Do The ROAR!!! | SPD Performance Downpipes Install/Test on the Bronco Raptor
You’ve been hearing it from us here on SVTP for years; the Holy Trinity of starter mods is Intake, Tune, and Exhaust. Tackling those three areas will typically show decent gains on any vehicle. When it comes to our project Bronco Raptor, besides our Whipple Intercooler and Turbosmart BOV, there’s not much on the market intake wise (yet). And you guys have seen us lay down massive gains with a Whipple Calibration. But just a few days ago we were able to snag an early set of SPD Performance Downpipes fitted with High-Flow GESI cats. The exhaust side of the more-power equation was now open for business.
It’s been no secret that the factory downpipes found on many EcoBoost engines can hamper performance. They are designed with packaging, NVH, and assembly constraints that the aftermarket can simply sidestep. As such, companies like SPD Performance have found great success developing higher-flowing replacement systems for many Ford platforms. Their latest venture into the Blue Oval market resulted in the parts we recently had the pleasure of installing on our BRaptor at one of our familiar stomping-grounds; 5 Star Tuning in Florence, SC.
As soon as we popped open the well packed shipping box we were struck by the very fine American craftsmanship and materials used to construct the SPD pipes. All the components are made of high-quality stainless steel and precision welded. V-Band connectors are used to break down the kit into easy-to-install sections, and the stainless flanges are extremely thick. All the pipes are mandrel bent, and the expansion joints are a superior design than the factory units. The upgraded GESI cats are the top of the food chain when it comes to high-flow performance catalysts, and their metal substrate construction allows them to tolerate levels of abuse that would pulverize a ceramic cat to dust. They even threw in new hardware. It was plain to see that the SPD Downpipe kit was built to last.
I love seeing the Made in the USA label on my performance parts.
Just check out that quality work. This kit was easily one of the best fitting exhaust systems I have ever installed.
As far as the install goes, your mileage may vary. There’s many ways to skin the cat on this type of job, and we did not necessarily choose the easiest route. We decided to keep the factor units intact. Had we wanted to break out the sawzall we probably could have made it to happy-hour about 2.5 hours earlier. As it stood, most of the “install” time was spent on disassembly. We had to remove several skid plates, drop the transmission crossmember, slightly lower the fuel tank, and pull the transmission to one side of the truck to make enough clearance to get the stock pieces out of the way.
Unbolting the factory pipes from the turbo flanges was also a challenge. We were working on a life, and were still not able to see most of the bolts from the bottom. While we probably could have reached them by removing the front wheels and fender liners, we chose to fish them out from the topside through the engine bay. Again, there’s several ways to do this job. If you’re doing this kind of work I’m sure you’ll choose the route that works best for you.
Here you can see the cast iron wall the exhaust gases run into on their was to the restrictive factory ceramic cats.
The GESI cats are one of the big performance enhancing features of the SPD Downpipes.
The SPD Downpipes have a much smoother radius and the GESI cats far outperform the stock units.
Once the factory pipes were out of the way, we were greeted by the 3.0L EcoBoost’s happy little turbos. They were still wearing some orange residue from a healthy dose of Boostane we fed the mill a little while back. If you wanted to try some aftermarket turbos, now would be time to bolt them on. The BRaptor has far better access to the turbo mounting hardware than any other platform the 3.0L EcoBoost calls home. One job we did tackle while everything was apart was to paint some of the surfaces Ford misses during assemble, particularly around the trans crossmember. If you ever find yourself needing to match the coating color Ford uses on their truck frames Dupli-Color – DE-1635 - Ford Semi-Gloss Black will do the trick. Its match is dead-on. Some might go so far as to call it ‘new-frame-in-a-can.’
The pace really picked up when it came to start the reassembly process. The SPD downpipes install far more easily than the OEM ones came out. They just slide right into place, and everything lines up perfectly. You don’t have to monkey around trying to get everything to fit. All the touch points fall right into place and the system bolts up flawlessly. Even the turbo flange mounting nuts are much easier to access despite the larger diameter of the SPD pipes. Once the SPD kit was in place, we simply bolted the rest of the factory componentry back into place. Install complete.
One look at the difference in design of SPD’s pipe section between the turbo flange and the cat, compared to that of the factory unit, let us know we were going to see an increase in power. The abrupt angle of the factory cast piece simply had to be robbing a few horsepower. After a few pulls on 5 Star Tuning’s dyno, our suspicions were confirmed.
I wonder how many miles out Bronco Raptor has put on 5 Star Tuning's dyno?
The proof is in the plotting. Here you can see Stock vs Whipple Tuned and Intercooled vs SPD Downpipes with Whipple Tuner and Intercooler.
With no changes other than the SPD Downpipes we saw peak gains of 9.4HP and 6.8 lb-ft, but that’s not the entire story. Throughout much of the meat of the curve, the SPD equipped Bronco Raptor picked up ~11-12HP and 10-12 lb-ft. That’s performance you can actually feel. The GESI cats even seemed to clear up the little power dip (likely due to the factory cats getting too hot resulting in the ECU throwing in a little cat protection) we were seeing in all our pulls with the factory pipes. Then there’s the sound…
In the past; unless one was seeking maximum performance, I was a proponent of leaving the factory cat-back on EcoBoost vehicles in place. With a few notable exceptions, IMO most aftermarket systems sounded worse than stock (which wasn’t great to begin with). However, with the introduction of the Gen 3 F-150 Raptor Ford seems to have figured out how to make their EcoBoost V6 sound very much like a GTR. That tone upgrade also found its way to the Bronco Raptor. So on certain EcoBoost applications, I actually really like the sound from the factory cat-back.
Mandrel bent smooth transitions and heavily built flanges, the SPD units are build to last and make more power doing it.
This is the best fitting exhaust I have installed. Everything fell perfectly into place.
However, the SPD downpipes we installed on our Bronco Raptor seemed to add just the perfect level of rowdiness to the truck. They seem to add a little bass and depth to the BRaptor’s growl. It’s maybe only a 10-15% change overall, and could be easily missed (especially on video) if you weren’t listening for a difference. Nevertheless, the difference is there and it’s a damn good one. To me, they add just the right amount of bark. The factory Bronco Raptor exhaust sounded decent, but adding the SPD downpipes definitely kicks things up a notch.
For anyone looking to make more power and get way better exhaust sound from their Bronco Raptor, I can’t recommend the SPD Downpipes with GESI cats enough. They really are just that good. I also can’t thank all the guys at 5 Star Tuning enough for all the help they provided for the install and testing. I’d probably still be trying to unbolt the factory pipes if it weren’t for Brandon’s wrenching abilities. If you guys are interested in a set of SPD downpipes, or any of the mods you’ve seen us add to the Bronco Raptor, give 5 Star Tuning a call. Tell them SVTPerformance.com sent you and they will definitely take care of you.
Now if I could just get my hands on an intake and have Whipple make my tune just a little more spicy…
Special Thanks -
5 Star Tuning