Garrett PowerMax Turbo Stage 1 Vs. The World
When it comes to upgrading the turbo on your Focus ST, you are faced with more options now than ever. So which one is right for you? In this blog we will discuss your options, the pro's and con's of each, and why the Garrett PowerMax Stage 1 might be the turbo you should consider.
There are many different aftermarket turbo kits on the market, but for this article we will focus on the ATP Turbo Kit, BNR Turbo Kit, AGP Big Wheel Stocker, and the Garrett PowerMax Stage 1. All these kits are very different and offer the end user very different results. These kits range in price from around $700 all the way to around $2,700, depending on options. That being said, there is a turbo for every budget and power goal.
ATP Turbo Kit
When you think of a Big Turbo Focus ST, chances are that it's running an ATP turbo kit. ATP has been the go-to choice due to the wide variety of turbos to choose from. You can choose anything from a GT2860 all the way to a G30-770, and everything in between. ATP has become the go-to kit over the years due to the quality of the components and overall fitment. If you order an ATP kit, you can expect a quality product that will last. This turbo kit has had great success because it can accommodate those looking for a modest increase in power and those looking to make big power. Turnaround time can vary as all kits are assembled to order, but you can typically receive an ATP turbo kit in around 2-3 weeks.
BNR Turbo Kit
One of the newest players to the Focus ST Big Turbo game is BNR with their two options, the BNR2867 and the BNR3071. These turbo kits have taken the ST community by storm due to their price point and power potential. The BNR2867 is ideal for a stock motor, stock fuel system setup and will top out around 350whp. The BNR3071 is better suited for a car with a built motor and upgraded fuel system, topping out at around the 500whp mark.
On the surface the BNR kit seems like a great value, and it definitely is. However, there are a few drawbacks to this kit. One of the biggest drawbacks to this kit is installation. The BNR turbo kits are more complex than other kits on the market. From our own experience and customer reviews, we believe the BNR turbo kits have not yet been perfected and some modification is required to make them fit properly. BNR is working on revisions for this, however small issues do seem to arise. While you are saving money versus the ATP kit, you may have that upfront cost overshadowed by needed modifications and added shop labor. In some instances shaving the block and compressor may be required.
AGP Big Wheel Stocker (BWS)
Another turbo to hit the scene recently is the AGP Big Wheel Stocker, or BWS. This turbo is more of your traditional hybrid turbo that utilizes your stock turbo's exhaust housing and a similar to stock compressor housing. With a price point of only $650, this turbo is very tempting for someone on a budget. Even though the price is nice, there are a few reasons we would not recommend this setup and I'll spell that out here.
First and foremost, the most glaring thing you'll notice is what you get for the money. It is not a complete turbo, but rather a turbo cartridge and cast inlet and outlet. With this kit you reuse your factory turbo exhaust manifold and internal wastegate. If you are having a shop do the install, extra labor costs must be considered for the assembly of the turbo. In our experience, the OEM wastegate flapper has been a drawback on hybrid turbos and are susceptible to failure.
When factoring in all these variables, we must also look at performance. Does the BWS perform? When compared to the stock turbo, you'll see gains of around 20whp with similar wtq figures. On a FBO car running an e30 tune, you will be sitting around 310whp/390wtq. In our opinion, the minimal gains and complexity of install does not outweigh the low price tag. We would recommend saving the money and going after a different turbo kit.
Garrett PowerMax Stage 1
Garrett has been teasing a hybrid turbo offering since late 2019 for the 2.0L EcoBoost. After almost 2 years of waiting, the wraps are off and the PowerMax Stage 1 is finally on the market! This turbo is based off of the stock K03 turbo found on the Focus ST, but it is an entirely new casting by Garrett designed to be a stock turbo replacement. This turbo utilizes Gen 2 compressor wheel technology to maximize efficiency and flow. For reference, the billet Gen 2 compressor wheel features aero upgrades that can lead to gains of nearly 20% over the previous GTX compressor wheel. This helps the Garrett PowerMax make even more power than similar turbo's on the market. Our dyno results have helped prove the efficiency as well!
Another benefit of the Garrett PowerMax turbo is the fact that it is a drop-in replacement turbo. For you, that means a much simpler install. There are no additional lines that need to be ran, or additional parts needed to be installed. This means a lower install charge if you are having a shop install, or less time in the garage for you!
When it comes to performance, the Garrett PowerMax truly shines! On 93, the turbo eclipsed 300whp and over 320whp on e30. These numbers were gathered on our test car that was equipped with an intake, 1 step colder spark plugs, intercooler, and catted downpipe. We also were able to put over 10,000 miles on the turbo, with a combination of highway and spirited driving. Reliability was never an issue with this setup as it worked fantastically right out of the box!
Now that we've discussed the benefits of the PowerMax, let's dive into some technical data using the dyno sheet below. Horsepower figures are represented in black, while torque numbers are represented in red. The red lines on the graph come from a stock turbo, full bolt-on Focus ST, while the purple lines represent the same setup but with the PowerMax added. Both of the cars here were tuned on 93 octane fuel. As you can see, there is a pretty good jump in both HP and TQ from the simple addition of the PowerMax turbo and proper tuning! Some other differences you may notice outside of numbers, is the graph itself. The first data point we notice is peak torque. You may notice that it makes peak torque a few hundred RPMs after the stock turbo, we see this as a good thing! With the delay being only a few hundred RPMs you will not notice much difference in feel, but it will decrease the stress on rods resulting in increased reliability thanks to lower cylinder pressure.
At the points we selected, 3500 RPM, you can see an 18.5% increase in both Horsepower and Torque. This is especially impressive considering the PowerMax tested was not equipped with the upgraded BPV or Wastegate Actuator. Looking a bit further down the graph, you can see the PowerMax graph extends all the way to 7K RPM. We found that this turbo makes more power for a longer period than the stock turbo. At 6,500 RPM there is still a 15.5% power increase over the stock turbo, but we are able to stretch the powerband up to 7,200 RPM. This increased power across a longer powerband will lead to a faster car overall. The numbers go up from there with a proper e30 tune. As you can see in the graph below, we were able to squeeze out 325/421 on the PowerMax with the stock wastegate!
There are many reasons we like this turbo, and they are the price, simplicity, and performance! From our knowledge and research, it is hard to find a better turbo kit for the money. Performance wise, this kit will accomplish many people's power goals while being nearly half the price of a comparable ATP Turbo Kit. If you are looking to make big power, this kit probably isn't for you. However, if you are looking to for a decent bump in power over stock, while maintaining stock drivability then this turbo is definitely for you! With this kit, you aren't taking any chances at shoddy craftsmanship as this turbo is made by Garrett, one of the most well known turbo manufacturers in the world.
To purchase your own Garrett PowerMax Turbo, click here!
When it comes down to it, there are some very good upgraded turbo options available for the Focus ST. Depending on your power goals, we would recommend either the ATP Turbo Kit or the Garrett PowerMax Stage 1 kit. When trying to decide which kit to choose you should not only factor in power goals, but also your budget. The ATP kit will require a charge pipe or intercooler mounted BOV, and in some instances an external wastegate kit. These two pieces alone can add around $1,000 to the total cost if you do not have them already. So if you are not planning to squeeze a bunch of power out of your new turbo kit, it would be financially beneficial to go with a Garrett PowerMax.
So now that you have all the information regarding these turbo kits, where should you buy them? The answer is simple: pandamotorworks.com! When you purchase a turbo kit through Panda Motorworks, not only will you receive top-notch customer service at a great price, but you will also receive a free custom tune! This will ensure that you have a tune ready to go when you install your new turbo kit. If you are choosing the Garrett PowerMax, you will also receive a tune from us. This is extremely beneficial as we have dozens of dyno pulls of R&D with this turbo, so we know exactly how it works and responds to custom tuning.
We hope that this information helps you make an informed decision on what turbo kit is right for you and your budget. With so many options available, it can be easy to be overwhelmed and choose a turbo kit based on price. As discussed in this article, price isn't everything. Instead you should consider value. You work hard for your money, so we want to make sure that you are satisfied with your turbo kit choice.