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Performance Exhaust for the MINI Cooper S Turbo

Category: MINI Performance Parts
Posted: 01-24-2014 04:33 PM
Views: 9601
Synopsis: Performance Exhaust for the MINI Cooper S Exhaust
 One of the many things that makes a car stand out in a crowd is the exhaust note and the factory MINI Cooper S Turbo exhaust note needs improvement. There's no deep growl that gets your attention. Of course, MINI engineered it that way given the age demographic that buy their cars tend to be of the mindset that quieter is better (maybe I'll post another day about the buyer demographic disparity). While a quiet exhaust that may appeal to a particular type of buyer, I think the exhaust it way too quiet and should be considerably louder.

In my search to find the best exhaust for the MINI Cooper S Turbo I've had the opportunity to live with a number of exhaust systems over the years and here's my thoughts.

Alta Performance Exhaust for the MINI Cooper S Turbo R56
The Alta catback exhaust  is beautifully crafted. The stainless pipes are polished to a near chrome finish and the 3" diameter is quite impressive. Air flows very well and the exhaust note is simply stunning at all RPM, yet never drones. The tips are nice and large and perfectly centered in the rear valence and stick out about 1" which was a perfect. Overall it's a fantastic system, although I did find the the fitment down the mid section could be better. If your MINI has the NM engineering short shift adapter housing you may find that the mid pipe will rattle/vibrate from being too close to the housing at idle and low speeds or when the throttle is backed off when approaching a light. This is likely due to the engine torquing forward which pushes the exhaust upward. Not a huge deal and likely was not engineered for use with another vendors product.

NM Engineering Full Downpipe back system
The NM exhaust for the R56 MINI Cooper S Turbo is very well made. The finish is not to the same level as the Alta but still nice considering it goes under your car. The welds are all good and it is my understanding is done in the USA (as is the Alta based on my understanding). The fitment is dead on and the tips are slightly smaller than the Alta but still fill out the rear valence and look stunning. A tasteful NM logo is etched on each tip. The conical inner edge of tips have a nice modern look. This system is one of the few that is available in a version that connects direct the downpipe which is a nice feature as you do not have to cut the factory exhaust off right below the center console like the Alta and many others. While they do make a version that IS made that way, the version I had was the full system which made it easier to install. Now for the catch. I found the sound of this system to be very similar to the Alta and could easily be mistaken as the Alta from inside or outside the car, however I found I preferred the slightly smaller exhaust tips as they blend in a bit better with the rear of the MINI Cooper.
When this system was first introduced and based on feedback from a few customers all the way into late 2012 these systems all had a problem which likely was related to something to do with airflow through the mufflers that caused a distracting whistling sound at 6000+ RPM. Conversations with engineers at NM have noted that it was likely due to a small lip or weld inside the muffler where the main entered or exited. They did take steps to repair this issue including redesigning a new muffler which is said to have solved this issue.

Borla MINI Cooper S Turbo Exhaust: Touring
The Borla exhaust is another fantastic option when it comes to upgrading your MINI Cooper S. It's got the best warranty on the planet (1 million miles) and is made by a company that has a great reputation. The construction of the Borla exhausts tends to be good but they are often treated as 'mufflers'- so they don't polish anything except for the tips. The welds are good and the overall construction and fit is good. No issues but it just doesn't feel 'special' like the NM and Alta. Which really does not matter after a few months of driving around. The metal pipes are more or less pulled off a shelf and welded up. you will likely find they are a bit more conscious about box sizes and as such may break the system up into smaller pipes for assembly and shipping ease. I found the exhaust note from this exhaust to be underwhelming for my needs. It was barely louder than the factory part and overall was just not the major increase in volume that I think most performance oriented MINI owners would want.

Quicksilver MINI Cooper S Turbo Exhaust
Sometime between either the Borla and the Akrapovic and one of the others I had the Quicksilver exhaust on my 2011 Cooper S for about 6 months. I found the build quality and overall design and welding to be very good. It was not as flashy as the NM or the ALTA but did the job, fit well and looked great. The tips had a nice scale to them and fit nicely in the rear valance. The tone at idle was fantastic and at takeoff and cruising it was fantastic. Nice low growl but still very 'mature' sounding. I did, however, find that there was a distinct inside the cabin noise at 3,200-4,000 RPM which was fairly distracting. After that brief range of cabin pressure the system sounded great.

While I have not personally owned or driven extensively with the other exhausts for the MINI R56 Turbo S installed I have heard great things about the Invidia Cooper S exhaust,   the Milltek MINI Cooper R56 S exhaust , Magnaflow and others on the market. It is worth noting that should you replace the stock downpipe with a Akrapovic, Milltek or other brand the exhaust note will likely get much louder as the airflow increases.

Also, if you have a MINI R58 Coupe the R56 hatchback exhausts will all fit, however if you have a R59 Roadster the under chassis bracing will not allow the R56 exhausts to fit properly.

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