maintain adequate charge air cooling. A larger intercooler helps to overcome this problem since it is more resistant to heat soak and can cool larger amounts of air for longer periods of time.
Designs for Lambda II 3.3T Intercoolers
Both the OEM and aftermarket Kia Stinger GT intercoolers are front-mounted air-to-air intercoolers. Air-to-air intercoolers function as heat exchangers, transferring heat from the compressed air of the turbo into the atmosphere. This is accomplished by passing ambient air through the intercooler’s air galleries while it is in motion.
You may be asking how intercoolers can effectively transfer heat utilising ambient air if they are located in the hot engine bay. This is when front-mounted intercoolers come into play. Front mount intercooler cores, or FMICs, are located at the front of the engine, directly behind the fender. This enables them to use the air streaming in from the grille to dissipate heat. FMICs are often more expensive than top or side mounted intercoolers, but they outperform them significantly.
Sizes of Intercooler Cores
The modest size of the factory Kia Stinger intercooler is the primary reason for upgrading it. While the stock intercooler is adequate for a couple of pulls at stock power levels, it quickly becomes overmatched when tuning or repeat pulls are performed. Aftermarket intercoolers have thicker and larger cores, allowing for greater and more efficient cooling and heat dispersion. This indicates that the intercooler can handle increased boost pressure, horsepower, and repeated pulls.
However, it’s critical to remember that intercoolers must be properly sized for their respective builds. Intercoolers that are too small, such as the stock one, will struggle to efficiently cool more powerful setups. However, intercoolers that are too large, such as one rated for 1000+hp on a 400 hp build, will reduce performance by increasing turbo lag and adding unnecessary weight.
Make sure your intercooler is rated for a little more power than you intend to use without going overboard. Most businesses will rank their cores for a specific horsepower level, so keep that in mind.
Tube and Fin vs. Bar and Plate
There are two types of intercoolers available for the Kia Stinger: bar and plate and tube and fin. They both use similar methods of ambient air cooling, but the layout of the air galleries differs. Bar and plate layouts often feature bigger, rectangular air galleries, whereas tube and fin layouts are rounder and typically smaller. The Stinger’s OEM intercooler is a tube-and-fin arrangement.
The bar and plate galleries may take in more air, but they are also less efficient at cooling. Because of the bigger galleries, they are heavier than tube and fin, but they are also stronger and more durable. Bar and plate intercoolers will also have less pressure drop, resulting in less boost loss as it passes through the intercooler.
We prefer bar and plate intercoolers over tube and fin intercoolers, but both function admirably on this platform. If you want to get the greatest power out of your setup, you should definitely go with a bar and plate configuration. However, if you prefer the aesthetics of a tube and fin version, it will not affect performance for most builds.
Tanks at the end
Another key factor to consider is the intercooler end tanks. The end tanks are, as you might expect, the intercooler’s ends or outlets that connect to the charge pipes. While it may not appear to be important, having quality end tanks is critical when it comes to intercooler flow. Most OEM intercoolers have cheap plastic end tanks that break easily, impede flow, and perform poorly in terms of heat dissipation.
The end tanks of most aftermarket Kia Stinger intercoolers will be made of aluminium or cast aluminium. These solve all of the problems associated with low-cost plastic end tanks by improving flow, durability, and heat dissipation. Keep a look out for the type of end tanks that each intercooler has, since this should undoubtedly factor into your decision.
The piping that links the intercooler to the turbo and throttle body is another significant part of intercooler kits. These are known as boost tubes or charge pipes, and they are crucial to the intercooler. There are two sides: a cold side that connects to the throttle body and a hot side that connects to the turbo. Air flows from the hot side charge pipe through the intercooler, out the cold side charge pipe, into the throttle body, and then into the combustion chamber.
Going with a larger intercooler, as you can expect, necessitates larger diameter charge pipes. Most intercooler kits include piping to replace the stock boost tubes. It’s critical to ensure that the charge pipe fitment is perfect to avoid leaks, which are the most common problem with intercoolers. Leaks will result in a loss of boost and consequently performance, as well as a reduction in gas mileage due to increased fuel trims.
Kia Intercoolers and Methanol/Water Injection
Let’s move on to water/methanol injection and intercoolers. For various reasons, water/methanol injection is an excellent mod for Kia Stingers. It increases power, decreases detonation (engine knock), and decreases carbon deposits. Many Kia Stinger intercooler kits already include bungs configured to accept water methanol injection.
Water/methanol injection works by injecting a mixture of water and methanol into the intercooler first. On its route inside the combustion chamber, the water/methanol combines with the charge air, lowering the temperature. Once in the combustion chamber, the methanol works to reduce cylinder pressures, which reduces temperatures and the possibility of engine knock. Tuners can use the lower cylinder pressures to run more boost and timing without the engine knocking.
Water/meth injection is probably not suitable for lower and mid-level setups, but anyone serious about creating big power should absolutely consider it. Water/meth becomes one of the best alternative fuels accessible, especially if you reside in a region where E85 is not available.
Advantages of a 3.3T Stinger Intercooler Upgrade
The following are the advantages of upgrading your Kia Stinger’s intercooler:
- +10 to 20 whp/wtq
- Long-term performance after multiple pulls
- Charge air temperatures have been reduced.
- Heat soak at a lower temperature
- decreased detonation
One of the most significant advantages of improved intercoolers on the Stinger is increased power. A new intercooler can offer significant benefits even without an equivalent tune. However, having your car tuned unlocks the full potential of intercoolers. A larger intercooler allows your tune to run higher levels of boost than stock for longer periods of time without incurring knock. That means the engine will have more peak power and a wider power band. Users have reported up to 20 whp/wtq at peak power when using a tweak.
However, peak numbers alone do not tell the whole story. As previously said, intercoolers are useful not only for enhancing power with increased boost and timing, but they also serve as a safety mod for your vehicle. Reduced charge air temperatures mean less knock and heat soak, particularly on repeated pulls.
You won’t notice much of a difference in the cold, but intercoolers truly shine in the summer. On the Lambda II, Kia Stinger FMICs can reduce intake manifold temperatures by up to 40° during WOT. This greatly reduces the likelihood of misfires, pre-ignition, or engine knock.
The Top 5 Kia Stinger 3.3T Intercoolers
The top five Kia Stinger 3.3T Intercoolers are as follows:
- Mr. Jonny Tig
Now let’s take a look at our picks for the top five best Kia Stinger intercooler upgrades. This is not a full list of all available intercoolers; such a list would be unhelpful. We’ve looked down the top 5 intercooler alternatives for the Kia Stinger GT2 that balance cost, performance, and quality. If you live in a CARB-regulated state, we have also selected a few CARB-certified kits. Let’s get this party started!
1) Stinger High Performance Intercooler by Burger Motorsports (BMS)
Yes, CARB certified.
Core Dimensions: 24″ x 11″ x 3.5″
Form: Bar and Plate
The Burger Motorsports (BMS) High Performance Intercooler is the first on our list. Because of its low price and high performance, this is one of the most popular kits on the market. It is also one of the most affordable alternatives, yet it outperforms some that cost twice as much. The core measures 24″ x 11″ x 3.5″ and can produce up to 800whp. It also has an 18″ NPT bung fitted for easy water/meth connection into the intercooler and larger end tanks than stock.
The BMS intercooler is a straight replacement for the OEM intercooler and does not include a whole set of charge pipes; instead, the factory ones are utilised. The lack of larger aftermarket charge pipes limits improvements slightly, however other charge pipes can be installed to compensate. Gains are around 10whp with the intercooler alone, and possibly 5whp more with tuning.
BMS claims that their intercooler is emissions legal in all 50 states, so if you live in a CARB-regulated jurisdiction, this is a good option. It has received rave reviews from the Stinger community and is considered one of the best kits available, especially for the price.
2) Wagner Tuning Stinger Competition Intercooler Kit
Price: $1,140.00 – $1,700.10
CARB Approved: No.
Core Dimensions: 23.6″ x 17.5″ x 4.1″
Tube and Fin is the type.
The next intercooler on our list is from Wagner Tuning, and it is a beast. Wagner Tuning is one of the best intercooler companies in the world, and their Kia Stinger piece is incredible. Although it is a tube and fin intercooler, the core is massive. The core measures 23.6″ x 17.5″ x 4.1″, making it one of the tallest intercoolers available for the Kia Stinger. Additionally, it has 175% more frontal surface area and 183% more core volume than the stock intercooler.
The stepped shape of the Wagner Tuning intercooler for the Kia Stinger allows the taller core to fit neatly beneath the bumper bar. The end tanks are made of aluminium and are designed for maximum flow over stock. Because of its great performance and beautiful design, it is one of the most praised intercoolers for the Lambda II. The Wagner adjustment Kia Stinger intercooler can produce gains of up to 20whp (with adjustment).
The kit is available with merely the core, chargepipes, and/or air ducts that route air into the intercooler. The anti-corrosion powder coating also aids in heat soak reduction. We highly recommend the Wagner Tuning intercooler for larger setups producing significant horsepower. The core may be a little large for smaller builds, but it is unlikely to impair performance.
3) IMR Stinger 3.3T Custom FMIC
Price: $640.00 – $1,394.99
CARB Approved: No.
Core dimensions are as follows: 24″ x 10.5″ x 3.5″ (600hp); 22″ x 10.5″ x 4.5″ (800hp).
Form: Bar and Plate
The IMR America Custom Stinger FMIC System is our third intercooler for the Kia Stinger. IMR is a small but renowned firm that mostly manufactures intercoolers for the Stinger and Hyundai Genesis platforms. The cores for their Kia Stinger system are available in two sizes: 600hp (24″ x 10.5″ x 3.5″) and 800hp (22″ x 10.5″ x 4.5″). They are both bar and plate designs that make use of the well-known Treadstone intercooler cores.
The 600hp core has a 1,000CFM flow rate and a pressure drop of only 1-2 PSI, which is the same as the pressure drop of the 800hp core, which flows 1,300 CFM. The IMR Kia Stinger intercooler is available with either the core and cold side charge pipes or as a complete kit with a full charge pipe system. IMR also features a water/meth injection port and many powder coating possibilities, making it quite configurable.
Despite the fact that IMR is not as large as some of our other options, they are well ranked for customer satisfaction. Their intercooler is one of the best reviewed for the Stinger’s Lambda II engine. Its low price makes it a very appealing alternative, and we strongly recommend it as an excellent pick. The sole drawback is that the end tanks are slightly smaller than in other models, but this is unlikely to have a significant impact on performance.
4) Mishimoto Stinger Performance Intercooler System
Yes, CARB certified (#D-759-15).
Core Dimensions: None specified.
Form: Bar and Plate
The Kia Stinger Mishimoto Performance Intercooler is the next intercooler on our list. Mishimoto is well-known as one of the top intercooler producers on the market, and the Kia Stinger is one of their most recent offers. While they do not provide exact dimensions for their intercooler, it is 94% larger than stock, has a 74% increase in external fin surface area, and a 51% increase in flow.
Outlet temperatures drop by 29* on the stock tune and up to 41* with ECU tuning, providing a significant performance boost.
The Mishimoto intercooler kit includes full 3″ charge pipes and a merging collector, and it fits most aftermarket and stock intakes. It’s a bar-and-plate construction with TIG-welded cast aluminium end tanks. A preinstalled bung for water/meth injection is also included.
With their intercooler and ECU tuning, Mishimoto claims improvements of up to 14whp and 16wtq, and it holds up quite well to repeated pulls. The Mishimoto Kit is one of our more expensive alternatives, but it is also one of the most popular in the Stinger community. It is also CARB certified, making it the obvious choice for large constructions in CARB-regulated states.
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5) Jonny Tig 3.3T Stinger Intercooler Kit
Price range: $1,999.00 to $2,100.00 (AUD).
CARB Certified: No (Made in Australia)
Core Dimensions: 26″ x 11.8″ x 3″
Tube and Fin is the type.
The Jonny Tig 3.3L TT 1,000hp Stinger Intercooler kit is our last intercooler suggestion. Jonny Tig is a well-known Australian manufacturer in the Kia Stinger scene. They feature an excellent intercooler kit in addition to their highly rated intake. The core is enormous, measuring 26″ x 11.8″ x 3″ with a total thickness of 3.5″. The kit includes complete charge pipes that can be powder coated or polished.
Jonny Tig rates the intercooler at 1,000hp, indicating that it is best suited to larger projects and not so much to smaller ones. The Jonny Tig Stinger intercooler produces 10-15whp/wtq on its own, with an additional 5-10whp gained through tuning.
Overall, we recommend the Jonny Tig only for those with the largest builds and the most boost to push. Furthermore, Jonny Tig is notorious for having lengthy wait times between ordering and receiving their product. Part of this is due to their location in Australia, but it is also due to the customised nature of their products. It’s worth the wait, but if you need something straight soon, go with a home producer.
Summary of the Stinger 3.3T Intercooler Upgrade
An improved intercooler is a wonderful Lambda II Kia Stinger performance and reliability mod. The performance advantages are not only visible, but they also limit the possibility of heat soak and allow for more consistent and prolonged performance. Reduced heat soak reduces the likelihood of serious engine problems such as misfiring, pre-ignition, or knock, which increases engine longevity significantly.
Anyone who makes more power than stock or lives in a hot climate should seriously consider upgrading their intercooler. The benefits are not as visible in the winter, but they are highly noticeable in the summer and can help save your engine. Using a tune in conjunction with your intercooler provides the most bang for your buck and the greatest gains.
In this post, we looked at five distinct intercoolers, each with its own set of benefits. The BMS intercooler is the cheapest option and performs admirably, but it is not available as a complete kit and would require additional charge pipes for optimal performance. The Wagner Tuning and Jonny Tig Kia Stinger intercoolers will have the most powerful cores, but they will also be the most expensive.
IMR’s intercooler System has two cores, and the smaller option is ideal for projects that do not require a lot of power. Mishimoto is perhaps the most well-known and reviewed product on the marketplace, and it has amazing engineering and design, but it is also more pricey.