By: Alex Martinez
Best Aftermarket Exhaust for the Audi R8?
I’m a fan of the little details. After all, I feel that most individuals and companies can all provide mostly the same thing. 2% milk after all, can really only be made a certain way with certain criteria and certain expectations. The same goes for car parts. Behind all the marketing flash and posch in today’s day and age, most car parts, especially aftermarket components, almost all are made the same. So when I was able to get my hands on a Valvetronic exhaust system for my 2017 Audi R8, my interest was piqued to see if I was going to get the typical product like I have in the past, or if maybe, just maybe, would there be something different hiding in the box that weighed more than me.
I had two options to choose from for my finish; polished or anodized gold. Being the conservative person I was, I went with the gold. A few confirmation emails and tracking updates later, and my exhaust arrived in one piece within about 6 weeks. Not too long, not too short. Just enough to know that they made it vs. stock it. 2021 is a bit of a supply chain nightmare, so I definitely am not complaining about that timeline.
Upon arrival, there wasn’t much to it. A thick brown box, Valvetronic labeled tape, and a postage address that barely made it to Wisconsin. But once I managed to open the box with a dull box cutter, everything that my inner child wanted to have happen with an exhaust unboxing; happened.
Surrounded by more foam and packaging than I have seen as of late was the system I had been staring at on my Safari for the past 6 weeks, tightly wrapped in packing material, scratch resistant foam, and an organized way to ensure everything fit without wasting space. I knew the moment I took the system out, there was no way it’d go back in with such grace. But I was excited, so whatever. The shimmer of the gold-plated tubes would occasionally shine through the packaging and without much fuss, I was able to take the Valvetronic system out of the box.
T304 Stainless steel in anodized gold is new to me. A system that changes my car from a “squirrel breathing heavily through a straw” into a properly sounding supercar, now that was a thought I was excited about. It was also nice that the system was 40 pounds lighter than the
OEM Audi R8 catback too. Not bad. But outside of all the flash and posch of a good system, came the details that I was hoping for. Mandrel bends for air flow, properly done tig welds that looked like they truly gave a sh*t, and a finish that didn’t only look good in photos.
I took it all out, admired it, then realized I wouldn’t be installing it at 10PM at night on a Wednesday, so I slid it back in the box, awkwardly, and texted Josh Liesch over at Autoselect in Green Bay, Wisconsin to see what amount of beer or money I would have to pay to get it installed the next day.
Installs are always less of an issue when you don’t have to deal with it, but nevertheless, the install of the Valvetronic Audi R8 went on without fuss. A quick removal of the oem system and voila, it was plug and play from there since the Valvetronic system utilizes the OEM locations for mounting and installation. If you’re a purist, this allows you to change it back before selling. The exhaust itself doesn’t have tips, something that was a little bit of a surprise to me until I realized that Audi didn’t make it so you could have them. And while the outlet alignment did take an extra hour or so to get perfect, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for an exhaust installation. The system does come with your fancy doohickies such as your controller box, vacuum lines, and cigarette power connection (we spliced it and wired it directly into the car because I liked that more than plugging the system in.) I’d also end up taking 1 of the 2 valve keys and giving it to my wife so I didn’t lose both.
One thing I will say is that once you take out the OEM system to compare it to the Valvetronic one, it’s nuts just to look at the size and feel the weight difference. For a supercar, one would think they’d make these things a little less bulky!
Sound is fun. Speed is funner, and I don’t care that it’s not a word. The new system did both. I could easily feel and hear the difference with the new exhaust, and it was lovely. And while most people complain about drone or some small inconvenience for the cost of childish backfire, the valved system didn’t give me that issue. Switch the vehicle to comfort mode with the valves closed, and you’ll hardly notice a difference. Move to dynamic with the valves still closed, and you reach a “slightly above” noise level from the oem system, with a bit more finesse as the RPM’s decrease during stops. But open the valves and keep the Dynamic mode on, and that’s where the fun truly lies. The throatiness of the V10 comes to life, along with a touch of supercar high-pitch squeals that make you clench your knees. As you downshift, the car and the exhaust do an excellent job of giving you a few burbles and pops as it finds its way back to steady-state. This is important. I’ve been a part of exhaust systems before where they burble and pop, and it’s almost annoying how frequent it occurs. The system here, paired with the fancy tech from Audi, give you just enough for the crackles to sound purposeful, justified, and obnoxious. Kinda like wearing a suit with a mullet. It allows you to have just enough fun without being overbearing which to me, was the most important thing.
Use & Details
It’s been 4 weeks since I initially installed it and i’m still in love. The anodized gold has now turned purple and orange, something that I wasn’t expecting. The metal encased valve key is still touting its haptic feedback without paint chips. The valves open and close without issue, and the sound now matches the design elements of the car. The 3” inlet to outlet gives it exactly what it needed for breathing room and the 2.25” redirect lets me turn the car on for my 6AM drive to work. In short, the system does everything I expected, and more, caring just as much about the little details as much as the major components that make the valved exhaust system perform.
For those looking for an exhaust system and came across valvetronic, it would be something I would recommend and consider. After all the products and brands I have worked with in the past, Valvetronic gets to add their name amongst the few that truly created an incredible product that they didn’t have to coerce me into supporting. And for that, I am happy.