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      09-01-2012, 12:19 PM   #1
FrankThomas
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Drives: 17 GT350
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: New York

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Challenge Exhaust Review

Sorry for the delay but I've been pushing this off until the exhaust was broken in. With 2500 miles on the system now, the review should be more accurate. As we all know, people interpret the perfect sounding exhaust differently so I'll describe my preferences, and then compare the exhaust to that. I don't like extremely loud or obnoxious exhausts and like 99% of the population here, I don't like drone. I tried to find a balance between loud enough and not too loud, with a nice range of pitch and smoothness.

Brief History - On my previous E92 M3 I started out with the Eisenmann Sport. I loved the drone-free sound of the ES but at 4500-5000 rpm, the incredible note vanished and was overpowered by the engine. Once that annoyed me enough, I called up GTM and had Greg send me the Challenge "Street" x-pipe. I know many people on this board scratch their heads at the idea of changing the x-pipe and still leaving the restrictive primaries in tact, but I wasn't looking to get a tune to deal with torque dips or check engine lights associates with HFC's or catless setups. I just wanted a little more volume in the higher RPM range and the street x-pipe did just that. It added a bit of volume but it also added a higher pitch to the bass heavy ES. The higher pitch sounded great to me and the exhaust still sounded smooth .Like all good things, they come with some sort of baggage. In this case it was drone at 70mph in 6th gear (pretty much my comfort speed on the parkway). In addition to the drone, the exhaust occasionally smelled a bit when pulling into the garage. Again, the smell and the drone were mild but they were still there. Overall I really liked this setup. It sounded great and was still very tame around town, great for a DD. If you like loud and obnoxious, this would be way too quite for you.

When I picked up my new E92, I really wanted to find an axle back that met the following criteria:

-Good tone (smooth, full rich sound, nice pitch higher up the rpm range)
-Good volume (not obnoxious but need to hear it throughout the rpm range)
-Weight (anything less than stock)
-Doesn't need x-pipe to improve sound
-No drone & No Rasp
-Well constructed
-Kick ass tips
-Reasonably priced

I listened to countless videos but none really do justice to what these sound like in person. Coincidently, the challenge exhaust became available right around the time I started looking so my choice had a little to do with perfect timing. I only heard the one video posted by challenge on that E90 but based on what I heard, it seemed to fit most of my wish list and I figured it was worth a try. At $1795 shipped, this was music to my ears compared to the price of my last setup ($4k for ES+connecting pipes+challenge x-pipe).

My Thoughts:
-The exhaust is well constructed, nice welds, very good fit. It's obviously not built by Akrapovic but it is a great system for the money. Each side is separate which makes it much easier to mount than the one-piece stock system. All mounting locations were accurate and the tips tuck nicely under the rear bumper. If i'm going to be completely OCD, tip #4 is about 3/16" higher than the others but this is hardly noticeable and an acceptable tolerance even by my crazy standards.
-The volume (for me) is just about ideal. If it was any louder, I would be looking for something quieter, and if it was any quieter, I'd be looking for something louder. To be perfect in my opinion, it would be a hair softer at lower rpm's and a hair louder when mashing the gas pedal in the upper range. It definitely has more volume at all rpm's than my previous ES + challenge street setup had.
-The 3.5" tips are stunning, especially after I gave them a bath in gloss black powder coat. The cans are not too big and hardly an eye sore from the back. After I ceramic coated them black, they basically became invisible.
-I couldn't be happier with the tone of the exhaust. It's slightly bassy at idle and then rises up in pitch as you get higher in RPM's. Most importantly it is very smooth sounding (not clicky), and it's about 99% drone free cruizing on the highway. There is absolutely no rasp so if you like the raw, hollow, racey sound, you need to keep looking.

The Downsides:
-Tips are not adjustable and only available in one finish
-Cold startups are not neighbor friendly
-Boomy resonance from 1800-2300rpm (not excessive but noticeable)
-It's a little loud at low rpm's driving through the neighborhood

Overall this is a very well balanced system. It checks off 90% of my wish list and the positives outweigh the negatives by far. I liked my last setup as well but in the end I think this is a better fit for me. It cost $2200 less, didn't have to add or cut in an x-pipe, doesn't drone while cruising, ideal volume and tone achieved from just the axle-back. One thing to note is that the exhaust did get noticeably louder after 2000 miles. I broke in the stock x-pipe and the exhaust at the same time so my situation may be more noticeable than someone that adds the exhaust to an already broken-in x-pipe. It wasn't night and day but it did increase slightly.

The video was taken with a Gopro Hero 2.
-First video was taken from the rear bumper and is under all driving conditions. If you want to skip to WOT, go to 3:45s
-Second video is just to give an idea of volume and tone from a stationary point. I couldn't go crazy because I was on my block.


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Current: Shelby GT 350 & Wrangler Unlimited Sport, Incoming: ???, Sold: B8 RS5 DSG / F80 M3 - 6MT / 981 Cayman S - 6MT / Too Many E92 M3's

Last edited by FrankThomas; 09-01-2012 at 12:55 PM.