Firm’s system lets smartphone shape exhaust sounds

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

A variety of automakers equip their cars with a dial so the driver can select from normal (touring) or sport or in some cases even track-mode settings, or in the case of sport utilities, the settings may be for winter driving or even various off-pavement environments. Such settings adjust engine computer controls, transmission shift points, or even how soon and how aggressively the traction and dynamic vehicle control systems kick in.

But Roush Performance has devised an aftermarket exhaust system that not only can be dialed into touring, sport and track sound levels, but even to a custom setting that uses a smartphone or tablet app that enables the driver to achieve a seemingly unique sound — or a series of such sounds — for his or her vehicle, and even to link the various sounds to a phone’s GPS system.

The dial is located on the Mustang’s center console.

“Drivers can select between the neighborhood-friendly touring option for quiet morning startups and switch to sport to open up when the driving becomes more spirited,” Gary Jurick, president of Roush Performance, said in a news release announcing Roush’s new Active Exhaust system.

“Other systems lack smart controls or suffer from premature valve failure,” Jurick continued. “Our original equipment-grade valve offers a system far superior to simply electronic cutouts.”

Roush’s system has been launched for owners of Roush-modified 2015 Mustangs equipped with the company’s Quad Tip exhaust (but there likely are more vehicle applications coming). The Roush hardware is made from 304 stainless steel (and carries a lifetime guarantee) and may look much like the typical aftermarket cat-back exhaust setup. However, on each side of the four-outlet system there is an ECU, a computer-controlled actuator that adjusts an internal valve that can take the exhaust tone from mild to wild as it opens.

Another difference between the Roush system and those from the automakers or other aftermarket manufacturers is that Roush’s system not only is active, but interactive.

The vehicle owner can use a smartphone or tablet (Apple IOS only, so far) and the custom setting to create a personal vehicle exhaust portfolio of sounds and parameters which then can be downloaded through the vehicle’s OBD2 port and are sent to the exhaust ECU via wi-fi. As many as a dozen such settings can be stored.

And unlike some OEM setups, Roush’s system provides genuine exhaust sounds. There are no artificially created tones.

“Nothing is piped in,” said Justin Schroeder, director of vehicle connectivity for Plymouth-based Roush Performance.

“It’s your customized sound,” he added, “an infinite number of sounds in one package.”

Want to do a track-day racing event? No need to get out and use tool to manually adjust or disconnect the exhaust. Simply dial in the track setting. Oh, and that track setting may be too loud to be legal on the street, but simply switch to sport for an aggressive but legal sound. Simply driving to the grocery or church, pick the touring position.

Roush Performance is getting ready to add other features to the active exhaust system, including those that will use your smartphone’s GPS and clock to change the exhaust sound automatically. For example, you’ll be able to set the system so it runs quietly when you’re picking up or dropping the children at school or when you enter your neighborhood. You’ll be able to set up the system to quiet the exhaust should you get a phone call. You even can set up your own unique sound for showcasing your personal exhaust signature at a car show (or in your driveway).

Pricing is in the $1,800 to $2,800 range and can be done by Roush-affiliated Ford dealerships.

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Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him