Can a catback exhaust actually make your car faster?

Finding the aftermarket modifications that will make your car a better performer can be an adventure. Every company under the sun claims all sorts of horsepower, torque, and efficiency gains, but do those claims actually prove out in the real world? Not always. However, some mods will help improve the performance of your car. One of those is a catback exhaust system, which opens up exhaust flow and can save weight.

Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained acquired a catback exhaust system for his project Honda S2000. Since he’s all about the science of everything, Fenske set out to determine if the new exhaust is louder, lighter, and will make his car more powerful compared to the stock exhaust.

The new setup is from Amuse. It is a single muffler setup as opposed to the dual exhaust that you see on stock S2000s. This Amuse unit is made entirely of titanium, which means it’s strong and lightweight. In fact, it weighs just 15.8 pounds compared to 50 pounds for the stock unit. It also lends itself to producing an improved tone.

After Jason gets the new exhaust installed, he sets up his sound meter and travels to a local dyno to measure power figures. The results? The decibel levels are actually very similar, but the Amuse exhaust sounds more crisp. That’s subjective, of course, but there’s a clear difference in sound quality. The one preferred will vary from person to person.

In terms of power, though, that’s objective data. The new exhaust adds two pound-feet of torque and 2.5 horsepower, but only once VTEC kicks in and the engine needs more airflow. That’s not a ton, but it’s something. It also adds lightness, because the 34 pound difference is considerable. Is it worth $2,500? That’s up to each individual owner.

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What Jason didn’t do was measure 0-60 mph times. Between the slight power bump and the weight drop, we’d estimate that he might cut a small amount of time, but it would be less than a tenth of a second.

If you hunt for the right modifications, they can improve your vehicle in a number of areas. The question is if you want to spend the money.

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