Ok so I thought it was high time I write up a full review of the AWE exhaust. I've had it on the car for a couple thousand miles and have taken it easy around town, pushed it hard in *ahem* Mexico, and road tripped it for several hours straight. For those that don't know my modifications all I have performance-wise are a factory RS intake box with Mountune V2 filter and the AWE exhaust.
AWE Tuning Non Resonated Catback Review
2018 Ford Focus ST
Behold! My unbiased, no bull**** assessment of the AWE non resonated Touring Edition catback for the Focus ST! Prepare yourself for awesome!
Customer Service 10/10
This is something that a lot of guys overlook. As a distributor in the industry this is a big one for me though. With large companies like American Muscle, CJ Pony Parts, Late Model Restoration, etc monopolizing the distribution game and websites making it easy to get parts with a simple few clicks on a computer or cellular device nowadays customer service has taken a turn for the worse in a lot of cases. A lot of customers don’t even interact with the manufacturer and forget that a phone call or email can go a long way in making you happy with your purchase. I emailed the guys at AWE and received a quick and thorough response. Even after I received my product they were ready to help with the couple questions I had and gave me some tips of how to properly fix and adjust my tips after I had some issues with my tips hitting my rear valance. They even checked back in with me a month later to see how I was liking it!
Believe it or not things can go terribly wrong with this aspect of the process. Things can be backordered, parts sent separately and delivered to a wrong address, or even packaged in a way that can damage the product. I’ve had friends have their parts shipped out in yogurt boxes hahaha Not the case here. AWE sent my exhaust on time as promised and I was more than pleased with the careful packaging of my product. Everything came together in one AWE labeled box and had obviously been hand crafted to impress. When you open the box that contains those beautiful diamond black tips you will also find all mounting hardware and a carefully placed Blow Pop...an AWE exclusive.
Build Quality 10/10
Opening the box reveals what your money bought. And in the case of any AWE product they do no disappoint! Each exhaust is made to order in the good ol USofA for your specific application so you can be assured that fitment and quality is top notch. The full 3” system is made of the best metals featuring flawless mandrel bends and gorgeous welds. It’s almost a shame to put it under the car where it will rarely be seen. It was obvious my non resonated system would flow 10x better than the crap Ford slapped on the car off the assembly line. AWE offers both a chrome and diamond black tip option. I opted for the latter and WOW these things are freaking gorgeous!
Installation is a breeze with the proper knowledge and tools. I performed my own installation in my driveway on race ramps. Because Ford decided to make the factory exhaust in a way that forces you to cut it for removal a sawzall is required. On previous cars it was a simple unbolting and then bolting up of the new exhaust. Done. This is no fault of AWE but for this reason the 9 out of 10. The only way to go back to stock would be to weld up the factory exhaust or buy a new one and have it installed. Every aspect of the AWE system was well thought out and it fit perfectly under my car. I did have to adjust my tips a bit but once I reached out to AWE for some tricks I was on my way to never having another issue. Again, great customer support from AWE!
Ok. This is what we’ve been waiting for! First start up was…how to put this?...AWEsome! The factory exhaust leaves A LOT to be desired, especially for a car that is sold as a Ford Performance vehicle. The AWE system growled loudly on initial cold start with a lot of whistle from the factory turbocharger. I instantly fell in love with turbo noises! Takeoff is loud but tone does not change or get tinny like some lesser systems will do. It only gets more pissed off at higher rpms! And I mean that in a totally good way! It lets you and everyone around you know it’s there and that your in a car that would love to line up and run. AWE’s patented 180 technology is the nectar of the goodness. It cancels out all drone at speed and the system quiets down drastically when cruising in higher gear. Drop down a couple gears though and mash the accelerator to go right back to that angry formidable machine it once was. In cabin noises are apparent it’s not stock back there but driver/passenger conversation and even Bluetooth talking are not hindered with this exhaust. The only reason I give it a 7 out of 10 here is because of a 1400 mile roundtrip road trip I took in the ST. Going up long inclines at speeds exceeding 75-80 mph was brutal! Enough to make me wish I had not opted for the non resonated system. It was ear piercing and the 2 liter engine made it obnoxiously high pitched. The only way to make it bearable was to stay under 70 mph. Something I was not prepared to do on such a long and boring drive. My passenger and I both were not happy campers. That being said, I still loved this exhaust.
Overall Assessment 8.5/10
AWE provides a superb system for many import and domestic vehicles. 100% made in the USA, their build quality and fitment is second to none. Their 180 Technology mufflers make for a sublime driving experience. Around town and in most driving conditions it’s just glorious; however, when the 2 liter turbocharged Focus ST engine was pushed hard over a 9 hour drive it went from awesome to oh my god make it stop. Keep in mind I’m a Mustang guy so I am accustomed to the deeper growl of a healthy V8. The high pitched ricey tone of the 2 liter 4 banger was just too much for my 40 year old ears.
AWE also offers the resonated Touring system which has a resonator close to the downpipe side of the exhaust. I am positive that this would have tamed the system enough but I made the decision to go with the one I did because I wanted it loud and had not planned on using the car for those long road trips. The beauty of AWE’s Touring Edition is that all parts are interchangeable so that if someone with the non resonated system like myself decided that it was too much for them all they’d have to do is pick up the resonator from AWE and install it. Where the non resonated was rowdy, raucous and in your face, the resonated edition would have a more refined and sophisticated tone that would be easier to deal with on long drives or as a more tame daily driver without sacrificing tone or performance. And both incorporate their drone cancelling 180 Technology. Overall I would highly recommend this exhaust to anyone looking to give their ST or sport compact car a proper voice.