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MF Review: MCS Supersprint Exhaust

jcw

Since stock exhausts typically have to appeal to a broad range of consumers many of the more enthusiast oriented owners tend to feel a little let down by the hollow tone and the gutless burble. Because of this the aftermarket exhaust has long been a favorite of those looking for a bit more power, a bit better sound, and a touch of bling. From Ferraris to BMWs to Porsches, companies like Supersprint have been going where factory engineers couldn’t or weren’t allowed. Making systems lighter, louder, and more free flowing, these aftermarket companies offer owners a choice that doesn’t exist from the factory. And among those companies the consumer has even more choice. On the high-end there are companies like Supersprint who’s Italian made systems are part art and part performance product.

Now it’s worth noting that there are many OEM exhausts out there that actually are quite nice from the factory. The MINI Cooper’s exhaust for instance is really quite a good piece of kit. Respectable sound, decent construction, and simple design make it easy to live with. However the Cooper S isn’t as blessed. With the design requirements of two exhausts, and the noise restrictions of the European Union, MINI engineers had to roll-up their sleeves and make some interesting concessions. Let’s start from the catalytic converter. First the single pipe goes back into a resonator. Then it moves from there into the first exhaust on the left. After that it travels to the second exhaust. Finally it comes out (still one pipe mind you) and finally splits into two just before exiting the car. Not a model of efficiency.

jcw

Knowing this, I wanted to make a full aftermarket exhaust system one of the first performance modifications I made to the car. So after a few months of deliberation I chose a full Supersprint exhaust system for my Cooper S. But you don’t just choose a Supersprint system and call it a day. You look at the components, read the descriptions, an build what you want. For instance Supersprint offers MINI owners the street muffler (10% louder than OEM) or the sport muffler (20% louder than OEM). After that you can choose either a resonator or a straight pipe (the latter makes the entire system about 10% louder yet). Then you have your choice of four different tips that can radically change the look of the shiny bits out the back.

The Street mufflers are essentially the Euro versions while the Sport mufflers are made specifically for the US market. Supersprint apparently felt the need to “bring the noise” for the US market yet give us the choice of also having the Euro version if we wanted a little subtlety in our lives. However it’s worth noting that there are no real power differences between the two systems. The difference is simply more or less packing material. With this in mind I decided to take the middle ground. I went with the Street mufflers but with a Straight pipe and the Dual Round tips to finish off the package.

Installation was fairly straight-forward.  Now I’d like to say I did this all myself like most projects but without a lift and the temps hovering around 2F in Chicago I thought I’d call my local dealer (and long-time Supersprint retailer) Knauz MINI.  The parts manager immediately recommended I bring it in and have their resident MINI/Supersprint expert Mike Usry install it.  This worked out well as I simply had the system shipped to Knauz and then made an appointment once everything was in.  

jcw

The great thing about having someone install the exhaust who had worked on the systems before was that there’s wasn’t downtime needed to “figure it out”.  Mikey just attacked the install and within an hour everything was fitted as if it was factory issue.  And that’s quite a accomplishment knowing the space constraints that the MCS has under the rear.  So big kudos to the staff at Knauz for the installation and getting me in and out quickly.  Now it was time to take it out.

One thing you notice with most aftermaket systems at idle is the lower burble. This certainly true of the Supersprint. However where some systems announce their presence with a subtly of a scream in the ear, the SS is more like a wink and a knowing nod.

However once on the gas the nod goes away and low rumble of a supercharged inline four takes its place. The sound is just loud enough to remind you of it but not over the top.

But the best part is the he burble and pop that is prevalent in the ’05 and ’06 MCS takes on a much more sinister tone. Instead of sounding like a crack or hollow pop, the sound seemingly becomes a direct descendant of a 50′s and 60′s English sports car. As David Hobbs would say, it sounds like it has some serious “attachments”.

On the highway at 75mph in 6th gear there is a slight bit of added noise but it’s hardly noticeable and certainly not worth worrying about. Certainly not at the level of most aftermarket systems I’ve heard.

As with most automotive things that are Italian, there is just something that makes the SS system a little different. A little more interesting. One of those is the slight growth of the exhaust tips as the engine warms. Imagine the car starting from cold and the tips being about 10mm outside the rear edge of the bumper. After about 20 minutes of driving and the car fully warming up, the tips will have sprouted out about another 10mm. I’ve grown to find the feature quite endearing, especially after the folks at Supersprint North America assure me this is a normal attribute of the MCS SS exhaust system and apparently something to be, well, proud of.

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Power gains on exhausts can be a tricky thing. I’ve seen dynos that showed an increase at the top end in exchange for a loss of torque at the low-end. That’s where the SS really shines. Supersprint’s rigorous dyno procedures rate their MCS exhaust at an eye-poping 14hp better than stock. Now I don’t pretend to think that this is a real world number that I’ll feel daily. In fact I’d guess that, on it’s own, the SS would probably kick out a bit less than that. But where some exhausts get similar gains with some rather serious ruckus, the Supersprint seems to go about it’s business in a more dignified way. It lets you know it’s there, it just doesn’t shout while doing so.

However if there’s one downside to the Supersprint system as tested, it is the cost. Simply put Supersprint systems aren’t for the budget conscious. They are works of art made from mandrel bent stainless steel tubes that just happen to be incredible exhausts. $423 for a right muffler, art or not, is a lot of cash. In fact the entire system as tested was $1097. But you pay for what you get. Supersprint has over 50 years of experience working on everything from modern rally cars to Ferraris. They know what they’re doing and they do it very well. Heck I’d go so far as to say that if you’re looking for something more refined, an SS might actually represent a good value (despite the price) since you won’t end up having to unload your first choice as a few end up doing.

The thing about an exhaust upgrade is that it’s always there reminding you of your choice. So it’s very important to choose wisely. With the Supersprint, you get great construction, good looks, and a fantastic sound that is as tolerable as it is impressive. While there are other systems out there that offer better value for your money, very few that I’ve experience get the end result as perfect as this exhaust.

Add to that the experience of building a system that bests suits your needs and you’ve got a tough product to beat. In fact when you consider the costs of other systems that get close to the quality of the SS exhaust, you start to realize how good it really is.

MotoringFile Rating: 4.5 (out of five)

Audio Review

You can listen to the audio portion of this review by clicking below:

[ MF Podcast Review: Supersprint Exhaust ] MotoringFile

Where to Buy

You can find Supersprint North American at www.supersprintna.com. Throughout Europe and the rest of the world Supersprint products can be found at www.supersprint.com.

Videos

Supersprint has a number of pretty interesting dyno and production videos that are definitely worth checking them out. A personal favorite is the red-hot Viper side exhaust video. You can check the rest out here.

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Written By: Gabe

  • http://www.wezensky.com dickdavid

    Nice review! It sounds really nice.

  • Fishbulb

    Thank you for the review – well written, i really get a feel for that exhaust.

    Due to some luck and a tighter budget, I recently purchased & installed a used R-Speed exhaust that displays many of the traits you describe above. (Straight cut tips, BBK produced) It only comes one way, but I love the look of the system & the tips. Also, all bolted together, it’s a tank!

    It is not much louder than stock, but there is no longer any of the tinny-ness that the OEM system had, esp at higher RPMs. Just a great, deep tone that does not really scream at you, just confidently says “we are here”

    And it also does the “i’m excited” thing when warm – There are laser etched MINI logos in the tips, can’t see when cold, fully viewable when hot!

    Enjoy your new exhaust!

    -jac

  • bad ess

    Gabe, My MCS 03 has a resonance (more pronounced motor drone)at about 3200 to 3400 RPM when cruising. Is this the nature of 4 cylinder motors or is your Supersprint different in this rpm range?

  • M0v0ver

    very nice write-up. can ne1 tell me how the jcw compares, 2 after mkt exhaust systems?

  • M0v0ver

    also i forgot to mention, the growing exhaust tip thing seems 2 b quite normal w/ after mkt ss exhaust’s, i’ve had a forge & miltek on 2 seperate s4′s & both would get a “woodie” as my wife calles it, when they are warm.

  • O(=^=)O Capn

    M0v0ver,

    n0 L33t5p34k 0n MF p|3453, w3′r3 0|d h3r3. lol

    SO anyway, Sounds good, no fart cannon sound but it does look patched together. So, you would recommend this over a one ball exhaust? Like you used to recommend.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    SO anyway, Sounds good, no fart cannon sound but it does look patched together. So, you would recommend this over a one ball exhaust? Like you used to recommend.

    Not really sure what you mean patched together?

    I’ve never recommended the one-ball exhaust – that was Lawrence. He seems to like his though. It certainly is good bang for your buck.

  • rkw

    Good review, Gabe. If you resolve your microphone issues, please update with additional clips. Why is a Mac fan using wav format?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    I didn’t want to downgrade the sound further. I figured it was bad enough!

    But that said I will have a new clip most likely Monday morning. So watch this space!

  • Greg W

    I can’t see the point of two mufflers. Can someone enlighten me? Most people take mufflers off not add them.

  • http://www.nemini.org GMINI

    excellent write-up, gabe. followed a supersprint up the taconic. Raspberryville in my memory – was two years ago. The sound file was true to it. A lot more trebble than I dig. Kudos in your dumping of the stock (or the JCW).

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Unfortunately the terrible mic I used wasn’t able to capture the bass very well so it sounds much more trebly than it really is.

    Before this I had a stock MCS exhaust (which is now sitting in my garage if anyone is interested).

  • Brian

    I have the standard MCS exhaust on my 2003 and i’ve noticed over the years that the sound has gotten much better/deeper when a step on it.

  • LTZMTOR

    So total costs with instal was…………………………………..?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    So total costs with instal was…………………………………..?

    Well it took an well under an hour so worst case would probably be whatever your dealer or exhaust shop charges for an hour’s labor.

  • Nathaniel Salzman

    Gabe, this may be a very ignorant question, but is the JCW cat-back exhaust from the MCS engine kit available off the shelf? Or can you only get it with the JCW engine kit? I’m just thinking along your OEM+ lines. What I’d like to do actually is pull in the JCW tuning kit components in one by one over time, rather than finance a $32,000 MINI up front.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    is the JCW cat-back exhaust from the MCS engine kit available off the shelf?

    No. But a few people have been able to get parts deptarments to order a one-off JCW exhaust. Typically you cannot do this though. It also may be worth noting that the JCW exhaust really doesn’t sound much different than a stock MCS exhaust since MINI had to deal with many of the same EU noise constraints that they did with the stock system.

  • Nathaniel Salzman

    Thanks, Gabe. That’s good to know. How about the JCW cylinder head or the supercharger? Can I grab that off the shelf? I know I can get the injectors, plugs, and intake separately. I’ll probably have to just break down and get it dealer-installed all at once, but I’m just curious what my options are. I love the pedigree of the JCW, I just can’t afford to do it up front.

  • http://mysite.verizon.net/resq3ahk/ Jon

    Hi Gabe,

    just curious, what swayed your decision to go for the Supersprint exhaust, over the competitors? On your whiteroofradio podcasts, we always hear how much DB and Todd make fun of your afinity for JCW parts, I thought for sure you’d go that route. What about the offerings from Milltek, Alta, Webb Motorsports, Borla, etc.? Why did you choose the Supersprint, knowing how much more it cost?

    One could argue that there are several others out there that have the same ultra-high-quality fit and finish as the Supersprint, for hundreds of dollars less.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    just curious, what swayed your decision to go for the Supersprint exhaust, over the competitors? On your whiteroofradio podcasts, we always hear how much DB and Todd make fun of your afinity for JCW parts,

    Heh… nothing to do with that. A JCW exhaust would have been nice but it’s a little too tame for me. I wanted to something that was frankly a litttle nicer, a little more sporty all while not screaming aftermarket.

    But why Supersprint? Well I suppose you could say that the entire review is your answer. Yes there are a couple other exhausts out there that are pretty nice. But SS has everything I want and frankly if I’m putting something on my car I don’t want to settle. Also there’s familiarity. I’ve got an SS exhaust on my 3 series Touring and absolutely love it. Heck, my dad had one on his ’73 BMW 2002 when I was a kid. I consider SS an icon in the aftermarket exhaust world and certainly something that is worthy of adding to my MINI.

  • STEVE

    WHATS THE DB LEVEL AT WOT. WOULD BE NICE TO KNOW FOR THOSE TRACKS THAT HAVE A MAX DB LEVEL. GREAT REVIEW. CAN THE STOCK RESONATOR BE REPLACED ON A JCW?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/44173502N00/sets/72057594081732614/ Stuart

    Great review, Gabe, and I really like the first photo showing what a work of art the Supersprint is. That’s what I call a tidy undercarriage.

  • IanF

    Nice write up. One thing I find interesting. There is mention of a resonator behind the cat? On all of the stock MCS exhausts I’ve seen, there is just a (sort-of) straight pipe from the cat back to the rear resonator. The JCW exhaust does have a foward resonator, but it splits behind the suspension into twin mufflers.

    I only noticed this because I have a stock MCS forward section in JerseyGirl’s garage awaiting test fitting into a friend’s JCW to eliminate the JCW resonator.

  • Mark

    If I’m reading the website right, this exhaust is not available for us convertible owners? Too bad. You pretty much had me sold.

  • Derek

    Nice, but I have to ask:

    Gee Gabe, the underside of your car looks REALLY clean. Knowing that you’ve had your ’05 for a little while, you fair weather driving only now?

    ;)

    Derek

  • http://www.northamericanmotoring.com Dave

    Looking at the battery box, I don’t think that’s the bottom of Gabe’s MINI.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    You sir are correct.

  • http://www.lonestarminiclub.com scuderiamini

    Nice write up Gabe, i remember talking to you about the SS, i have a different system, but i could not pass on the SS headers since they are on a 50% sale. Wait until you install that bad boy, that makes a quite difference in sound, and performance, especially low end torque. SS is definetely expensive but very well engineered, high quality system.

    Berk

  • Kevin McCornick

    Thanks for the write up Gabe. I have an SS on my 02 MCS, and I love it. I purchased the car used, and it was already on, but I am quite pleased with the sound, and performance. Not too loud, but when my wife drove it one day, I rode beside her, and when she stepped it down, WOW! What a sweet sound! I had a custom exhaust on my 97 VW GTi with an Arospeed muffler and DTM tips, and it sounded fantastic, not like these little rice-burners that sound like lawn mowers. My Mini is much more tame compared to my former VW’s. My favorite muffler of all was my straight pipe from the head back to a SuperTrapp on my 87 VW Scirocco 16V. With out the baffles, it was incredible, and incredibly loud, with occasional spits of flame on hard thrusts.

    Has anyone ever seen a Mini exhaust pop, and shoot a bit of flame? I would love to have this happen on mine, but the unburnt fuel has too much to travel through to do that on mine.

  • Osmodious

    I had a SS exhaust on my A4 1.8t…it sounded fantastic, a fabulous deep burble around town (sounded like a V8) and this insane hiss (from the turbo I suppose) when I romped on it. Oh, and NO highway drone whatsoever.
    However, the exhaust rusted through at one of the pickup points within about 20 months, which is unacceptable in any cheap exhaust, let alone one as expensive as the SuperSprint. And they were thoroughly uninterested in my situation, so I had to repair it myself.
    Actually, I didn’t bother…I put a patch on it and traded the A4 in on my Cooper S (which did NOT get an SS exhaust…I got an Nvidia with titanium tips instead!).

  • Pingback: MotoringFile » 2006 » March » 21

  • Siddhartha

    Nice writeup, Gabe. I have no quarrel with folks who want to aftermarket up their cars. Heck, I’m in the business and even go to SEMA. But JCW meets my requirements nicely, so my car will remain stock. As for JCW being dissed by DB and Todd, they are welcome to bring their tarted up heaps to the track and run my box stock MCS for pinks. ;-)

  • Pingback: MotoringFile » 2006 » June » 03


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