Click image to enlarge
There is a certain element of cool that exists when one possesses something that very few people have. Perhaps it’s a high-end watch, a rare painting, or one of the handful of Bugatti Royales still kicking around. And while our project car, a 2005 Toyota Corolla CE, doesn’t yet rate a perimeter of armed guards, perhaps it should soon. That’s because our nondescript grey sedan is the only supercharged 2005 Corolla in existence in North America.
It all started late last year, when our project Corolla arrived from Toyota Canada. With all the painful lessons learned from our 1988 JDM Corolla SR5, the prospect of simply equipping a new car with off-the-shelf TRD performance goodies seemed downright foolproof. So a few months ago, I dropped off the Corolla to Frontier Toyota to begin the first stage: supercharger and exhaust installation. But because the 2005 Corolla was the first of its kind to sport an Electronic Throttle Control, more work than simply dropping in a supercharger and engine control unit was required.
This “drive-by-wire” electronic throttle technology transmits throttle pedal inputs electronically, without the use of mechanical parts or cables. The TRD supercharger was designed for the 2004 model, which sported a standard throttle cable.
“The throttle bodies were not universal to each other,” said Grant Osachuk, Frontier Toyota’s service manager. The Electronic Control Module (ECM) also wouldn’t sync with the system. But Toyota Canada came through in flying form. Working with input from Osachek and Toyota technician Glenn Massey, Toyota’s TRD team built an adapter plate that allows the ’04 blower to mesh with the ’05 induction system. “It’s a one-off prototype that had to be built and tested by Toyota,” Massey said.
In addition to bench tests, the adapter and supercharger were bolted to a new Corolla in Toronto to confirm reliability. The installation is a feather in the cap of Frontier’s growing performance business. “We’re the first Toyota dealer in Manitoba to do a TRD supercharger install,” Osachuk said.
The operation was almost a cakewalk for Massey. “I was kind of going back and forth between the two sets of instructions.”
A quick scan reveals a highly-detailed, step-by-step procedure. The only noticeable cutting involved was to the composite valve cover, to allow clearance for the larger integrated intake manifold. The supercharger kit also includes all of the necessary brackets, drive belts, and even a revised thermostat for increased engine cooling. “Everything was designed to work with the existing factory equipment,” said Osachuk.
Speaking of factory equipment, the factory warranty on our new ‘Rolla will cover the supercharger under the 5 year/100,000 km powertrain warranty, if it is installed by a Toyota dealer. (There is a 12-month warranty if installed by a backyard mechanic.) The only required maintenance is changing the internal lubricating oil at 160,000 km. To alleviate additional upgrades, such as larger fuel injectors and fuel pumps, the blower uses a fifth injector that feeds additional fuel to the intake system when under load. TRD states a horsepower increase of 35 per cent, and a torque boost of 22 per cent. Those numbers will be confirmed on a future dyno test.
To help the blown mill breathe easier, Frontier also installed a TRD cat-back exhaust system. Any alteration to emissions-reducing equipment, such as the catalytic converter, would void the Corolla’s warranty. Another warranty caveat will be the required use of 91 octane premium unleaded fuel, common with supercharged engines. And the future owner will have to forego a bling-bling cold air intake; it’s also a warranty killer. Remember, folks, if a K & N filter and a tube boosted horsepower on everything by 15 per cent, don’t you think every manufacturer would use it?
When we’re finished the car, and it has toured the various shows and show’n’shines, we’re going to auction it off and donate the proceeds to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Winnipeg. Find out more at winnipegfreepress.com.