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Q:

What's the difference between 'bar and plate' and 'tube and fin' style intercoolers and which is better?

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Tube and fin intercoolers have curved-edged air galleries which makes the overall capacity less, but offer less resistance to air as it passes through the intercooler to cool the compressed air inside. Bar and plate intercoolers have more rectangular air galleries which allows a higher volume of compressed air to pass through the intercooler, but because the edges are not as aerodynamic, there is more resistance to cooling airflow passing through the core. I'm not sure that one design is better than the other, I think its more a case of getting one to suit the application. Where the 'cooler is mounted in a position where there's very little obstruction to air flow in front of it, the bar and plate would probably be a better choice as it can flow more compressed air. But if the intercooler is in a position where the airflow is not as constant (ie. behind a bumper or number plate), a tube and fin one might be the more sensible option because though it flows less compressed air, it ... more
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