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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys! Welcome to the official build thread for Project: STella! Accept no knockoffs or imitations!



I picked up my Focus ST on November 24th, 2018. At the time I hadn't even driven one yet. I had just sold my beloved 2015 Mustang GT, Project White Label, and I had the crazy idea to get into a smaller platform. It was between the ST and a WRX. At times I wonder what would be different if I had joined Team Subie but this little ST is just so much fun to drive and I have to admit I am a bit of a Ford fanboy after owning two Mustangs
:crazy:


https://flic.kr/p/SsWpwU https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
Window sticker




Every car needs a name and I had already appropriately dubbed mine STella. Cliche, sure. But it's just what stuck in my head. Here's the stats on STella:
2018 Ford Focus ST (Oxford White)
2.0L Ecoboost Engine
6 Speed Manual Transmission
Black/Smoke Partial Leather Recaro Seats
ST2
Equipment Group 401A
Sync 3
Bi-Xenon HID Headlights
Power Moonroof
Voice Activated Navigation



https://flic.kr/p/QQK4mt https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
First photo of STella. Cuz gas station pics are still a must


https://flic.kr/p/23ZC6wa https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/



https://flic.kr/p/2eB5xi6 https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/




I can't keep any car stock. I'm an enthusiast. At the time I picked her up STella already had a Mountune catback, Mountune sport springs, and symposer delete on the way. Let the fun begin!!
 

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Hey guys! Welcome to the official build thread for Project: STella! Accept no knockoffs or imitations!



I picked up my Focus ST on November 24th, 2018. At the time I hadn't even driven one yet. I had just sold my beloved 2015 Mustang GT, Project White Label, and I had the crazy idea to get into a smaller platform. It was between the ST and a WRX. At times I wonder what would be different if I had joined Team Subie but this little ST is just so much fun to drive and I have to admit I am a bit of a Ford fanboy after owning two Mustangs
:crazy:


https://flic.kr/p/SsWpwU https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
Window sticker




Every car needs a name and I had already appropriately dubbed mine STella. Cliche, sure. But it's just what stuck in my head. Here's the stats on STella:
2018 Ford Focus ST (Oxford White)
2.0L Ecoboost Engine
6 Speed Manual Transmission
Black/Smoke Partial Leather Recaro Seats
ST2
Equipment Group 401A
Sync 3
Bi-Xenon HID Headlights
Power Moonroof
Voice Activated Navigation



https://flic.kr/p/QQK4mt https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
First photo of STella. Cuz gas station pics are still a must


https://flic.kr/p/23ZC6wa https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/



https://flic.kr/p/2eB5xi6 https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/




I can't keep any car stock. I'm an enthusiast. At the time I picked her up STella already had a Mountune catback, Mountune sport springs, and symposer delete on the way. Let the fun begin!!
Another STella build, oh noes!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Why any manufacturer would slap a sound tube on a car is beyond me. If you've gotta put a cheap piece of plastic into the intake manifold and bring that noise into the cabin guess what? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!! Enter Mountune's sound symposer delete. Nice billet piece. Super easy install. Much cleaner engine bay appearance.



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100% factory engine bay. Pretty piss poor for a Ford Performance vehicle if you ask me. Downright ugly imo. But I have a vision...


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Engine cover removed revealing the intake mani. Symposer delete visible on the front underside


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Much better. Still needs quite a bit of work though




Next was the springs. The ST already handles fairly well with its wheelbase and front wheel drive but of course needs to be improved. I opted for Mountune springs because I wanted a minimal drop in ride height without sacrificing ride comfort. My first Mustang was lowered on progressive springs. I loved the ride quality. It was perfect for daily driving as the spring rate would increase during spirited driving for performance but remain lesser under normal driving for comfort. My next Mustang was bagged on AirLift suspension. Loved the aggressiveness and performance of that system. Slamming the car is the highlight of air but to be honest people don't realize just how good air performs and how convenient it is being able to raise the car for working on it and different driving scenarios. I had coilovers on my old Civic. Thing handled great and had a super aggressive stance, pretty much as low as I could go without damaging tires or fenders. Coils or air might be in store for this car at a later time but for now she just gets springs.


https://flic.kr/p/2ddjLgc https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/



I've never actually installed springs myself before. Always had someone else do that work. This time around I wasn't gonna do that and I'm glad I did it. The hardest part of the install for me was getting the front strut/spring assembly out of the perch. I found that I just wasn't strong enough to wrestle it out by hand so I pushed down on the wheel stud with my foot to get it out while pulling up on the strut. This was still hard for me until I realized the trick. Push the wheel hub down and back toward the rear of the car and the strut actually wants to come loose. To give you an example of time spent here let's just say that the first passenger side took me several hours from start to finish. The next drivers side took me about 15 minutes from jacking the car up, removing the wheel, and getting the strut out.


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I rented a spring compressor from my local Vato Zone...sorry...Auto Zone for the install. Never used one before but I was surprised how easy it was.

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Factory front spring vs. Mountune sport spring


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Factory rear spring vs. Mountune sport spring



Reinstalling the strut/spring assembly was a lot easier than removing it. Pretty soon I had the car back on the ground and the hideous rake of a car on rear factory suspension but lowered in the front hahahaha it's really too bad I didn't take any pics because it looked hilarious that way. The rear was stupid easy. Raised the rear up, supported the knuckle with a jack, removed one bolt, and lowered the knuckle until the spring fell out. When installing the lowering spring you just have to be sure to properly seat it and use a pry bar to get the holes of the control arm lined back up to reinstall the bolt.


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With the car now lowered a test drive was in order. I was happy to report that handling was greatly improved and ride quality not only did not suffer but was actually better! Score one for the good guys! :big smile: Rule of thumb: whenever you remove bolts in the subframe or suspension control arms it is probably a good idea to get the car aligned after your work. So I scheduled a session to get STella sorted out and running straight. Cause nobody wants a pigeon toed bowl legged woman that runs into walls.




https://flic.kr/p/23ZC6Cn https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
Oh yeah did I mention I had lined up a tint day with my homie Juan at Tints R Us?? I wanted it dark so I opted for 5% all around. Well it's dark. Cuts a lot of sun out during the day and renders you probably legally blind at night hahahaha I'm super happy with it though! You be the judge...



https://flic.kr/p/QQKaBp https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
Mountune sport springs and tint vs. stock
:cool2:
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Sometimes it's the little things that make the most difference. In this case it didn't make the most difference but rather just a functional one. I ordered some all weather floor mats from Ford and they showed up at my local dealer for pickup a couple days later. They help keep my carpets clean and also prevent those awful bald spots where your foot always rests.


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While I was FOCUSing on the interior(see what I did there?) I also ordered a few other things to make this little project my own. After having an Ashiko shift knob in my previous Mustang I knew STella would be getting the Raceseng treatment. This time around I opted for the big bore Slammer. It weighs in at a whopping 1.4 lbs and is shaped perfectly for several different hand positions. Raceseng sends an adapter with their shift knobs allowing you to adjust the height and perfectly line up your shift knob should you opt for custom engraving. I went with the minimal "R" in honor of my previous build.




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OEM vs. Raceseng


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The added weight of the Raceseng shift knob gives you more precise shifts and a better overall feel of the shifter. It was still pretty sloppy but I had plans for that later on down the road!





I also picked up a dead pedal from eBay. Couple reasons. I wanted to protect the carpet but also it just looks damn good sitting next to the pedals. It's a simple stick on velcro piece but compliments the pedals with matching raw aluminum finish and a nifty "ST" logo.


https://flic.kr/p/23ZCaRc https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/






I do love me some Ford blue but it wasn't working for me aesthetically. I considered gel badging but as I was combing the desert...I mean the intraweb looking for the right piece of the puzzle I stumbled across these badge overlays and was sold almost immediately. Black. White. Red. Distressed firefighter American flag. My best friend and brother are both firefighters and I put myself through the fire academy several years ago in hopes to become one as well. That didn't work out but the overlays pay tribute to my family and friends in the fire service and my respect for what those men and women do. But also it fits my theme :smile: The set was cheap and came with a front, rear and steering wheel overlay sticker.


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Stay tuned guys. It gets better, I promise! I was still in go mode on ordering parts and had already made a few choice purchases to take this tiny Ford from little miss piggy to full blown fart box!
 

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Nice ! I have a 2018 ST as well in Metallic Magnetic (not sure if I got the color right it’s grey) lol I dived pretty hard into modding right away as well. Bigger turbo, FMIC, port injection etc etc. I haven’t really dived into aesthetics mods yet because I wanna get all the power to the ground first.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
this makes 100 ST owners that call their car STella

Clean build btw
HAHAHAHAHA glad I could be that hundredth. I know it's cliche but that's just what stuck. For some reason Barbara or Rachel just didn't have the same effect. Thanks man. There's more to come and already done to the car. Just need to document it
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Nice ! I have a 2018 ST as well in Metallic Magnetic (not sure if I got the color right it’s grey) lol I dived pretty hard into modding right away as well. Bigger turbo, FMIC, port injection etc etc. I haven’t really dived into aesthetics mods yet because I wanna get all the power to the ground first.
Nice man! Magnetic was actually my second pick if I didn't go with Oxford White. It's a beautiful color. The flake in the paint is awesome especially in the sunlight! I do have more done to the car already but it's mostly aesthetic upgrades. You'll see it as I continue to document it here. I wanted to dive right in with some aesthetics first because even with a big turbo and bolt ons this car will never be fast to me. Quick for sure but my previous Mustang kinda ruined that hahaha so what turbo did you go with? What fuel? I'm assuming a corn mix, or maybe meth injection?? I've toyed with the idea of going either big turbo or hybrid but definitely wanna do some other modifications first. I have a plan laid out :big smile:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
https://flic.kr/p/2eRjTGb https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/


A few years ago I began working as a sales rep for Glendale based Need4Speed Motorsports and ever since then it's been harder and harder to keep factory wheels on anything I've owned. Yes I'm on my third car since 2015 hahaha



Here's some pics of my previous projects:


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https://flic.kr/p/RHL65J https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
My first Mustang. Appropriately named Eleanor. 2015 50th Anniversary package GT. The first car I really heavily modified. My learning curve was pretty steep to say the least but I had a large group of friends that had purchased the same car around the same time, when the s550 first came out. Together we started what would later become a nationwide s550 GT and Shelby Mustang exclusive car club. I paid someone to do my lowering springs and headers install, but everything else was by my hand. This car grew my Instagram account from 150 to 29,000 followers, started me onto the automotive photography hobby, and got me the job with N4SM. I met a ton of awesome people, learned a lot, and then fell in love with a school bus yellow BOSS 302. When I sold Eleanor for the BOSS my good friend Nick had just picked himself up a Hellcat and was trying to offload his Whippled 2015 GT PP...enter Project White Label




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This car ruined every other car I will ever own from here on out. But damn it was fun owning and wrenching on this incredible machine!





Ok...well that was a nice trip down memory lane...back to the Slocus! hahahaha :disappointed:





So like I said I cannot keep factory wheels on anything anymore. I was torn about what would go on STella. Our Project6grs?? Nah, not this time. Some expensive three piece wheels?? Nah, not trying to invest that much in this car right now. I've always had a thing for the SF03 and I wanted to keep 18s on this car for now so I called my friends over at Stance Wheels and had them cut some brushed silver shoes to my specs



STANCELOGO1.png

https://flic.kr/p/2eRk1is https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/


I went wide to allow for some concave. 18x9.5 +40 all around. Fitted on my factory Bridgestones for now until these tires wear a bit more. Remember I have less than 2k miles on my car at this moment. We'll add some nice meat later. The wheels poke outside of the fenders and the tires are stretched about as far as I'd want them to. Overall I'm very happy with how it turned out! I complimented the new shoes with some Mishimoto open ended neo chrome lugs...cuz...well, unicorn jizz



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I figured it was time to get some minor perfomance upgrades done so I ordered a RS intake box and intake hose from Mountune. Their new high flow air filter came with the RS housing as well. I got off work and found that my intake had arrived so I installed it at like 11:30 at night. Finished around midnight. Super easy install and I am happy to reveal that I now have a slight WHOOSH sound when I mash the accelerator! WEEEEEEEEEEE!!


https://flic.kr/p/2dv55hQ https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/


Also I had attempted to paint my engine cover. Well here's a prime example of when sh** just sometimes doesn't go your way folks. The paint turned out like dog doodie when I removed the masking tape. Here's a look at the abomination I had created, mixed with some new Boomba Racing engine dress up pieces I installed...


https://flic.kr/p/SsWxQN https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

Irritated and upset with myself for mucking up what was supposed to be an easy and fun project, I went out on a limb and ordered a RS engine cover to clean my mess. When it came I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a direct fit and looked great under the hood! I never was a fan of the ST engine cover but this RS one has a better shape and comes with that awesome Ford Performance logo that matches my color scheme too!! Score!!


https://flic.kr/p/23ZCaNB https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
:big smile:

Oh yeah I also made some new(old) friends and ordered a few other dress up pieces! :wink:


***SPONSOR ALERT!!***


diode-dynamics.jpg
The guys over at Diode Dynamics had allowed me the amazing opportunity to be a product ambassador for their No Bake Pro Series Demon Eye Kit for the s550. They liked what I did so much that when I reached out to them for some LED upgrades for STella that they immediately responded with a sponsorship proposal. YUUUUSSSSSSSSSS! My first official sponsor! I had the guys order me front and rear turn signal LEDs, taillight LEDs, and foglight LEDs. As they were developing a new fog LED for the Focus platform and the product was still going through testing, nothing has shipped out yet but we will be getting a very nice little care package from Diode very soon! I will update this thread with install and pics of that when they arrive!




https://flic.kr/p/2eRjXyj https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/


Mishimoto is a leader in the automotive cooling industry and when I saw that they were accepting sponsorship requests I didn't hesitate to reach out with a proposal. The guys got back to me the next day with an acceptance email! Score one more for the good guys!! Sponsor number 2 was now in the bag for STella! I had the guys send me out one of their overflow expansion coolant tank reservoirs asap. About a week later it arrived at my door.



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SEXY!!!!





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They say good things come in threes right?! Well this time ol STella had the hot hand and with my confidence running at an all-time high I reached out to the guys at AWE Tuning in hopes of finally giving STella a proper voice. I sent the call and AWE delivered in a huge way! Sponsor number three for STella!! YEEEEEEEEEE!!! SO STOKED!
:crazy:
AWE offers several options for the Focus platform and after careful deliberation with the voices in my head(hahaha kidding...kind of) I opted for their Non-Resonated Touring Edition Catback. The system is handcrafted from 3 inch 0.068" walled T304L stainless steel with a single muffler design incorporating their patented 180 Technology that completely cancels out all drone at any rpm. They offer both chrome and diamond black tips so naturally I went with the latter. When I received my new exhaust I was thrilled to see it packaged carefully and effectively. That was just the start. Unpacking it unveiled one of the most glorious sights I've seen lately. Words don't do it justice so I'll let the pics speak for themselves...



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My boy. Love this damn dog so much! He loves helping daddy on install day!


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Perfectly packaged!


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What drone?!


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Signature Blow Pop! An AWE exclusive!


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Ummmm...yeah...I'd say this AWE system is gonna let STella breathe quite a bit better than the factory exhaust that has just been choking her up. Look at those bends and that muffler!!





AWE Install


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Any catback install does require that you cut the factory exhaust tubing. Sawzall time!! Gotta love power tools! Make the cut directly in front of the rear axle in the factory system. Unbolt it from the downpipe to fully release it from the car. KEEP THE FACTORY GASKET FOR REUSE!


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Starting from the front and working back, hand tighten the bolts. Attach the exhaust front section to the downpipe connection using the factory gasket. Using supplied hardware connect the rear section and fish it over the axle. I noticed it was super easy even on ramps twisting it in from front toward the rear of the car. I used a smaller jack to keep the rest of the exhaust in place since I did not have a second set of hands on deck.


https://flic.kr/p/2fgRubg https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
AWE provides stoppers that fasten onto the hangars so that the exhaust doesn't shift or come loose. I used Mountune hangars since upgrading these is essential to any catback upgrade install


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Affix the tips and tighten everything down to specs. Check for leaks and make any adjustments as needed. AWE recommends installing the tips last and once the exhaust is warm to account for any thermal deviation or movement of the system


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Admire your handiwork and take that thing for a test drive!! I'm so happy with this sytem. It's the perfect tone! Zero drone as advertised, cold starts are angry, tone doesn't change or get raspy or tinny on acceleration, it just gets more pissed off! I will post some vids later with some startups and flybys! Stay tuned!!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Oh nice man! Absolutely! I know of them from the Mustangs but understand that they are huge in the Euro market. Pretty cool experience I'm sure getting that tour! I'm jealous! Yep, it's gonna be a fun project for sure. We'll see what I can get done before life calls and I have to put a ring on the lady's finger hahaha
 

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So, do you have an idea as to what those wheels weigh? I am torn between going with something 18x9.5 with meat and light weight like the Enkei nt03... or titan7 18x9 combo...

Then there is the 38 offset 18x8.5 Gram Lights 57Xtreme's... or maybe the e33 graphite 57Xtreme's...

But your Stance Wheels SF03 look the part too... Even if you weighed with the tires on, as the eagle F1's weigh around 25lbs each... (CarID by me carries Stance and the colored lug covers!! )

I went Magnaflow on my cat back, but really like your choice of AWE too!!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks man! Very happy with the AWE. All good choices on the wheels. I'm not exactly sure about the exact weight of the wheels but I may know soon. I recently had to order a replacement cuz I hit a pothole and bent one. I can update you once it arrives for sure
 

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AWE non resonated Touring Edition Review

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 Mexico, and road tripped it for several hours straight. To quickly recap 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!


Shipping/Packaging 10/10
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.


Installation 9/10
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!


Tone 7/10
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.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
HAHAHAHA! Yep I sure did. Back in a Mustang! YEEEEEEE!! Will have AWE on that car too :big smile:
 
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