One of the most defining traits of sporty cars is the visceral sound produced, whether that be from the engine or cams, the intake, the exhaust system, or the squeal of tires on pavement. For this car, since I really can’t drop in a V8 or an aggressive camshaft (yes, the F6A engine is only a SOHC), the next best thing is an exhaust that rumbles sportingly aggressive on WOT.
Like the car, the stock dual exhaust on my Alto Works is 20 years old. It has seen 20 years of harsh, salty winters and humid, seaside days, so it’s no wonder that the exhaust is fairly rusted and there is a hole where the metal has been oxidized and flaked away. Although the exhaust leak is barely audible since it was partially patched nearly two years ago, it is nonetheless a major issue that needs to be addressed since the dreaded bi-annual mandatory shaken maintenance inspection is a few months away. In this condition, it will not pass the strict check. It definitely needs to be replaced.
Like several other Suzuki kei cars, the rear piping curves up over the rear trailing arm. In this method, the piping is slightly longer and somewhat more restrictive than a straight-through exhaust that is piped along the lower body of the car. However, piping that goes below the rear suspension means it hangs fairly low, potentially scraping at bumps or dips in the road. A friend of mine had such an exhaust on his Wagon R and it had several deep marks on it after a few months. Used exhausts of all makes typically have a few scrapes at the bottom, too. I personally would prefer an exhaust that follows the original piping, though it is not a deal-breaker for me.
There are a huge variety of exhausts available in the new and second-hand markets for the HA11/HA21 Alto Works. New ones start around 25,000￥ ($225 USD) and the used market goes down to as little as 5000￥ ($45 USD), depending on condition.
After doing some research and looking into the aftermarket options available, I narrowed down my options and my price point to at around 11,000￥ ($100 USD) for a used setup. Considering I spent little on my car to begin with, I wasn’t looking to make the car too pricey. Short of buying stainless pipe and ghetto-welding bits myself, I have to stick with something used.
I finally settled on this muffler in overall excellent condition, with only a bit of rust at the connectors, for 9990￥ ($90 USD). I was lucky to come across this in such good condition for the price. Many similar units at or below $100 all had more significant rust and scrapes and I wasn’t about to risk having it rust out in a few winters. Despite it not having any manufacturer plaques or markings and therefore I couldn’t obtain a sample sound clip, the facts that it hung over the rear suspension at the OEM location and that it was in great condition cemented my decision.
The old exhaust really looked haggard. Luckily it came off easily with only two bolts and three hangars. It looks a lot worse off the car, now that I can inspect the rusted areas up close.
The new exhaust installed easily at the same OEM locations and reusing the hangars. I was a bit worried initially that the exhaust would be a tight fit due to the design of the main resonator, but it turned out quite alright. The only issue I encountered was that the rubber hangers were much too loose, allowing more side-to-side play than I would like, potentially hitting the side of the gas tank. Not bad enough to warrant new hangers, so I just added a few zip-ties to resist movement. Ghetto, I know, but it’ll do for now.
I think it definitely looks nice and shiny and makes the rear look more modern. Most importantly, though, how does it sound?
Compared with the stock exhaust, at idle the exhaust is not much louder. Around 2000-3000 RPM, it has a nice, low rumble. Past that or at WOT, it has a smooth-sounding flow that sounds throaty, but not obtrusively so. At around 50 kph (32 MPH), typical speeds around local roads, it has virtually no drone.
However, I do wish the exhaust was a few decibels louder and deeper. I expected it to drone and growl more, given that the main resonator is very slim compared to stock and some other aftermarket options. As this isn’t my daily-driven car, I wouldn’t mind it to be more bothersome to my quiet, little town. Though the benefit of a semi-quiet exhaust means I should be able to pass shaken inspection soon without incident.
Overall, I am pleased with my low-cost, reasonable, and practical purchase.