Final review update:
The first time I posted an update review on this product, the car had been full of OEM exhaust, with the rear seats down / parcel shelf off, so any initial impressions were going to be at best subjective.
I've had the chance to go out on some quiet roads and test this properly, and I will try and give a better appraisal of how things are settling in.
Firstly, as some of you will know from reading other posts, I've been suffering an inconsistent idle, and slightly blunted performance of late, and I was hoping this exhaust would provide the remedial cushioning to fix this issue (I remember another forum member with the same issue which was resolved by the fitting of a DP/cat). I was disappointed to find that whilst significantly improved, it did not resolve the issue. So the investigations kicked off, and after some searching there were 2 potential candidates.
1) The BSH catch can header plate
Where the 90 degree angle bends for the outlet/inlet hoses for the catch can screw in, you have to trim down these threads (see pic above) to ensure they don't foul the engine block when you mount it, and force the header plate away from the PCV mount. If they do, there is a possibility that air may get in between the orange gasket and the BSH plate. I had these threads trimmed back further, then remounted. Tip for you guys, buy a Forge unit if you can afford it, it will be better!
2) This hose which sits under the Hitachi Fuel Pump body
After hunting round the bay for leaks, it was identified there was a slight split in this highlighted hose (above). It's been on and off a couple of times over the years (fitting and unfitting DV's), and it appears it had become victim to an overzealous jubilee clip which I had inadvertently overtightened. This has now been replaced.
I'm pleased to say the idle is now sweet, and performance feels much sharper. I'm getting quite a bit of carbon blowing through onto my shiny new tailpipes, possibly a side effect of the air leaks that may have been present for some time.
Anyway, back to the main review.
1) How has the performance improved?
One word, and one I've not been used to using in exhaust appraisals for many years, 'radically
'. There is a double edge sword here, so I'm going to try and be as objective as possible. Firstly I've been running stage 2+ without an exhaust for half a year. On reflection, and in hindsight, this was a foolish mistake I made. Previous encounters will an previous product on my last car had got my mindset in the space of '£1k for a glorified drain pipe', I'll do that last. For the record, and to Revo's credit, whilst this bought me time, I don't think it has been kind to the car, and probably quite counter-productive to the overall stage 2 package which has now been liberated. In comparison it almost feels like I've unleashed the beast!
So why do I feel this difference has been so significant? Given the DP & cat restrictions on the OEM exhaust, when you step up to stg 2+, you are chucking a lot more air into the system as well as a lot more fuel. When burned that all has to go somewhere, and it's my opinion that those gases were struggling to find their way past the restriction in the DP/cat. I wouldn't be surprised if due to the way the engine was having to work around this that power may have been back at around the 300-310bhp, as it had to compensate. Over 5,200rpm there was no urgency, and if you tipped the accelerator pedal from 3/4 depressed to kick down there was NO discernible increase in power to give. The plugs we removed at Xmas tell a story of their own (see pic below).
The car is obviously adapting to it's new operating parameters, and what strikes me straight away is that there is a significant increase in power right across the rev band
. Ignore the headline figure, I'm talking a total shift of the power curve upwards right the way across the curve, right up to 6,800rpm (and possibly beyond, but I'm nursing the DMF so don't know). When you look at the OEM and MV Sport side by side, you can see that there is going to be significantly less restriction (see below), and given I'd pushed this car to stage 2+, in conjunction with the knowledge it will go no further (don't want the associated issues poor old 'Big' Andy Oram suffered), it made sense to go for a performance focussed unit without a resonated centre section to give the best sustainable and MoT legal gains.
Gone is any of the weakness, the pregnant pauses, the hesitations, the laziness. Adding the icing to the cake has helped to harmonise Revo's stage 2+ into something quite unbelievable. I know stage 2+ customers always wax lyrical about this spec stage, but it is truly testament to the time those guys spend making things right. Some within the industry don't buy into the Revo approach to mapping, but Nick at Revo has produced some of the best VAG code I've driven in the last 5 years; period. What this exhaust system helps to do is regulate the power of the map right across the accelerator pedal sweep in a quite linear and progressive way. You find yourself dabbing the pedal occasionally just to hear the exhaust burble into life, as all hell breaks loose underneath you
2) So what does it sound like?
Rude! But that is only half the story. When choosing mods for my car I have to ensure that those who put food on my table (e.g. the clients), don't feel they're blowing their annual budget on the Burberry Crusader who comes ploughing into their office car park once a week in a cloud of blue smoke, resonating gangster bass, and a McFlurry of txt spk! Even at the most basic levels, perceptions matter, and on the days I turn up at a corporate blue chip, or parking up outside Trader Vic's on Park Lane I want the S3 to be nothing short of understated quality. I'd been reassured that this system had very much a good split personality, and one which around town will not make you look and sound like an extra from the Blazin' Squad. Inside the cabin, whilst there is that inevitable resonance from stainless steel that you just don't get from OEM pipework, it is a meaty and purposeful sound that actually goes someway to giving the S3 a bit of the character I've always thought it lacked. I will do my best to get some sound clips up here (when I can recruit someone to local to ensure my camera / car don't expectedly fall under new ownership of opportunist pikeys).
Ramp up the rev count and the symphony really does pick up. What surprised me if that the system can be quite so civilised, yet come so alive with a short stab of the pedal. It really does sound lovely, and as you build the revs it gets slightly louder with each extra application of pedal (unlike some of the cheap imitations which just drone the minute you open the taps). The saving grace (to me), is that I can't find a point where there is any painful resonance. An old system I had used to drone horribly at 76mph. So I hear you say, do 80mph or 70 mph. 76mph is one of those zones (in a car without cruise control) that you seem to unconsciously drift in and out of. It used to annoy the f**k out of the missus, and after a time you found it a bit torturous. Fortunately I can report that with this system, whilst there is a slight change in note once the engine labours up a hill (on cruise), it is in no way painful or unpleasant, and once you return to the flat it is just business as usual. I can appreciate those who may have the OEM bug in terms of keeping it how you like it, but putting some polish on may be averse to the non resonated centre section. Don't be. Unless you are the sort of person who finds the Daily Mail a good read, writes in to Points of View (you don't care it's no longer on TV, you need someone to complain at!), your Mum still adjusts your collar and flattens your hair, and you like a hot milk before you go off to bed at 9pm, then don't be afraid to buy this. It has spades of character at exactly the right time, and to me the key selling point is that it handles it all so transitionally you will never look misplaced. Testament to a great design.
The man behind the can
As MV Sport aren't an instantly recognisable brand in the world of VAG, let me give you a little trip inside he world of MV Sport. Mike (Snr) at Motech in Wellingborough is one of those rare people you'd find it incredibly hard to dislike. Even via telephone (a poor medium for judging outright character) he strikes you as the sort of bloke who would bend over backwards to help if he can. In the flesh he's every bit as likeable, and one of those people who are in the industry, come rain or shine, not purely for the money but because they are passionate about cars. Whilst he's a BMW man
(unlike his nephew Mike Jnr who is a VAG man!), his enthusiasm extends back to a day when modifications were far more mechanical engineering based (his professional qualification), than the bolt ons of today. And unlike some suppliers who live from a catalogue with little knowledge or passion, Mike has a real perception and understanding from years of race modifying various genres of M3 to quite extreme levels. Trust is the key element here, above any hype, and the way Mike enthuses about his product, and the passion for pursuit of creating something really special is something I wish I could bottle and sell to big corporate mass-producers. When I asked him why there was no option for a resonated mid section the look of horror on his face said to me that he's not a man for pandering to the masses, but he genuinely believes that what he's created should not be compromised, and it's that kind of unwavering personal belief that gave us the likes of brands 'Abarth', 'Quattro' and 'Project Golf Sport' - the eventual Mk1 GTi. He's spent years in the industry, and a great deal of those supplying exhausts, so he understands this area very well, and from my personal experience this in reflected in the quality of his product.
I know there is something of a leap of faith to be bold enough to try something new, especially when blowing up to a grand, but what pains me is that people will happily jump on a bandwagon like lemmings off a cliff to get the statutory 'badge of honour', without realising that there are specialists out there who can provide an equally accomplished product, sometimes even better, but the need for badge kudos extends beyond sensibility and reason. If you have eyes in your head, a basic concept of quality management, and an inquisitive nature to your questioning, you can usually spot a lemon from a gem without too much trouble. I appreciate we often buy from pictures off the net (as shows aren't always local / few and far between), but don't be afraid to ask suppliers for detailed web shots, and an overview of their design principles.
I've been pleasantly supplied with my modifications in 2009/10. The ITG was a revelation against the Carbonia I had fitted previously. The high pressure fuel pump upgrade really moved the game along. Revo stage 2+ has now transpired to be a masterpiece of coding, particularly now it has been liberated by the very special MV Sport. It looks great, sounds great, is UK designed and made, and shows that there is more to exhausts than the inevitable 'M' word that we so often hear tediously banded about on VAG forums like a divine right to acceptance to the 'in crowd'. I'm genuinely pleased to have been drawn to this by complete accident (through a forum group buy), so thanks to whoever identified this product (Davey Phillips :icon_thumright
, you've opened my eyes and I'm grateful. There will be no rolling road plot as 'I know' there is around a 30bhp on tap here (20 years gut feel), and I just don't buy RR figures. I'll leave the 1/4 mile to tell the story later in the year.
And finally, learn from my mistake, stay at stage 1 code until you can afford full
stage 2+, I went against the recommendations of Revo to try it out, and it didn't quite deliver (and probably has caused me ball ache as a result). What is even better, is that whilst buying a really beautifully designed and executed product, I feel like I've made another really decent industry 'friend' in Mike. So as a result, from my overall experience; the product and the aftercare service comes highly recommended.