I had planned to add APR’s downpipe and upgrade to Stage 2 in the spring. Being a relatively new resident of Virginia (I maintained Texas residency during my military career), I had created a financial safety net so that I wouldn’t have any unpleasant surprises when the 2017 tax bill came. As it turns out, I over-budgeted and had plenty of leftover cash. What a great opportunity to upgrade to APR Stage 2 and more! I didn’t have immediate plans for a new intercooler, but the surplus tax money made adding one an easy decision. I took my car to Euro Pros to have APR’s downpipe and intercooler installed, as well as new spark plugs and a flash to Stage 2.
APR Stage 1 increases engine output to 316 hp and 381 lb-ft. The change is dramatic. Upgrading to Stage 2 increases that output to 336 hp and 404 lb-ft, according to APR. I very recently saw some Stage 2 GTIs dyno at just over 300 whp, so 336 bhp is believable. I did not upgrade my intake, so it’s possible that I’m losing just a little bit of power at the top end. Perhaps 330 bhp is a realistic claim for me? I rarely run my engine to the top end, anyway. So I’m okay with 330 hp! 😉 I’m confident that the low-end torque is unaffected by my factory intake. As for the intercooler, I doubt that it provides any benefit during this time of the year. Instead, the intercooler’s benefits come during the summer when a larger intercooler has a better fight against hot air than the stock unit. Quite frankly, I may not ever notice the improved performance because I probably will just take the retained summer performance for granted by the time the heat arrives. We’ll see.
I did the upgrade on President’s Day since it was a holiday for me. I almost laughed when the shop owner asked, “Do you want the ‘Pops and Bangs’ tune?” Uh, that’s a big-fat-negative! 😉 It rained all day. So it was a bit of a bummer that I couldn’t unleash the newfound power and torque for a few days. The difference in sound was certainly noticeable. There’s an occasional gurgle on deceleration. I cannot control or predict it. The gurgle just happens, but is not obnoxious at all. However, there is some drone that begins to ramp-up around 2700 rpm, is quite annoying around 3000 rpm, and begins to taper a little around 3500 rpm. It doesn’t matter during aggressive acceleration, but my observation is during easy driving. It certainly compels me to get into a gear that keeps me below 2500 rpm as soon as I can.
Anyone who says “it sounds just like stock” is either tone-deaf or lying to themselves. The exhaust does sound stock-like when cruising below 2700 rpm. But the drone escalates as soon as engine speed increases or while climbing a hill. I can tolerate the extra sound for a bit, but I’m definitely a candidate for a Vibrant 17950 resonator to replace the factory front muffler. I’ve read plenty of reports that say this resonator will cure drone in my setup. 🙂 I’ll be certain to share my story when I make the switch.
Coming from a diesel background and having done some fuel economy testing before, you KNOW I took the car on a road circuit to see if I could break the coveted 40+ mpg barrier. 😉 My previous best tank was 39.6 mpg and I had achieved 37.9 mpg on another tank. So I wanted to see if the reduced exhaust restriction might have improved fuel economy on a well-behaved trip. I drove a 200-mile circuit at sane speeds, including my commute to work, and achieved (drum roll, please) 35.4 mpg. Yeah, I was overly optimistic to think economy might improve. Plus, it was possibly the most boring 200 miles of my life; I’ll probably never do it again. The car is too fun to drive in such a dull way. HAHA! I suspect my 39-mpg tank was had because I was descending from the mountains of Tennessee to the coast of Virginia. We’ll see on our next road trip.
That’s all I can think of for now. Next week, I’ll share a review about my new tires and about finding two bent wheels (and how I dealt with them).