Review & Install Video
The AWE SwitchPath will be a premium cat-back for the S550 GT owners out there looking for an active system giving you the ability to control both your volume and your tone through the included remote control. Now, prospective buyers can look forward to some extremely high-quality components here, including the materials which is going to be 304-grade stainless steel throughout, along with those chrome silver tips for the $1,600 to $1,700 price point. Your installation will be a little bit more difficult compared to your traditional cat-backs, because there is a small amount of wiring to get your SwitchPath valve hooked up. So I am going to knock it up to a soft two out of three wrenches on the difficulty meter, with some more detail to come later in the video. So even though AWE is kind of this new kid on the block in the land of aftermarket Mustang exhausts, they're certainly not new to creating systems, as they've been doing so for other high-end cars for almost 20 years now. Since their introduction into the Mustang world, they've quickly become a hit with the S550 crowd, thanks to their exceptional build quality, which we've kind of already covered, their aggressive tone. H-pipe configuration, by the way, which is a bit of a rarity in the premium category. Then, finally, their SwitchPath technology here, which is the latest entry into the active exhaust market. AWE's approach is a unique one when compared to other options out there from Ford Performance or Roush, for instance, which utilize an actuator a little bit closer to the physical muffler, dramatically changing up the sound. AWE here, on the other hand, well, as you can see, they mount their valve, or their actuator, on the H-pipe portion, and uses the open or closed positions to change up the sound, using the included remote control. But let's break down the sound profile. With the valve completely open, you're essentially getting a Touring cat-back from AWE, incorporating that H-pipe. It is still pretty aggressive overall, good enough for a strong three out of five, or one to Wake the Neighbors scale. Now, with that valve fully closed, on the other hand, you're essentially eliminating the H-pipe and giving the car more of the straight-piped kind of feel. Now, I'll be the first to tell you, guys, you aren't going to be getting a huge difference in volume like you would with those Roush or Ford Performance systems. Instead, the difference between the two systems, or options, with the AWE cat-back is going to be minor in regards to volume. But you do pick up a little bit more of an aggressive tone when you eliminate that H-pipe. Now, even though the difference between the two valve openings or positions isn't exactly huge, per se, it is good enough to knock that three out of five up to a four out of five with the valve in that fully closed position. As I just pointed out, the exhaust characteristics do take on a little bit more of an "unruly vibe," I like to call it. It kind of gives you more of those crackles and pops coming down off the revs or in between shifts, which is something I've always enjoyed about this particular system. Another thing I do really enjoy about the AWE stuff is that they take the road less traveled here in regards to your mid-pipe configuration, giving you this H-pipe in place of an X-pipe. Now, the reason I say that is because most, if not all cat-backs in this price range do utilize an X-pipe, which does help attribute to a more raspier note overall. Whereas I think the H-pipe here is going to help keep things a little bit deeper in regards to overall tone, and it is something I think a lot of S550 owners will enjoy. But moving inside the car, on the other hand, you can expect a completely different experience, thanks largely in part to AWE's proprietary technology, known as their "180 Tech," which the company incorporates with ta good portion of their mufflers, or "resonators," as AWE likes to call them. Now, this patented tech is AWE's way of determining these unwanted frequencies, otherwise known to you guys as "drone," and then designing the system in a way to cancel this bad stuff out. But shaping that deep muscle car sound, you've got a few things working for you hear. We've already covered the H-pipe. But AWE also does include two bullet-style resonators here, midstream before everything does pass through their Touring-style resonators. No. That was not a mistake. AWE insists on calling these things "resonators" and not "mufflers." I just wanted to clarify that for you guys. Now, the Touring resonators are a straight-through by design, which AWE claims will help free up the exhaust a little bit, give you a little bit more power, and they are loaded with the 180 Tech that we've already mentioned. But enough about sound, let's break down the quality and construction of the AWE system. As I pointed out earlier, you're going to find an A-plus build quality and materials here, with this and other AWE systems. The USA-made cat-back uses nothing but premium-grade 304 stainless steel. Believe me when I tell you, guys, this is how you want to see things built when you're spending this kind of dough on a premium cat-back. The guys at AWE have done a great job, and it really does show when you unbox this thing for the very first time. But going even further with the construction, you've got three-inch mandrel-bent tubing, essentially, from tip to tip here with this system, leading through those bullet-style resonators before going through the Touring resonators, all exiting out the four-inch chrome silver tips etched with the AWE logo. Now, as far as price is concerned, well, listen guys. I know the $1,600 to $1,700 price tag is a bit hard to swallow for most Mustang owners out there/. But you have to compare similar products, and then you'll see that the AWE stuff is on the more affordable side of things compared to other active systems in the category, or on the site for matter. The Roush, for instance, it's going to hit you for nearly $2,600, and that's only an axle-back. So these are some of the things you have to consider when shopping for an active system. But getting into the install, and again I'm going middle of the road two out of three wrenches on the difficulty meter here. Because, yes, there is some light wiring needed for the SwitchPath valve. But it's very basic power and ground-type stuff. So a few hours from start to finish, before you're up and running here with the AWE cat-back. Basic hand tools, guys, including a socket set, in addition to your wiring tools. I'm talking wire strippers, soldering iron or crimpers, whatever you like to use. I always recommend a little spray lubricant to help you with some of those bolts, in addition to the rubber hangers. Then, last, but not least, a lift, jack and jack stands, or race ramps, whatever you have access to. Getting started, you have to remove that factory exhaust system. So grab your 15-millimeter socket to remove the two band clamps closest to the resonator. Then, remove the two 13-millimeter bolts securing the hangers to the rear subframe, and drop that factory system from the car. Next, disconnect the battery and get ready to route some wires through the trunk and underneath the car, leaving the control box in the trunk area. At this point, you will need to splice the red wire into an ignition switch power wire in the factory trunk area, or factory trunk harness, and then just connect that black wire to a ground. From here, you can start installing the AWE system, beginning with the H-pipe and the SwitchPath portion. Connect the SwitchPath harness and check that it's operational. At this point, you can now work your way from front to back, using the included clamps. Snug these things up, but don't fully tighten everything up quite yet, until the very end, because you may need to move some of the pipes around slightly. Now, you can align the tips in the bumper openings, and tighten up all your clamps, and your installation is complete. Wrapping things up, guys, the SwitchPath from AWE is a beautifully-constructed, unique system that will give you some flexibility with your tone, thanks to that built-in SwitchPath valve, all for around $1,600 to $1,700. Be sure to check out an AWE system for your S550 right here at americanmuscle.com.