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Old 06-19-2014, 11:43 AM   #1
Scooby Newbie
Member Sales Rating: (1)
Member#: 57586
Join Date: Mar 2004
Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: Tacoma, WA
Default ARK GRiP cat-back exhaust - GR 5-door hatchback

Product: ARK GRiP cat-back exhaust system – burnt tip
Application: 2011 STI – 5-door hatchback
Vendor: Fred Beans Parts

Shortly after getting my STI I decided that a cat-back was in order to bring out the classic boxer-bark. My initial criteria in a cat-back are as follows: 1) produces the classic tuned Subaru bark; 2) little/no drone at speed; 3) NOT obnoxiously loud; 4) possibly freeing up some additional power if/when I add a tune. A fifth criterion, albeit a somewhat silly one, that came up during research was “cool looking”.

After plowing through numerous threads and videos, I had narrowed my choices in the first four criteria to the Tanabe Medalion Touring, the T1R Sparrow, and the ARK GRiP. The Sparrow and the GRiP really hit it out of the park on the fifth.

I realize that ARK has something of a mixed reputation here due to the experiences of a couple of members, but Fred Beans Parts had a pretty aggressive clearance price on this exhaust, and it looks absolutely sick, so I decided to roll the dice. I placed my order over the phone with Jomer on 06/09, and my exhaust shipped on 06/11. It showed up as scheduled on my doorstep on 06/18.

Packaging - The box itself showed minor shipping damage, however all pieces were wrapped in shipping foam and no scratches/dents were noted.

Components – Let me begin by noting that when I inventoried the supplied items, I came up one gasket short – four are required to complete installation, however only three were in the blister-pack in the box. I was able to source the missing product locally, and Jomer at Fred Beans was able to refund me the amount I spent on it. In looking over the components, I was impressed by the finish (mirror), and the welds (beautiful robotic). Based on one of the previous reviews, I paid special attention to the internal holes at the Helmholz resonators. On my unit, they appeared to be smoothly laser-cut – not just a plasma blow-through.

Installation – Well, what can I say here? My car has in excess of 42,000 miles on it, and the stock system was “uncooperative”. I began by completely rounding off both nut and bolt on one of the rear section attachments. I fussed with this for about 10 minutes, then I solved the problem in a more permanent manner with a reciprocating saw. Moving to the center section, I was able to break loose both spring-bolts at the cat, however in removal, one saw fit to snap. A quick run to the local Subaru dealer left my wallet $40 lighter, but me with two brand new nuts & bolts for this attachment point. With the stock cat-back off the car, and out of harms way, I laid out the GRiP. Most of you probably know that unlike most aftermarket cat-backs which come in two pieces, the GRiP has five (!) components. While I’d love to say ‘installation was a breeze’, I cannot. In truth, it’s a bear, especially for one person. If you are installing this, I would strongly recommend that, if you don’t have them already, you purchase two rachet-action box-end 5/8” wrenches. There are several nuts/bolts that you really can’t access with a socket, and these will be invaluable in installing this system. After about an hour or so of struggle on my garage floor though, I did have the system installed and decently well adjusted and fitted. There are plenty of pics and vids of this system, so I haven’t added any here, but I will say that, yes, it really does look as cool in person as it does in the pics!

Initial impressions - Initial fire-up with the car still on stands yielded no apparent exhaust leaks at the multitude of joints, and the rumble at idle was much more pronounced. Putting the car back on the ground, I took it out for a shake-down cruise. My impressions are: 1) This exhaust sounds amazing. Idle is bassy-er and more pronounced. It is not obnoxiously loud. When cruising around town, it really is not much louder than stock. While you can hear it under acceleration load, even then I doubt I will be setting off car alarms. 2) Butt-dyno shows little-to-no gain on stock tune. I wasn’t necessarily expecting any. 3) Jury is out on drone. I took it on a brief highway jaunt, and didn’t notice any to speak of. Was a bit more pronounced than stock, but not overly intrusive. I’m going on a road-trip soon, and that will be more informative. I reserve the right to add to/amend this review upon my return.

Summary - 1) Beautiful exhaust; 2) rather expensive; 3) bear to install/adjust; 4) sounds great; 5) Jomer/Fred Beans Parts are good to work with.

OK - so I'm breaking down and adding a pic...

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Last edited by tec-9-7; 06-19-2014 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 06-23-2015, 04:53 PM   #2
Scooby Newbie
Member Sales Rating: (0)
Member#: 389188
Join Date: Apr 2014
Chapter/Region: SCIC
Location: Los Angeles
2014 WRX
Plasma Blue

Default Exhaust

How are you feeling about the exhaust now?
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