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Ultimate Cooling – 2012-2016 BMW F2X/F3X Intercooler R&D Part 1 – Stock Review

Mishimoto prides itself on the ability to improve the cooling systems on just about any vehicle that rolls through the garage door. Intercoolers have become our bread and butter at this point. That being said, BMW’s are notoriously over-engineered, so improving on the meticulous German design isn’t going to be an easy task.

It seems that the engineers at BMW wanted to make sure they provided the best equipment on their “Ultimate Driving Machine,” which means tight spacing. Peeling the front bumper cover from our loaner 2014 335i M Sport reveals a space no bigger than a toaster oven. A tricky intercooler project lies ahead, but that’s OK, because we’re up to the challenge.

The front fascia is secured on tight, but our engineer Steve, left, and project manager, Rob, make short work of it.
The front fascia is secured on tight, but our engineer Steve, left, and project manager, Rob, make short work of it.
The F30 335i with the front fascia removed. THe M-Sport aero package includes its own full set of shrouding and duct work.
The F30 335i with the front fascia removed. The M-Sport aero package includes its own full set of shrouding and duct work.

BMW already has an adequate design on their stock intercooler. It’s a stout tube and fin unit with a fair balance of fin density and spacing. On top of that, the diverters residing in the inlets ensure the full use of the core when cooling charged air. The shaping of the M-Sport aero bumper cover and use of shrouds directs maximum airflow not only to the intercooler, but to the four other different cooling units mounted on the F30’s front end. It’s also apparent that there was a collection of careful engineering that went into the stock intercooler’s mounting configuration. The plastic end tanks are cut to precision to ensure the intercooler nests between the primary radiator and the undercarriage cover. In short, the intricacies of the front-end design mean that we have our work cut out.

The Stock intercooler unit. Note the guides on the end tanks for seamless mounting under the primary radiator.
The Stock intercooler unit. Note the guides on the end tanks for seamless mounting under the primary radiator.
BMW packed a lot of fins into a small space.
BMW packed a lot of fins into a small space.

The well-designed front end adds a second degree of difficulty to our design process. In a perfect world, we would increase the density, and surface area, and take up whatever available space is left. The problem with this model is there isn’t much space, and blocking the other components could lead to increased coolant temperatures. One of the challenges we’re facing in this process is the shrouds. Our loaner 335i has the aggressive M Sport aero package on it, which is not the most commonly used front fascia for the current 3 series.

The fulla array of shrouding and ducts that had to be removed just to get to the intercooler.
The full array of shrouding and ducts that had to be removed just to get to the intercooler.

The standard cover not only uses a different shape, but also different shrouding. Ideally, our new intercooler will be designed to fit on the 4-series, as well as the 2-series, but, you guessed it, each model has its own set of fasciae and shrouding. The size requirements vary from each model and accessory package, so we are working on a solution to have a unit that fits across the board but still retains the factory trim.

The available space we have to work with for our intercooler design.
The available space we have to work with for our intercooler design.

Because of our limited timeframe with the Bimmer, and the intricacies of the project our engineer is already at work on the improved design of the intercooler, and sifting through the complexity that is BMW’s abundance of fasciae and shrouds.

Steve using our Faro Design ScanArm to create a 3D model of the stock unit so he can determine the envelope for our improved design.
Steve using our Faro Design ScanArm to create a 3D model of the stock unit so he can determine the envelope for our improved design.

Thanks for reading!

– Nick

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