This wagon kind of fell into my lap. My wife was out walking our dogs one morning, and this 2012 Audi A4 S Line wagon was for sale up the hill from our house. It was clean, German, all-wheel drive with a turbo 2.0-liter and had less than 75,000 miles.
Estate, avant, station wagon, shooting brake, whatever you want to call it. She was adamant about me having a grown-up car, so who am I to argue? I’ve always loved European wagons, and now I have one.
Of course, not long after owning it, I started looking for ways to personalize it and make it a bit more fun. I didn’t want to spend much because I still have a third-generation MX-5 Miata in the driveway awaiting a 2.5 swap.
One of the first things I noticed was that the car was exceptionally quiet. I looked underneath, and it had essentially four mufflers on it. Four! That’s one per cylinder! Two resonators in the center of the car and one muffler ahead of each exhaust tip. That’s in addition to the quieting effects of a turbo and a catalytic converter. Heck, the direct injection system on the 2.0-liter engine made more noise than the exhaust.
I found an intermediate pipe from AFE Power at ECS Tuning for a reasonable price made even more reasonable by our NASA Member benefits ECS program. It removed the first resonator behind the turbo and took some serious restriction out of the exhaust system.
ECS Tuning’s ad copy said it produced a “moderate” exhaust note, which seemed appropriate, and though the car ended up being a little louder, I think “barely perceptible” is probably a better adjective. You can judge for yourself in the before and after video at the end. It might be a bit louder from the outside while under load, but from inside the car, it’s still quiet.
Now, because it’s my daily driver “grown-up” car, it likely will never see HPDE or TT duty. Because it is all-wheel drive, I likely will find a way to go auto-crossing with it. All-wheel drive is just too perfect for auto-crossing, which is less taxing than a track day.
When the box arrived, all it had in it was the replacement pipe and three bolts to attach it. You really don’t need anything else. The factory exhaust clamp at the rear is reusable, and it’s a genuinely good piece. The factory gasket is reusable, and the supplied bolts take the place of the studs on the factory resonator.
The job doesn’t take long, but it’s best to have a two- or four-post lift because the B8 Audi A4 doesn’t have a cross member under the engine, so there’s no good location to jack the whole front of the car up.
Installation was pretty simple, although the top flange bolt had to be accessed from the top of the engine bay by using long socket extensions. The rest of the job was done from under the car.
When the job was done, the exhaust note wasn’t much louder, but it did wake the car up a bit in terms of power. It’s nearly as subtle as the change in the exhaust sound, but worth the time and money.
The rear clamp is more of a sleeve, which conjoins the resonator and the tailpipe. In salty regions, it’ll probably help to use some penetrating lubricant to get them loose. This is a California car, so it came apart without much fuss.
The front of the resonator is attached by three studs. Two can be accessed from the bottom. The nut on top of the pipe is best accessed from the top.
If you look closely, you can see the fasteners downstream from the turbo and the catalytic converter. It is possible to reach it with socket extensions.
The rear clamp disconnects easily, with two 13 mm nuts. There is no need to put a box wrench on the back side. The square head on the back side holds the bolt in place. Just slide the sleeve to the rear to get it out of the way.
Once you get the nuts off, the resonator drops right out. It’s not terribly heavy, but the replacement pipe does save about 5 pounds.
The mandrel-bent AFE Power pipe from ECS Tuning removes a lot of serious bends in the exhaust and opens up the diameter a bit in the length of pipe after the catalytic converter. It saves about 5 pounds, too.
Reuse the factory gasket and attach the pipe with the supplied bolts. Since the nuts on the factory studs faced forward, we put the bolts on facing forward. The pipe didn’t come with lock washers, so we added them.
These two shots depict how much restriction we removed from the exhaust system by replacing the intermediate pipe. The factory resonator has internal baffles and offset inlet and outlet pipes.
The car isn’t much louder with the intermediate resonator removed and the AFE Power replacement pipe in place. It could be a bit louder, but a station wagon is, after all, supposed to be a grown-up car. It did perk the power up a little, which is more important.
If you want it louder, the easiest and least expensive way to do it would be to straight pipe the driver muffler. Leave the tip. Those back mufflers are pretty restrictive, so it may unlock some more power. A higher flow air filter and a tune would really give it a boost(pardon the pun).
I will definitely get an air filter, and I know ECS Tuning has two tunes available for the car.