Recently I took delivery of an inspection sample provided by Relentless Performance here. As most of you know, this is the product repped in the UK here, but it's every bit as available Stateside.
I have followed the various threads covering this product sufficiently to come to one conclusion: I don't like all that glowy, heat-generating business. So I knew I'd be immediately tinkering with modding the thing. Firstly, though, we gave it a test fit to a spare cylinder head:
Clearances were good and the flanges were flat. So it passed one test that its Ebay "equivalent" absolutely did NOT. Clearly, the V3 is the Real McCoy. Having passed that test, I set to getting it ceramic-coated.
Into the sandblaster:
Post-sandblast surface, ready for ceramic:
We applied our everyday-grey thermal barrier to the unit, with the following result:
Lovely, eh? Well, it's non-descript. And that's a good thing, because it's a honking-big piece. With preparation done, it was time to install. Coincidentally our test car was under the knife for clutch work, so with the sub-frame and transmission out, it was a good opportunity to undertake it. And by "under" I mean, install from underneath.
These pictures illustrate the "easy" portion of the installation. What followed was the challenging turbo-manifold flange. Good grief that one bolt hole directly under a runner is very difficult. But the TT225 has less room to work in than does a Mk4 or A3/S3. So this was probably the toughest of workspaces. But here we are with the whole works together.
The downpipe connected just as it should, and the clearances for oil/coolant lines were excellent. Lastly, the TIP also fit as before, albeit a bit snug around the ESP hardware.
With everything buttoned back up in the bay I was pleasantly surprised by the unobtrusiveness of the thing. My impressions of others' finished products had led to think it was really, well, ugly. But not so. With all the other eye-candy under the hood, it simply disappears.
At startup, we of course got the usual billow of smoke coming off the dirtied metal tubing (when you see that yourself, don't panic! It's not an indication of a leak). Since it was very late at the shop performing the install, the space was otherwise quiet. So one thing was immediately apparent: it sounds LOVELY. There is undoubtedly a change in exhaust note from the cast iron stock manifold. But what's surprising is a complete lack of metallic rasp that I'd expected. Instead, ForceFed's workspace was filled with the mellifluous growl of a jungle cat! Suddenly, the nightmare of that flange stud was forgotten. On sound alone, it's a winner.
On the drive home, owing to the late hour and a fresh clutch, the turbo and manifold were tightly reined in. But at highway speed, the new exhaust tone was equally pleasant. Quiet. Undoubtedly quieter than the stock manifold (paired to a 42 Draft Designs 3" system) and absolutely free of "drone". The manifold's out-of-car horsey appearance is without a doubt misleading. This thing is stealthy.
But how about power? How's it compare to the stock unit there? These questions I will be able to answer shortly. And with a great deal of data (logging is kind of my thing). But we're off to a great start.