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VIDEO: Upgrading a Turbo ATS with a CORSA Catback

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photos by: Steve Licht

We Give an ATS Some Growl with the Help of CORSA Performance

General Motors has a long history with turbochargers dating as far back as the early sixties with the Chevy Corvair and Oldsmobile Jetfire. As technology evolved and tastes and needs changed, turbocharged performance cars came in and out of the marketplace with such examples like the Buick Grand National, GMC Syclone, and more recently, the ATS-V.

Thanks to a relatively recent gas spike and an ever-increasingly strict CAFE regulation board to do with, most automakers have redirected their attentions to smaller, more efficient engines through turbocharging. As a result, there are now well-performing mainstream cars like the modern day Buick Regal, Chevy Cruze and Cadillac ATS to keep our inner gearhead happy as we motor down the highway to the daily grind. However, as is always the case, we can never leave anything stock as the “mod bug” relentlessly finds a way in.

A perfect example would be Steve Licht’s 2014 Cadillac ATS-4, with the 2.0L turbocharged engine. Dubbed the LTG by GM, it packs a 272 hp and 260 lb-ft punch from its crankshaft, as a result of a direct-injection fuel system, variable valve timing and an air-to-air intercooled twin-scroll turbocharger.

2013 Ecotec 2.0L I-4 VVT DI Turbo (LTG) for Cadillac ATS

The LTG is a potent little engine with loads of potential on tap! You can actually order one from from Chevrolet Performance, or through any Chevrolet Performance supplier such as SDPC or Pace Performance.

Since there’s a growing demand for high-horsepower, turbocharged, small displacement vehicles, the aftermarket is lining up in droves to provide enthusiasts (who can never leave anything well enough alone) with the performance parts they’re looking for. One such company is CORSA Performance, who’ve made a name for themselves over the last couple of decades with catback kits for late-model Corvettes, Camaros, CTS-Vs and the like.

Seeing a demand for Cadillac’s popular compact coupe and luxury sedan, they now offer a “Sport” catback exhaust kit for the 2013-2016 ATS. You can actually order the same kit in two configurations; with polished tips (PN-14888) or in a black chrome configuration (PN-14888BLK). We think these both look great and provide two viable options, depending on your style.

We should point out that CORSA is marketed as a premium exhaust company, manufacturing all of their kits from 304 stainless steel to provide an excellent, high-quality product that will last a long time. CORSA also incorporates their mufflers with what they call RSC, or Reflective Sound Cancellation. What this is designed to do is provide the least amount of resection possible, without being too obnoxious, or creating the drone typically associated with a lot of performance systems on the market. Being a turbo car, exhaust drone is a formality we’d prefer to skip.

RSC is also engineered in a way that there’s very little difference in cabin noise from the OEM exhaust. Your author recalls two different experiences with it; first in my (bygone) 2006 CTS-V and another, in CORSA’s very own C6 that I once had the pleasure of driving. With it, you’re able to emit the same soundtrack that you would expect from a performance exhaust, without sacrificing your conversation with your fellow occupants, your ear drums or your sanity!

Wanting to test this system out on an ATS, but without having an one we can call our own, we reached out to our friends at Full Throttle Speed as we knew that they’ve been casually toying with one in recent months. In case that name is new to you, it should be said that Full Throttle Speed is a family owned business based out of the Detroit area, and have made a name for themselves over the years for their expertise in Turbo Buick, LT1 and LSX parts and services.

Even they recognize the growing need for the Ecotec market, so when we told them our plans and asked to use their car as a Guinea pig, they were more than happy to oblige! Lucky for us, they hadn’t yet tore into the car at the time of the install so the ATS was ripe for the picking. Once we placed the order for the exhaust from CORSA, we had them ship the system directly to Full Throttle Speed who sent the polished tipped version. We were torn between it and black, but ultimately decided on going with the more traditional polished look.

STOCK

Prior to the installation, we wanted to shoot a quick video of car’s exhaust as it’s delivered from Cadillac. As you can see, it’s rather quiet with only a slight hint of engine noise. This is done partly to appease the national legislated drive-by sound levels, and partly because Cadillac was, is and always will be a luxury brand, so they’re rather conservative in how loud their products are. We’re anxious to change that!

With our baseline sound video filmed, we strapped the car down to a chassis dyno to see just what kind of numbers we were putting down to begin with. As it turns out, we were right at 214 hp and 237 lb-ft to the rear wheels at 5400 rpm. Naturally, we’ll be following this up with another pull after the exhaust is installed.

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Seeing the stock exhaust removed from the car puts things in perspective; the massive, restive muffler, resonator and puny crinkle piping leaves a lot to be desired.

 

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The CORSA catback kit for the ATS in its entirety; 304 stainless steel construction, mandrel-bent tubing, high-polished tips, high-flow catalytic converter and low-restriction mufflers equipped with CORSA’s patented RSC technology. The high-polished tips measure in at 4-inches in diameter, providing a muscular look.

 

The 3-inch piping is found throughout the system, with 4-inch tips adding a final touch of detail and class to our test Cadillac.

The 3-inch piping is found throughout the system, with 4-inch tips adding a final touch of detail and class to our Cadillac tester.

 

Another interesting detail is the laser etched 'CORSA' logo found on the tips. It's a small, but elegant feature that makes CORSA's kits stand out from some others on the market.

Another interesting detail is the laser etched ‘CORSA’ logo found on the tips. It’s a small, but elegant feature that makes CORSA’s kits stand out from some others on the market.

 

The look of the rear of the car was improved 100%, by eliminating that large, bulky muffler hanging down. These mufflers are also a bit lighter than factory single unit as well.

The look of the rear of the car was improved 100%, by eliminating that large, bulky muffler hanging down. These mufflers are also a bit lighter than factory single unit as well.

 

And the results are... 228 rwhp and 242 lb-ft. at 5600 RPM with an 11.1 AFR! We picked up 14 horsepower and 5 lb-ft. of torque to the tires. Not bad for a simple exhaust swap with zero tuning and a stock paper filter in the factory airbox!

And the results are… 228 rwhp and 242 lb-ft. at 5600 RPM with an 11.1 AFR! We picked up 14 horsepower and 5 lb-ft. of torque to the tires. Not bad for a simple exhaust swap with zero tuning and a stock paper filter in the factory airbox!

 

CORSA Performance Equipped

With the CORSA system now in place, it only made sense to follow up our baseline sound test with our new soundtrack. As you can hear in the video, there’s some rasp but it’s not obnoxious. It’s a tasteful burble with absolutely no drone and plenty of attitude.

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