The Exhaust Options for the VA Subaru WRX. The Subaru WRX meets all of the requirements for a very rewarding performance daily car. The inexpensive, turbo four-cylinder, all-wheel drive, rally-derived formula captures the hearts of those who seek a powerful sedan capable of embarrassing competitors from light to light. The VA WRX delivers 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, making it a strong challenger in the sports-sedan segment.
Because the WRX is so popular around the world, it has a lot of aftermarket support. While the WRX is the weakest link in Subaru’s performance lineup, with the STI taking the top spot, some aftermarket modifications can boost performance and give the WRX a sportier feel.
An enhanced exhaust system is one of the most popular VA WRX mods. Because of their horizontally opposed boxer engines, performance Subarus are some of the most distinct sounding sports vehicles on the market. The FA20F flat-4 engine in the VA WRX emits the trademark “Subaru rumble” due to its design. A WRX performance exhaust can improve the pleasing rumble while also giving good performance increases.
What Is the Purpose of an Aftermarket WRX Exhaust?
The goal of an aftermarket WRX exhaust is straightforward: they make it easier for exhaust gases to escape. Most vehicles’ stock exhaust systems are relatively restrictive, which means they aren’t perfectly intended to allow exhaust gas to leave as easily as possible. Restrictive exhaust systems generate excessive “backpressure,” or an excess of exhaust gas pressure in the system. This has a negative impact on horsepower and engine breathability. Aftermarket WRX exhausts minimise exhaust backpressure, which increases horsepower.
Aftermarket WRX exhausts typically accomplish this in a variety of ways. Sometimes equipped with higher flowing catalytic converters that do not choke gas at the cats. And exhausts are often made of bigger diameter piping, allowing more exhaust gas to exit. The geometry of an exhaust can also influence how effectively it functions. As a result, aftermarket exhausts are made with as few kinks and bends as feasible.
Considerations for the Best WRX Exhaust
As previously said, there are a few important reasons why changing the exhaust on your Subaru WRX is a wise choice. Performance and sound are the two most obvious reasons. However, there are a few other factors to consider when looking for an aftermarket WRX exhaust.
Build material and weight are also significant, largely for performance, as a lightweight system can save a few pounds, leading in a lower overall curb weight. While keeping the weight down, an aftermarket WRX exhaust should be made of high-quality materials that will last. The most frequent compounds that can resist some abuse are stainless steel and titanium.
There are several highly reputable Subaru exhaust manufacturers on the market. Since the VA WRX debuted in 2014, there has been no shortage of high-quality WRX exhausts to choose from. At the end of the day, you should consider price, build material, weight, sound, and performance.
Aftermarket WRX Exhaust Systems
In addition to the factors outlined above, you’ll need to decide which sort of aftermarket WRX exhaust will be the greatest fit for you. In general, three types of exhausts are usually installed on VA WRXs. Axle-back, cat-back, and header-back exhausts are examples of these.
Turbo-Back Exhaust for WRX
A WRX Turbo-back exhaust system is the most powerful exhaust system you can install. A turbo-back exhaust, unlike axle-back and cat-back exhausts, replaces practically every component of your factory exhaust. This allows you to increase the diameter of the entire system, allowing more exhaust gas to escape. Because of this, turbo-back exhausts deliver the most significant performance benefits. Because a WRX header-back exhaust replaces everything, they are typically the most expensive type of exhaust available. Furthermore, they are the most difficult to install of the three types of exhaust.
WRX Cat-Back Exhaust
Cat-back exhausts are by far the most frequent style of exhaust installed on minimally modified WRXs. Cat-back exhausts are precisely what their name implies. From the catalytic converter to the exhaust tip, they replace all stock exhaust components. This type of exhaust is often composed of stainless steel and is designed to improve exhaust gas flow out of the engine, resulting in somewhat increased power and significantly increased noise.
Aftermarket cat-back systems can vary significantly in terms of pipe diameter, tip diameter, and exit method. Some aftermarket WRX cat-back exhausts are single-exit, but the most majority, like the standard exhaust, are dual-exit.
Axle-Back Exhaust for the WRX
All of the exhaust components behind the rear axle are replaced by axle-back exhausts. Because they only replace a few components, axle-back exhausts are less expensive than other exhaust systems. Because axle backs leave most of the more important exhaust components alone, they rarely produce a significant power increase. If all you care about is sound, an axle-back system might be the best option for you.
Recommendations for WRX Exhausts
1) SS 3″ Cat-Back WRX Exhaust by Cobb Tuning
SubiSpeed – 2015 WRX Cobb SS 3′′ Exhaust Drive By and Revs
To begin, we’ll start with an exhaust from Cobb, one of the most well-known names in Subaru tuning. Cobb has been involved in the Subaru aftermarket for decades. They have a reputation for providing high-quality upgrades at a reasonable price. Cobb’s SS VA WRX Cat-Back system is no different.
The Cobb SS system is constructed entirely of 204 stainless steel and is expertly TIG welded for strength and aesthetics. The Cobb SS’s attention to detail is a key selling point, as is its better build to the competitors. At a Y-pipe, the SS separates into two distinct outputs, each with two 3.5″ stainless exhaust tips. The quad-tips exit the car through the factory WRX bumper cutouts, with no modifications.
The Cobb SS provides some marginal power improvements as a true performance cat-back system. Cobb has a map ready to go post-install if you have a Cobb Access Port for your VA WRX. With a tune, the Cobb is believed to enhance horsepower by roughly 20 and torque by 20 lb-ft at mid-range RPMs. Untuned, you might expect a 5-10 horsepower increase.
2) Cat-Back Exhaust Invidia Q300
Review and Sound Clips: Invidia Q300 Catback Exhaust 2015+ Subaru WRX
Invidia is another well-known brand when it comes to Subaru exhaust systems. Invidia, like Cobb, has earned a name for itself in the industry by offering high-quality parts to the typical Subaru enthusiast. The Invidia Q300 exhaust is one of the most popular WRX exhausts, possibly second only to Invidia’s own N1 exhaust. Owners of the WRX find that it meets their needs for sound and performance quite well.
The Invidia Q300 is extremely comparable to the SS 3 in terms of general construction.” The Invidia Q300, like the Cobb, has a 3″ 304 stainless steel construction that separates into two different outlets through a Y-pipe. It also features a quad exit with four 4.33″ titanium exhaust tips. Owners of VA WRXs praise the Q300 for having little to no exhaust drone on long highway rides. Most people agree that the Q300 has one of the most quiet exhaust tones of any WRX, especially at low revs. It does, however, come to life as you increase the rpm range.
When it comes to cat-back exhausts, horsepower improvements are often rather similar. Without a tune, you should anticipate an Invidia Q300 to add 5-10 horsepower. You can expect a similar 20 horsepower and lb-ft boost over stock with a tune. With additional modifications, such as an improved downpipe or turbo, the horsepower yield from a cat-back increases significantly.
3) Observation Axle-back 4″ Exhaust
2018 WRX Remark Axleback versus STOCK Exhaust Sound Clip
The Remark, unlike the preceding exhausts on this list, is an axle-back system. In comparison to the Invidia and Cobb, which both had a high-flow midpipe and Y-pipe, as well as mufflers and exhaust tips, the Remark just has the rear-most components. Mufflers are not included with the Remark 4″ WRX package. The axle-back system attaches to the stock Y-pipe and exits through quad 4″ stainless steel exhaust tips. The entire system is made of 304 stainless steel mandrel-bent and bolts up to factory hangars.
As previously stated, the attraction of an axle-back WRX exhaust is not performance. While the Remark kit may reduce backpressure slightly, the results are insignificant in practise. The reason you pay for an axle-back exhaust is for the sound. The Remark kit generates a sound equivalent to more expensive systems because it removes the OEM mufflers. The absence of mufflers reduces the overall weight of the Remark kit, making it noticeably lighter than the factory axle-back hardware.
The Remark axle-back kit is undoubtedly the least priced choice on this list, costing only $375.00. It’s the ideal choice for anyone who wants their VA WRX to make a more vocal statement without breaking the money. Just keep in mind that the lower price comes at the expense of performance.
4) Borla S-Type Cat-Back Exhaust 3.0″
Borla S-Type Exhaust for Subaru WRX STI 2015-2021
You’re probably not surprised to find yet another 304 stainless steel, 3.0″ mandrel-bent, quad tip exhaust on this list. If you’re noticing a pattern here, it’s because there is one. Most of the big-name WRX exhaust manufacturers, including Borla, Cobb, and Invidia, have cracked the code in a very similar way. That being said, each of the cat-backs on this list has its own distinct sound that distinguishes it from the others.
The Borla 3.0″ exhaust is a well-mannered piece of equipment. In comparison to some of the other non-muffled or resonator-less alternatives, the Borla is the mildest of the lot. The tendency of WRX performance exhausts to be too loud all of the time is a prevalent feature. Fortunately, the Borla avoids this stereotype. Instead, it sounds sleek and polished, especially in higher rev ranges.
The Borla 3.0, like the other cat-backs we’ve reviewed thus far, will provide small performance benefits.” Those performance gains will be slightly more noticeable with a tune. Overall, the Borla’s distinct sound and generally understated nature are its main selling points. It also amplifies turbo noises, which is always entertaining.
5) WRX Cobb Titanium Turbo-back Exhaust
Sound Check: COBB Tuning – 2015 Subaru WRX Sedan Turbo-Back Exhaust
We required at least one turbo-back aftermarket exhaust on this list to cover the entire range of options. Cobb’s Titanium WRX Tubo-Back exhaust is identical to the Cobb cat-back exhaust mentioned earlier on this list, save for one additional component: a downpipe. An improved downpipe is one of the most important exhaust components in terms of performance gains. Because the downpipe is the first exhaust element after the turbocharger, it must flow well.
In any case, an improved downpipe is one of the most generally recommended WRX improvements. While the Cobb Titanium Turbo-Back is the most expensive option on this list, it is the best option in terms of performance if you have the extra cash. This is especially true when the exhaust is combined with a tune. Like Cobb’s cat-back option, the Access Port comes with a map that allows you to unleash all of the performance from the improved downpipe and exhaust system as a whole.
Summary of Subaru WRX Exhaust Upgrades
Upgrading your VA WRX’s exhaust is one of those necessary tweaks that will make you happy every time you drive it. Because the WRX’s FA20 engine makes such a distinct sound, the additional sound under acceleration adds a new dimension to everyday driving. Aside from the sound, a performance exhaust can increase exhaust flow, giving your WRX a bit more power.
There are three major styles of exhaust available for a VA WRX. There are turbo-back, cat-back, and axle-back models available. In terms of the exhaust components that they replace, each is fairly self-explanatory. Turbo-back and cat-back variants will usually provide higher performance. Having said that, if you’re only interested in the noise, an axle-back is a good, low-cost option.
When it comes to VA WRX exhausts, there are a lot of good options. Some manufacturers have amassed a sizable fan base in the Subaru market. Cobb, Invidia, Remark, and Borla are all well-known brands that have been in the Subaru game for decades. You will not be sorry if you choose any of their exhaust items for your WRX.