It’s common knowledge that the BRZ platform is not about speed and raw power numbers. It’s almost like the car takes pride in not having enough power; it’s a part of the charm.
In that case, should you think about adding more power?
Purists will argue that supercharging a BRZ is not the right thing to do, and we get that sentiment. You want to preserve its true character and enjoy it the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.
That said, there’s something about supercharged BRZs that feels right. The chassis and engine can easily handle more power.
Trying to extract more power from the FA motor has always been an uphill struggle. You can install all the bolt-on mods you want — BRZ-specific cold air intakes and manifolds, exhausts, you name it. But, you won’t get anywhere near as fast as you’d want.
Enthusiasts have even tried reaching out to Subaru with requests for an STI version of the BRZ. But there has been no response and it’s unlikely that we’ll ever get to see a boosted BRZ from the factory.
Time to take matters into your own hands.
In this guide, we’ll discuss everything there is to know about supercharging your Subaru BRZ. We’ll also list the best options on the market and compare them head to head.
Supporting Mods and Reliability for a BRZ Supercharger Build
Believe it or not, the FA20 boxer engine feels at home when it’s boosted — especially when it’s caged in the BRZ/FRS/86 chassis. The extra 50 whp to 100 whp goes a long way and makes the car feel complete.
If you’re worried that your BRZ will lose its charm when you boost it, don’t be. Superchargers add power, but they do it in a linear and manageable fashion. You’ll still need to have a heavy right foot to access all of it — that way your car will retain its original character.
You won’t accidentally hit stupidly high speeds though, but you will have to be a little more judicious with the throttle. This brings us to the subject of reliability and supporting mods.
Stock Motor Reliability
To keep things as reliable as possible, stick to the 250 whp – 260 whp ballpark. You could push beyond 280 whp and even up to 300 whp, but anything more than that is asking for trouble.
We recommend capping it at 300 whp unless you’re willing to cough up extra cash for upgraded engine internals.
This might sound conservative considering that BRZs are primarily designed to be modded and that the FA20s installed on other Subies are famously boosted from the factory.
It’s hard to come up with a concrete answer when it comes to FI reliability on these cars because there are many variables that can negatively impact reliability — too much boost, bad tuning, low quality of fuel, cheap parts, incorrect supporting mods, or the lack thereof, the list goes on.
The simplest way to put it would be to say that the amount of boost and stock motor reliability are inversely proportional — high boost, low reliability, and vice versa.
To handle all that extra power and still be reliable, you’re going to have to spend extra on supporting upgrades for your Subaru BRZ. These include:
- Run-of-the-mill bolt-ons like a BRZ catback exhaust system, upgraded plenums, cold air intakes.
- Upgrades that are specific to the BRZ’s commonly known issues. These include an upgraded oil cooler, coil packs, and throw-out bearings.
- With an additional 90-ish horsepower, it’s wise to invest in stickier tires, wider wheels, and better suspension for your BRZ.
The more prepared your BRZ is for the additional power, the more reliable your entire build will be. Most superchargers are good for ~380 whp, but to support that kind of power on the BRZ, you’re going to have to upgrade your engine internals.
Upgraded Engine Internals
Start with preventative measures to eliminate detonation. No, using octane booster is not a long-term solution. Consider installing a boost timing master and increasing fuel flow — higher capacity fuel injectors will do the trick.
You should also consider blueprinting the engine since you’re going to push the car to its limits. We recommend forged pistons; the great thing about them is their ability to withstand higher temperatures.
Most importantly, upgrade the connecting rods. The stock ones are weak and they won’t handle a lot of power. Opt for the best quality piston rings too because they’re going to take quite a beating.
Ensure that you’ve got heavy-duty fasteners on your connecting rods and main caps. They’ll provide durability and strength.
To ensure that you get optimum performance at high RPM, you’ll need an aggressive cam profile. The best option is a cam that has a longer duration on the exhaust side and a higher lift.
How Much Is It to Install a Supercharger on Your BRZ?
A regular supercharger kit installation can range from anywhere between $2,500 to $9,500 depending on whether you buy used or new.
It’s not just the supercharger kit you’ll be paying for, you also need to factor in the costs for supporting upgrades, installation labor, and most importantly, tuning.
Not to mention the repair costs that you will inevitably incur. Forced induction is one of those areas where these possibilities are assumed and prepared for. So if you’re going down the FI route with a scanty budget, we recommend waiting it out and saving up.
Also, consider the added bump in insurance costs for your BRZ — your policy provider is going to want to know about any modifications that will affect your insurance coverage.
Best BRZ Supercharger Kits
BRZ owners are spoilt for choice when it comes to aftermarket upgrades — especially forced induction.
You can either install a centrifugal supercharger or a positive displacement supercharger — either a twin-screw or roots-type. Read on as we’ll explain all three types and list the best options for your Subaru BRZ.
Centrifugal superchargers look and function like turbos because they have a turbine and an impeller. The outer shaft is connected directly to the crankshaft through a belt, and that’s where it gets power from (as opposed to turbos that rely on the exhaust stream).
As the crankshaft spins, so does the outer shaft. The impeller is connected to the outer shaft via a complex assembly of internal gears — that’s right, the turbine actually has gears inside it.
Depending on the internal gear ratio, the impeller will spin 4 to 5 times faster than the outer shaft. For example, if the gear ratio is 4:1, every time the shaft turns once, the impeller will turn 4 times.
The more it spools up, the more boost you get. This allows you to create boost like a turbocharger. It’s extremely efficient and generates little to no heat.
The only downside is that you gotta wait for it to kick in. But once it gets spinning, it generates a ton of power at the top end. That’s why these are recommended for the track.
Some of the best centrifugal superchargers for the BRZ include.
Jackson Racing C38
Manufacturer: Jackson Racing
Warranty: 3 Years
Compressor: Rotrex C38-81
Finish: Gloss Black
Being a centrifugal supercharger, the C38 by Jackson Racing is known for its reliability and high top-end. It fits both manual and automatic transmission BRZs.
It’s not obnoxiously loud — you’ll find that it’s rather quiet but still delivers a 50% increase in horsepower and a 40% improvement in torque.
Because centrifugal blowers take time to spool up, you won’t be “in boost” at low revs. This translates to better fuel economy when you’re taking it easy and not pushing it. Not that most people reading this article care about fuel economy.
It features a patented Rotrex C38-81 compressor with a self-contained oiling system for durability. You also get a Setrab oil cooler that does a great job at getting rid of whatever little heat this system generates.
When purchasing the Jackson C38 supercharger, you can either opt for the Tune It Yourself package or the Factory Tuned System. The latter includes an EcuTek ProECU programming kit and the license, along with Jackson Racing’s very own ECU calibration presets.
Interestingly, this system is fully CARB legal, and to top it off, it has a 3-year warranty. Pretty neat.
Warranty: 3 Years
Compressor: Vortech V-3 H678
Finish: Matte Black
Buy On: Enjuku Racing
Vortech is a name that needs no introduction in the automotive forced induction industry. They’ve garnered quite a reputation for delivering high-quality superchargers and turbos.
Armed with their very own V-3 H678 compressor, this supercharger is designed specifically for the FA20 Boxer engine. It features a patented internal oil reservoir that requires no connection between the oil pan and the compressor gear.
To make things easier, it includes a remote fluid drain hose that allows for easy fluid replacement without needing to remove the entire supercharger.
Paired with a state-of-the-art compressor, this supercharger boasts an industry-leading adiabatic efficiency. In other words, it generates less heat, robs less power off the engine, and keeps the system as durable as it can be.
You’ll find that this kit is easy to install, and it shows its true power at high RPMs, making it ideal for track use. With the right supporting mods, you can make up to 300 whp at 9 psi.
It’s worth mentioning that Vortech supercharger systems are 50-state smog legal as per California Air Resources Board (CARB).
Warranty: 1 Year
Compressor: HKS GT2-7040L
Finish: Brushed Aluminium
Buy On: Enjuku Racing
When it comes to making aftermarket parts for the BRZ, HKS have been on top of their game. So much so that they’re already teasing a new supercharger kit for the 2022 GR 86 which just so happens to fit the BRZ as well.
The GT2 supercharger kit is the revised version of the first iteration, and this time it’s even more powerful.
It comes with a larger inlet pipe than it did before, and the restrictor plate has been removed. Best of all, it’s got a larger pully — that’s where most of the extra power will come from.
The revisions made to the GT2 allow for slower, more optimized airflow. This means a larger volume of air can enter the engine and intake temperatures can be reduced further.
We recommend you to choose the optional Flash Editor with programmed tunes for 91 octane and E85 fuel. You can also get a 93-octane calibration from HKS USA.
Kraftwerks Race w/o Tuning
Warranty: 2 Years
Compressor: Rotrex C30-94
Finish: Brushed Aluminium
Buy On: Enjuku Racing
The Kraftwerks supercharger is equipped with a Rotrex C30-94 compressor which is known to produce more torque than the Vortech compressor. However, the two are hotly debated.
The Rotrex unit is silent, reliable, highly efficient, and has a self-contained lubrication system. This supercharger produces 90+ whp at 9 psi boost pressure with the OEM headers and exhaust system.
One of the best features of this supercharger kit is the independent drive system. It runs two separate belts instead of just one that’s shared with engine accessories. That way, if the drive belt breaks, you won’t be left stranded. The only downside we see here is more rotational inertia but that’s just speculation.
The belt system is toothed to ensure no slipping under heavy load in case you decide to run more boost. The anodized bracket under which the compressor is mounted has plenty of additional space and dual bolt patterns in case you want to upgrade to the larger Rotrex C38 compressor at any point in the future.
Instead of a turbine-impeller mechanism, roots-type superchargers house two identical rotors that counter-rotate to pump air into the engine. They tend to produce more heat because the apex seals on the outer edges of the rotating lobes actually rub up against the inner part of the case.
That’s why it’s not very practical to intercool these, and they take a lot of horsepower to operate properly. On the plus side though, roots-type superchargers spool up really quickly and generate a ton of power at the bottom end.
The main advantage of Roots-type superchargers is their reliability. The design is simple and involves few moving parts. These are a completely different breed when compared to centrifugal superchargers.
Cosworth Stage II
Compressor: Eaton TVS
Finish: Matte Anodized Black
Now, this is one wicked-looking BRZ supercharger kit. Before we get you excited about Cosworth’s stage 2 supercharger, we should point out that it is no longer available. The only way you can snag one of these is on the used market.
However, the stage 3 kit is in development and we’ll see it very soon. The stage 2 kit is regarded as one of the most efficient superchargers available for the BRZ. It has custom-designed intercooler cores within the inlet manifold for better cooling and a smoother throttle response.
It includes a high-volume intake manifold, a heat exchanger (liquid to air intercooler), an Eaton TVS blower, and nearly everything you’re going to need to install it.
This supercharger is good for 350+ whp, but at that point, you’re going to have to beef up the internals. The stock connecting rods on the BRZ are known to fail when pushed hard.
You could, however, install a 10% smaller nose pully if you want to push on with the stock rods. This will give you an additional (and safe) 1.45 psi of boost. Any more than that will require a larger crank pully, and you’ll need a tune either way.
Warranty: 3 Years
Compressor: Eaton 1320 TVS
Finish: Matte Anodized Black + Red Accents
Buy On: Amazon
If you’re looking for a premium e-force supercharger, Edelbrock should be at the top of your list. With this kit installed, you can push your BRZ’s power to 242 whp and 186 lb-ft of torque at the wheels.
It’s designed specifically for the FA20/4U-GSE and has an inverted design that uses the Eaton rotor assembly to provide maximum efficiency. This kit has a high inflow inlet configuration with a less restrictive intake path that improves airflow and performance.
It’s extremely reliable with its generous 3-year warranty and 100,000-mile service interval. Another value add is the black powder coat with red accents if that’s your thing.
Just like the roots-style compressor, the twin-screw supercharger is a positive displacement unit that has two rotors. But that’s where the similarities end.
The rotors used in twin-screw superchargers are designed very differently and have vastly different airflow characteristics as compared to roots-style compressors.
The most significant advantage of the screw-compressor style supercharger is that the rotor edges do not touch the inner walls of the case. They remain contact-free and rotate freely.
This dramatically reduces the amount of heat generated. The only heat that gets generated is from the pressure. However, these are difficult to intercool, just like the roots style superchargers.
The main advantage of twin-screw superchargers is that the power delivery is extremely linear and that they keep the car in boost throughout the rev range.
Unfortunately, there’s only one popular twin-screw supercharger market that you can buy for your BRZ.
Sprintex / Innovate FR-S
Warranty: 1 Year
Compressor: Sprintex S5-210
Finish: Gloss Black
The Sprintex supercharger (also known as “Innovate FR-S”) is one of the first-ever BRZ superchargers to ever roll out into the aftermarket.
It is one of the only twin-screw options that provide great low and mid-range torque but that doesn’t come at the expense of high peak power because you get that as well. It eliminates the large torque dip that usually comes with OEM 2-liter engines.
All the power it makes is placed nice and low in the rev range, making it a great daily driving option. On the track though, it’s known to get hot and it can get exceedingly difficult to keep the temps down.
Much like the Cosworth unit, the Sprintex supercharger features an OEM-style inlet manifold. It’s a fully integrated kit that comes pre-assembled which means installation is straightforward.
Our Favorite Supercharger Kits
Every supercharger listed in this guide does things differently and has its own quirks. What you should choose really depends on what you plan on doing with your car — as predictable as that sounds.
Below we’ll mention our top picks categorized according to daily driveability, best track performance, and reliability.
Best for Daily Driving: Vortech
Not only does Vortech come with a relatively affordable price tag, but it also offers a lot more than some other centrifugal superchargers.
The installation and maintenance is easy, it doesn’t stress the engine out too much, and it’ll give you boost all day so long as you’re within reasonable power limits.
Best Track Performance: HKS GT2
HKS has built a solid reputation when it comes to making top-notch performance parts. Their GT2 supercharger really does live up to the standard.
Being a centrifugal compressor, the GT2 provides exceptional torque at high RPM — something you’re going to need at the track.
Most Reliable: Kraftwerks
You can count on the Kraftwerks supercharger to provide you with incredible power. At 9 psi you’ll get anywhere up to 90 whp on 91-octane and even more if you tune your car for E85.
Considering the build quality and preventative measures put in place by Kraftwerks, it’s safe to say that it’s going to be reliable, silent, and efficient.
And that concludes our BRZ supercharger comparison guide. What do you think about boosted BRZs? Why have you chosen a blower instead of a BRZ turbo kit? Let us know by leaving a comment below!