Any turbo enthusiast will tell you that an aftermarket exhaust system can be one of the most rewarding upgrades you can install on a boosted car. Removing factory restrictions can easily free up more than a few ponies and give your car a much more enjoyable rumble.
My Evo VIII came with an aftermarket exhaust installed by the previous owner, but I was less than happy with it. Years of Midwest driving had taken their toll on the piping and hangers, the fitment was off, and the sound wasn't all that great. The system had not held up well over the years and I felt that replacing it with something a little more up to my standards was required.
The first item I purchased was the Tomei turbo elbow and downpipe. Some may find it to be a bit pricey for a downpipe, but it's totally worth it considering a turbo elbow is also included. Tomei did a great job ensuring that the kit was complete and came with everything needed for installation: turbo elbow, downpipe, gaskets, hardware, and heat paste. They even provided a large roll of heat wrap and metal ties, something that would usually need to be purchased separately. The flanges and welds are beautifully crafted and both pieces are stainless steel, ensuring that I won't have to worry about rust down the road at the hands of our harsh Michigan winters.
While I had the exhaust system apart, I also decided to replace the car's catalytic converter with a Tomei titanium test pipe. This thing is truly a work of art, featuring precision welds and a really cool Expreme TI logo added to the titanium piping. Though the weight savings are probably minimal on a piece as simple as a test pipe, it really is incredible how light it is. I wasn't even sure it was actually in the box! Just like the downpipe, the Tomei titanium test pipe kit includes new gaskets, hardware, heat paste, and stickers to make for a flawless install. It's worth noting that running a test pipe is illegal in most states, so be sure you know what you're getting into before going this route.
No turbo-back setup would be complete without an attractive and free-flowing muffler, so I chose to stick with the Tomei theme and install an Expreme Ti titanium catback. The first of several advantages to running a titanium exhaust is the weight savings. If the weight of the test pipe was impressive, just imagine how light a full catback can be when it's built of this material.I would estimate that at least twenty pounds were shed from the car with the new system in place.
Craftsmanship is on point once again, and the welds and materials are examples of the quality we have come to expect from the folks at Tomei. The kit is very thorough, and much like the other items I purchased includes all of the items needed for installation, as well as an optional silencer. The slip-fit piping also makes installing and removing the system a breeze.
A common issue with modifying the USDM Evo's exhaust is how the muffler fits in relation to the rear bumper. Due to strict US safety standards, the rear bumper covers used stateside are much larger than those supplied in other parts of the world. Tomei recognized this and released two versions of the catback: one for the USDM model Evo, and one for the JDM model. Because I planned to run the Japanese Evo IX rear bumper, I purchased the JDM version. The exhaust tip was a bit recessed with the USDM bumper still on the car, but I only needed to deal with it for a couple of weeks until my new rear bumper came in. After adding the slimmer rear bumper, the tip sat perfectly flush and looked great.
Putting the new components on the car was a piece of cake thanks to the included gaskets and hardware. I was really pleased to see that everything lined up perfectly and there were no modifications needed to make it all work.
The most exciting part of fitting a new exhaust to your car is the first startup. The Tomei setup exceed expectations, producing a fairly loud but deep rumble at idle. This exhaust is probably not for the faint of heart, as titanium piping tends to be pretty noisy. Fortunately, since this is a turbocharged car, the exhaust drone is far from unbearable at freeway speeds. If it becomes too much to handle or your neighbors are grumpy about your latest purchase, you can always bolt in the included silencer to tone things down a bit.
For the price point, Tomei's exhaust components cannot be beat. It might cost a bit more to go with a high quality kit instead of a generic exhaust system from eBay, but the time and hassle you save yourself in the end is worth the extra coin.