For the Volvo Enthusiast

Project S60R Part 3 – Freeing The Flow

Previously with Project S60R, we’d looked at a simple ECU upgrade for the car. Virtually “plug-n-play”, ECU upgrades are a great place to start when upgrading a turbocharged car, netting a big gain for not a whole lot of money or installation time. However, upgrading the ECU is only the beginning for the power-hungry enthusiast. Increasing flow with upgrades such as downpipe, catalytic converter and exhaust can free up even more power. With that in mind, we chose to explore several other new offerings from IPD and TME for the R.

Having installed the ECU upgrade alone, we have been enjoying Project S60R and its smooth linear powerband, much like a large displacement, naturally aspirated engine and with minimal turbo lag. The overall engine dynamic is much improved and the R is even more suitable for spirited driving.

For those with a constant lust for power, where to go next can be a debatable issue. A turbo upgrade or a front-mounted intercooler conversion might seem like one natural direction. However, without further research or extensive knowledge of the car’s limits, we were not willing to explore this unknown territory and possibly risk damaging the engine. Such upgrades are really grounds where only the most technically astute should venture on their own, so we opted for some tested and developed parts rather than doing our own R&D.

Knowing that IPD had planned to introduce an exhaust down pipe upgrade for the R, we asked to be the first to try out an early example. Upon further discussion with Scott Hart at IPD, we found out that their cat-back exhaust system would also be available for testing.

We received the parts in two different shipments. First, we received the high-flow catalytic converter and downpipe, which we excitedly installed. Several weeks later we got the remaining exhaust system and completed the install.

Our initial impression of the exhaust with downpipe and race cat upgrade was very positive. As we stood outside the car, the minimal increase in exhaust noise level was very pleasant to the ears, offering a more aggressive tone without being obnoxious. When we took the car for a test drive, we did not notice much change in car’s behavior at the lower end of the RPM range, but as soon as I jumped on the accelerator, the growl that emanated from beneath the R sent pulses through my excited nervous system.

Power delivery was noticeably improved, especially during wide open throttle and in the higher RPM range. The seat of pants difference was very apparent though did not give quite as much as the punch from ECU upgrade

The first half-hour of driving was more enjoyable than I expected, the engine just sang throughout every gear change and on to redline. Now the R does not feel out of breath on the top end; the boost also seemed to behave in a much predictable manner.

Watching the an installed gauge, boost does not drop off as quickly as it used to and seems to have less erratic spikes. It may sound like a clich�, but the car now breathes a lot easier. Looking at the dyno charts, power and torque gained is attained throughout the power band.

When we first received IPD’s cat-back system, we were quite frankly prepared to see minimum power gain as the design appears rather conservative. TME designed their system around the original factory R cat-back exhaust system as they realize that the existing system is already tuned to perform at very close to optimal level.

We hear TME had gone through several revisions for their system in the prototyping process. They found that other systems with larger diameter piping could provide slightly higher power gain but the increased noise level and resonance (droning) proved

to be less attractive. Understanding how R owners love their cars to have that”sleeper” effect, TME knew better not to design a system that would turn the R into the usual boy racer’s droner.

With that in mind, the final product turned out better than we expected. The car sounded a lot more muscular with the noise level being louder than with just the downpipe/race cat upgrade. The system really augmented the R’s already peculiar five-cylinder-engine exhaust tone. Nevertheless, it still did not turn this gentle Swedish monster into sounding like some fire breathing American V8 dragsters. The raspier growl is now noticeable during idle, but is most apparent during spirited revving.

Due to some unforeseen problems we did not get an accurate reading from the dyno test for the cat-back system, so we could not conclude the exact power gain from this upgrade. IPD and TME claim an increase of 10-hp. The seat of pants feel is definitely there, though it’s just so hard to tell as the sultrier tone also makes any car feel faster.

In the end, the result was very rewarding. The installation process was straightforward and pain-free. What was achieved from this upgrade is not simple horsepower and torque increase; the system also gave the car more soul and personality. It certainly would not give you much of the “Look-at-me” effect, but it would surely remind the driver next to you at the redlight not to underestimate what is under the hood of the conservative Volvo next to him or her.

IPD Full Exhaust System Specs:


Main pipe material = 304 Stainless steel

Inlet diameter = 76.2 mm (3 inch)

Main pipe diameter = 76.2 mm (3 inch) and 70 mm (2-3/4 inch) after cat

Kemira Metal cat (2 platinum coated stainless steel monolith’s)


Main pipe material = 304 Stainless steel

Main pipe diameter = single 63.5 mm (2-1/2 inch) to twin 50.8 mm (2 inch) Tail pipes diameter = twin 70 mm (2-3/4 inch) Tail pipe material = 304 Stainless steel

More info: IPD USA

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