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No one has posted a review in the actual Exhaust Review section since 2011, so I decided to put this here in hope that some of you might find it useful!

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.
 

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Post some pics up! That Ark exhaust is sweet looking. I also did the same thing and broke two bolts where the Downpipe and Cat-back meets.
 

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The ark looks great but it is rather expensive. Im currently running the invidia q300, it gets louder with downpipe and header but if i had to do it all over again. i would go custom.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The ark looks great but it is rather expensive. Im currently running the invidia q300, it gets louder with downpipe and header but if i had to do it all over again. i would go custom.
I certainly don't disagree with you there. I will say that the cheapest Q300 I found online was just under $900, and while I did pay more than that for this GRiP, it wasn't a HUGE amount more, and I'm satisfied that I didn't overpay for it in relation to what I see listed for pricing. If you look at the three systems I was considering tho, you can see that I was destined to drop some cash regardless. That said, I can certainly see the temptation to go custom.
 

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OK - here you go...

Image Link
I know you spent some headache getting the thing installed already doing it by yourself, but if you have the time you should try to get those tips lined up a bit better.

I ran into the same problem when installing mine the first time around. Now that you already have it on the hangers, you can loosen up all the bolts, get the tips lined up (with the assist of a floor jack at the Y-pipe) and then re-tighten the bolts once the tips are lined up.

Example:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
A quick follow-up here.

I just returned from a multi-day trip to Oregon in the STI.

Overall, I REALLY like this exhaust. While it is faintly audible in the cabin on the highway, I would not describe it as a pernicious drone. It's a bit more pronounced that stock, but I don't even know if I'd say louder, so much as different.

Hopefully this weekend, I'll have a bit of time to crawl under the car and get a better adjustment on the tip level...
 

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I know you spent some headache getting the thing installed already doing it by yourself, but if you have the time you should try to get those tips lined up a bit better.

I ran into the same problem when installing mine the first time around. Now that you already have it on the hangers, you can loosen up all the bolts, get the tips lined up (with the assist of a floor jack at the Y-pipe) and then re-tighten the bolts once the tips are lined up.
OK - so with the kind assistance of my step-son, I got back under the car and made a few adjustments...

 

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Ah having a second person is def more useful than a floorjack in this situation LOL. Nice!!!
You got that right! It's really pretty challenging to get these 4-5 piece exhausts hung and looking close to decent if you're working by yourself...
 

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Any long time updates one this exhaust. Contemplating jumping from a resonated q300 to this in my hatch. Any opinions or thoughts appreciated. Side note have you experienced any parachuting with the bumper portion in the center where it's usually
Covered by an exhaust muffler of sorts
 

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This exhaust has been off my car for about 18 months. It was beautiful to look at and had a great sound, but I knew that I would be adding a DP so I ended up swapping it out for a Tanabe Medalion Touring, which is more-or-less the quietest aftermarket exhaust available. To me, even that is borderline with a DP, and the GRiP would just not have been livable (though I'm sure it would have been amazing in small doses).

I didn't really notice any parachuting of the bumper while I had it.

My biggest piece of advice is to fully assemble it outside the car (it comes in five pieces); then with the help of a friend or two, install it. I'll also add that it makes access to the rear diff more challenging, so if you're close to a service interval, I'd recommend either doing it early or waiting til after to install a GRiP.
 

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I too find the Tanabe Medalion Touring a bit loud with a DP.... what I did was put the OEM resonator mid-pipe back in and it is now substantially better, it's plug and play and it just mated up, no fuss. This quiet down the cabin sound considerably but didn't affect outside sound level very much. Give it a try...

I will be installing EL header later so not sure if it will be louder or quieter after that... we'll see
 
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