A little backstory on how I came to be the first to receive the AWE Switchpath exhaust systems for the F82 M4 (and F80 M3)
One of the things I’ve been missing out on in this world is that when you put yourself out there, you start to make friends (assuming you’re not a jerk, anyway). Making friends means that opportunities come up. The latest of many opportunities was to be one of the first to receive the AWE Switchpath exhaust systems for the F82 M4 (and F80 M3), and possibly the first to be installed by a customer (not a shop).
Ed Note: AWE Tuning has been in the European car game for some time now, but this spring dropped a major bombshell by announcing they’d be stepping beyond the Audi market and into BMW as well- and as Ron Burgundy would say, it was “kind of a big deal”.
A couple of months ago, Jesse from AWE Tuning shot me a PM asking if we could chat. Jesse said something to the effect that my “forum presence reputation was a bit out of control (my interpretation…).” I’d been hounding their tech support line once a month or so, hoping to convince them to make a 991 GT3 exhaust, so you better believe I called him back immediately. To my surprise, the conversation had nothing to do with a P-Car.
I could envision the smile on his face when he told me that AWE was getting into the BMW game. He asked, “Would you like to try out an early version of our BMW M4 exhaust? Knowing nothing about it, but having been an owner/lover of the AWE Exhaust on my B8 S4 and AWE Exhaust for my 991 C2S. My eloquent reply was, “Um…yeah!”
But then I remembered, I just bought an Akrapovic Evolution a month earlier that I really, really liked. Would the AWE Tuning exhaust system sound as good as the Akrapovic that had caught my ear?
Jesse and I emailed back and forth over a week or so. I told him I’d probably be interested, but was nervous, because I had already found an exhaust system with a sound that I really liked.
I didn’t want to mess things up, like I have a tendency to do in the sport of toying with my car– After some negotiating, I decided to take him up on his offer under two conditions:
1. I get to do a review on the forum.
2. I can give my unbiased, honest opinion.
Let me give a few other qualifiers to lend some credibility to my comments. I’m not on the inside of the car industry. I work for Merrill Lynch in rural Florida. I couldn’t be further removed.
I added it up, this is the 15th different exhaust I’ve installed myself, in my garage, on Rhino Ramps, onto a variety of vehicles. I think I have a decent basis for comparison.
In my opinion, the most important disclosure pertaining to this review is that I didn’t get this exhaust for free and no one is paying me to write this. Full disclosure, yes, I did get a discount and the opportunity to get one of the first units shipped to a customer, but at the end of the day I am a customer who paid for this system out of my own pocket. (ed note: Early adopters of new exhaust systems are often offered a deal like this, so this isn’t at all unusual)
So let’s get started on the review. I placed the order and was told the exhaust would arrive in about three weeks. To my surprise I got a tracking email from Jesse a couple of weeks later, and to my luck it was coming FedEx on a Saturday during a long weekend! You know what this means, a weekend playing in the garage! Needless to say, my wife was super amped about this… The bad news for me is that I came down with the death cold, but that wasn’t going to stop me!
The packaging of the AWE Tuning Exhaust for F82 M4 was very good. The only problem I have with Instapak is that it darn near makes my brain explode trying to remember how to put it back in the box for future use. I inevitably end up throwing like five pieces of the instapak puzzle away, asking myself how I messed this up so badly. I guess we can’t be good at everything.
This was a really awesome experience. I rarely purchase things without doing extensive research, but it was fun to open up a box of where the contents were a complete surprise. I mean, I knew that it would involve some metal and some bolts, but that’s about it.
Digging into the box, I pawed for the exhaust tips. I’m not a fan of the doublewalled tip fad that has possessed the aftermarket, so I was nervous as to what the tips would be like – and much to my relief, I was happy to find normal, single-walled, yet Diamond Black tips! I really don’t like double walled tips, and that was my least favorite part about the Akra system.
This is my second set of Diamond Black tips. I had them on my AWE Exhaust for Porsche 991 C2S. I don’t like monster sized tips, so I chose the 90mm version and that suits the car well, but AWE Tuning offers 102mm tips if you feel the need.
Thank you, thank you, thank you AWE Tuning for changing the clamp design for the tips. It was a dream to install them with the new integrated collar (that’s what I’m calling it) design. It is much improved.
Diamond Black certainly looks good on top of stainless countertops.
Calm down former Audi guys. The Accu-Seal, slip-joints are a piece of cake on this exhaust.
You better believe I ate the blow pop. It’s winter, and I’m “bulking.”
Nice touch. It’s too bad I installed it backwards. My sinuses were about to explode my head, so I left it on. Oh well, no one is going to see it.
And it is revealed! Shiny, yet utilitarian.
Damn you Instapak! It looks so easy to put back in the box after I remove the good stuff. I’m just kidding. The packaging was well executed and protected the items as intended. I will say the muffler box cardboard is a little flimsy and isn’t as heavy duty and the second box.
You know me, you’re going to get a thousand angles of this thing.
Interesting, the x-pipe is at the beginning of the mid-section just after the downpipes.
Welds look good to me
Cool idea. This is a first run, so I didn’t have instructions. I didn’t need them. Install was pretty self explanatory. You’ll certainly want them if you are going to do this yourself and haven’t done a bunch of exhaust installs like I have.
Sorry AWE, I don’t put stickers on my car. I tell you what. Make that GT3 full rear section that doesn’t have valves opening and closing all of the time, and I’ll put stickers on both cars…
…for a few weeks.
Rhino Ramps are just easier to deal with and safer than jack stands. I just can’t drive up onto them with my lowered cars.
You need to get these if you plan on installing yourself. They will save you broken knuckles and tons of WD-40.
You really only need a few basic tools for install.
I removed the Akra center section and compared circumference.
The 3″ piping warrants a modified under-body brace.
Removing the OEM exhaust valve controls/hangers and installing them onto the SwitchPath.
Simple, yet effective design.
I didn’t take any photos of the install underneath the car as it’s only ten inches of the ground. Also since I had a massive head cold, I didn’t want to prolong the pain of laying under the car. I’m sure AWE instructions will be better than my install guide would have been.
Since I’m going solo on this project, I used the jack to position the axle-back section.
I always wipe down the stainless steel with WD-40 to avoid making permanent finger prints.
Installation was very straight forward. I removed the entire Akra, then proceeded to work my way from the downpipes back. The x-pipe section is pretty easy to install with one exception. The top passenger side bolt is a little tricky. I had to use a deep welled 1/4″ socket with a 10″ extension. The OEM and Akra middle sections allow for a 3/8″ extension and socket to fit between the two pipes. The AWE is too wide without enough space to allow the socket to fit between. I simply pushed the socket up between the downpipes and landed it on the x-pipe. Then I shoved my finger in between and was able to attach the extension. Finally, tighten the bolt and knock the socket back through. It was a dream compared to the B8 S4 install.
As you work your way back adding pipes, make sure to put your Accu-Seal clamp around the piping, but just let it sit loose. It is super easy to line everything up when it’s all in place as long as you haven’t tightened anything. I installed all of the rubber hangers as I worked my way back. When you do finally tighten everything down make sure you the piping isn’t resting on any metal parts of the car. You should easily be able to make it float in between some of the tight spaces.
I will say this. I understand why AWE gives you three different sections instead of one giant one like other manufacturers. It makes it much more economical to ship. The disadvantage is that it requires a bit more skill to install. It’s not hard, just a bit more time consuming. You don’t have to worry about alignment between the under-body brace and the heat shielding with the Akra or OEM, but you do on the AWE. You just have to push and pull on the piping to get it lined up. Again, not hard, you just have to be a tad bit smarter/handy. If I can do it, you can too.
The best part was the new collar design on the tips. I’ve had many battles with AWE tips in the past. The Porsche ones were a bit of a nightmare to try and get on the pipe. The separate collars proved difficult to know if they were torqued properly. The new design is awesome. Dare I say the best I’ve encountered for an exhaust tip. Alignment was cake and took minutes. They were much easier to set-up than the Akra. The only thing you need to make sure you do is align the main axle-back section prior to bolting it in. I learned that the hard way. I was a little off as you can see in the photos below to the right. It’s an easy fix though.
All in all, I did find the BMW install much, much easier than the Audi. Porsche was super simple, so that was no comparison. I’m guessing this will be one of the more difficult F8X exhausts to install, but we are talking a 5/10 difficulty instead of a 4/10. So no biggie if you want to tackle it yourself. I’ve heard lot of complaints about slip joints, but they don’t bother me.
Let’s start by watching the following video. First let me say, I’m going to make a serious effort to work on my video skills. Although better than most videos I see, I’m tired of watching my out-of-focus, noisy footage. I promise I’m going to work on this soon. Assuming you are listening on decent speakers, my Rode Stereo VideoMic reproduces rather accurately the sound of the exhaust. I’m going to get one of these and the new Canon 5DS soon:
These, learning editing software, and some practice will help.
Here are my thoughts:
1. Even on the non-resonated version, there is absolutely, positively ZERO drone at any RPM. AWE is a master in the drone department. Pick any RPM you want. There is no drone. As a comparison, Akra with the valves disconnected droned ever-so-slightly (which didn’t bother me).
2. Usually with no drone comes very little sound, but not with this exhaust. Personally, unless I was getting downpipes, I wouldn’t get the resonated version. The version I have is very livable.
3. The S55 makes the F8X a weird sounding car. I hated the factory exhaust note, loved everything about the Akra except the massive farting when under heavy acceleration. The AWE solves 90% of this problem. I think it has to do with the heftier 3″ stainless steel piping and obviously the design of the muffler. Less fart = more like! It’s not fartless, but much improved.
4. Honestly, I could live without the valves with one exception: cold start. I bought the BMS CANflap from N54tuning to allow me to open and close them when I want. I will have them open at all times other than cold start. There is no reason not to.
5. When sitting the Akra next to the AWE you can certainly visually see the reason for the cost difference. I probably shouldn’t say this as I’m attempting to sell my Akra, but I’ll take a $4,000 stainless steel, almost fartless designed exhaust over the higher cost option. I think putting the Akra up for sale is a strong indication of my satisfaction with the exhaust.
So my honest, slightly biased opinion is that you should highly consider this exhaust. Although, I was certainly not disappointed in my Akra, I’m glad I made the switch. I can only hope that in the future the family sedan (M3) and weekend cruiser (GT3) will both be sporting AWE exhausts every time I walk out into the garage.
Onto a few dozen photos (because I’ve earned it after typing this up)…
And that wraps up Money2536‘s review of the AWE Tuning Exhaust for BMW M4 – ModBargains is one of the leading distributors of AWE Tuning parts on the west coast, and our shop ModAuto is well versed in installing AWE Tuning Products. To order your exhaust or schedule your installation, call us today at 714-582-3330, shop ModBargains.com or stop by the ModAuto showroom in La Habra, CA.
Thanks for joining us, and thanks to Money for letting us share his words with you.