Project E39 M5: Part 2 - Installing and Testing the Corsa Performance Exhaust

by Martin Gonzales


After ensuring we could stop our newly acquired fun-machine in a previous installment of Project BMW E39 M5, it was now time to let some ponies loose! Our goal; produce more power while maintaining the “quite refined” feel of our performance sedan. It’s no secret the S62 power plant in the BMW E39 M5 was extremely muffled and restricted from the factory. With a price tag rivaling a large down payment on a house, those who could afford a new E39 M5 back in the day were more interested in impressing their power lunch buddies with the M badge rather than with the rumbling performance notes the S62 could belt out. So in the name of sales numbers BMW, like any other manufacturer, put a muzzle on the ol’ girl leaving the performance enthusiast longing for more. But seriously though, what’s the point of having a 400hp engine if you can’t hear and enjoy it?!

A quick internet search for “E39 M5 exhaust” will yield you plenty of exhaust options with prices ranging from $1,100 to more than I could sell my G20 race car for! You'll even find numerous useful video sound clips and even more useful forum opinions…heavy sarcasm. So how does one make a decision? Well, I based mine on the experience we had with our very own BMW Project E36 323is. I truly enjoy the exhaust note of its Corsa Performance exhaust, but most of all I love being able to cruise on the freeway and have a conversation with the person sitting next to me without having to yell at them. That’s exactly what I wanted for the M5! But could a “quiet” performance exhaust yield the significant power gains we were after? We would just have to bite the bullet and see. 


I'm not gonna lie, another one of the key features that steered me towards the Corsa Performance exhaust were the Black Pro Series tips. Not only does the color look amazing, but the angled tips flow well with the lines of the rear bumper. They also have a much shorter profile and don't stick out as much as the stock chrome tips.


The Corsa Performance exhaust is made of T304 stainless steel, which not only looks good now but it will remain rust free for many many years to come. T3T04 stainless is nearly impervious to rusting. Here we see one of the key features of the Corsa E39 M5 exhaust - the X pipe. Where the two pipes come together there is an opening which allows for a balancing effect of the exhaust flow. This balancing reinforces the scavenging effects from the opposing banks, thus making more power. 


And here we have the stars of the show! Just like the rest of the M5 Corsa Performance exhaust system the mufflers are made of T304 stainless steel, but that's now what steals the show. The Reflective Sound Cancelation (RSC) technology incorporated in the mufflers is what really sets the Corsa Performance exhaust apart from the rest, and what made them the perfect choice for our Project. The mufflers are of a straight-through design, but thanks to the RSC technology the engineers at Corsa Performance are able to pin point and cancel out specific frequencies that cause drone. This means maximum performance while keeping your hearing safe.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015 5:59 AM
I've always loved E39 M5s, they are awesome cars and a blast to drive. It would have been nice to hear the stock vs. Corsa in a video but the exhaust looks great and the weight loss was a nice bonus!

That SuperFlow always seems to red low. One of these days a MIQ project car needs to back to back the SuperFlow with a Dynojet to give a rough barometer of the difference. FWIW - Project E90 M3's 400hp S65 put down 337whp on a Dynojet 224xLC (a 18.7% drivetrain loss).
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 6:57 AM
I didn't think BMW owners used condoms...
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 7:08 AM
rawkus, that was only when James Bond drove BMWs.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 4:33 PM
Is it even remotely possible that the ECU reset (by unplugging the battery) was responsible for some of the gains? I've seen this happen in the past.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 5:43 PM
The car is a lot faster and by seat of the pants the power is staying. It is obvious to me from the passenger seat even.
Thursday, February 26, 2015 8:28 AM
I hate shiny cans, they're usually fake... ;-p
Thursday, February 26, 2015 1:24 PM
you seriously gonna make a man go to instagarm for the viddy? at least add a link to the instagram site for us ludds.
Thursday, February 26, 2015 4:46 PM
Wait till you add the headers! The factory manifolds are the biggest restriction in the exhaust system on that car... You are in for a treat!
Thursday, February 26, 2015 10:30 PM
Steve Dinan is famous for explaining how difficult it is to test BMWs because of some load sensor or something. Is that just sales talk, or does your testing allude to that? Is the car faster than the numbers indicate?
Pablo Mazlumian
Pablo Mazlumianlink
Tuesday, March 03, 2015 9:12 AM
nice gains! and agreed with Alexx: I tested a set of Supersprint 4-into-1 cat-deletes for 27whp back-to-back, and an additional 5whp with a header-specific tune (this 32whp gain was *over* a Stage1 ECU tune and cat-back and pulleys), and this car had only gained 15whp with the cat-back. So yes, headers will make a tremendous difference and the sounds is unbelievable, although with a Corsa back section you'll probably want to consider a center resonator. Looking forward to seeing the rest!

EDIT: Also, as mentioned above the dyno differences, I'd tested the aforementioned headers on Dynojet 248C, where the car had started off at 345whp STD, and finished at 377whp by the end of the day..
Thursday, March 05, 2015 7:23 PM
Don't get hung up on dyno numbers.

Drivetrain loss is not linear, really the only way would be to engine dyno in the same conditions and then chassis dyno. Superflow makes a good accurate machine and most dynojet numbers have that added puff number to make it read higher. Not every engine is equal and obviously not every dyno I don't think this is a "low" reading I think its an accurate real world one. So BMW claims when brand new on whatever dyno they have in whatever conditions it makes 400 crank horsepower how does that really relate to a 120K car in real world conditions.
Sunday, March 08, 2015 9:15 PM
Really interested to see how this build project progresses. The sound is eargasmic. I'm new to MotoIQ and it's great to see the holistic approach to your builds - improving on OEM suspension, brakes and performance.
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