As of Tuesday I completed the installation of the Evolve Valvetronic Exhaust system on my E93, replacing my AA Axle Back Signature Exhaust. I purchased the full X-pipe 200CEL system, so this is a full system review. I don't think any video or sound clip I could take of the system would be good enough quality to do it justice, so on that I defer to the other videos posted until I can maybe get a better quality clip at an upcoming meet. However, hopefully my thoughts and impressions will give you a feel for the system.
First though, some background for me as aftermarket exhausts are highly subjective and one exhaust may be perfect for one person, but terrible for someone else; I will try to be as precise as I can.
I am pushing 40 (ugh), and am married with two young kids. My E93 is my daily driver, but I only put about 8,000 miles a year on the car commuting to downtown Miami. Almost all driving is city driving and unfortunately, a lot of it is bumper to bumper traffic. My wife is sensitive to interior noise and I live in a very quiet neighborhood. My job requires me to bring clients to business meetings from time to time. What seems like eons ago I had a motorcycle when I moved to Miami, but stopped riding the bike shortly after arriving as it did not feel safe for many reasons. My M3 convertible is the perfect car for me as it is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; I can be mild mannered when stuck in traffic, with the wife, transporting the kids, on the phone or whatever, but if the road opens up or if I have a chance to go to the track I can switch to race mode and have fun; with the top down it is euphoria and as close as I can get to feeling like I did with my motorcycle but with 4 wheels.
The exhaust I wanted for my car had to match this dual personality and the stock exhaust did not cut it. I wanted to hear and feel my car. I had the AA exhaust for 8 months, and although it is a really well made exhaust and I enjoyed it after I got used to it (especially on the track where it sounds outstanding IMO), there were times when it was difficult for me, like being stuck in traffic; not terrible, but not ideal either for my use (this is where subjectivity comes in; if I was driving mostly highway miles or at least not stop starting often, I would likely have kept the AA exhaust as it would have been a great fit, especially since the company is close by and the AA guys are great guys). I did not need the exhaust to be fully quiet all the time, just quiet during bumper to bumper traffic and on the phone with clients.
Because of this, a valve system was going to be the best fit possible. However, I have an E93 and finding a valve system to fit the convertible is was difficult. Once I read the Evolve posts on their research for the exhaust and researching the company, their target goals for each valve setting and that it would fit the E93, I felt confident I found my match. Also, growing up my dad had a Triumph Spitfire he built and later a '69 TVR SR2 Vixen (loved driving that car and miss it
), so getting an English exhaust in a funny way felt like bringing a part of my car full circle to the cars I grew up loving and give me something I could share with my dad.
THE EXHAUST: the exhaust was delivered without trouble in about a week and looks very well made to my completely amateurish eyes. The exhaust pipes are noticably large, but not to the point that they look out of place. I bought the slant cut and really like the look versus the straight cut pipes. The exhaust has a remote to open and close the valves, which is about a 2 inch black square on a keychain with the Evolve logo; nice and small.
VALVES CLOSED: All I can say is perfect for my daily use. Even with the X-pipe the sound is very nice and sporty but is nicely muted. Idle is very quiet, bumper to bumper to my recollection is not much louder than stock but quieter than the AA axel back I removed at low RPM's (higher it is close). During acceleration it is louder at around 2,000 RPM's as other posters have mentioned but not to the point it is intrusive, but it gets very quiet interestingly right after this point and really quiet when cruising (plus I think the 2,000 RPM noise is just engine noise, not necessarily the exhaust; more on that below). To place the volume in the cabin, the Evolve in closed setting is a step quieter than normal radio volume and a step quieter than a normal conversation in the car. Funny enough, I don't notice the X-pipe making the sound that much noticably louder than for what I imagine the system would sound like without the X-pipe. In fact, the X-pipe may help with the 2,000 RPM issue since the car runs up the RPM's so much quicker than with the stock X-pipe. I of course cannot verify this but I don't feel like the X-pipe makes the system noticably louder. Regarding drone in closed setting, I do not notice any drone at all really, certainly not any more or less than what I remember about the stock system, but more importantly, there is no resonance. The cabin has no vibration or shake from the exhaust that I can tell. Because I now have an X-pipe, I notice a kick in performance, not necessarily in the very low RPM's where the car feels it may have lost a little torque, but in the low-mid and definitely high RPM's, open or closed. I have no idea how much without a dyno, but it is noticable.
VALVES OPEN: HOT DAMN!
Exotic is about the best word to describe the sound. It is such a wonderful sound that I started to laugh. Full throttle with the valves open and the top down is pure automotive happiness; you almost cannot believe it is coming from your car. It is funny to watch the reaction of people walking by as well, looking around to see if they can find the Lambo, Ferrari or exotic car. I did not notice drone with the valves open, but I also have not had the valves open too extensively yet in a cruise setting. It is so easy to close them at any time (even with the car off as the remote was wired to my "on" settings) that even if there was drone, it does not concern me. BTW, no gas smell with the X-pipe that I have noticed so far.
There is also something interesting about this exhaust; valves open or closed the sound is definitely coming from behind the car, not the cabin. Even with the valves open there is increased cabin volume, but the sound is coming from the back of the car, not through it, which makes driving with the valves open also reasonable for daily driving. In closed setting you can still hear the woosh of the air traveling into the engine. Having the volume from behind the car is great to me because the volume level in the cabin is more important to me than volume outside the car.
One other thing slightly off topic; I learned from this exhaust how to better control engine noise because the exhaust is coming from behind the car. Because more volume is behind the car, I noticed that sometimes the exhaust seemed louder in the cabin that at other times, almost like at times the engine was right in front of me in the cabin. After some brief trial and error I think (just a thought but I think I am right) that if I don't let the car warm up properly upon starting the car that the engine runs louder and does not quiet down until after a different restart. I have a tune that removes the cold start, so it is not the stock grinding sound that used to be there on start up, but I am thinking that even with the tune if I don't let the car warm up the engine's settings make the car's engine louder. After thinking a little more about it, with the AA exhaust and even with the stock exhaust to some extent, on days when I was in a hurry (ex. rushing to pick up kids from school), the engine noise seemed loud and would fatigue me after a while. Now, I don't think it is the exhaust, I think it is the engine, which is just more noticeable with an after market exhaust. This thought seems easier to verify now because of how noticable the source of the volume is with the Evolve system, it is behind you. However, the few times the exhaust seems louder than normal, the loud engine noise is in front, not necessarily from the exhaust. Hopefully I am right and not imagining this, and someone in the know can verify that this is an engine setting after startup or something. In the meantime, I will be better about letting the engine warm up a little longer before driving away
In summary, I just love this exhaust and am relieved that I found the right fit that even lets me use an X-pipe. It is not cheap but worth the money, and I highly recommend the system to anyone if they are not sold out. Also, a big thumbs up to the guys at Evolve for their patience in answering all my questions during the ordering process and for being very easy to do business with. It was a pleasure and I would do it again in the future.
Can't wait for some open road and cooler weather!