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  1. #1
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    REVIEW: STETT Cold Air Intake + Charge Pipe / Alpina_B3_Lux

    Hello fellow Bimmerboost members,

    A few of you may know me from "the other forum" and it has been some time since I've been on this one here as well. As I'm not much in favour of the policy (the word comes from "police" I guess...) of E90post and more precisely at its way of handling conflicts (mostly by inflicting bans on members who have posted lots of useful information), I have also decided some time ago to join Bimmerboost.

    Some of you may know the reviews I've written so far, and I would like to make them available to Bimmerboost as well - together with some new ones and updates to the existing reviews. The present article is therefor one among several threads that I will be posting individually (to make them easier to find without having to wade through many posts in one thread).

    Almost all of these are performance oriented, and I will therefor post most of them in the N54 sub-section. @Sticky: If you think one or the other is better placed elsewhere, just move it there please.

    But enough of the preamble, here we go.

    ---


    STETT charge pipe & cold air intake


    Why?

    Concerning the charge pipe, there have been some reports of stock charge pipes blowing off due to the increased boost pressure of a tuned N54 engine; I wanted to avoid something similar happening if I choose to considerably increase the boost my turbos are running at. For comparison, the stock turbos run at around 8 psi maximum boost, my Evotech flash had a maximum boost of 14 psi, my GIAC stage 2 flash about 16,5 psi and my current COBB AP map has 20.6 psi right now - and this is even without taking into account additional airflow due to upgraded turbos. So, avoiding boost leaks by upgrading the charge pipe seemed a good idea to me!

    Secondly, I had heard that a certain charge pipe already features bungs for methanol injection, i.e. openings where a methanol nozzle could be placed without having to drill any additional holes. As I also had the intention of installing a methanol/water injection system (from Snow Performance) in the near future, this was a nice bonus from upgrading the charge pipe.

    As far as the cold air intake is concerned, anybody active on this forum has seen the countless threads on intakes. For forced induction cars a good air supply is vital, as a turbo car is in fact just a huge air pump and more air means (in simplified terms) the possibility for more power. Also, the colder the air is the better it is, as colder air means denser air and thus more power at the same boost level and less stress on the turbos. Now, I had already decided not to go with a dual cone intake as I found them much too obtrusive in the engine bay; I also had some doubts that sucking in air from the (usually quite hot) engine bay was structurally speaking a good idea. Now, I know that this is an endless debate and emotions tend to run high in relation thereto, but these were just my subjective preferences. Also, my decision was strengthened when I read Fomer Boosted IS thread about this CAI (see here: http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=262528), the result of which was that a cold air intake provides better cooling than a dual cone intake. Another reason for me in my particular configuration to go with a different intake was also due to the placement of my additional oil cooler: It is situated in front of the radiator and directly below the stock intake pipes behind the grille, partially blocking one of them and potentially radiating heat to the air that is sucked in through them. I did not find that ideal and suspected that this setup could lead to higher intake air temperatures (IAT) or even insufficient air flow for the turbos.


    How?

    Although there are several charge pipes on the market for the N54, the choice for STETT Performance was comparatively easy as it seemed to be made of high quality materials and had gathered a number of positive reviews from customers. It is made from 100% 304 stainless steel plus a custom designed throttle body connector that forms a tight seal, and it is therefore highly unlikely that it will come of or produce any boost leaks, when properly installed. Furthermore, it featured the two meth bungs I mentioned earlier, which will come handy once I get my meth kit installed. The STETT charge pipe can also be used with a number of aftermarket diverter or blow off valves, which was also important to me as I had the Forge diverter valves (see my previous review). One should note, however, that due to the fact that Forge has changed the design of their DVs somewhat, I was in need of an adapter for my DVs which STETT also provided. What's more, the adapter was initially in silver, but I absolutely wanted it in black to blend in with my black DVs - and STETT anodized these without any extra charge. Thanks for this!

    Here's a photo of the charge pipe prior to installation (in silver, though, mine is black), as well of the clamps connecting it to the throttle body:

    Click here to enlarge

    Click here to enlarge

    As to the cold air intake, there is not that much choice available actually. Dinan has just released their CAI which looks nice but is extremely expensive (plus I'm not sure it's compatible with my charge pipe and diverter valves), and Mr. 5 has designed his own CAI. As I had already taken the decision to acquire the STETT charge pipe, it was fairly self-evident to have a look at their CAI as well. Moreover, at the time I was contemplating this, there was a group buy going on which combined both items, and made the decision even easier. Several positive reviews in this forum and a look at the build quality of the CAI on their website also convinced me that it was a good choice. Here's what it looks like prior to installation:

    Click here to enlarge

    This time, the installation of the charge pipe was done by Birds in the UK (on the same occasion when my M3 components and the Quaife differential were installed), whereas the installation of the CAI was done by Daum Motorsport. Actually, Birds claimed that the CAI would not fit or that in order to make it fit the whole xenon light assembly on the left side of the car would have to be removed and probably modified. Luckily, that was not correct and although it was a VERY tight fit (mainly due to the big air filter), it did fit indeed. Here are some photos of what the engine bay now looks like with the cold air intake (on top) and the charge pipe (mostly hidden, but you can see the chunky black hoses leading away from the diverter valves):

    Installation picture 1 (view from in front of the engine bay):
    Click here to enlarge

    Installation picture 2 (view standing on the left side of the car):
    Click here to enlarge


    Improvements?

    As far as the charge pipe is concerned, there is not much to say - it looks nice and solid and does its job. I will probably be able to say a bit more once my meth kit is installed and the meth bungs operational as well.
    The CAI looks nice too, and it also sounds amazing. You can't really hear the stock intake, but if you push down the throttle now, you can easily hear the CAI sucking in air. It's not an annoying noise, and once you're driving fast it's drowned out by other noises anyway, but between let's say 0 and 80 km/h it is noticeable. I like it very much, it gives the car a nice sporty performance sound. I also have the impression that the car pulls better now, in particular in high rpms. I haven't been able to verify this on the dyno, though - and in any case I think the CAI will be most useful in summer when temperatures are rising, to provide low intake air temperatures. I would somewhat doubt that it really provides an additional 20hp as STETT claims on its website - but an improvement is (at least for me) definitely perceptible.


    Problems / disadvantages?

    The fitment of both items in the tight engine bay of our cars isn't obvious, as with other aftermarket items. Another disadvantage is also that it is quite obvious that these are not stock items - so you may want to consider taking it out for any maintenance at the dealership (which is a hassle as it's not that easy to take out).

    The main issue I had was however with something else: The inside of the CAI was dirty and rusted, and big flakes were coming off. Had my installation shop not noticed this, the flakes would certainly have damaged the engine as they would have been fed directly into the turbos. A recipe for disaster! Even though I don't think it happens often, STETT should improve their quality control in this respect. Also, I wasn't quite happy with the fact that neither installation instructions nor a shipping list were provided when I received the package, but these are only minor criticism.

    In summary, both the charge pipe and the CAI are solid quality products and are a definite improvement over the stock items, in particular if you intend to go with a meth kit or have the ar design oil cooler installed.


    Still up to date?

    Yes - and No!

    I'm still using the charge pipe and the meth bungs are used together with my Snow Performance meth kit. I think in particular with the high boost pressures I'm running at now with the RB turbos, the charge pipe is very useful.

    I'm not using the CAI any more, as I have replaced it with the Alpina replika intake system that features wider turbo inlet tubes and a carbon fiber airbox.

    Alpina_B3_Lux
    Current: Audi R8 V10 2013 S-Tronic, daytona grey, carbon side blades, MTM tune, Michelin PSS tires, Capristo x-pipe
    Gone: Audi R8 V10 2010 manual, ice silver, grey side blades, MTM tune, MTM air filters, Michelin PSS tires
    Gone: BMW 335i Individual (hlins, PFC brakes, RB turbos etc.)

    Gone: Alpina B3 E46 3,3

  2. #2
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    How much does this cost for a DCI and does it offer anything over your typical DCI?

  3. #3
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    Glad to have you Alpine_B3_Lux. Ive read many of your threads over on E90Post. Would you recommend this CAI over a DCI and why? How much more restrictive would it be?
    Click here to enlarge

  4. #4
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    How much does this cost for a DCI and does it offer anything over your typical DCI?
    What do you mean "for a DCI"? The CAI is an alternative for a double cone intake, not an addition to it.

    I opted for this because (i) a DCI is very conspicuous in the engine bay and I would never pass the TV with it and (ii) the thought of pulling air from the superheated engine bay of the car does not seem a good idea to me - therefor the snorkel behind the foglight seemed a better concept. Former Boosted IS also made a direct comparison between a DCI and the CAI, and the latter showed lower IATs.

    The price for the CAI is currently at 395 USD. See here: http://www.shop.stettperformance.com...1&categoryId=2

    Alpina_B3_Lux
    Current: Audi R8 V10 2013 S-Tronic, daytona grey, carbon side blades, MTM tune, Michelin PSS tires, Capristo x-pipe
    Gone: Audi R8 V10 2010 manual, ice silver, grey side blades, MTM tune, MTM air filters, Michelin PSS tires
    Gone: BMW 335i Individual (hlins, PFC brakes, RB turbos etc.)

    Gone: Alpina B3 E46 3,3

  5. #5
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Eric335 Click here to enlarge
    Glad to have you Alpine_B3_Lux. Ive read many of your threads over on E90Post. Would you recommend this CAI over a DCI and why? How much more restrictive would it be?
    As mentioned in my previous post, I think to suck hot air out of the engine bay is not a good idea. But there are hundreds of threads discussing this in any of the E9x-forums - so just take it as my own personal opinion.

    The CAI is not restrictive at all, it provides the engine with all the air it needs which it gets from the snorkel that is placed behind the foglight grille.

    Alpina_B3_Lux
    Current: Audi R8 V10 2013 S-Tronic, daytona grey, carbon side blades, MTM tune, Michelin PSS tires, Capristo x-pipe
    Gone: Audi R8 V10 2010 manual, ice silver, grey side blades, MTM tune, MTM air filters, Michelin PSS tires
    Gone: BMW 335i Individual (hlins, PFC brakes, RB turbos etc.)

    Gone: Alpina B3 E46 3,3

  6. #6
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    do you have/plan on making a review/more info on the alpina replica intake? Click here to enlarge

  7. #7
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    Good review but I still think it's a waste of money. The difference in IAT's will be neglible with a FMIC or meth, which most of us run or will run

  8. #8
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    I don't want to run meth all the time, mostly I run without it actually because it's a pain to refill and it's quite expensive here in Europe. Which is why I chose the CAI, although I agree that the difference in IATs with a very good intercooler is probably not very large. But every little bit helps, as these cars tend to run very hot, in particular on the track.

    Alpina_B3_Lux
    Current: Audi R8 V10 2013 S-Tronic, daytona grey, carbon side blades, MTM tune, Michelin PSS tires, Capristo x-pipe
    Gone: Audi R8 V10 2010 manual, ice silver, grey side blades, MTM tune, MTM air filters, Michelin PSS tires
    Gone: BMW 335i Individual (hlins, PFC brakes, RB turbos etc.)

    Gone: Alpina B3 E46 3,3

  9. #9
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    Yes Reputation No
    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Flinchy Click here to enlarge
    do you have/plan on making a review/more info on the alpina replica intake? Click here to enlarge
    Eventually when I find the time, yes. But there's not too much to tell as I don't have any real hard data (flow rates etc.) to share.

    Alpina_B3_Lux
    Current: Audi R8 V10 2013 S-Tronic, daytona grey, carbon side blades, MTM tune, Michelin PSS tires, Capristo x-pipe
    Gone: Audi R8 V10 2010 manual, ice silver, grey side blades, MTM tune, MTM air filters, Michelin PSS tires
    Gone: BMW 335i Individual (hlins, PFC brakes, RB turbos etc.)

    Gone: Alpina B3 E46 3,3

  10. #10
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Alpina_B3_Lux Click here to enlarge
    What do you mean "for a DCI"? The CAI is an alternative for a double cone intake, not an addition to it.
    Typo on my part, I meant versus a DCI.

  11. #11
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    1 out of 1 members liked this post. Yes Reputation No
    I run the same setup as the OP. I had fitment issues and eventually used a different silicone hose to turn the pipe downwards to the fender. I didn't do scientific testing but the single filter does cause some skepticism in terms of flow restriction.
    Ambients in my case at standstill over hot tar where 15 degrees better with the Stett vs dual cones and at 150km/h around 5 degrees less.

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