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.
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.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 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.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â The parts manager immediately recommended I bring it in and have their resident MINI/Supersprint expert Mike Usry install it.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â This worked out well as I simply had the system shipped to Knauz and then made an appointment once everything was in. Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
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”.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Mikey just attacked the install and within an hour everything was fitted as if it was factory issue.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â And that’s quite a accomplishment knowing the space constraints that the MCS has under the rear.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â So big kudos to the staff at Knauz for the installation and getting me in and out quickly.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 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.
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)
You can listen to the audio portion of this review by clicking below:
[ MF Podcast Review: Supersprint Exhaust ] MotoringFile
Where to Buy
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.