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post #1 of (permalink) Old 10-10-03, 09:02 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 130
Supercharger Myths

In response to recent statements concerning the value of the supercharger I felt a little analysis and explanation was in order. First off, the value of any modification; be it stereo, performance or show, is exclusive to the individual. What one person finds valuable another may find worthless. There is no right or wrong; it is just a personal decision based on an individuals wants.

There are two main points which seem to be the focus of the SC; the power output and the price. These are somewhat related as people often associate the price per HP ratio of the given modification.

The first focus point I was aware of was the power output increase. It is suggested that the power output is not enough and should be higher for such a kit even though it does give about 60 WHP more in the 6-Speed. IMO, and I mean that, Comptech did not design the kit for all out power. They designed it to be on the conservative side and be as reliable as the remainder of the vehicle. This is why such a conservative boost level is being run out of the box; to insure longevity. By doing this Comptech, with its relationship with Honda NA and many dealers, has provided a kit which will not, in many cases, void a warranty. Although this is not documented, it has become apparent that many dealers will not refuse warranty service on vehicles with Comptech parts. This is not all inclusive but does carry weight in many locations. There are very few aftermarket parts providers that can share this level of involvement at the dealer level. As such, Comptech is tasked with the duty to continue to provide quality parts which do not significantly detract from the original durability. You cannot make twice the power without expecting degradation in reliability. So a compromise is made between all out power and reliability of both the original equipment items and the supplied parts.

Also, it was not Comptech’s intention to build a drag monster. They wanted to provide a kit which was useful for everyday driving and to simply enhance an already fine motor. Comparisons have been made and people have suggested that nitrous would be better, that is true if only drag strip performance is desired. If they only cared about getting the best power for the dollar and not worry about people’s warranties I am sure they would have done so. But concern was placed on having a daily driven vehicle which is accepted by many and will also be reliable.

Of note, the gains at part throttle are significantly greater; this is probably the area of most significant impact. To get out in front of traffic does not require at or near WOT. 30% throttle is more than enough and allows you to shift early. In fact I rarely go WOT and normally shift before 4500 revs all while having plenty of power to get me to and just above the speed limit quickly.

Another useful point is the lack of need to downshift. I leave it in 6th gear on the highway and easily pass cars at a rate I would have previously had to move down a gear or two.

Also, what good is nitrous on a road course or back roads; it is worthless. Although the CL/TL is not an ideal car for the auto-x or road course, some people may like to test its ability there. But more importantly, many of us like spirited back road driving. Being able to power out of a turn at a quicker pace is welcome.

So the SC might not be your cup of tea if you are more focused on 1/4 mile ET's. But to those of us who have purchased it we wanted enhanced ability from the current vehicle; not an ET monster.

However, I will make one point about the strip times. Most feel that 0.5 seconds would be the expected improvement in ET. But people often overlook the 5 - 7 MPH improvement; such as with the magazine test of the Comptech CL-S6SC against a stock 6-Speed. People slammed the low 14 second ET but failed to notice the concurrently run stock time in the mid-high 14's. This was again a 0.5 second difference. But the trap speed was 104 MPH to the stock 97 MPH; that is a 7 MPH increase which is significant!!

But when even more power is desired, it is attainable, that is where we come in. I liken this to buying the CL-S and adding an intake and headers. Sure, Acura could have offered the car with more power to begin with but didn’t for various reasons. But we can take what they have provided and make it better. Take for instances the HBP (Higher Boost Pulley) we can get for less than $100. This gives us an additional 15 – 20 WHP and the same in torque. Soon we will have an intercooler and even more boost which should double the gains provided by the base kit. Obviously we are taking this further than originally intended but that is our call, not Comptech’s. They provided an excellent base kit which might be left alone for 100k miles of care free driving or we can choose to get more out of it.

Now on to the next aspect, the price, or rather value of the kit. I first want to put the price into perspective as many people think Comptech is charging too much. The kit can be purchased for about $4000 right now and I will use that value for my example. As such I would imagine that the distributor price would be in the mid to low $3000 range, say $3200 - $3500 to Comptech. I tried to analyze the components and determine a cost based on an assumed market potential of about a hundred units. This may be higher or lower but I do not think it is going to be significantly different over a few year period. Below is a list of the parts and an estimated cost.

$1000 Magnuson/Eaton MP62 Blower with drive shaft
$500 Casting and machining of supplemental parts
$100 Intake Kit
$100 Fuel Pump
$100 FPR
$50 ESM
$250 R&D Costs
$150 Warranty Replacement Costs
$250 General Overhead, Taxes, etc.

$2500 Total

Generally no one would like to manufacture anything with a margin less than 30% and that is stretching it. But for this sake I will use that figure which gives a sale price of $3571, more than my assumed price of $3200 - $3500. I am sure I am off on some numbers but not too significantly and should serve to identify what it costs what it does.

I know people have compared other kits which sell for $3500 or so. That is not a valid comparison as there is a much larger market which would certainly reduce the price. But when compared to other limited potential markets it seems fairly reasonable. Look at what an SC kit runs for a 3-Series; normally a couple grand more.

I have heard that the value isn’t there when compared to other modifications. Well, that is true, the first few and minor mods do produce better HP per dollar ratio. This is true with any make or model. But one thing which has been alluded to by many is the comparison to headers in that they provide much better value. When looking at a single point on the dyno chart at about 6500 revs, yes, there is a significant difference. But when you look at the entire plot things become more balanced. I did the following chart to show relative gains. I also included the upcoming IC and the current HBP with estimated gains.

Based on the above data I calculated the total power gains at 200 RPM increments from 1400 revs. Below are the final numbers:

236 - Intake
184 - Headers
1036 - SC
1346 - SC+HBP
1813 - SC+IC+HBP

Looking at the numbers and then relating the price we get the following:

236 / $230 = 1.02 HP/$ - Intake
184 / $1000 = 0.18 HP/$ or 184 / $400 = 0.46 HP/$ (Dependant on the Manufacturer) - Headers
1036 / $4000 = 0.26 HP/$ - SC
1346 / $4100 = 0.39 HP/$ - SC+HBP
1813 / $5500 = 0.33 HP/$ - SC+IC+HBP

As you can see it takes more money to get more power and always occurs in a non-linear fashion. Once again, this is not specific to this make. However, it is apparent that the gains are not completely out of line when you take the total power gained. In fact, when compared to the Comptech headers the value is much greater. Also, for someone who just has the Icebox Intake they could state that anyone buying headers is a fool when you look at the relative gains.

In the end it is still a personal preference along with a financial one. I don’t spend a ton of money on stereo equipment as it sounds good enough for me with the simple and cost effective changes I have made. Nor do I spend money on the appearance of the vehicle as I prefer a simplistic look so as not to draw attention to myself. But at no point do I find anything wrong with someone hooking up their ride with a full entertainment system, body kit and nice rims. I think it is great for someone to take an avid interest in their vehicle.

But to me I just like better performance than the average vehicle of the same make and model and other similar vehicles. At no point to I expect it to be an all out racers; there are better vehicles for that. I want to retain my smooth ride, great cruising capability all while being able to out accelerate most other cars when needed or attack an apex and power out of the turn. I prefer taking what I have and getting more out of it, that is exactly what the SC provides.
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