I've tried many of the exhausts on the market, and I've eagerly awaited the Evolve E-tronic exhaust. Evolve is very well known in the E60 M5, E39 M5, E46 M3 AND 1M world. I first heard of them in the E60 world (I owned an 06 M5 prior to buying my first e90 M3 DCT, a 2011.) There are times when you want to be subtle and mild, like when you pick up your in laws or clients and are trying to project a mature and refined image. And there are times when you really want to rip around, hearing gasoline and oxygen turned into massive amounts of kinetic energy with a completely unfettered mechanical symphony. This is nigh impossible to do with most exhausts, you have to compromise one way or another. Many "quiet" exhausts are too quiet, they whisper gently into the wind, where the louder ones tend to be so loud that they pummel your ear drums like a psychotic ex lover who bumped into you and your new slightly hotter girlfriend.
Most people don't need the neighbor waking, teeth chattering, old man scaring, crossing guard defying loud exhaust all the time. But, every once in awhile (depending on your driving) you want to let loose and let it all hang out. It's not good enough just to get 8 little slugs of metal flying up and down 8200 times per minute, no, you want to release pent up energy with a surge of sound and fury. Like, when the the road opens up after being stuck being a smoke belching RV, dripping porta potty waste over the side, or when you finally get around the 3rd minivan driven by a cell phone talking, facebooking soccer mom. You just want to open up and let the world know that you can turn hydrocarbons into forward momentum expediently.
This is where the Etronic comes in. Sal and crew over at Evolve spent months developing this exhaust. What they wanted was a dual tone exhaust with no compromises. They wanted to make sure that there was very little change in backpressure to make sure power was consistent, if there was a significant change in backpressure, the car could under fuel a newly opened up exhaust. Some of the other exhausts on the market that have dual paths neck down considerably in the quiet section. Unlike the other dual tone exhausts on the market, the Evolve Etronic maintains a fully straight through path no baffle, no neck down, just a curved path that provides additional muffling. Their goal was to create an exhaust system that combined a sports exhaust with a race exhaust sound in a single package (like Eisenmann Race and combine it with an Eisemann Sport) from my understanding. The Eisenmann Race has a naughty open sound that screams in your face when you're on it, but blasts you with resonance and drone in the lower RPMs all the time as well. The Eisenmann Sport is a refined exhaust, quiet and very little drone, but it never really lets the car fully sing, even with cats removed.
I received the prototype Etronic to try out. This was the very same exhaust that lived on Evolve's car in the UK and it's miles and miles of testing. It arrived in used but excellent condition, clearly this was a quality piece of work. The metal has an aged look, that spoke of a hard life, yet the pieces were in perfect condition and took only a minor amount of adjusting, despite a trans-atlantic voyage and many miles of beating by the Evolve team back in the UK, not to mention the fantastic UK weather. This is a serious quality piece.
I got the entire system. This means the Etronic muffler, connecting pipes, and the x pipe, similar to the Akrapovic Evolution, which put high flow cats in the secondary position only, leaving the headers much more room to breath and scavenge better. I love this design because I don't have to drive around making STANK NASTY tailpipe emissions, but I get just about all the benefit of a completely catless exhaust. This exhaust is built to make serious power. It's oversized piping is not only optimized for normal applications, but is also large enough to make significantly more power with forced induction as well.
A couple things this exhaust is not:
- lightweight - it saves about 10 lbs over the stock system, not a bunch but not bad. The backbox weighs similarly to an Eisenmann, and was only a little heaiver than my Corsa (which is 2 piece).
- stock-like in terms of noise levels. Evolve consciously decided not to compromise power at all, so even closed, this exhaust sounds meaner than stock. More on that later.
Fitment was good. Installation is way easier than running vacuum lines, because Evolve is using electronic cutouts. All you need to do is run power to the harness. Then, you can either run a switch into the cabin or hook up the remotes, which are really easy to use. (since they just need switched 12v power, you just run them up to the battery or use a relay) The tips are absolutely huge looking, in reality, they are about the same overall diameter as the Akrapovic tips, but they are very large looking due to the thinner walls. I was worried that fitment would be an issue but the exhaust fits great. It has some height adjustment in the rear hangers, which are really designed to level the exhaust properly, which is a great touch. (since the center rear hanger will dictate the overall height.) The tips looked like they would never fit, but they tucked up nicely and look great. It really makes many of the other exhausts I've owned look like their tips are too small. The tips I got are 2.5mm wall, with a 90mm straight cut tip... they may look like a single wall tip, but they are actually not. If you look inside the tip, you can see it is a dual wall tip. Typical thickness of a single wall tip is 1.5mm and they are not nearly as visible from directly behind the car. The Evolve tips are very good looking, the right blend of elegant and aggressive without being silly at all. Evolve also has 80mm tips and 90mm slash cut tips, in polished or black, as desired.
The cans tuck up under the bumper really nicely. The exhaust uses two cans connected with a crossover in the middle. The quiet section utilizes that, where the straight through race mode goes straight through the cans, with no bends. However, Sal and team have been EXTREMELY careful and have measured back-pressure at several different points to make sure there is not a large flow difference between street and race. It's this kind of research that gives me confidence purchasing Evolve parts... can't wait for their supercharger!
I drove the car for a few days in the street mode to get used to it. It's a fairly deep bassy exhaust that is fairly mild. Because Sal and team were so obsessed with performance, the exhaust has a small noise spike around 1900 rpm. It's pretty minor and only shows up on cold start. All you need to do is keep the RPMs above 2000 rpm and it's very quiet. Much less drone than many of the exhausts I've used and once you are past 2000 rpm, it's a very quiet and mild street system. Extremely smooth sounding and refined. You can cruise on the freeway and it is like a quiet murmur even when you are accelerating with moderate vigor. It sounds great too, I think a cross between the Akrapovic Evolution and the Eisenmann Sport. It's not ultra exotic sounding, but very smooth, with an even tone.
However, open it up and it sounds as if a Ferrari rear ended you and it's mufflers fell off in the process. The car goes from docile and refined to mad as hell and about to bite you head off. It gets your pulse racing and your blood pressure up, and you start to make poorer and poorer decisions in life. Do not drive around with this exhaust open while making important decisions, it makes the hooligan in you come out. Next thing you know, your wife has implants, you have a tattoo and you've got an exhibition of speed ticket, after running a Prius off the road. Tricycles, small animals, and roadside plants will go into hiding as you drive by. But, it sounds absolutely awesome. The videos don't really capture the sheer volume and quantity of noise, it is loud enough when you're on it, to block out not only other sounds, such as sirens, but also it purges your mind of extraneous thoughts and forces you go focus on nothing but the mechanical cacophony stream flying out the back of your car. You quickly end up with an empty bank account, a trio of Czech hookers, a kilo of blow and a one way trip to Vegas. For my sanity's sake, it's good that I can just hit a button and return to a normal sound.
The sound, though, is glorious and amazing. It is as if a continent full of beautiful women all cried out in simultaneous ecstasy and pain, and begged for more. The looks you get when you are driving around with the valves open are naughty, like bringing a slightly slutty girl to a family reunion, and waking up in the morning, after keeping your entire extended family up all night, you slightly dissheveled; her in a low cut tank top, while your dirty uncles lock eyes on her goods. That's the looks you'll get, from disapproving wives and girlfriends when your screaming car diverts their husband or boyfriends attention from their nagging. These cars are great sounding, but completely uncorked, they sound like God's own chariot, with lightning bolts firing out of the tailpipes, directly into your auditory nerves. There is no raspy or tinny cheap sound from this muffler, just beautiful fury unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.
Interestingly enough, I immediately noticed an increase in midrange power. Around 3000-4000 rpm, the car feels noticeably torquier, I was quite surprised. Butt dynos are about as accurate as weather forecasting, but I'll be dynoing the exhaust at some point soon. With any full exhaust, the top end is very strong, and the rush to get there is exhilarating... but man, this thing delivers in the midrange where the car could really use some power. It feels extremely punchy and was immediately noticeable as such, even before I put the Evolve tune on. (I ran with a stock tune for a couple of days, and yes I got a CEL, as typical with a primary cat deleting exhaust. The Evolve tune removes it.)
Surprisingly, even open, if you drive with a light foot, it's perfectly tolerable from a noise perspective. It's definitely louder under a heavy throttle, anything over 50% is pretty aggressive. But, with light throttle, it's perfectly streetable... but the devil lurks just a gentle prod of your foot away. And, he calls so easily, you'll find yourself driving around like a complete speed demon just because it sounds so awesome... and so right.
What are the negatives?
The quiet section does have a small noise spike that you have to drive around. It's interesting, most other exhausts that resonate in the low rpms have a 1000 rpm range or so. The Evolve exhaust is a little loud under 2000 rpm, but this is pretty easy to drive around. There is just about always a speed or gear in which it goes away, but you have to think about avoiding 1900 rpm or getting through it pretty quickly. Not an issue at all anywhere over 45 mph, and even at 25 or 40, you can easily stay a gear lower than you normally would and the noise is very restrained. There is no freeway drone at all, it's very quiet and civilized at any constant speed.
Evolve's tune actually works well with the exhaust. It removed a lot of the light throttle resonance. More importantly, though, it made a significant difference in daily driving. I am usually of the opinion that a butt dyno is pretty inaccurate, and I don't rely on it, but the tune clearly made the car pull smoother and cleaner up to redline. Check back for dyno results.
Other than that, this is pretty much an ideal exhaust. I love the loud noises it makes open, if that wasn't obvious. It's not going to save you a ton of weight, but neither do most quality constructed stainless steel exhausts, especially considering the dual paths through the muffler. It is a tad raspy when it's cold, but so are all the other exhausts I've heard.
Hope that helps you make a decision!