Indulge me for a moment, for I am about to ask you a big question, why are you into cars? Actually, let me go bigger, why are you into motorized vehicles? Is it the way they look? Is it the sensation of speed? Maybe it’s the engineering or increasingly impressive levels of technology baked into them. While each of these things is important to my automotive obsession, I’ve known what the main reason I’m into vehicles of all kinds is since I was very, very young. It’s the way they sound.
A diesel school bus, a Massey Ferguson tractor rolling through a field, a semi-truck using engine braking to slow down, these are some of my earliest vehicular audio memories. Any time I hear these sounds my sense memory is triggered and I’m right back where I was the first time I heard them. The same holds true for a Ferrari F40 cold starting in a garage, a pack of vintage Trans-Am cars roaring down the straight at Laguna Seca, and a Dodge Viper ACR at wide open throttle.
I’m fortunate to have a vast and varied library of automotive audio rattling around my head, so when I realized that my own personal vehicle hadn’t made a lasting impression, I knew something had to be done. If you don’t love the way your own vehicle sounds, then what’s the point of owning it? If you truly enjoy driving, then the soundtrack from the car should make you want to roll out of bed early on the weekend for no other reason than to roll the windows down and take in the sound of the exhaust.
While it has many other redeeming qualities, this was not the case with my 2015 BMW M235i. The stock exhaust is far too quiet for the energetic personality of the car, even with the baffles open in Sport mode. This is of course partially due to overall problem of that’s plaguing the entire industry, turbocharging. Efficiency and a broader torque curve are all well and good, but are they worth sacrificing a naturally attractive exhaust note? Probably a debate best saved for another day, but I think you can easily guess which side of the aisle I land on.
As for my dilemma with the M235i, it was solved by an admittedly unlikely source. Magnaflow isn’t the first, or even the second brand I’d think of when looking for an exhaust that suits the personality of a European sports car. However, with their cat-back system installed, my car has indeed taken on a more aggressive edge without sacrificing any of that German sports-car refinement. This is where so many systems go wrong and where entire builds go off the rails. An exhaust note has to complement the inherent traits of a car, not completely dominate them.
The Satin Titanium finish looks and feels expensive, as any exhaust for a German sports-coupe should. It’s not overly loud at idle, but from the moment you start the engine, you notice an improvement. Around town you can roll around in stealth mode, aka. “Comfort” if you want, but I leave my car in Sport mode all the time because that’s how it should be. Letting off the throttle in between 1,500 and 3,000 RPM puts a smile on my face as it now produces a nice bassy burble that I feel in my chest. At wide open throttle the sound is angry without being crazed and for this little coupe, that’s how it should be. I know there are louder systems that would grab more attention and produce a more manic note, but that’s not what the M235i is about. It’s a precise car that attracts all the right kind of attention and I’m glad to have found an exhaust that nicely compliments it.