Project E46 M3: Part 2 – Cat-back Exhaust and Pulleys


If you ever hear two individuals discussing the E46 M3, at some point they’ll likely touch on the subject of the car’s exhaust note.  Whether it’s being referred to as sounding like a chainsaw, a rattling tin can, or simply the inherent “rasp,” they’re all correct.  The E46 M3 has a very unique timbre, no doubt.

Corsa’s answer to this subject is a cat-back exhaust system for sections 2 and 3 (section 1 piping behind the cat is retained).  It features mandrel bent tubing and uses Corsa’s own Reflective Sound Cancellation (RSC) technology, where essentially engine sound (pressure) waves are reflected through passages in the mufflers 180 degrees out of phase, cancelling out unwanted sound waves.  The result is a fine-tuned sound that commands respect.


The Corsa exhaust system for the E46 M3 features smooth mandrel bends, a shiny, stainless finish.  It will not only provide better sounds and performance, but you’ll end up trimming 20-lb of fat with this system as well.  Corsa systems are also sold through UUC Motorwerks, who are also one of our project suppliers.

If you look inside the center resonators you’ll see the system is a straight-through flow.

The same goes with the rear mufflers.  Notice the opening inside, toward the right, which helps with the sound tuning.

The Corsa RSC exhaust system doesn’t drone in the cabin and, while it can be driven around quietly during cruising, it displays a deep roar that blew those little rattling-can marble sounds out the back long ago.  We get the best of both worlds—quiet operation with a deeper note for cruising and a fine-tuned wail up top that will surely turn some heads.

With the catalytic converters still installed, the Corsa exhaust note is perfect.  If you ever plan to install headers that delete the cats, however, you may want to think about a quiet, resonated section 1 to replace the factory piece.  This is the third Corsa exhaust I’ve tested on an M3 and the second on an E46 M3.  The fit, finish and performance have yet to disappoint.

The factory unit is ready to be removed at Modified by KC.

While the previous unit I had installed on a different E46 M3 only took an hour, we had some problems with the factory nuts being removed on this silver M3.

As you can see, the nuts totally stripped like this rusty one in the middle.  Thankfully, Corsa’s exhaust system included the necessary new hardware (left).


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