photos by: the author
We all know the LS3 eats power improving mods up like a kid eats candy. Heads, cam, exhaust, intake manifold… the current king of the small-block Chevy power mountain loves speed parts. But all those mods won’t do a lot of good if the motor’s choked down by a factory airbox.
Now, that’s not to say the stock airbox on a 5th-Gen isn’t good. Quite the contrary, they flow quite well. But when the engine’s thirst for air increases after modifications are installed, the factory box is soon overwhelmed and can’t flow enough air to feed the motor. Case in point is our test subject 2012 Camaro SS. The car had a Trick Flow Specialties top-end kit installed, along with Trick Flow headers, an LSR Performance catback exhaust and a FAST 102mm modular runner intake manifold. These mods netted 426 rwhp at 5600 rpm, and 411 pound-feet of torque at 5300 rpm – all of this through the factory air box.
Typically, a cold-air intake (CAI) install on a 5th-Gen Camaro will only get you about 5-10 rear-wheel horsepower on an otherwise stock SS. This is much lower than what most are used to seeing after installing CAI kits on 4th-Gen LT and LS powered cars. That’s because the 5th-Gen factory airbox flows much better than previous generations, so it’s not as much of a choke point (i.e., restriction) for airflow as in the past. But when you start increasing the amount of air an LS wants to ingest, it doesn’t take long for the factory box to become a restriction.
“We were able to take advantage of SEMA’s technology program and obtain files directly from GM to start the design, and then took part in a few measuring sessions well in advance of the release of the Camaro in 2010.” – Trent McGee
To test this theory out, we picked up one of AIRAID’s MXP series CAI kits, part no. 252-243. It features a roto-molded airbox, hi-density polyethylene air intake tube designed to not affect mass-air flow readings, and a high-flow, reusable Airaid high performance air filter. AIRAID’s Trenton McGee filled us in some more on AIRAID’s design philosophy, and history in the CAI market:
“We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours designing and testing the MXP system for the 5th-Gen Camaro SS. We were able to take advantage of SEMA’s technology program and obtain files directly from GM to start the design, and then took part in a few measuring sessions well in advance of the release of the Camaro in 2010. We also purchased both a V6 and a V8 car as soon as they were available, then spent several hundred more hours making sure fitment was right and the performance numbers were repeatable. Then we rounded up at least a dozen more local cars for beta testing. We probably have more dyno runs on file for the 2010-2015 Camaros than any other car, though the ’15 Mustang might be close to it by now.”
“Early on we knew that we wanted to retain the functionality of the factory cold-air inlet duct, and since the factory one is actually fairly well designed, our box re-uses it while adding additional forward-facing area to draw in cool air. We spent a ridiculous amount of time on the design of the intake tube and the location of the MAF sensor to both improve airflow AND maintain proper reading to work with the factory tuning. Like all of the intakes that we sell, we wanted to be sure that the kit fit perfectly and delivered power right out of the box.”
“Like all of the intakes that we sell, we wanted to be sure that the kit fit perfectly and delivered power right out of the box.” – Trent McGee
“AIRAID offers several CAI options for the Camaro SS, including four different filters (oiled or dry in red, dry in blue or black) and we even offer a REAL carbon fiber intake tube. The carbon fiber tube performs exactly the same as the normal tube, but it brings underhood looks to the next level!”
The AIRAID kit can be installed by just about any Camaro SS owner on the planet, requiring only basic hand tools for the whole process, and can be done in less than an hour. Follow along as we highlight the removal/installation process, and see what kind of difference it made on the dyno.
Patrick Hill has grown up around the automotive aftermarket, and carries a lifelong passion for performance, racing and automotive nostalgia that spans from the Tri-Five era to the current modern performance market.