The exhaust is typically the first place people start when they want to change up their cars. Exhaust upgrades are a relatively inexpensive and quick way to improve sound, save some weight, and make some small power gains. Audi saw an opportunity here to enhance their cars from the factory while preserving the warranty. Debuting in 2009 with the launch of the TT RS, Audi began offering an optional Sport Exhaust. Since then the Sport Exhaust has become an option on the S6, S7, S8, all the current RS cars, and the R8.
My 2016 S6, meanwhile, came equipped with the Sport Exhaust. While that was a great starting point, I knew the S6’s twin-turbo 4.0-Liter V8 was capable of more. But I didn’t want to play the aftermarket game. Other friends have spent thousands of dollars building custom exhausts for their cars and in my state exhaust modifications are a bit of a gray area.
Then I learned that Audi Genuine Accessories was developing an OEM version of the Akrapovič titanium exhaust that would fit the S6 and S7 from 2013 on. It’s 50-state legal, has no issues passing emissions and doesn’t void the warranty. I had to have it. I spoke to some s at Audi, and they helped me secure the first available kit.
The Install and Results
This is not your typical Akrapovič slip-on exhaust. This system runs from the downpipes back. That’s a lot of titanium! It saves 17 pounds over the sport exhaust, and it consists of two silencers at the front of the car, a center catalytic converter, and two rear mufflers with the signature S quad exhaust outlets. Audi Drive Select controls the two valves mounted on the outer exhaust outlets.
The install took a few hours to complete. It took three technicians and some stands to remove the old heavy stainless steel exhaust. Meanwhile, it only took one tech to complete the Akrapovič install. Once the exhaust was in place, they started wiring up the Akrapovič controller. Installing the controller required disassembling most of the panels in the trunk to access the CAN-BUS and rear fuse panels and hide away the new wiring. The controller needs power-leads to a fuse slot controlled via the ignition, two points on the CAN-BUS connector, and the two existing exhaust valve connectors plugged in. Two new leads run from to the exhaust valves to the controller. Akrapovič says their controller is necessary to provide the proper aural experience.
After reinstalling everything, it was time to start the car for the first time. I was completely blown away. The startup sound, even with the valves closed, is incredible. Especially after a cold start. As the revs drop and it settles into an idle, the rhythmic burble of the V8 is intoxicating. Pulling the shifter into sport or over to manual opens the two outer valves and the exhaust tone changes even more. Pulling out of my parking space in first gear and hearing the low throaty exhaust note is something I’ve never heard come from the car before. It was night and day.
Once the engine is up to temp and the rev limiter increases, then the real fun begins. In manual mode, letting the revs climb and greeting your 6,500 RPM redline is a V8 symphony that you didn’t know was hiding. The titanium amplifies all the snaps, crackles, pops, and occasional gunshots the S6 produced before even further. I’m not sure how to describe it other than as a finely tuned instrument. I’ve fallen in love with the car all over again. However, If you want to cruise without much noise moving the shifter back to drive closes the valves and things really quiet down.
So how does it compare to the Sport Exhaust? When I placed the order for my 2016 Audi S6, the new sport package was a no-brainer. The dynamic steering and sport differential were must haves. A nice bonus was the Sport Exhaust. Little did I know how much the Sport Exhaust would change the driving experience. The titanium exhaust takes it to 11.
The Sport Exhaust is a definite improvement over the standard pipes. The two don’t differ too much, but the slight layout changes make a difference.
The driver side valve moves from the inner exhaust tip to in front of the muffler. This placement allows the driver side muffler to be completely bypassed and quiet down the exhaust note. The valve for the passenger side stays located on the inner exhaust tip. From what I can tell this allows the exhaust to pass through the driver side muffler and is a unique design to the sport exhaust.
It also goes beyond the hardware as Audi added some extra ECU programming. On startup, there’s a great deep rev and as the revs drop to idle there’s a great low rumble. When switched over to manual or sport mode the exhaust valves open up and some ECU magic happens. Greeting you at the redline is some fantastic crackling with each upside and on throttle lift and aggressive downshifts there is even more significant overrun with a crackle. For a big executive sedan, the S6 has a soundtrack that does not match its look or weight class.
A Brief History Lesson
Akrapovič was established in 1990 by Slovenian racer Igor Akrapovič, who believed that most exhaust systems were either too small or too expensive. He adopted a variety of titanium, carbon-fiber and plastics to replace the traditional stainless steel.
Since then Akrapovič has grown from a small manufacturer to a 500-strong workforce that has been bending, shaping and welding titanium into lightweight high-volume exhaust systems for motorcycles, race cars and street cars.
Expanding into the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2009, Akrapovič supplied its exhaust systems to Audi for use on the Audi R15 TDI. The R15 driven by the legendary trio of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish, Dindo Capello would finish 3rd to the Peugeot during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In 2012 Akrapovič and Audi Sport made their partnership official. Akrapovič would supply the exhaust systems for both the Audi R18 e-tron quattro and the RS 5 DTM. That same year André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler, Benoît Tréluyer would pilot their R18 into first place, and Akrapovič saw its first win and world championship title.
In 2016 Akrapovič and Audi Sport partnered to offer their latest titanium exhausts for the RS 7 Performance. Audi is the first manufacturer to offer the Akrapovič titanium exhausts as an optional extra to their customers. For 2018 Audi has expanded the optional titanium sport exhaust system to S6 and S7.
Take it or Leave it?
With age, my interest in modding has faded. Buying it built, rather than having to worry about aftermarket mods voiding my warranty or having to remove things when I go to sell the car, is appealing. The Titanium Sport Exhaust System is the perfect middle ground. Audi likes to talk about emotion when they describe their cars. For myself, the sound of the exhaust and engine are a significant part of that emotional experience. There’s something very cathartic about listening to the sound of the car instead of the radio on your way home after a long day in the office. It’s especially true when that sound is coming from a twin-turbo V8 and a titanium exhaust.
If you are interested, you can your dealer or order direct from the Audi USA website.