The R600 Intake System is surely the best-know product in RacingLine’s portfolio of performance upgrades. And for good reason. With OEM-standards of appearance and build, plus a genuine capacity for airflow to 600bhp and beyond it’s one of those rare products that you can buy with your heart and your head. Here’s the story of R600.
It has been true for as long as the internal combustion engine has been in existence. The more effectively you can get quantities of cold fresh the air in to the cylinders, the more power and efficiency your engine will achieve.
And it’s just as relevant on our modern, direct-injection turbo TSI engines. All the more so when you remap the car for more power.
So starting from the basics, your internal combustion engine is basically a pump. Air and fuel goes in one end. Then you get exhaust gases, heat, and a spinning crankshaft out from the other. As a rule of thumb, an engine needs about 14 times as much air as fuel. So add more fuelling (as most remaps do), or rev it higher and you can easily imagine how much the corresponding airflow needs to increase by. The factory intake just isn’t up to delivering that sort of airflow at higher power, and will be starving the engine of air.
Let’s Start With the Factory Intake
The good news is, the factory intakes are pretty good. As always with factory parts, there’s a compromise involved. When Volkswagen Group’s engineers specify their air intakes, their priorities are different to us ‘car people’: they want something that is cost effective, quiet, and reasonably efficient when delivering at the factory power levels. Which is just fine for most customers, on most cars, most of the time.
The 2.0/1.8 TSI engines in the MQB-platform cars actually have a pretty reasonable intake system as standard. The enclosed PU box is a decent size, the material resists engine bay heat well and even the stock paper panel filter has a good surface area and flows pretty well (when clean and new, at least).
So do I need a Cold-Air Intake System?
There’s the question we get asked more than any other.
Is your car standard? If so, then the answer is no, you don’t need an intake. Naturally, us car enthusiasts being car enthusiasts, many owners still do - and it’s perfectly safe to do so. It’ll look great under the bonnet, sound good when you drop the throttle, and you’ll be ready for any future upgrades that come along.
But when you take your car’s power beyond what the factory blessed it with (and why would you not…?) that factory air intake system starts to become quite a restriction to the engine’s power and efficiency. Stage 1 cars are reaching that tipping point at which you need to either fit an intake system - or to accept you’ll sacrifice a little power. Typically a 16-20 bhp difference on a Stage 1 car, in fact.
Then once you reach Stage 2 you’ve got no choice, you need that intake, period. Do the job properly, choose yourself an R600 – which is still the intake chosen for the vast majority of the Stage 3 500+bhp cars out there – then you’ll be sure to have the ‘headroom’ for any future mods, however far you go.
It’s for those of us who are motivated to chase more power from our cars that we have invested so much engineering resource into developing such a sophisticated full cold air intake system for the 2.0 and 1.8 MQB TSI engines.
Why do I need a Cold-Air Intake System?
1. Size Matters
Size matters. That’s the truth. And so we made size our priority for every step of our development.
It all started with some advanced 3D scanning of the engine-bay. The scans defined the precise packaging space we had to squeeze in the largest airbox that we could possibly design. The result - it’s quite simply the largest airbox volume on the market for MQB cars.
At the same time, our CFD work quickly showed us that breathing in through larger, twin frontal air inlets across the width of the car’s grille area would achieve a higher airflow rate, and lower intake temperatures. The factory’s choice of single-sided intake aperture is just too restrictive a gap for the mass airflow of cold, fresh air needed for our big power outputs.
That’s the airbox – what about the size of filter itself?
The R600 houses a (more than) double-sized Trifoam® dome filter. It's this giant, double-size filter that enables minimum pressure differentials, yet gives maximum filtration protection to your engine. Take a look at these numbers:
Standard filter area = 43,200mm²
R600 filter area = 96,477 mm²
We’re pretty certain that that is the biggest filter surface area of any intake on the market for the MQB TSI. And surface area is the most important factor in airflow capacity - and therefore power outputs.
2. Keeping Cool
It’s so critical to draw in air from outside the car. Whatever the ambient temperature on the day, this air is “cold” compared to the hot air inside the engine compartment. And never forget that precious truth: as intake air temperatures increase, so your engine’s power decreases. No way around it.
So by extending the R600’s intake apertures across the front of the car, this maximises the amount of cold air breathing into the giant, double-sized airbox. Look at the CFD model below and you can see with your own eyes the difference dual intakes makes.
And this is where those open intakes on the market – with a filter located inside the engine bay - just don’t really work.
Since the cylinders can only hold so much air, the lower air densities of hot air lead to less oxygen in the combustion chamber. Reduced oxygen means reduced fuel use, and less fuel use means lower power. Seriously - don't choose an unshielded open intake and expect to gain power.
3. Material Difference
And it’s not just about the airbox design. It’s also about the materials that it’s made from.
Manufactured in UK the from same PU polymer material as original factory airbox, this helps prevent the dreaded heat soak into the intake airflow. It’s easy to figure out: polymer air boxes don’t soak up heat like metallic kits do. Even the shiny carbon fibre so beloved of some tuners doesn’t have anywhere near the same thermal resistance as our PU material.
Meaning that after a hard drive, the heat-soak will be massive into the airbox if you’ve chosen the wrong material such as thin carbon, or are expecting to rely on a thin metal shield for heat protection.
4. It's What's Inside that Matters
Some people forget that it's what's insidethat matters when it comes to intake system performance - not the shininess of the airbox.
Whatever intake system you choose, always get the best filter you can. After all, an air intake is only as good as the filter fitted inside it. And that’s why (unlike some tuners….) we use nothing but the best filter materials.
We specify our TriFoam™ system, formed from three layers of coarse, medium and fine foams sandwiched together. Each and every one of our filters are hand-made in the UK, alongside F1, WEC and Touring Car filters. No other intake systems for the MQB cars can claim that!
Of course we’ve tested paper and cotton elements many times against our Trifoam®. When new, all three filter materials start with very similar airflow capabilities. They all perform well. However, both cotton and paper rapidly go on to suffer from heavy degradation as they inevitably get dirty with use.
And when the filter gets wet, particularly in the case of paper elements, a really significant restriction occurs. TriFoam™ doesn’t suffer from this dirt-loading problem and keeps on performance, mile after mile. That’s why we choose it.
5. Believe your Ears
We started this blog talking about the compromises on the factory airbox. One of the main requirements for standard Volkswagen Group cars is to keep the intake quiet at all times. Much like a child’s recorder practice, it’s a simple fact that more air flowing makes more noise. Customers who install the R600 typically notice not just faster throttle response but also some lovely louder, richer induction sounds at wide open throttle.
As R600 is an enclosed intake system, the aural side is just about perfect. The volume levels are well-contained in steady driving on the open road. But open it up, rev it hard and the sound quality is music to the ears of any enthusiastic driver!
6. Iron Fist, Velvet Suit
We know you don’t choose performance parts for looks alone. But then there is the old saying ‘if it looks right, it is right’.
After all of our hard slog of 3D scanning, CAD development, CFD analysis, flow rig testing, materials specifications and dyno proving was done, it was time to consider the appearance. We employed the services of a clever stylist to help us realise our dreams, sketching out our initial concepts. This sketch is the moment R600 was borne:
Then our ex-Lotus designer brought R600 to life by refining these pencil doodles into real, sexy, working, 3D designs. Our CAD engineer then had to refine these concepts into final design files. Our production engineering team took that design into the tool design for the injection moulding process: A-surfaces, B-surfaces, release angles.
Finally many, many hours were spend to establish the exact same texture gradings for the outer surface of the R600 lid as the factory airbox and engine cover do. Who knew there was so much decision making on PU textures?
None of R600’s story happened by chance!
“Why do I need capability for 600 bhp”, some may ask. Well, it’s for the same reason that you drive a car that can hit 155 mph in a country that has a 70 mph limit. It’s all about operating efficiently at any level, and the reassurance of knowing you’ve got plenty in reserve.
With big-turbo conversions getting close to the 600 bhp power output already, you can be reassured that the R600 has all the headroom you may ever need for future upgrades to your car.
If you were ever unsure about whether to choose R600, we recently found that a Stage 3 customer of ours was loosing an amazing 30 bhp from his other ‘big-brand’ MQB intake versus the R600. But you can imagine his disappointment at finding out how badly his expensive intake was holding power back...
Buy once. Buy the best.
You can read all about our RacingLine R600 cold air intake here.