Does a CAI in a car with a small turbo engine make sense? MST Performance Test



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There is a lot of discussion in the network, is it worth changing the factory air filter in your car to the inlet ending with a conical filter? To check this, on a car with a 1.4 turbo gasoline engine I fitted a complete intake from MST Performance.

watch with English subtitles! 

Depending on the engine capacity, such modification may bring several effects. For many modders, the most important thing is to change the sound after hitting the throttle. Thanks to CAI, i.e. Cold Air Intake, we change the main assumptions of the factory. Instead of the quietest possible operation of the engine, we want to hear a bassier, aggressive sound from under the hood. In turn, many people say that when assuming intakes for naturally aspirated cars, they clearly feel the increased power and torque of the engine. The gains are usually so minimal that you can hardly feel them on the paper, similar to the sports liner in place of the original air filter. Along with the change of the car, I became interested in how the topic of the cone would work in a turbo engine, but with a fairly low capacity – 1.4 liters.

CAI availability for new cars

Browsing through the offers of various manufacturers, it quickly turned out that the choice of complete air intake for new cars is very limited, and their prices are not low. When many years ago I bought a Simota intake for the Civic D16V1, it cost nearly 50 euro. The cheapest intake for Suzuki Swift Sport costs around 450 euro and is not sold by anyone in Poland. I decided to write to the producers asking about availability and possible effects – including, of course, sound effects. The company MST Performance from Taiwan, which specializes in the production of air intakes for cars of various brands, became interested in my message.

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Cooperation with MST Performance

MST offered to send the test kit for free, because they had just introduced a dedicated kit for Swift Sport boosterjet. Before starting the assembly, I decided to record what the car sounded like on the serial air filter. It was windy for several days, so we limited the recordings outside. Listen to what the car sounded like before. To make the test effective, I also visited one of the Lublin dynamometers, on which I checked the current engine power. There was quite a surprise here.

Suzuki swift sport stock power and torque

According to the manufacturer’s catalog, the 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport has a power of 140 horsepower and a torque of 230 nM. It is worth mentioning that the car weighs 970 kg, so the whole thing is really fun to drive. It turned out, however, that the average of several measurements was exactly 154.7 HP and 256 Nm.

The installation of the intake from MST Performance was taken care of by Shift-R Tuning & Motosport, a company from Lublin, which makes much more interesting projects on a daily basis than changing the air intake in a 1.4 engine car. The set was divided into parts, and the set included everything necessary for assembly – also clamps and mounting screws.

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After removing the factory air intake, we studied the manual attached to the set and saw in the photo where the air intake will be attached. This makes the entire assembly much easier. Very often it turns out that dedicated sets pose a lot of problems with matching. Fortunately, the kit from MST Performance turned out to be very well prepared and fits perfectly in all the factory mounting holes.

You admit that the whole thing just looks great under the hood. The cone is nicely cased, so it does not trap hot air from under the hood. The air intake is located just above the radiator cap, but it is worth mentioning that the short intake arm does not allow you to reattach the factory engine cover. The Swift is not very soundproofed car, and the lack of a cover slightly increased the noise of the injectors.

MST Performance CAI sound effect

After tightening all the screws and cable ties, it’s time to test. We warmed up the car for a while and here are the results. I must admit that I did not expect such an effect. I was hoping for a slightly deeper rumble of the engine, but it turned out that the intake significantly increased the sounds of the working turbine. You can hear the aggressive whistle of the turbine without load, and it is even more interesting under load. During calm, everyday driving, the car behaves in the same way – it is still quiet, with audible injectors. After pressing the gas harder, you can hear how the cone sucks in air and the turbo opens. After releasing the gas, the car breathes with a rest, releasing a loud gasp.

Suzuki swift sport power and torque with MST Performance CAI

We know the measurement before modifications. Even then, the power and moment of Suzuki surprised us a lot. How is it this time? Of course, I decided to check it. The car’s power increased to 160 horsepower, the torque dropped by 0.8 Nm. When analyzing the dynamometer chart, you can see that the car has become livelier on the lower revs and the top has improved. You can see the exact measurement below. Thick red and blue lines are the result with CAI, the dashed line is the first measurement on the serial intake.

Does a CAI in a car with a small turbo engine make sense – summary

In sum. The complete intake from MST Performance allowed Suzuki to gain exactly 5.3 horsepower and a much more aggressive sound of the working turbine. The car also became slightly louder at idle. A few points should also be added for how it all looks under the hood. Would it be worth it to achieve such gain and sound? Judge for yourself. In my opinion, definitely yes

Jakub Markiewicz
Jakub Markiewicz
Hi, I am the author of the blog and series of thematic portals since 2013. I have nearly 15 years of experience in working in the media, marketing, public relations and IT. If you are interested in cooperation, you would like me to write about something or test a product - let me know.
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